In the early morning of August 5, 2001, artist Richard Ankrom and a group of friends assembled on the 4th Street bridge over the 110 freeway in Los Angeles. They had gathered to commit a crime — one Ankrom had plotted for years.
Twenty years earlier, Ankron, then living in Orange County, was driving north on the 110 freeway. As he passed through downtown Los Angeles, he was going to merge onto another freeway, the I-5 North. But he missed the exit and got lost. And for some reason, this stuck with him.
Years later, when Ankrom moved to downtown Los Angeles, he was driving on the same stretch of freeway where he’d gotten lost before. He looked up at the big green rectangular sign suspended above and realized why he missed the exit all those years ago.
The sign was not adequately marked.
The I-5 exit wasn’t indicated on the green overhead sign. It was clear to Ankrom that, the California Department of Transportation (known as Caltrans) had made a mistake.
Ankrom, an artist and sign painter, decided to make the Interstate 5 North shield himself. He also decided that he would take it upon himself to install it above the 110 freeway.
He would call it an act of “guerrilla public service.”