Mourning Francisco González Gragera, creator of Capricho de Cotrina

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Stacy Mueller

Posts by Stacy Mueller 18 Items

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Watts and Conservation Communities Mourn Frank Preusser

Posted in Just Added, Preservation News

Frank D. Preusser (1944 – 2017)

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Dr. Frank D. Preusser, Andrew W. Mellon Senior Conservation Scientist, in the Conservation Center at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  Dr. Preusser devoted his life to the preservation of cultural materials and is widely recognized as one of the preeminent figures in the field of conservation science.  He joined LACMA in 2005 at a time when the Center was undergoing significant changes and his efforts were instrumental in revitalizing the Center’s scientific program. In addition to providing scientific support to the museum’s conservators and curatorial staff, Frank was the lead scientist and project manager for LACMA’s efforts to conserve Watts Towers – a complex set of interconnected sculptural structures located within the Simon Rodia State Historic Park in Watts, California.

Dr. Preusser received his BS (1967) and MS (1969) in chemistry from the Technical University Munich, Germany and in 1973 his PhD (summa cum laude) in physical chemistry and chemical technology. Soon thereafter he accepted a position at the Doerner Institute, the research center of the Bavarian State Art Collections where he served as Head of the Research Laboratory for over ten years working closely with one of the world’s leading paintings conservators, the late Hubert von Sonnenburg. As the only museum scientist on staff he was responsible for the technical examination of the collections as well as assisting the State’s Historic Monument Protection Agency. He also played an active role in the design of the Neue Pinakothek Munich to ensure the proper display and storage of the works of art.

 In 1983 Dr. Preusser was appointed Head of the Laboratory at the J. Paul Getty Museum and later served in multiple positions at the Getty Conservation Institute including Program Director (Scientific Research), Acting Co-Director, Head of Publications, and Associate Director (Programs). As Program Director for Scientific Research Dr. Preusser developed a wide range of new initiatives that set the stage for some of the most important advances in the field of conservation science. During his tenure at GCI, rather than poaching research staff from other institutions, Dr. Preusser purposefully recruited young up-and-coming professionals with various scientific backgrounds and set them off on the challenge of applying their expertise to cultural heritage preservation.  Many of them continue his drive to advance scientific progress in the field of conservation. During his tenure at GCI he also served on numerous advisory committees for the preservation of cultural materials – most notably UNESCO’s Advisory Committee to the Egyptian Antiquities Organization on the Preservation of the Giza Plateau; UNESCO’s International Consultative Committee for the Preservation of Moenjodaro in Pakistan; UNESCO’s International Committee on Training Needs in Cambodia; UNESCO’s Advisory Committee on the Preservation of the Monuments of Angkor, Cambodia; and the US National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program.

 After leaving the Getty Conservation Institute in 1993, he founded Frank Preusser & Associates where he continued to work on cultural heritage preservation projects for museums, libraries and archives as well as scientific investigations of individual artworks.  During this time he was also a guest-professor at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku) where he taught several graduate courses in conservation science including an Introduction to Instrumental analysis, archaeometry, and accelerated aging.

While Dr. Preusser’s knowledge of the field of art conservation was without parallel, for those of us who had the honor of working with him he will always be remembered for the devotion and support he gave his staff and colleagues.  He loved teaching and guiding his staff and interns to reach their goals and become successful professionals. Many of us today owe our professional careers to his mentorship for which we are truly grateful.  

Dr. Preusser is survived by his wife Margarete, his two sons Wolfgang and Bernhard, his daughters-in-law Melinda and Susan, and his grandchildren Adrianna and Devin.

 

~Mark Gilberg and Charlotte Eng



Salvation Mountain Update

Posted in Just Added, Take Action, Threatened Environments

Most who know the story of how Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain came to be or have visited the Dr. Seussian spectacle rising triumphantly out of the monochromatic Sonoran Desert landscape realize the fragility of this incredible monument to God’s love as understood by Knight (1931 – 2014). After falling down several years into its making, Knight adjusted his technique and began packing handmade adobe into the side of an existing cliff face, then applying coats upon coats of technicolor paint as a strikingly beautiful layer of protection.

svm2Photo: Annalise Taylor. December 26, 2016.

