Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Watts Towers - Paradise in Picassiette

Constructed over the course of years 1921 - 1954 from scrap metal and bits of refuse.

Constructed without bolts, scaffolding or welding. 

Fabricated entirely by hand by a diminutive, depressive, evangelizing southern Italian immigrant named Sabato "Simon" Rodia, the Watts Towers are the largest single work of art created by one man, according to the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

In 1959 they survived a 10,000 pound pressure test and so deemed sound, escaped demolition.  Simon Rodia died in Martinez, California in 1965,  having left the towers in a neighbor's care 11 years before.  Three weeks after his death, the Watts Riots shook the neighborhood.  Simon Rodia's Towers were left untouched.

In 1994, the Towers were damaged by the Northridge earthquake and did not reopen to the public until 2001.  The New York Times, recently put an article on it's front page about the Towers and how lack of funding threatened their survival.  Almost immediately after, it was announced that a gift of $500,000.00 had been made by the James Irvine Foundation for preservation

of the site.  This, in addition to the $150,000.00 the City of L.A. has pledged

still falls well short of the estimated

$5 million dollars required to shore up and maintain the Towers.

In Los Angeles it is well known that "mansions" daily change ownership for

high multiples of tens of millions of dollars.

What are we to think?


  1. i love it there! it is such a magical place. really displays the determination of art. great post!

  2. j'adore, j'adore! j'ai plusieurs fois visiter le tout petit Musée de Picassiette près de Chartre, c'est toujours touchant cette "thérapie" par l'Art....ce que tu nous fait découvrir étonne par l'originalité des volumes,je t'embrasse pour la journée, béa

  3. what divine images MP!
    I just wanted to be there darting in and around all those arms and legs and such! the second last photo really captures the excitement of lines, colour and space... love it!
    and thanks for lovely thoughts on the NZ post...
    tonight ... skipping to another subject ... met my deadline ahead of time ...its in... posted the big envelope today ...Ive taken my chance...hurray!
    What this weekend bringing you MP.. late thursday night here ... so time to think weekend again!

  4. Oh, what a splendid thing this is, Paradis! I'm so glad you captured these images. :-) What a delightful man he must've been to create such quirky loveliness. :-)

  5. okay, I'm going to say s/thing that's going to raise some eyebrows but the first impression was a manic, drunken gaudí style. love 'em :)

  6. love to see, experience that.
    i admire when somebody can make different units look like one. to form unity.
    this is colorful and yet in harmony.

  7. Wow - I need to take a field trip. Something very Gaudi-esque about his creation.

  8. Wow - never seen these before. They look really great.
    Also liking the cheat's spaghetti and will definitely be doing that. Anything with truffle oil and I'm there and also dried mushrooms are a great cupboard staple I think. I'm just being abnormally greedy even thinking about this though, having just wolfed down three plates of spaghetti and meatballs. I put oregano and just a splash of cream (along with the eggs etc) in the meatballs and they were yummy!

  9. I have never seen the sculpture in person, can you believe it? Your photos are the first I've ever seen that really draw me in - you really capture something that makes me want to hop in my car and get down there!