Field Report: Architectural Wonders in Spain! 

Close

Update on The Last Resort Lagunitas

Posted in Threatened Environments

 

The Last Resort Lagunitas, located in Marin County, California, is an art environment and model of ecological sustainability whose mission is “to discover and perfect sustainable environmental solutions for waste management, water reuse, and food security.” Built by David Hoffman over the last 40 years, there are dozens of buildings and sculptures on this site, most created from recycled materials or harvested from his own property. Many of the hand-crafted structures were inspired by Japanese, Chinese, and Tibetan art and architecture utilizing masonry, stone, and wood. As a young man in his twenties, Hoffman was inspired as he backpacked throughout Asia and beyond, ultimately visiting over 100 countries. In 1973, after settling in Marin County and developing an innovative sonic cleaning method for fragile and ancient textiles, Hoffman moved on to importing artisanal tea culture to the mainstream United States. His work was so innovative that it was chronicled in the 2007 documentary All in This Tea by noted filmmaker Les Blank.  It was during this time that Hoffman began to construct The Last Resort, in order to demonstrate that one could live on the land sustainably and without pollution. 

last resort exterior david briggs 2012The exterior of the Last Resort Lagunitas. David Briggs, 2012.

The site, with its meandering paths and contemplative corners, features over 30 buildings— some functional, others more spiritual—and also boasts a unique “integrated bio-management system” designed for disposing and recycling waste through vermicomposting: utilizing worms, micro-organisms, and carbon-rich leaves to break down grey water and food scraps, prior to being reutilized in Hoffman’s gardens. This is, however, of primary concern of the Board of Supervisors of Marin County, as is Hoffman’s treatment of human waste, which is also broken down with worm composting (compost toilets are prohibited in Marin County). The County has reprimanded Hoffman about his flouting of county codes, and has levied over $200,000 in fines and penalties for his waste treatment systems, for building without permits, and for running his current tea business, the Phoenix Collection, on the site. The County has also called for demolition of the architectural structures within the compound. “I understand their concerns,” Hoffman has stated, “but my concern for the planet is far greater than my fear of breaking the law.” 

last-resort-boat-jfh-nov-2016Full size Monterey fishing boat over cistern and well. Jo Farb Hernandez, November 2016.

On November 17, 2017, a hearing was held to determine whether the site (or how much of it) should be demolished or sold, and whether access restrictions should be imposed. The judge, who had never adjudicated a case of this nature, was impressed by the number of supporters in attendance, as well as the evidence of long-term community support evidenced by petitions and letters to the County in support of David Hoffman and his unique compound. The judge suspended the demolition of any structures or restriction of access until March 2018, when another meeting will be held and the issues at hand will undergo further review. Hoffman and his supporters feel this is a step in the right direction. In the meantime, he has continued to live—and, despite a court mandate, build—on the property. However, as reported by Point Reyes Light, a local news source for Marin County, his fines have continued to mount: he has roughly $350,000 pending on his property tax bill, reflecting the court’s administrative penalties, as well as a $93,000 bank lien on the property to cover the costs of the work of the County-appointed receiver. Mr. Hoffman, who is battling Lyme disease, said the timeline ahead—rearranging his life and work— is daunting. “I always believed that I was working on solutions, not creating a bigger problem. We can’t rely on government and big business to fix the problems in our world; we need people who understand the problem to do our part to make the planet a better place. The laws of nature just conflict with those that politicians make.”

faces at last resort lagunitasJo Farb Hernandez, November 2016.

 See more about The Last Resort Lagunitas on SPACES and visit The Last Resort Lagunitas website here.

 

 

fullsizeoutput103Gugger Petter, 2012.fullsizeoutput100Jo Farb Hernandez, November 2016.

Association des Amis de Chomo unveils new website

 

The Association des Amis de Chomo has unveiled their new website! Filled with amazing pictures, videos, and more of the Village d’art préludien by Roger Chomeaux, known as Chomo (1907-1999), the website is a wonderful resource for those interested in the documentation of and advocacy for art environments.

 

chomo website screenshotThe homepage for the new website

Since his first meeting with Chomo in 1975, Laurent Danchin, a beloved SPACES board member who passed away in 2017, was instrumental in the preservation of and advocacy for Chomo’s Village d’art préludien environment in France, organizing conservation efforts and thoroughly documenting the various stages of the artist’s transformation of his property. 

 

Chomo was an artist, painter, sculptor, musician, poet, filmmaker, and environment builder who lived for forty years as a hermit tucked away in the woods of Fontainebleau, France, on land purchased by his wife during the Second World War.

may-2014-hh9Jo Farb Hernandez, May 2014.

Even as a young man Roger Chomeaux had a passion for art. He attended art school in Valenciennes and the École des Beaux Arts in Paris (1926-1928), but, to earn his living, worked in the Paris area as a carpet decorator. During World War II, he was taken prisoner and deported to Poland. After the war, back in France, he continued to actively create art work in such media as gouache and ceramics, and he even experimented with film. It was at this time that he began using the name Chomo.

 

Eventually, Chomo and his family moved to a country house located in Achères-la-Forêt, in a forested region south of Paris. In the following years he began transforming this site into an art environment, creating a variety of constructions and buildings with the use of recycled materials. Among the works were l´Église des Pauvres (The Church of the Poor), le Sanctuaire des Bois Brûlés (The Shrine of the Burned Woods) and le Refuge (the Shelter).

le-ruge-the-shelter-at-night-2009le Ruge (the shelter) at night. Laurent Danchin, 2009.