The Mountain is incredibly vulnerable to the elements, and deserts like the Sonoran present some of the harshest conditions on the planet – a dehydrated and utterly unprotected landscape. Considering the intentions behind Knight’s creation – that it exist almost as a beckoning mirage, attracting its seekers and mere passersby alike – to cut off visitor access in order to protect the integrity of the structure would be counterintuitive to its most basic function. Not to mention, any attempt to provide significant protection for the structure from both visitors and the desert conditions would be a prohibitively expensive endeavor. Thus, Salvation Mountain will continue to exist as it has for the past 30 years – open to all who visit and susceptible to whatever may come its way.

However, the Mountain does not stand alone but rather with a team of dedicated and passionate protectors who continue the never-ending process of fixing what fails. The reality of the open-air site is that without constant care, it will degrade over time. Salvation Mountain’s board of directors, Salvation Mountain, Inc., has employed a site docent, Ella Hare, as well as a caretaker, Ron, to explain Knight’s story of love and dedication, be vigilant when visitors are present, and make necessary repairs.

svm3Photo: Annalise Taylor. December 26, 2016.

During my last visit on December 26, 2016, I had a lengthy conversation with Ron about the current plans for the Mountain. The area had experienced significant rainfall over the previous two weeks, so the Mountain and the Museum were off limits to visitors until the area was completely dry. It was heartening to see a wealth of visitors complying with the signage directing them to observe from a distance rather than walking on the Mountain or the Sea of Galilee. The site continues to attract visitors though it has been several years since Knight was present to act as the Mountain’s very charismatic host and guide; Ron said he encountered hundreds of people over the Christmas holiday.

 Ron enthusiastically explained his plans to continue making significant conservation efforts to the Mountain; however, there is no intention to stray whatsoever from the appearance of the site as it was when Knight was present. He and a team of volunteers are working to reinforce the delicate hay bale and car window roof of the Museum with more bales and additional packed adobe and paint. Additionally, the downward slope to the left of the center of the mountain has been packed with an adobe base layer so that the red tree with branching beatitudes like “faith,” “love,” and “meekness” can be recreated. It’s clear that Ron, who is a relatively new caretaker, feels very dedicated to the immense task ahead of him and hopes do his work in the spirit of Knight.   

svm4Photo: Annalise Taylor. December 26, 2016.

Salvation Mountain is currently listed by SPACES as “threatened,” and I believe this to be true. While repairs are made when sections of the mountain disintegrate, largescale damage due to a natural disaster, which could conceivably strike at any moment, would probably prove unmanageable. However, as long as the members of Salvation Mountain, Inc. and its team remain dedicated to their labor of love – maintaining and protecting the site – I believe Salvation Mountain will continue to thrive, and most importantly, reflect the original spirit of its humble creator, Leonard Knight.

~Annalise Taylor

Executive Director – Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park & Museum

Posted in Just Added

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Last Date to Apply: A resume and cover letter must be submitted to whirligigpark@gmail.com no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 3, 2017.

The Position:  This full time Executive Director position is responsible for the management and oversight of a dynamic start-up nonprofit organization using art and science and a public park/outdoor museum as catalysts for community and economic development.

The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park & Museum is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization created to design, build, program, and promote a unique new park in the heart of Historic Downtown Wilson, which will serve as an arts & science-driven economic development engine, vibrant community gathering space, and tourism driver. The 30 massive, wind-driven kinetic sculptures designed and built by the renowned artist, Vollis Simpson, are being renovated and conserved to serve as the centerpiece of the new park. The non-profit will retain long-term ownership and maintenance responsibilities of the artwork collection and will work in partnership with the City of Wilson to construct, promote and program this public park. The Whirligig Park project has received national recognition, funding, and or partnerships from prestigious organizations such as the National Parks Service, Smithsonian, National Endowment for the Arts, Kohler Foundation, ArtPlace America, the North Carolina Arts Council, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and the City of Wilson, among others.

