Mourning Francisco González Gragera, creator of Capricho de Cotrina

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SPACES News 21 Items

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 Just Added, 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 Just Added, 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.

 

 

 

 

SPACES Archives Welcomes New Communications Coordinator

Posted in Just Added, SPACES News

Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments (SPACES) is pleased to welcome Jennifer Joy Jameson as our first Communications Coordinator, where she will use SPACES’ mission and goals to help the organization build new audiences and partnerships.

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Originally from Southern California, but based in the South, Jennifer also serves as the Folk and Traditional Arts Director at the Mississippi Arts Commission, where she administers grants, provides consultation to artists and organizations, and develops special initiatives and documentation projects related to a wide range of cultural arts. She has an M.A. in public sector folk studies from Western Kentucky University and a B.A. in folklore and ethnomusicology from Indiana University. Jennifer has worked with museums, archives, festivals, and arts and cultural organizations on the federal, state, and local level, including positions with the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Traditional Arts Indiana, the Kentucky Folklife Program, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Folkstreams, a national preserve of films on traditional culture, and the Tennessee Folklore Society. Her academic studies have focused on material culture (including art environments) and traditional music in the American South, having spoken or taught on those topics within and beyond the Southern states.

You can reach Jennifer with any new media and communications inquiries at communications@spacesarchives.org

 

The latest from SPACES

Posted in Just Added, SPACES News

SPACES has had a busy and productive summer across two continents.

Our archivist, Stacy Mueller, worked with Betsy Vaca, a graduate student in Art History at San José State University, to continue our ambitious project of digitizing as much as possible from SPACES’s archives—documents from our vertical files as well as images of all formats from our photographic collections—in order to increase online accessibility for those who are unable to physically visit our offices. Since May, Stacy and Betsy have scanned 1200 images as well as 1100 documents from our vertical files, and have posted 90 new art environment pages. We now have 4400 images on the website. We’re not even close to halfway through, however, so this project will continue as one of our major priorities.

Over the last few months we have received some wonderful donations to the archives, each of which is helping us to round out our holdings. The most impressive recent gift has been approximately 2400

pict0077Dmytro Szylak, Hamtramck Disneyland, Hamtramck, Michigan, Photo by Ron Gasowski

slides from Ron Gasowski, an early researcher in the field of art environments. Ron, a sculptor and long-time art professor at Arizona State University-Tempe, began photographing these materials in the 1960s, and continues to the present. In an approach similar to that taken by SPACES’s founder, Seymour Rosen, Ron turned his discerning eye toward all kinds of self-taught art and vernacular expressions in addition to his concentration on art environments: the slides include funky mailboxes, decorated motor vehicles, yards with whirligigs and other ornaments, bottle trees, street and small business signage, the Day of the Dead, general objects of folk art, and all manner of “Roadside Americana.” Art environments include a range of well-known as well as unknown sites across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as in Europe: these include the works of Fred Smith, Kenny Hill, Herman Rusch, Thomas Battersby Childs, Sabato Rodia, Driftwood Charlie, Ed Manley, David Nielsen, Hap Gern, Tressa Prisbrey, George Sweeney, Robert Vaughn and M.T. Ratcliff, Leonard Knight, Henry Warren, S.P. Dinsmoor, Mathias Wernerus, Nick Englebert, and many, many more; George Plumb in Canada, Anato McLaughlin in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and Ferdinand Cheval’s Palais Idéal, Robert Tatin’s Étrange Musée, and Raymond Isidor’s Picassiette in France are also among the sites represented in Ron’s photographs. It will take many months before all of these slides are digitized and posted online, but we are delighted to have this wide-ranging and deep collection to share with the public, and profusely thank Ron for his generous donation.

On the other side of the “pond,” I spent much time over the summer correcting the galleys for my book/CD on Spanish art environments; the final count is 1159 pages (596 in the book and 563 in the CD) with 1,306 photos in the book and 4,179 in the CD, along with 44 site plans, most of which were drawn by my husband Sam. Singular Spaces: From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments, is at the printer and the advance copies will be received just before October 1, the date of the opening of the accompanying exhibition at SJSU. They should all be received and available for general purchase by December 1. This groundbreaking book features introductory remarks by Laurent Danchin, the French editor of Raw Vision, and Roger Cardinal, renowned researcher in the field and author of the 1972 book Outsider Art.

octfrontfinal-copySingular Spaces

I also found time to do a bit of fieldwork this past summer as well: I re-visited the sites of Josep Sala (Borrassà), José Giralt (Llers), Joan Sala Fàbrega (Sant Joan les Fonts), Joaquim Gifreu (Figueres) and, of course, Josep Pujiula. I also had several meetings, with community members who are working to save what remains of Pujiula’s concrete/steel works, and also with the government officials who are poised on the other side of this movement: representatives from the state departments of water, the environment, and culture, as well as the village mayor. I think that they are actually trying to find a way to save what remains of the site, because they have realized that Pujiula now has sufficient visibility that forcing him to demolish the site may have political repercussions for them.

