Check out SPACES events! 

Close
Jen Balge

Posts by Jen Balge 22 Items

communications@spacesarchives.org

Call to Action: Preserve Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village in California

Posted in Threatened Environments

 

The late “Grandma” Tressa Prisbrey’s Bottle Village, situated in Simi Valley, just north of Los Angeles, California, is one of the boldest and most dynamic art environments ever made by a woman. The incredible, 15-building site is under threat from the elements this winter. Back in 1979, local people formed the non-profit Preserve Bottle Village to acquire and restore the property, which was later damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. 

 

miscrb31314367145889lTressa Prisbrey at the Bottle Village ca. 1981. Photo by Roger Brown.

This winter, Preserve Bottle Village is raising funds via GoFundMe to protect the site from further deterioration due to winter rains, as part of an ongoing overall preservation campaign. Read their call below:

Help protect Simi Valley folk art environment, Bottle Village from winter storm damage.Please support the efforts of Preserve Bottle Village, a non-profit organization made up of a small group of volunteers dedicated to the preservation and conservation of this irreplaceable example of American Folk Art. 

 

One of only a few folk art environments created by a woman, Bottle Village hums with creator Tressa “Grandma” Prisbrey’s unique sense of humor and perspective. “Anyone can do something with a million dollars. Look at Disney,” Prisbrey once said. “But it takes more than money to make something out of nothing, and look at the fun I have doing it.” The self-taught artist started building in 1956, at the age of 60, and worked until 1981. Prisbrey constructed the site’s 15 buildings and many site features using found materials, including tens of thousands of multicolored bottles set in cement mortar. Colorful walkways of broken tiles and crockery wind through the one-third acre site. 

 

Preserve Bottle Village is working on long term restoration plans with ARG Conservation Services, the San Francisco firm that restored Los Angeles’s Watts Towers. In the short term, each of Bottle Village’s structures must be temporarily protected with tarps, plastic sheeting and wooden braces until actual stabilization work may begin. The heavy rains and strong winds of projected El Nino storms add urgency to this work. Your generous donation will help Preserve Bottle Village to safeguard the magical world and rare vision of Grandma Prisbrey for future generations.

Be sure to donate today via their GoFundMe campaign page to help preserve and conserve this special site in Southern California. The effort is led, in part, by Tanya Ward Goodman, the daughter of Tinktertown’s Ross Ward. 

rbprisbreybottlevillage00114232636865lThe Bottle Village. Photo by Roger Brown, ca. 1981.

Finally, head over to Folkstreams to watch Allie Light and Irving Saraf’s excellent 1982 short film on Grandma Prisbrey,  Grandma’s Bottle Village: The Art of Tressa Prisbrey to catch wind of Prisbrey’s wonderful wit, humor, and strength.

 

screen-shot-2015-12-26-at-54023-pmClick on image to take you to the film on Folkstreams.org

 

 

 

 

Mr. Imagination exhibit at Intuit named one of 10 best in the United States

Posted in Self-Taught Arts in the News
unnamed-4Photo courtesy Intuit.

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art’s Welcome to the World of Mr. Imagination exhibit was recognized as one of the 10 best exhibits in the United States in 2015 by Hyperallergic, an online art forum with global reach.

 

In the article awarding Intuit the eighth spot on the list, Hyperallergic contributor Benjamin Sutton captures the spirit of the exhibit with the line: “Amid all the staffs, thrones, busts, talismans, and religious figures, one felt truly immersed in an alternate universe of boundless optimism and constant celebration-yet not without its share of hardship and pain.” 


Welcome to the World of Mr. Imagination was originally scheduled to be on view at Intuit Jan. 9-April 25, 2015, and then extended through May 24, 2015, due to the exhibit’s popularity. Curated by Martha Henry, this exhibition was the first Chicago retrospective since the death of the artist known as Mr. Imagination (Gregory Warmack, 1948-2012), whose career spanned more than 30 years. Chicago was Mr. Imagination’s hometown and where he developed and matured as an artist. The diverse collection surveyed the nationally-recognized artist’s career, incorporating sculptures, furniture, accessories and his signature bottle cap pieces.