Compensation: Pay commensurate with experience in the industry

Benefits: The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park & Museum nonprofit organization provides an excellent working environment as well as benefits. Pay commensurate with experience in the industry.
Vacation, holidays, PTO
403b
Compensation package for medical benefits
Flex scheduling

To Compete the Selection Process: To be considered for this position, a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is required. Experience sufficient to thoroughly understand the diverse objectives and functions of the position and organizational goals, usually interpreted to require at least five years’ experience, is required. Possession of a valid driver’s license is required.

The Selection Process
: The process begins with a complete evaluation of the resumes submitted. After screening all candidates, the most qualified will be invited to participate in personal interviews. The applicant determined to be the best fit for the needs of the positions will be given a careful reference and criminal background checks and a drug test.
 
Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum
Where the Sciences Meet the Arts
252-243-8440
828-318-2860 (c)
www.wilsonwhirligigpark.org
 

Remembering Josep Pujiula i Vila (1937-2016)

Posted in Just Added, Self-Taught Arts in the News

 

OBITUARY: JOSEP PUJIULA I VILA

Jo Farb Hernández

Internationally renowned art environment builder Josep Pujiula i Vila suddenly died of a heart attack the morning of June 2, 2016. He was 79 years old.

 

untitledPhoto: Jo Farb Hernández, 2000

Beginning in the 1970s, Pujiula built a series of monumental openwork structures out of willow branches and found objects in a wooded area just west of the village of Argelaguer in the Pyrenean foothills of Catalunya. But as he didn’t build on his own property, again and again he ran into challenges with authorities from the municipality, the electrical company, and the agencies in charge of water, electricity, and highways. Responding to their demands, he destroyed but then rebuilt four complete art environments in this area, each unique but each also utilizing what became his iconic material and motif: arched tunnels created from the flexible branches of the saplings found by the nearby Fluvià River. He lashed these slim limbs together to erect numerous towers reaching 40 meters (130+ feet) high and labyrinths that curved around the hillsides, snaking up and stretching over a kilometer in length. Shelters, passageways strung 20 meters (65 feet) in the air, stairways, and bridges added to the complexity of the maze.

 

untitled2-z3gPhoto: Jo Farb Hernández, 2009

 

untitled3-5m7Photos: Jo Farb Hernández, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the last fifteen years Pujiula also constructed a lyrical fountain area in concrete and iron, increasing the durability of his work and the immortality of his name. Hugging the hillside and ornamented with kinetic steel and stone sculptures, these cascading ponds finished in a natural pool below.

 

 

 

untitled4Photo: Jo Farb Hernández, 2007

Most recently, he hacked out his own “Pharaonic Tomb” from the rocky hillside with simple hand tools, covering the exterior façade as well as the interior walls with hieroglyphics that represented images from his life.

 

untitled5Photo: Sam Hernández 2016

 Pujiula’s creation of one of the most spectacular and extensive art environments anywhere defied traditional community norms of aesthetics and function, yet enjoyment of his site by visitors ultimately became crucial to his continued efforts. Finally, after decades fighting the authorities, in October 2014 Pujiula’s site was officially recognized as a local heritage site, a worthy recipient of county funding and support. And in the summer of 2015 he was a finalist for the International Award for Public Art, representing all of Europe including the Russian Federation. He was flown down to New Zealand for the award ceremony, his first major trip beyond Catalunya.

In recent weeks Pujiula manifested a creative explosion that astonished his family. “He was thinking only about building,” his son-in-law wrote me three weeks ago, “as if it would be the last act and legacy of his life.”

 

 

Hamtramck Disneyland sold to local art collective!

Posted in Threatened Environments

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Hamtramck — It looks like Hamtramck Disneyland in the Detroit enclave is here to stay.

The future of the eclectic collection of yard folk art created by Ukrainian immigrant Dmytro Szylak appeared grim after his death last May. But a Hamtramck art gallery collective called Hatch Art has purchased the property.

