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Arts & Entertainment

Can 'Pokémon Go' teach us about public art in Los Angeles?

LA Department of Cultural Affairs General Manager Danielle Brazell plays
LA Department of Cultural Affairs General Manager Danielle Brazell plays "Pokemon Go" outside the Bank of America building in Downtown Los Angeles.
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

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After less than a week, "Pokémon Go" has gone from a brand new app to a nationwide phenomenon. Here in Los Angeles, sights of thousands of people walking aimlessly, smartphone in hand, on the hunt for rare Pokémon. Yelp now lets you filter businesses based on PokéStop distance.

The app has got people walking out into the world and exploring it in a totally unique way, drawing players to murals, sculptures and public art that likely would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

"I think that's one of the reasons why we have public art," said Danielle Brazell, general manager of Los Angeles' Department of Cultural Affairs. "To help break up the mundane, to help create some joy and some wonder for the people who occupy Los Angeles."

Near Downtown Los Angeles you'll find PokéStops for dozens of public art works — Lloyd Hamrol's "Uptown Rocker," for example. But other stops contain titles that merely describe the artwork — probably because the works themselves aren't described or explained on panels nearby. 

Click the play button above to listen to an audio tour of Downtown LA's public art via "Pokémon Go." Spoiler alert: We found a couple of rare Pokémon — and a lot of beautiful, context-free public art.