Interview with Zachary Cole Fernandez
Strolling just after midnight under the famous Hollywood sign as rain trickled across his face, Zachary Fernandez had no idea the attention he was about to garner. This was not the first time the famous sign had been altered, but this was no prank, this was intentional artistic outreach with a message.
On the morning of January 1, 2017, the city of Los Angeles awoke to what immediately topped national New Year’s airwaves. The “HOLLYWOOD” sign now read “HOLLYWeeD” just after California voted to legalize cannabis recreationally. Seemingly most people got caught up in the wrong part of the conversation, but he didn’t miss the mark, his intention was to inspire discussion. After a year or so fraught with divisions and a lack of intelligent conversations, Fernandez wanted to push people back into a space where intelligent conversations and relevant discussions were the norm. He wanted to bring people together.
As a SoCal native himself, cannabis is nothing new to Fernandez. In fact, Zach has had his hand in almost every corner of the cannabis market, from legal medical production to a medicinal delivery service, but his drive as a father and as an artist is to open minds and inspire ideas. Though he’s being prosecuted for trespassing, something he openly accepts, his efforts to preserve the landmark were admirable. Funny enough, the first thing Zach mentions about the venture under the sign wasn’t the impending sense of getting caught or excitement to create such a large demonstration, it was a feeling of sadness upon recognizing the insane amount of garbage that had been carelessly piled under a national landmark. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t contribute” to this destruction says Fernandez, “I’m a true preservationist,” that’s why he only used clamps and banners.
If his initial actions of care and clean-up weren’t clear to his character, the peace sign and heart that covered the banners provoked his point. Ultimately cannabis is a topic that has too long divided us when it can quite literally be used to bring us together. His playful use of traditional images and creative placement stood out on multiple levels to make you laugh and talk about it. And don’t think this will be the last of Fernandez’s work, after all, he’s not new to art either. If you’re lucky enough to live in the L.A. area, keep an eye out for some upcoming visual installations sure to stir the pot, not to mention some other budding opportunities rising to the surface.