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Dispatch from the Field: Jo Farb Hernández in Spain

Posted in SPACES News

April turned out to be an extremely busy month as I continue my work in Spain.

The early part of the month I lectured on my Spanish art environment project (Singular Spaces: From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments) at Madrid’s fabulous Factoría Cultural. This arts complex, the former livestock market and slaughterhouse, takes up an entire city block of beautifully restored brick buildings; among other elements it includes spaces for performances, theatre, exhibitions, children’s workshops, lectures, and artist studios. 

untitledPresenting 'Singular Spaces' at Madrid’s Factoría Culturaluntitled2with Lucía Ybarra, Director of External Affairs for the Factoría Cultural

Later in the month I participated as a presenter as part of the first Diploma in Art Brut being offered at the University of Granada. This is an intensive six-week evening course, and I was pleased to be one of the early presenters so that I could express our understanding of the breadth of the field and appropriate ways to describe the artworks and honor the artists.

untitled3Left to right: SPACES Director Jo Farb Hernández, artist Roberto Pérez (La Finca de las Piedras Encantadas), author/curator Graciela García, and Pepa Mora Sánchez, UGR Professor and organizar of the Diploma.

Taking advantage of being in southern Spain, I spent the next several days doing fieldwork on three art environments that I had not previously known.  All three (as well as many others) will be included in the second volume of my Singular Spaces project, and all three are truly amazing sites. 

The first was a visit to the ornamented garden and home of Juan Muñoz Benítez. Although the artist died several years ago, his younger brother Anastasio is faithfully maintaining his work. Muñoz’s small village on the outskirts of Granada is about an hour from the coast, so the artist would travel there in his little Seat 600 to collect little stones and pebbles with which he would ornament his home and yard. Riffing off of the traditional “Granadino” [from Granada area] style of inlaying stones into sidewalks and streets, Muñoz took this to another level, with sophisticated designs, conceptually intriguing juxtapositions of flat work with bas-relief and three-dimensional elements, and meticulous craftsmanship.

 

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The following day we headed down to the beaches of the Adra area, between Malaga and Almería. There, María Rodríguez has been working on a shell garden. Her house fronts the beach, and all of her raw materials are found there simply for the cost of picking them up.

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The last day we headed west of Malaga to Benalmádena, where Karl Martín and his mother are caring for, conserving, and supporting the spectacular monument conceived and built by their late father/husband, Estéban Martin Martin from 1987-1994. Helped by two local bricklayers, Martín’s Castillo de Colomares is dedicated to Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America. This site is open to the public daily, and is the only architectural structure I’ve seen in Spain that approaches Ferdinand Cheval’s Palais Idéal in complexity and conceptual depth. More photos will be forthcoming as we develop the page for the SPACES website.

One of Columbus’s original ships, the Santa María, which broke apart and did not return with the crew to Spain in 1493.

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ship3Detail of one of the central towers

May is shaping up to be similarly busy; among other projects, I’ll be lecturing and participating in a round table in Bilbao on Spanish art environments, and  subsequent to that will take advantage of my trip north to visit several “new” art environments in the Basque Country, Navarra, and La Rioja. Watch this space for images and more information after that fieldwork trip as well.

I hope you’re having a marvelous spring! Let us know if you discover or update your images of any art environments as you travel.

  

With all best,

jo


Jo Farb Hernández

Director, SPACES

SPACES in Switzerland

Posted in SPACES News

I was delighted to be approached by the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland to co-curate an exhibition of annotated photographs of art environments to complement their exhibition Architectures, which opened November 13, 2015 and will continue through April 17, 2016. Our photographs were significantly enlarged and installed on panels in front of the museum; the following artists are featured: Josep Pujiula, Francisco Gonzalez Gragera, Peter Buch, and Felix Sanperiz from Spain (texts and photos mine); Euclides Da Costa Ferreira from France (photos Seymour Rosen, text by Henk van Es), and Sabato Rodia (photos and text mine), along with Billy Tripp and Cano Espinoza from the US (photos and text by Fred Scruton). There is also a separate panel which focuses on SPACES and our history/mission/activities, introducing what we do to the targeted audience of the Collection de l’art brut.