 

“Mr. Imagination was a messenger who preached that the power of art can transform lives and transcend adversity,” notes Henry. “I am gratified that Intuit supported my vision of bringing to life Mr. Imagination’s extraordinary world where art and artist were inseparable.” 

 

 

mr-i-at-home2220267729oPhoto of Mr. Imagination by Kelly Ludwig.

Established in 1991, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art is the only nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated solely to presenting self-taught and outsider art-with world class exhibitions; resources for scholars and students; a collection of more than 1,100 works of art; the Henry Darger Room Collection; the Robert A. Roth Study Center, a non-circulating collection with a primary focus in the fields of outsider and contemporary self-taught art; and educational programming for people of all interest levels and backgrounds.

 

SPACES readers can view images of work by Mr. Imagination by photographer Kelly Ludwig in our Online Collection HERE. If you are interested in contributing your own images, ephemera, or writing to SPACES Archives regarding this artist and his site, you may submit them HERE

 

Margaret’s Grocery listed as one of Mississippi’s Historic Trust’s 10 Most Endangered Properties!

Posted in Preservation News, Threatened Environments
8619919350396aa27713zMargaret's Grocery in 2013. Photo by Kelly Ludwig.

October brought important news for the preservation of Southern vernacular art environments. On the heels of the nearly-finished Kohler Foundation conservation of St. EOM’s Pasaquan in Buena Vista Georgia, as well as the selection of its first Director, we now turn our attention toward Mississippi. 

On Thursday, October 22nd, the Mississippi Heritage Trust announced Reverend H.D. Dennis’ Margaret’s Grocery in Vicksburg, Mississippi on of 2015’s “10 Most Endangered Properties.” Since the deaths of Mrs. and Mr. Dennis’ in 2009 and 2011, respectively, the roadside market on historic Highway 61 adorned with bright colors and evangelical messages has swiftly decayed at an alarming rate. 

Now that the site is listed as a “10 Most” property, the real preservation advocacy begins. At SPACES, we will make sure to organize and share all public updates on preservation efforts surrounding Margaret’s Grocery, both on the civic and state level, and on the grassroots fundraising level.

For a quick review on recent preservation movement surrounding the site, watch Jennifer Joy Jameson’s 2015 presentation at the NPS-NCPTT’s Divine Disorder conference on the preservation of folk and “outsider” art.

 

Watch 1990s Jarvis Cocker Travel Art Environments All Over the World in This BBC Mini-Series

Posted in Found Objects

 

We recently stumbled upon a vintage gem on the art environment beat:

The English musician Jarvis Cocker, largely known as the frontman of the popular 90s Britpop group Pulp, traveling the world over to visit art environments and meet with the makers behind them in his 1999 three-part television series on BBC 4, “Journeys Into the Outside With Jarvis Cocker.”

Journeys Into the Outside with Jarvis Cocker

 Who better to bring the world of self-taught art to the public than the idiosyncratic performer behind the 1995 hit, “Common People.” In the introduction, Cocker explains his inspiration for the series, in school at London’s St. Martin’s School of Art:

“So desperate to find a spark of inspiration, something that would help to put these feelings into words, I began to scour the college library. There was no shortage of material on offer, but none of it seemed to fit the bill. I needed to find something outside all this, something that had not been analysed to death. And then when I had all but given up hope of such a thing existing, I found it: in a book called Outsider Art.”

 

outsider-art-48outsider-art-3 

“The book was about art made by people from all walks of life, who didn’t think of themselves as artists, but were creating things because they thought they had to, rather than because they had been taught to. Although the book featured paintings and sculptures it was the photographs of unusual buildings and monuments that really caught my imagination. How could there be a gap between art and everyday life, if every day you lived inside the work of art you had created? This was exactly what I was looking for.”