“It’s a done deal,” said Jan Dijkers, the realtor who represented Hatch Art in the sale, Friday. “It was sold today.”

She said the property, which covers two adjoining houses on Klinger, was on the market since March 3, 2016, and it was purchased for $100,000.

“We really had no idea what would happen to (the property) if we didn’t buy it and that’s why we fought so hard to make sure it stayed in the hands of an organization that is art-focused and is part of the community,” Dijkers said.

She said the art collective plans to restore and preserve Szylak’s sculptures and renovate the two houses on the property. The houses have four flats in them and three of them will be rented out to defray the costs of restoring and maintaining the sculptures, she said. The fourth flat will be used as an artist-in-residence space, she said.

Restoration work is expected to begin immediately, Dijkers said.

“The sooner they can get them renovated, the sooner they can start generating some cash flow,” she said.

Szylak, a retired General Motors employee, started assembling his masterpiece in the backyard of his small two-story house on Klinger more than 20 years ago.

Szylak lived in the home for more than 50 years with his wife and daughters. His wife died in 2008 at the age of 83 and his relationship with his daughters deteriorated after her death.

After Syzlak died at age 92, his estate became tied up in probate court and the fate of his collection of colorful pieces was unclear.

The collection includes a Ferris wheel that sits atop of the garage, mirrors and hand-crafted airplanes and miniature animals. A large colorful gate welcomes guests with the face of Mickey Mouse looming in the distance. Rockets and a merry-go-round horse are among the pieces in the backyard; framed photos of tigers, elephants and sunflowers cover the rustic walls of the garage door.

Every Labor Day weekend during the Hamtramck festival, Szylak would put out signs to encourage guests to take photos outside of his home.

~Reposted from The Detroit News, May 6, 2016

Materializing the Bible. by James S. Bielo (Miami University)

Posted in Gardens, Religious, Devotional & Spiritual

Materializing the Bible

By: James S. Bielo (Miami University)

pic-1-464The main attraction is a replica of the Garden Tomb, which many Protestant traditions claim to be Jesus’ true burial site (rather than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is favored by Eastern Orthodox and Catholic traditions). Perhaps visitors imagine Cincinnati as Jerusalem, a city on the doorstep of an open tomb.

 

It is revealing that an organizing category for SPACES is “Grottos, Religious, Spiritual, Devotional, Mystical Environments.” Artistry and creative production are durable parts of religious life, in officially sanctioned and off-grid spaces. Given this, it is no surprise that SPACES bolsters a work I began in July 2015 that similarly gathers a diverse collection of places.

 

Materializing the Bible is a digital scholarship project that curates Bible-based attractions around the world. The site builds the argument that seemingly different attractions are all expressions of a distinctive genre of place. That genre is defined by transforming the written words of the Christian Bible into physical, experiential environments. With the research help of a student at Miami University, we created the project to be an interactive gateway for exploring the global spread of Bible-based attractions. See  http://www.materializingthebible.com/.

 

Currently, the site is a portal to 194 attractions, organized by six sub-genres: re-creations of biblical stories; creation museums; biblical gardens; transmission museums; art collections; and, archaeology museums. Many attractions exemplify the SPACES conception of an art environment, such as the Desert Christ Park in Yucca Valley, California. Others mix the feel of an art environment with replications of a biblical past that strive toward historical authenticity, such as the House of Mary Shrine in Yankton, South Dakota.

 

As an anthropologist, I am most interested in what potentials these attractions promise for religious lives. In particular, how do they satisfy desires to experience and understand faith in ways that are materially oriented and sensuously engaged?

