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Gibson GuitarTown Gallery: Giant Guitar Sculptures — and Slash — on the Sunset Strip

On March 12, the first nine 10-foot-tall guitar sculptures of the Gibson GuitarTown II exhibit were unveiled on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California, and Slash -- minus the top hat -- was there to take it all in.

The works, which are on display to the public, were created by several artists, including Shepard Fairey, Tristan Eaton, Free Humanity, Smog City and DeeKay, and they celebrated several rock acts, including Van Halen, Rage Against The Machine and Jane’s Addiction.

Slash was on hand to present a check -- with the help of his wife, Perla Hudson -- to 2010-11 GuitarTown charity recipient, Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN). LAYN received $27,180 from the auction of the previous round of GuitarTown art guitars, which included guitars celebrating Slash, Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe, The Runaways, Oingo Boingo and Cheech & Chong.

The Gibson GuitarTown on the Sunset Strip event was originally launched in August 2010 with 24 10-foot tall fiberglass Gibson Les Paul model guitars strategically placed along Sunset Boulevard. Each guitar sculpture celebrated a musician, personality or artist unique to the Sunset Strip’s history. The 24 guitars were auctioned off in December 2011 after their yearlong tour, with 100 percent of the $54,360 in profits going to charity.

The initial round of 2012 guitars went on display to the public on March 13. The full list of guitars in the initial launch includes:

Tristan Eaton, “Moms Not Bombs”: This painted guitar celebrates the artist’s mom, Gillian Eaton, an actress in the Royal Shakespeare Company. The guitar also references The Sunset Strip, which was the birthplace for the artist. (“Moms Not Bombs” will be located outside of The Standard, Hollywood.)

Shepard Fairey, “Electric Warrior”: The painted guitar was inspired by Marc Bolan of T-Rex. Fairey illustrated Bolan as an iconic rock and roll archetype with a nod to vintage vinyl LP and stereo graphics. (“Electric Warrior” will be outside of the Andaz hotel, formerly the “Riot Hyatt.”)

Lana Gomez, “Freedom”: The expressionist work celebrates freedom and spontaneity as well as The Sunset Strip’s role in allowing musicians to blaze their own paths. (“Freedom” will be outside of 9000 Sunset Blvd.)

Tsipi Mani, “Black Eyed Peas”: The bold, modern painted guitar celebrates the music of Los Angeles’ Black Eyed Peas. (“Black Eyed Peas” will be located outside of BOA, 9200 Sunset Blvd.)

Juliana Martinez, “There’s Something Happening Here”: The mosaic, tiled guitar was inspired by the music and spirit of Buffalo Springfield. The guitar utilizes symbols that resonate with Buffalo Springfield: a peace sign and a flower border that is similar to the border on their second album, Buffalo Springfield Again. (“There’s Something Happening Here” will be located outside of Mel’s Drive-In, former home of Ben Franks in the 1960s.)

Ryan McCann, “Nothing’s Shocking”: The painted guitar was inspired by Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing’s Shocking album as well as the band’s performance and self-titled album recorded live at The Roxy Theatre on January 26, 1987. (“Nothing’s Shocking” will be outside of Hornburg Los Angeles, former home of the Cock N’ Bull pub on Sunset.)

Edgar Pasten, “People Of The Sun”: The painted and assemblage guitar was inspired by Rage Against The Machine’s song “People Of The Sun.” The guitar takes the lyrics and applies it to struggles immigrants have faced. (“People Of The Sun” will be at 8755 Sunset Blvd.)

Stephen M. Taylor, “The Music Machine”: The abstract, painted guitar pays homage to Van Halen by utilizing the red, black and white colors of Eddie Van Halen’s iconic guitar. (“The Music Machine” will be located outside of the Whisky A Go-Go.)

For more information, visit the event's official page on Gibson.com.

Photos: Genie Sanchez

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Damian Fanelli
Damian Fanelli

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor, and his non-Pulitzer-Prize-winning stories have appeared in Guitar Aficionado, Vintage Guitar, Total Guitar and countless other publications, including 13.7 metric tons of daily newspapers. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton and Ty Tabor chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (one of which appears in the 2015 Disney film 'Tomorrowland' starring George Clooney and Britt Robertson). He's in two NYC-area bands and plays Teles with four-way switches, B-benders and semi-snazzy aftermarket pickups. He quotes Terry-Thomas twice daily.