 

 

Part One: FRANCE

Cocker visits each of these art environments. Visit the links to see their page on our SPACES Online Archive:



 Part Two: UNITED STATES 

Cocker visits each of these art environments. Visit the links to see their page on our SPACES Online Archive:

 

outsider-art-29outsider-art-58 

“I’d found much more than just a subject for an essay, I’d found something that I could really get excited about. And I vowed if I ever got the chance, I’d go and find more about these incredible places and the people who’d made them. Now almost a decade later that time has come.”

 

Part Three: INDIAN, MEXICO, BELGIUM, AND SWITZERLAND

Cocker visits each of these art environments. Visit the links to see their page on our SPACES Online Archive:

 

 We hope Jarvis Cocker’s enthusiasm rubs off, and you find yourself on your own “Journey!”

 

Conservation of Chomo’s Village d’art Préludien Begins in France

Posted in Preservation News, Threatened Environments

chomo-at-night-2009-l-danchin-the-church-of-the-poor-img3206

 

Roberta Trapani reporting from France:

The week of July 13, 2015 saw the first stage in the efforts to preserve and restore the late artist Roger Chomeaux (or Chomo)’s Refuge, one of the most important buildings in his Village d’art Préludien, but the one that has suffered the most deterioration over the years. This restoration will develop in two phases: 1) preventative measures taken to arrest further deterioration and decay, to be undertaken during summer 2015 and 2) actual restoration of the Refuge, to be undertaken during summer 2016, if sufficient funds can be raised.

 

Under the direction of Fabrice Azzolin of the École des Beaux-Arts of Nantes, four young students are working on this first phase of the restoration. They first constructed a wooden structure to temporarily protect the Refuge, which is rusting, in order to ensure its security over the coming year. These students lived in Chomo’s Village for around ten days, and just by living there they resuscitated the site and breathed new life into it.

 

The week of July 13, all of those present ate together in the forest, in the middle of Chomo’s Village, in front of the house. The young students had access to the kitchen and they prepared a magnificent meal. In order to do this, they were inspired by Chomo’s sculptures, so they sculpted steamed carrots and other vegetables, and played with other different ingredients in order to create plate-sculptures. Chomo would have adored that! At the end of the meal, the students even improvised a jam session with different musical instruments, including guitar, flute, and harmonica. It was unbelievable to hear such beautiful music in the heart of the forest.  

 

The event, which brought in supporters of Chomo’s Village in addition to the Beaux-Arts contingent, was organized by SPACES Board member Laurent Danchin, who has written widely about Chomo and who has been the leading force in the campaign to save and preserve this important art environment.

 

Sign petition to help save Roberto Pérez’s Spanish art environment!

Posted in SPACES News, Threatened Environments

gaudi

Roberto Pérez has spent more than a quarter century creating a variety of artwork in different media, but his masterpiece is an architectural sculpture in the Spanish province of Granada. This work has been created with stone and recycled materials of all kinds, and  he has become known by many as the “Andalucian Gaudí.”

The Urban Planning Department of the province of Andalucía wants to demolish this work because it does not conform to local building codes. We are fighting their decision. Please sign the petition and pass it on to all your friends and colleagues:

 

Sign at this LINK.

 

Many Thanks,

Jo Farb Hernández, Director

SPACES – Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments

 

Support the Conservation of Chomo’s Village of Preludian Art!

Posted in Threatened Environments

SPACES Board member Laurent Danchin has launched a campaign to restore components of the Village d’Art Préludien created by Chomo (Roger Chomeaux, 1907-1999) in a small parcel located within the Fontainbleau forest in France. Although Chomo studied and successfully created and exhibited his work within the art mainstream as a young man, in 1960 he moved to this site, became a hermit, and spent the rest of his life creating an impressive environment of idiosyncratic buildings as well as numerous sculptures; most of the work was fabricated from recycled materials of all types. He named the site to reflect his feeling that his art served as a prelude to a new world that we would be soon to enter. 