 

In March 2016, I visited the Garden of Hopein Covington, Kentucky. Completed in 1958 by an evangelical pastor, this small attraction sits on the backside of a working-class neighborhood. If you are not seeking it, you will not stumble on it. Situated atop a hill, the sound of I-75’s rushing traffic directly below saturates the soundscape as you realize an unencumbered view of Cincinnati’s skyline.

pic-3-v8dSPACES emboldens me to think more about how attractions function as art environments, opening new analytical avenues. For example, when biblical replicas and references that jump across time periods or cultural locations are arranged together, it is insufficient to merely proclaim anachronism. Such arrangements can express a distinct artistic vision, which may very well index a distinct theological vision. I look forward to continuing this exploration.pic-2-wfkNext to a footpath near the replica, there is a weathered and partially destroyed sign marking the planting of biblical flora. This borrows from the sub-genre of Biblical Gardens, where entire attractions are filled only with plants, trees, and shrubs named by scripture. The sign references 2 Chronicles 2:8, which has no prophetic link to the New Testament. But here, the presence of biblical flora is not about hermeneutics, it’s about aesthetics. The textual connection is less important than the immersive effect of the combined material elements.



Jean-Michel Chesné’s Garden and Grotto under threat from road realignment!

Posted in Preservation News, Threatened Environments
chesneThe site in 2012.

Jean-Michel Chesné’s site in Malakoff, France, which includes an innovative chapel and grotto, whimsical ceramic and shell mosaic work, and creative freestanding sculptures, are in danger of being demolished due to the city’s new urban plans. SPACES is helping Chesné try to convince the Malakoff officials to consider other options for their urban renewal that will not destroy this important site as collateral damage. If you would like to add your name to a list of supporters, please contact SPACES Director Jo Farb Hernández: jfh@cruzio.com. For further information, please contact Hernández or SPACES Board member Laurent Danchin.

A petition has been started to save this site, please sign and show your support!  

Self-Taught artist Josep Pujiula honored at International Award for Public Art ceremony in New Zealand

The Award

The International Award for Public Art (IAPA) honors excellence in the field of public art, increases visibility for public art internationally, and fosters knowledge through research, discussion, and debate. IAPA was created in 2011 by Forecast Public Art (publisher of Public Art Review) and Shanghai University’s College of Fine Arts (publisher of Public Art) with the aim of propagating knowledge about the practice of public art globally. The Institute for Public Art was established to further the process of researching and support efforts to host the award event and related forums.

 

Beginning in late 2013, Forecast Public Art began accepting proposals for hundreds of noteworthy recent public art projects from around the world to consider for the 2015 award; 125 exemplary projects were ultimately nominated. The field was then narrowed by an international panel of jurors to 32 semi-finalists, and then, ultimately, to seven finalists, one from each of the global regions.

 

Josep Pujiula (Argelaguer, Spain) was one of the seven finalists, representing all of Europe, including the Russian Federation. He was flown to New Zealand to participate in the International Award for Public Art ceremony in Auckland on July 1, 2015, and to present information about his work. His work, along with that of all 32 semi-finalists, was featured in an exhibition and publication, hosted by the University of Auckland in partnership with China’s Shandong University Academy of Art. For further information on all of the semi-finalists, see http://forecastpublicart.org/forecast/2014/12/public-art-review-usa-public-art-china-institute-public-art-announce-finalists-2nd-international-award-public-art/

 

While the ultimate winner of the2015 IAPA award was a project focusing on sexual violence in India (“Talk to Me,” 2012, by the artist collective Blank Noise from Bangalore, India), Pujiula received an award of special distinction for his 45 years of construction of the Labyrinth and Cabins of Argelaguer.

 

The Work

Josep Pujiula i Vila (b. 1937) is a self-taught artist who, driven by personal passion, created a monumental artwork that has become central to the shared public identity of his village in the province of Girona in Spain’s Catalonia.

Vila received no underwriting, sponsorships, or funding besides coins dropped into an improvised donation box. Yet, working for over 45 years on three separate, massive constructions, he has ignited the passion of the villagers, who are now working actively to preserve his artwork and reclaim it as emblematic of their locale.

Pujiula, a retired factory worker without his own land, built his structures on someone else’s private property. His first, straightforward architectural installation evolved into a second, more artful and expansive multilevel construction project. Created from branches found on-site, this second work of art included seven 100-foot towers, innumerable bridges, shelters, walkways, and stairwells, and a labyrinth over a mile long.