Quite by chance, I also “discovered” an art environment in Viols le Fort in southern France; images have been posted on our website.

p1060112-604Michel Reverbel, Viols-le-Fort, France

SPACES’s staff and Board have been involved in numerous other projects as well, including working with several students on their undergraduate or graduate projects, supplying images to various museums, magazines, and online journals, and more. Watch for more information on this and other programming in coming months.

~Jo Farb Hernández

 

 

 

Rubel Castle Nomination

Posted in SPACES News

The Glendora Historical Society has nominated Rubel Castle (Rubel Castle Historic District) as a historic resource to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The concept of a “Historic District” for the Pharm property was initiated to encompass the original Albourne Rancho historic citrus buildings in the nomination.

Our nomination will be presented to the State Historical Resources Commission on August 2nd where the merits of this nomination will be debated. It is helpful to have support voiced from members of the community who are interested in the preservation of this unique property, and that is the purpose of this letter.

You may use your own stationery to personalize your support of our nomination, or print out a mailable form from this page <http://www.glendorahistoricalsociety.org/letterToForm.pdf>. You can also use this online form to get suggested wording for an email, if you wish to send your communication that way to <calshpo@parks.ca.gov>.

You may also have received this message by snail mail, in which case you will find a stamped envelope enclosed ready for you to mail off to the state board. Letters and e-mails must be received by the commission by July 15.

Please pass our appeal along to a neighbor or friend who might be interested in supporting this nomination.

Thank you very much for supporting the effort to achieve National Historic Recognition for this unique legacy left for the community by Michael Clarke Rubel. For more details please visit <www.GlendoraHistoricalSociety.org/Nomination.html>

Sincerely,

Scott Rubel

Ad Hoc Historic Recognition Committee

Glendora Historical Society

WILLIAM CARTWRIGHT: AN INSPIRED LIFE

Posted in SPACES News

There’s hardly a complimentary character trait that does not apply to Bill Cartwright –gracious, generous, dedicated, passionate – the list could go on. The selfless act by Bill and Nick King in buying Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts, encouraging the formation of the committee that saved them from destruction by the city of Los Angeles, was enough to make the world aware of site-specific art environments. Though many existed at the time, it was the Tower’s battle for survival that ignited interest worldwide. Bill’s passion and support continued throughout his life and was the inspiration for Seymour Rosen to devote his life to document and help preserve these sites around the world through SPACES, the organization he founded, that now continues the work he started.

 

Bill Cartwright’s legacy is profound. His actions and life touched and inspired many people who may never have known his name. Those who had the pleasure of knowing him are grateful for those moments, and will never forget his place in their lives.

 

Allen Porter

SPACES Trustee Emeritus

Vollis Simpson dies at his home, May 31, 2013

Posted in SPACES News
vollis-simpson-lucama-nc-2011-aPhoto by Fred Scruton

Vollis Simpson’s delicate balance of wind, gravity, monumentally, and whimsy was hidden away deep in the North Carolina countryside, but an emerald city seduction would begin as soon you approached that last turn in Wiggins Mill Road– and a sliver of sparkling ankle started to show through.  The full reflectors-glinting, birds-flying, loggers-sawing, fans-spinning, guitarists-strumming, dials-turning ‘what just happened here’ effect gave his “Whirligig Farm” its “Acid Park” nickname.  Mr. Simpson could typically be found across the road welding and grinding away in front of his former repair shop.  Looking like central casting for what an artist doesn’t look like, his old-fashioned country gentleman’s under-emotive demeanor made him seem an unlikely maker of such exuberant “windmills,” as he called them.  Late in the day when dusk started to set in, passing headlights would set off bursts of reflector fireworks throughout his animated carnival.

Mr. Simpson frequently sheltered and fed stray animals, and he would shout out warnings to get away from the road– as cars driven by speeders “always talking on their damn cell phones” raced by.  I first visited Mr. Simpson in 2007 and returned bearing prints about once a year since– and I was very pleased that he would remember me in the daily stream of visitors.  Eventually he

invited me to visit the work area around his nearby home, and allowing me to pursue nighttime “paint-with-light” photography, he would unlock the gate to the ‘farm’ before leaving his workshop for the day.  A rigger and metal worker by profession (with, one assumes, a long-hidden flair for the extraordinary spectacle), Mr. Simpson’s work (now being re-located and restored) made up one of America’s great art environments– a mind-blowing affirmation of the creative spirit.

~Fred Scruton

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Our Mentor, Our Leader, Our Elder, Our Friend William Cartwright, Sr.

Posted in Just Added, SPACES News

 

They are falling all around me

The strongest leaves of my tree.