 

chomo-at-night-2009-l-danchin-the-church-of-the-poor-img3193l´Église des Pauvres (The Church of the Poor) at night, 2009. Photo by Laurent Danchin.

The emphasis for the first phase of this conservation project is to restore Chomo’s Refuge; most of the other buildings, amazingly enough, are still in excellent shape, even after fifty years in the forest. Nevertheless, vandalism, theft, and deferred maintenance have taken their toll. Students and alumni from the Nantes School of Visual Arts will be guided by Fabrice Azzolin, teacher at the school and president of the IRES institute (Institute de Recherches et d’Études  Scéniques). Future plans include the construction of an enclosure that will surround and protect the site, and, ultimately, the development of a study center where creators and thinkers from all fields will come together to share their ideas and their knowledge.

 

For further information, or to contribute to this project, contact Laurent at laurent.danchin@free.fr.

 

Jo Farb Hernández

Help Fund the Ed Galloway Totem Pole Restoration Project!

Posted in SPACES News, Threatened Environments
Galloway Totem PoleGalloway Totem Pole in 1981, Photo by Seymour Rosen

Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park (built from 1937-1948) located within the Rogers State Historical Park in Foyil, OK, is in need of conservation. Although the site, which includes a 90-foot concrete totem pole surrounded by several smaller totems and a small octagonal building, has been restored several times over the years, with the exception of the work sponsored by the Kansas Grassroots Art Association almost two decades ago, none have been of sufficient quality, nor sufficiently durable.

Following a year-long investigation as to how best to restore the top half of the totem, a team led by teachers Erin Turner and Margo Hoover has begun a campaign to raise funds for these efforts. Check out the link and help fund this important restoration project: http://www.totempolepark.org

You can find out more about the project through their recent Kickstarter Campaign page, here.

And, as always, learn more about the site on the Ed Galloway Totem Pole page in our Online Collection, here.

SPACES Mourns the Passing of Indian Artist Nek Chand

Posted in SPACES News

Nek Chand, creator of the Rock Garden of Chandigarh in India, died on Friday, June 12, at the age of 90. Mr. Chand started building his beloved Rock Garden in 1957—a breathtaking work that spans 40 acres, and is built entirely of discarded materials. 

nekMr. Chand at age 76. Image via Reuters.

Mr. Chand built the ‪Rock Garden‬ of Chandigarh as his vision of the divine kingdom on Sukrani on a land conservancy gorge near Sukhna Lake. In 1975, at around 13-acres, his guerrilla artwork was discovered by authorities and was in danger of being demolished. Thanks to the public’s advocacy, in 1976, it was designated a public space, and Chand was given a title (Sub-Divisional Engineer), and a salary to continue building and maintaining it, along with a workforce of 50 Laborers. The now 40-acre site is visited by 5,000 people daily, and is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. 

 

The New York Times, in an obituary for Mr. Chand, recalls the artist’s beginnings: 

“The creation story of the Rock Garden has the tenor of a local epic. Mr. Chand was born Nek Chand Saini on Dec. 15, 1924, in the village of Barian Kalan, which became part of Pakistan after partition. He was newly arrived in the city of Chandigarh just after India’s independence in 1947. He worked for the government as a road inspector, according to the Department of Chandigarh Tourism website. But, Ms. Bajaj said, he became fascinated by found objects, including weather-beaten rocks. 

 

“I started building this garden as a hobby” in the 1950s, he said in an interview with Agence France-Presse in December. “I had many ideas, I was thinking all the time. I saw beauty and art in what people said was junk.” By night he slipped onto a patch of land and artfully arranged rocks and construction waste behind a barricade of empty tar drums.

 

“The beautiful stones he set aside, and then he would set them up like a jeweler,” said Ms. Bajaj, who was introduced to the sculptures in 1972, when, she said, the garden was still something of a secret. “When Nek Chand would pick them up and put them in a particular way, suddenly you could see, my God, this is a woman with a child.”