Working alone, with impressive technical prowess, he constructed soaring spires as well as graceful passageways and shelters with superficially fragile materials. He confidently adjusted to changes, opportunities, imperfections, and a lack or abundance of materials, improvising and integrating contingent elements. No formalized written plans ever existed for his elaborate constructions.

Tens of thousands of visitors passed through the site annually. Their ability to physically interact with Pujiula’s constructions energized and emotionally impacted them: “Thanks for making us feel like children,” read an anonymous note.

In 2002, Pujiula was forced to destroy the second iteration of his spectacular public project by the village government and state authorities, despite petitions from protesting supporters worldwide. Undaunted, Pujiula moved to a nearby site and began again. The third, monumental version (2007–2011) was elegant and extremely complex, evidence of his maturing aesthetic sense and his sharpened technical skills. To enhance durability, he also began working in stone, concrete, and steel, and soon his constructions again had become one of the world’s largest art environments, comprising eight towers, a new labyrinth, and numerous kinetic sculptures and cascading fountains.

Nevertheless, in 2012 Pujiula was forced yet again to dismantle and burn all of the wooden components. Today Pujiula—along with the energized villagers and thousands of international supporters—is fighting to save and conserve what remains, and in the fall of 2014 his work was finally acknowledged by the county and municipal governments as a local heritage site. His work has become the very symbol of Argelaguer, while at the same time it has gained increasing global importance, thanks to his innovative design, the monumentality of the construction, and his formidable tenacity.

Jo Farb Hernández

For more information: jfh@cruzio.com



SPACES Board now stretches internationally!

Posted in SPACES News

With its increasing emphasis on the international documentation of and advocacy for art environments, SPACES is delighted to announce that Laurent Danchin has joined our Board of Trustees. A renowned thinker, writer, curator, and advocate for art environments, Danchin is renowned all over Europe and beyond for his experience in and passion for this genre of art. Learn more about him HERE 

Singular Spaces book wins American Alliance of Museums Design Award!

SPACES is delighted to announce that the book Singular Spaces: From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments, has received the second place award in the books category in the annual Museum Publications Design Competition, sponsored by the American Alliance of Museums.

The jurors sought out the best in graphic design in 12 different categories. Among the highlights of this year’s winning entries were an interesting mix of risk-taking and classically designed books and catalogs and layouts and font selections that were legible and complimented the content.

For more than 25 years, the Alliance has recognized and encouraged excellence in the graphic design of museum publications through this competition, the only national, juried competition of its kind. Winners are chosen for their overall design excellence, creativity and ability to express an institution’s personality, mission or special features. The panel of judges includes graphic designers, museum professionals and publishers.

Special congratulations are due to Jo Farb Hernández, Director of SPACES and author of the book, and to Marquand Books, Inc., of Seattle, designers. The book was published by Raw Vision in conjunction with SPACES and the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery at San José State University.



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Highlights

Conservator-in-Residence Position, Hartman Rock Garden - Ohio
Preservation News

SPACES Honors Watts Towers Committee Founding Member Jeanne Smith Morgan on her 90th Birthday!
Preservation News, SPACES News

Remembering Josep Pujiula i Vila (1937-2016)
Just Added, Self-Taught Arts in the News

Dispatch from the Field: Jo Farb Hernández in Spain
Just Added, SPACES News

Materializing the Bible. by James S. Bielo (Miami University)
Gardens, Religious, Devotional & Spiritual

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

Mr. Imagination exhibit at Intuit named one of 10 best in the United States
Self-Taught Arts in the News

SPACES Director to Present Singular Spaces at Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum
SPACES News

Margaret’s Grocery listed as one of Mississippi’s Historic Trust’s 10 Most Endangered Properties!
Preservation News, Threatened Environments

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

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 or to your Twitter account!

Look for this button on pages that can be saved:

Add Page to my spaces