Every paper brings the news that

The teachers of my time are moving on.

Death comes and rests so heavy

Your face I’ll never see no more.

 

But, you’re not really going to leave me.

 

It is your path I walk

It is your song I sing

It is your air I breath

It’s the record you set that makes me go on

It’s your strength that helps me stand.

 

You’re not really going to leave me.

 

I will try to sing my song right.

Be sure to let me hear from YOU.

 

This song was written by my dear friend Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon many years ago.

 

I use her words to express my feelings for Bill Cartwright, Sr.  He was a very loving, talented man with a broad world vision.  His gift, like Simon Rodia, was not only to the Watts Community, but also to Los Angeles, California, the United States and the world at large as is evident by our many visitors.

 

He was a brilliant award winning editor, producer and director. He also had the vision along with his wife Carole and Nick King to buy the Watts Towers, found the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts, save the Watts Towers and start the Watts Towers Arts Center, that remains the guardian and is the arts and museum education institution they envisioned it to be.

 

We want to thank his sons,  William Jr. and Robert,  along with their families for so graciously sharing him with us for so many years.

 

We will continue to stand guard and provide a nurturing non competitive learning environment, this Arts Education Institution, the Watts Towers Arts Center is known for. Our motto is “we don’t do mediocre because we don’t have to”, as is evident by the long list of talented, phenomenal, world class artists that founded and continue to provide leadership here in Watts and perpetuate the legacy of William Cartwright, Sr. 

 

Just like Simon Rodia taught us, “if I stick to it I can do it”.           

                          

We will always love you Bill. 

Rosie Lee Hooks, Director

Watts Towers Arts Center

Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center



Josep Pujiula's art environment threatened

Posted in Found Objects, Gardens, SPACES News, Threatened Environments

img2129As many of you know, for 45 years Josep Pujiula i Vila has been building one of the  most spectacular examples of public art in the world. Completely self-taught, he began building for his own enjoyment, yet has come to delight in sharing his work with others. At the height of its existence, his constructions—which were primarily created out of the flexible saplings that he gathered from the nearby river—included eight towers, some approaching 100 feet (30 meters) high, along with a labyrinth that snaked over the landscape over a mile (1.6 km) in length. It was a joyous work of art that was an inspiration to its thousands of international visitors each year, and it has been featured in newspapers, magazines, books, and television programs internationally.

 24-eastern-side-of-labyrinth

I have been studying and documenting Pujiula’s work since 2000. I have published numerous articles about him, and I also featured him in my book “Forms of Tradition in Contemporary Spain,” produced a DVD about his work, and have lectured on him widely in the US, France, Spain, and Italy. He is a dedicated, passionate artist who is involved 24/7 with his work, and although he works improvisationally, having had no training in art, architecture, nor engineering, he has been able to build marvels that have inspired all who have visited them.

 

Yet although Pujiula has asked nothing of anyone but to be left alone to make his art, he has been consistently targeted by the local authorities, who are threatened by his work, as it neither complies with local building codes nor with what this conservative community tucked into the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees understands as “Art.” Three times they have forced him to tear it down—citing fear of fire, concern for public safety, proximity to electrical wires and the freeway. Each time Pujiula has complied but, unable to stop working, he has always started up again. He is the quintessential irrepressible artist whose work has become his life.

 

70-josep15After the second demolition, Pujiula began to work in concrete and steel, using found objects to create numerous sculptures as well as a lyrical cascading fountain, taking advantage of the runoff from a huge drainage pipe installed underneath the nearby freeway. These concrete constructions do not bring with them the same kinds of issues as the wooden towers and labyrinth did: they will not burn, they are not impinging on electrical towers nor the freeway, and, as they follow the slope of the ground, they do not tempt visitors to climb to the heights, so the possibility for public endangerment is low. Yet, although the local authorities had originally indicated that he could retain this portion of his artwork, and could continue to work, they have just changed their minds, and have mandated its demolition as well. Immediately.

 

Works of public art created by self-taught artists are often in jeopardy, but in this case, we can do something about it. I ask your help to sign a petition that will simply ask the local mayor to allow this artist to continue to make his art. At 75 years old, he is breaking no laws and inciting no danger; rather, he is bringing enjoyment to young and old with his creativity and humor. Help us convince the mayor of Argelaguer (population 424) to reverse his edict of destruction, and allow Pujiula to continue to create an art environment that will be remembered and enjoyed for long after he is gone.

 

Click here to sign the petition; you’ll only need to give your name, email, and country of origin:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Save_one_of_the_worlds_great_art_environments/?criVneb

 

Many thanks!!

jo



Browse Blog Archives by Month
Highlights

Act Now: Save The Last Resort - A Working Model of Sustainability in Marin County, CA
Take Action, Threatened Environments

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

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