We at Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments (SPACES) remember the important work and legacy of Nek Chand, and are thankful for his contribution to India and the world-over. Mr. Chand’s Rock Garden is an inspiring example of a people and their government not only supporting and sustaining a self-taught art environment, but articulating it as a valuable cultural marker in the region:

“It has made Chandigarh complete,” said Rupan Deol Bajaj, a retired bureaucrat from Punjab who has been an advocate of protecting the garden. “It has given a soul to the city.”

Below, enjoy a video on the on-going conservation of the Rock Garden of Chandigarh. If you have images of, or documentation on Nek Chand’s Rock Garden, and would like to submit that detail for the Rock Garden page on the SPACES Archives Online Collection, please contact us HERE

 

Nek Chand’s Rock Garden - Work In Progress from Alan Cesarano on Vimeo.

SPACES Receives Funding from NEH for National Folklore Archives Initiative

Posted in SPACES News

 

nehlogohorizlarge

We’re excited to share news that SPACES is one of 25 partner organizations to receive funding for a grant to further support access to its digital collections and archives. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has recommended a second phase of funding for the American Folklore Society’s National Folklore Archives Initiative (NFAI). afs

The NFAI is an effort to document and provide access to archival collections held by folklore programs at academic institutions, community-based cultural and ethnic organizations, nonprofits, and state government-based arts and cultural agencies in the United States. The American Folklore Society (AFS) writes:

“Folklore archival collections constitute one of the nation’s most valuable cultural resources, but scholars, teachers, students, and community members can usually only access these materials with some difficulty. The NFAI is responding to this situation by creating an integrated, field-wide, sustainable infrastructure to make these collections more widely discoverable and accessible, and to help ensure their long-term preservation.”

Phase I of the National Folklore Archives Initiative (2011-2013) led to the creation of the Folklore Collections Database (FCD), a framework hosted by Indiana University Libraries at www.folklorecollections.org, where participating archives can catalog and share metadata from their collections. For Phase II (2015-2017), AFS will receive $250,000 from the Preservation and Access Division of the NEH to enable the 25 archival partner organizations to start the process of cataloging their collections and building accessible content to Folklore Collections Database. Jo Farb Hernández, Executive Director of SPACES, says:

“As SPACES has already made an impressive start in the process of digitizing our archival materials in order to increase accessibility by the general public, we are well poised to hit the ground running in support of this important new initiative, and we look forward to collaborating with our colleagues across the country to broaden access even further.”

SPACES is thrilled to be included in this grant alongside other impressive cultural organizations like the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, NYC’s CityLore, the Louisiana Folklife Program, and the Philadelphia Folklore Project, to name just a few. We greatly look forward to developing increased awareness and access to our unique collections through the Folklore Collections Database in the coming years, and are thankful to the American Folklore Society and the National Endowment for the Humanities for making work this possible.

 

Browse Blog Archives by Month
Highlights

A Letter from Emily Smith, director at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
Preservation News, SPACES News, Threatened Environments

Hoffman's The Last Resort in California to Form Non-Profit
Preservation News, Take Action, Threatened Environments

Dispatch from the Field: Singular Spaces, Volume 2 in progress!

Kohler Foundation seeks Preservation Coordinator
job opportunities, Preservation News

UPDATE! Save Nashville artist William Edmondson's homesite!
Preservation News, Self-Taught Arts in the News, Take Action, Threatened Environments

Save Nashville artist William Edmondson's homesite!
Preservation News, Take Action, Threatened Environments

Upcoming Hearing on Historically Designating the Painted Bride Arts Center
Gardens, Preservation News, Take Action

Sign petition to save Justo Gallego's Cathedral!
Religious, Devotional & Spiritual, Take Action, Threatened Environments

Raise your voice in support of Philadelphia's Painted Bride!
Take Action, Threatened Environments

Association des Amis de Chomo unveils new website

The SPACES website allows you to save your favorite art environments and share them with your friends or colleagues. Create your own portfolio of your favorites from environments in the online collection.

Send them to your friends, post them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and tag #spacesarchives 

Look for this button on pages that can be saved:

Add Page to my spaces