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TAKE ACTION: Tell City Officials to Support the Watts Towers Arts Center and its Programs

Posted in Preservation News, Take Action

 

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 Dear Friends,

 

Last week, the 40th Annual Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival and the 35th Annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival survived a SERIOUS THREAT from the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs.  Due to their stated administrative strictures, they were going to withhold resources essential for the Festivals’ presentation this year.  At the last minute, after months of sporadic discussions with Watts Towers Arts Center Campus staff and Campus community support groups, the present crisis was averted.

 

We ask you now to help us avoid such a crisis in the future!  We need to show official Los Angeles the depth of support that the Watts Towers and its Arts Center has.  Help us impress upon the representatives of Los Angeles city government the importance of open communication with the staff of the Watts Towers Arts Center and the representatives of the Campus community support groups who have worked over the years on site to plan, organize and present these vital community events.

 

 

We ask you to put your name to the letter we have prepared below and to send it to everyone on the “Mail to:” list beneath the letter.  

Make whatever changes in the letter you feel will better reflect your perspective. Then send the letter to the first address on the list (Danielle Brazell, General Manager, Department of Cultural Affairs) and cc all the following names.

 

 

Please join us in continuing to protect the Watts community from the possibility of losing these public festival treasures that have represented our cultural heritage over four decades.

 

Thank you.

 

 

[SAMPLE LETTER below]

 

Dear Ms. Brazell,

 

I am grateful that the Department of Cultural Affairs has removed the obstructions threatening the production of the 40th Annual Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival and the 35th Annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival, scheduled for presentation on September 24 and 25.  It is appalling to think that these cultural heritage treasures – the oldest continuously running annual music festivals offered free to the public in the City of Los Angeles – might not have been presented this year.  

 

I stand by the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus staff and community support groups. I urge you to allow them in the spirit of open communication and mutual cooperation to continue to serve the City and our community and to showcase the riches of our cultural heritage under one of the world’s great monuments of architectural sculpture.

 

I ask as well that you help them seek the support of the City Councilman in whose district the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus has served to bring world-class arts exhibitions and professional arts and music education for over 50 years.       

 

Rodia’s Nuestro Pueblo, the Watts Towers Arts Center and these historic heritage festivals are beacons of freedom, initiative and multi-ethnic harmony.  The City of Los Angeles cannot afford to have such powerful symbols of peace and community be lost in these troubled times that we all must face together.

 

Sincerely yours,

YOUR NAME

 

In support of 

The Watts Towers Community Action Council

The Friends of the Watts Towers Arts Center

The Parents of the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus

The Watts Towers Arts Center Youth Board     

 

 

Mail to:

 

danielle.brazell@lacity.orgdaniel.tarica@lacity.orgLeslie.a.thomas@lacity.orgeric.garcetti@lacity.orgbarbara.romero@lacity.org

Edgar.garcia@lacity.orgluis.rivera@lacity.orgJoel.jacinto@la.city.orgMike.davis@lacity.orgcontroller.galperin@lacity.org

joe.buscaino@lacity.orgCouncilmember.wesson@lacity.orgdavid.ryu@lacity.org; councilmember.harris-dawson@lacity.org; councilmember.price@lacity.org; paul.koretz@lacity.org; Markridley-thomas@bos.lacounty.gov; sawoods@parks.ca.gov; leslie.hartzell@parks.ca.gov; Terry.nicholson@mail.house.gov; 

Ericfboyd@mailhouse.gov; lucy.walker@sen.ca.gov; Holly.mitchell@sen.ca.gov; Michelle.chambers@asm.ca.gov

Keara.joe@asm.ca.gov; craig.watson@arts.ca.gov; kelan10@att.netwatts.towers1@lacity.org

 

 

ACT NOW: Support the Watts Towers Candidacy for UNESCO World Heritage Site Status

Posted in Preservation News

 

UNESCO World Heritage sites are considered among those monuments, neighborhoods, and buildings that demonstrate Outstanding Universal Value – the best in the world. We believe that the Watts Towers art environment in Los Angeles qualifies under that criteria, and are looking to submit an application for their review, but we have an extremely small window of opportunity to advance the candidacy of this site: paperwork must be received by UNESCO by April 30 – less than one month away!
In order for the nomination to even be submitted, we need the support of the City of Los Angeles, managers of the Watts Towers. To that end, we urge you to write to Mayor Eric Garcetti and the following list of staffers and administrators, urging them to support this initiative. My sample letter is attached, but please feel free to personalize it to reflect your own experience with and support of the Towers.
Thanks in advance for helping us bring additional visibility and protection to one of the most important art environments the world over!