 

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In conjunction with the exhibition, I was invited to speak at a conference organized by the CAB along with the Forum on Architecture of Lausanne. SPACES Board member Laurent Danchin had also been scheduled to speak but had to cancel; in his stead, art historian Roberta Trapani and architect/painter Arduino Cantàflora filled out the rest of the program.

Collection de l’art brut Curator Pascale Marini-Jeanneret introduces my lecture:

blog-3-0krCollection de l’art brut Curator Pascale Marini-Jeanneret introduces my lecture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog-4-c1nPhoto by Sam Hernandez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog5-c85Roberta Trapani

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog6-k4rArduino Cantflora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog7-f29CAB Director Sarah Lombardi, CAB Curator Pascale Marini-Jeanneret, and SPACES Director Jo Farb Hernández at the Forum on Architecture, Lausanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

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

Posted in SPACES News

 

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Friends + amigos, 

 

If you will be in Madrid next week, please come to the Reina Sofia Museum on Thursday, Dec. 17 at 7 pm to enjoy the presentation of my book Singular Spaces: From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments, along with books by three other women who have recently published on the theme of art brut/art environments in Spain, Cuba, and Italy.

These works flow outside of the mainstream currents of art, and, as such, escape the homogeneity of much contemporary work. Their creators, primarily self-taught, express a unstoppable need to create. They thus fulfill an important role as active witnesses to the power of art to realize unique, passionate, and personal inspirations. Giada Carraro, Jo Farb Hernández, Graciela García, and Yaysis Ojeda Becerra, four women from different parts of the world, have recently published books on this theme. They will come together at the La Central bookstore at Madrid’s Museum Art Center Reina Sofía, Spain’s national museum of 20th-century art, in order to more widely disseminate their publications on creative expressions found outside of the principal circuits of art.”

Find out more HERE.

 

Warmly,

jo

 

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Si por si acaso estaréis en Madrid la semana que viene, por favor pasáis a la Reina Sofia jueves a las 19:00 de la tarde para una presentación de mi libro Singular Spaces igual con 3 libros más sobre el asunto de arte brut/art environments en España, Cuba, e Italia. ¡Todos sean bienvenidos!

 

Mas AQUI.

 

Un saludo,

jo

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

Posted in SPACES News, Threatened Environments

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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

 

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 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 

SPACES Receives Funding from NEH for National Folklore Archives Initiative

Posted in SPACES News

 

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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.

 

'Singular Spaces' Exhibition at the Fowler Museum, UCLA

Posted in SPACES News

 

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We’re pleased to share news of the upcoming Singular Spaces exhibition at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, featuring photographs by SPACES Executive Director Jo Farb Hernández which document eight self-taught artists from across Spain. The exhibition, which opens on April 12, and runs through September 6, 2015, explores Hernández’ extensive study of Spanish environmental artists — she crisscrossed Spain from 2000-2014, traveling tens of thousands of kilometers to meet and interview artists and document their work.

 

06-roof-terrace9520-r6vJosé María Garrido (1925-2011) Rooftop terrace, Museo del Mar, with protest signs Photo: Jo Farb Hernández, March 2009

Comprised of intriguing and idiosyncratic sculptures, gardens, and buildings, the artists developed environmental sites organically without formal architectural or engineering plans. Often highly fanciful and colorful, the sites are frequently characterized by incongruous juxtapositions. This is the result of the artists finding inspiration in their surroundings and making do with what is available. The environments these artists create become a visual cradle-to-grave accounting of how their creators have spent their lives and what was important to them.   

 

greenPeter Buch (b. 1938) Building in the shape of monumental head, El Jardi de Peter Photo: Jo Farb Hernández, August 2011

Featured artists include José María GarridoJosep Pujiula, and Francisco González Gragera, among others. Hernández says of the exhibition:

“I wanted to break down the compartmentalization of genres and reveal how these artists fuse their creations with daily existence in a way generally unmatched in the art world. The sites show complete commitment to the work and serve as a self-reflection of the maker’s life and concerns.” 

