Americana: Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

He carefully studied scale drawings of the Court of Flags at Los Angeles City Hall and memorized the schedule of police patrols. Then with the timing of a terrorist bomber, he drove up to the plaza in a truck on Labor Day morning, and with four friends unloaded a 3,000-lb., 13-ft. turquoise object that looks something like a huge tuning fork. Wrapped in yellow paper, the untitled work was an unsolicited gift from Wade Cornell, 32, self-styled "guerrilla artist" who boasts: "I give to the people directly."

Two years ago the city dealt with a previous gift from Cornell (a 600-lb., 15-ft....

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