 

Send letters to:
 
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles:  eric.garcetti@lacity.org
Edgar Garcia, City of Los Angeles, Office of the Mayor:  Edgar.garcia@lacity.org
Danielle Brazell, General Manager, Department of Cultural Affairs:  danielle.brazell@lacity.org
Daniel Tarica, Assistant General Manager, Department of Cultural Affairs:  daniel.tarica@lacity.org
Leslie Thomas, Director, Community Arts Division Dept. of Cultural Affairs: Leslie.a.thomas@lacity.org
Joseph Buscaino, Councilman, 15th District 15:  joe.buscaino@lacity.org
Mike Davis, Commissioner, City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works: Mike.davis@lacity.org
Joel Jacinto, Commissioner, City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works, Joel.jacinto@lacity.org
Sean Woods, Superintendent, Los Angeles Sector, California State Parks:  sawoods@parks.ca.gov
Leslie Hartzell, Chief, Cultural Resources Division, State Parks:  leslie.hartzell@parks.ca.gov
Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Supervisor, Markridley-thomas@bos.lacounty.gov
Herb J. Wesson, Councilman, 10th District:  Councilmember.wesson@lacity.org
 
 
And copy them to:
 
Jo Farb Hernández, Director, SPACES: jfh@cruzio.com
Luisa Del Guidice, Watts Towers UNESCO Committee: luisadg@humnet.ucla.edu
Maxine Waters, U.S. Congresswoman, Attn: Terry Nicholson:  Terry.nicholson@mail.house.gov
Isadore Hall III, California State Senator, Attn: Lucy Walker  lucy.walker@sen.ca.gov
Holly Mitchell, California State Senator:  Holly.mitchell@sen.ca.gov
Mike Gipson, 64th District Assemblymember:  Attn: Keara Joe Keara.joe@asm.ca.gov
Craig Watson, Director, California Arts Council:  craig.watson@arts.ca.gov
Julie Fry, President and CEO, California Council for the Humanities Attn:  Felicia Kelley fkelley@calhum.org
Rosie Lee Hooks, Director, Watts Towers Arts Center Campus, Dept. of Cultural Affairs, Watts.towers1@lacity.org

Support Watts Towers letter (.pdf format)

Support Watts Towers letter (.txt format)

 

March 24, 2016

SPACES (Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments)
9053 Soquel Drive, Suite 205
Aptos, CA 95003

Eric Garcetti, Mayor
City of Los Angeles
Via email : eric.garcetti@lacity.org

Dear Mr. Garcetti:

As you no doubt know, the Watts Towers complex, built by Italian immigrant Sabato Rodia over a 30-plus year period beginning in 1921, is not only the most important public art work in the City of Los Angeles, but has been recognized with state and national status on their registers of historical landmarks and monuments. It is renowned globally as an icon of the genre of art environments and is a draw for art enthusiasts from around the world; indeed, a 2009 international conference in Italy focused on the Towers, and I myself have used them as the fulcrum for discussions about art environments across the United States, as well as in lectures in France, Spain, and Switzerland.

 

At this time we have the opportunity to assure that the Watts Towers gain even further visibility and protection by having them be considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The window of opportunity for submission of this application, however, is tight: we must submit all paperwork by April 30, just over one month away. We have the backing from the current owners of the monument – the State of California’s State Parks system – as well as from an impressive roster of international scholars and citizen advocates. And we have no doubt that we will be easily able to meet and surpass the criteria for the “Outstanding Universal Value” that is required for the nomination to move forward in the process. (For further information, you might wish to review additional documentation about the Towers at www.WattsTowersCommonGround.org or http://spacesarchives.org/explore/collection/environment/watts-towers/.)

 

This application, however, cannot move forward without the express support of the City of Los Angeles, managers of the site.

 

I therefore urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to take all immediate measures necessary to authorize submittal of this application enabling the Watts Towers to be reviewed as a possible candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status. You, and the City of Los Angeles, have nothing to lose but much to gain should the candidacy be approved.

Should you have any questions, I would be pleased to answer them or to provide whatever additional information you might require.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter, and congratulations, in advance, for having begun the process to add an important World Heritage Site to the list of Los Angeles’s many assets.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jo Farb Hernandez
Executive Director
www.spacesarchives.org

 

 

 

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!  

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.

 

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.

 

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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