 

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On Thursday, April 16, at 7:30 pm at the Fowler Museum on the campus of UCLA, Hernández will discuss her photographic survey of these elaborate fanciful art environments and idiosyncratic sculptures of self-taught Spanish artists. Hernández, who is a professor at San Jose State University and Director of the University’s Thompson Art Gallery, spent close to fourteen years researching this project and writing the almost 1200-page book complementing the exhibition.  A 6 pm concert of Spanish guitar music and light refreshments precedes the talk. RSVP to the event on Facebook.

 

 

SPACES Recap: NPS Divine Disorder Conference at The High Museum

Posted in SPACES News
breakDivine Disorder participants gather between presentations. Photo courtesy NCPTT.

Every four years, the National Park Service’s National Center for Preservation Technology and Training puts together a rare convening of folks with both a professional and personal interest in the preservation of art environments and self-taught artistic work. The second annual Divine Disorder Conference on the Preservation of Folk and Outsider Art met February 24-26, 2015, drawing ethnographers, art historians, art conservators, historic preservationists, and museum and archive professionals alike to Atlanta, Georgia’s High Museum of Art.

The High, home to one of North America’s great collections of folk and self-taught art (including a room dedicated to the works of beloved Georgia artist Howard Finster), was a fitting gathering space for two days of contributed papers, followed by a field-trip day to Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens in North Georgia. 

jo at divine disorderSPACES Director Jo Farb Hernandez speaks at 2015 Divine Disorder. Photo courtesy NCPTT.

Presentations covered the range of discussion on conserving, preserving, documenting, and interpreting art environments and self-taught works. SPACES Executive Director Jo Farb Hernandez spoke on curatorial roles and responsibilities in working with art environments, while photographer Fred Scruton spoke about his work documenting the “personal iconography” of Niagara Falls artist Prophet Isaiah Robertson’s church and home.

Finster HighA Finster piece at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Photo courtesy NCPTT.

Others presented updates and best practices on conserving/restoring art environments, or in building local support for the preservation of a site. This included dispatches from the preservation efforts surrounding the E.T. Wickham Stone Park in Palmyra, Tennessee, Margaret’s Grocery, built by Rev. H.D. Dennis’ in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in Wilson, North Carolina.

Most notably, Terri Yoho, Director of the Kohler Foundation, a Wisconsin non-profit with a dedicated focus on the preservation of art environments, presented Kohler’s current project: The multi-stage restoration of Pasaquan, St. EOM’s seven acre art environment in Buena Vista, Georgia. Art conservators working on the Pasaquan project also spoke to the unique process of restoring such an expansive site, leaning on the wealth of primary documentation and local knowledge of the site to aid their work.

PG1Divine Disorder participants tour Finster's Paradise Gardens. Photo courtesy NCPTT.

 

The third day of the conference took participants up to Summerville, Georgia to see, first-hand, the renovation of Howard Finster’s hallowed art environment, Paradise Gardens. The Paradise Gardens Foundation assumed leadership of the site in 2012, in partnership with Chattooga County, Ga.

Director Jordan Poole led a tour of the snow-covered Gardens, and spoke about the site’s renovation process, largely supported by an Art Place America grant, but further supported by local investment in the Gardens as a key platform for economic development, cultural tourism, and public programming. 

 

Many thanks to the NPS’ National Center for Preservation Technology and Training and the High Museum of Art for facilitating an important and rare gathering, with representation across the disciplinary spectrum.

Folks who could not be at the 2015 Divine Disorder conference are able to access abstracts of each presentation on the NCPTT conference website, and will soon be able to stream videos of the presentations. The next conference is tentatively sheduled for 2019. Be sure to mark your calendar now.

carHoward Finster's decorated car. Photo courtesy NCPTT.PG2A presentation by Norman Girardot at the new gallery expansion to Finster's house. Photo courtesy NCPTT.jesus savesDetail at Finster's Paradise Gardens. Photo courtesy NCPTT.divine-disorder-conference-attendees-02-15Participants of the 2015 Divine Disorder on the steps of Finster's home at Paradise Gardens. Photo courtesy NCPTT.

 

 

 

 

Browse Blog Archives by Month
Highlights

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Celebrates 1 Year!
Preservation News, Take Action

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

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