In the mid-sixties Chomo moved permanently to this wooded site, expanding the art environment while at the same time continuing with a variety of other artistic projects as well, including painting, sculpting, weaving carpets, writing poetry, playing music, and making films. He preferred the solitude and simple life in the woods, as he felt it helped him to preserve his artistic freedom. His work, however, was becoming known, and beginning in the 1970s visitors would come to see what he had begun to call his Village d’art préludien [Village of Preludian Art]. He taught them his conception of art and his critical vision of contemporary society. At his death, he left his children (now in their 80s and without heirs of their own) a series of buildings constructed from plaster, grills, bottles, and recycled lumber or branches. He lived in a small prefab house without heating or water. 

may-2014-jfhl´Église des Pauvres (the Church of the Poor) Jo Farb Hernandez, May 2014.

Laurent Danchin met Chomo while living near Achères-la-Forêt in 1975, and he became president of the Chomo Friends Association and one of Chomo’s closest friends and collaborators. He wrote extensively on Chomo and his creations, and worked tirelessly to promote the site through visits, conferences, and presentations. The Association, while focusing on Chomo’s work, intends to broaden their reach in the defense of all art environments and the memory of their authors.

 

Vist www.amisdechomo.com and learn more about Chomo on SPACES here

The Sculpture Park and Garden of Veijo Rönkkönen

Posted in Gardens

 

veijo-1Used with the permission of the photographer, Minna Haveri

Nestled in remote Eastern Finland in Parikkala, near the Russian border, is a delight that spans history and culture. As you make your way down the driveway, you are greeted by figures flanking the road, an array of statues that have been likened to the cover of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” record, a frozen carnival that flourishes in the greenery of summer and stands tall in the cold, Finnish winters. Like many outdoor sculptures constructed in cold, seasonal climates, these are largely painted concrete, occasionally decked with embellishments. Painting the concrete helps to protect it from the elements. 

 

 

veijo-driveway-1Used with the permission of the photographer, Minna Haveri

Veijo Rönkkönen (1944- 2010) was 16 years old when he began a job as a press worker in a paper mill in Parikkala, a job he held for 41 years. With his first pay check, he purchased ten apple tree seedlings and a bag of concrete—the beginnings of an extensive sculpture park and garden he would build around his family home. He was known to be guarded in his younger years as he began his sculptural endeavor. After he completed his first statue in 1961 and the years wore on, his reputation as a hermit persisted even as his reserve dropped away to reveal and warm and humorous personality. This friendly demeanor is reflected in most, if not all, of his statues. As visual and performance artist and art critic Erkki Pirtola noted in Itse Tehty Elamam “Each figure has the same supernatural smile, enhanced by real false teeth, which also make the smile all the more biting.” This smile is seen in the parade of children led by a proud drummer boy, in the choir of Greek youths, and in the figures that inhabit the garden, reflecting archetypes of ethnic characteristics and exotic cultures. 

 

In a move right out of Dorian Grey, Rönkkönen is perhaps known best for what he calls his “monument for the memory of is young body.” In the park of nearly 500 works, 255 are self-portrait-like characters in different yoga positions— each on the quest for unity and correct form. Some now gather moss in an act of ultimate meditation and dedication amidst torturing asanas. Far from Nek Chand’s yoga-familiar Rock Garden of Chandigarh in India, this ode from a self-taught yogi in Finland is surprising and unexpected. Considered to be the spiritual center of Rönkkönen’s endeavor, it certainly is a stunning climax. 

 

veijo-yoga-1Used with the permission of the photographer, Minna Haveri

 

On the occasions when he had been asked to show his work beyond the park, Veijo Rönkkönen always insisted to ask the statues first; however, they apparently never wanted to travel. The plan he shared before his death was to bury the park in sand and leave it in silence for one thousand years, like the terra-cotta armies of China. After he passed in 2010, his family, in an unusually amiable and constructive move, realized the importance of securing and saving the park’s work and future. Rather than covering it all in sand, the park was purchased by Finnish businessman and art lover Reijo Uusitalo in collaboration with Finland’s ITE Art Association, and is being protected and preserved for future generations.

 

 See more here: Veijo Rönkkönen

Gabriel Albert Sculpture Garden Undergoes Restoration

Posted in Gardens, Preservation News, Self-Taught Arts in the News

 

 

Gabriel Albert’s garden in Nantillé  (Charente-Maritime), after 25 years of being largely unoccupied, has experienced a swell of visitors since the recent launch of a regional restoration project. It had been unoccupied, that is, with the exception of over 400 resident statues!  

 

free-entry-manThis statue, recently cleaned, greets visitors at the entrance of the garden.

As a youngster, Gabriel Albert dreamt of becoming a sculptor, but became a carpenter to earn a regular livelihood. It was not until he retired in 1969 at age 65 that he was finally able to give way to his passion.

Albert began making figurative sculptures and busts, applying cement to iron frame infrastructures. Most of the 420 sculptures he eventually created, which he placed in the garden surrounding his hand-built house, represented anonymous people going about everyday tasks. However, some depicted political personalities, celebrities, and characters from fairy tales, which he based on photographs he saw in magazines.

 

1Concrete is porous, which makes it an ideal place for moss and lichen to grow. Conservators often use biocide to combat this common ailment of art environments.

 

nantille

 

Around 1989 Albert became ill and decided to reserve his energy to maintain the site rather than to create new works. Before his death, he sold all of his work for a symbolic amount to the community of Nantillé. In spring 2011, an association of friends actively promoted protected status for the garden, so that it could be opened for visits by the general public. Now, in 2017, preservationists, using brushes and other small tools, are carefully scraping lichen and moss from the sculptures in the first phase of conservation. Sculptures with more extensive damage have been fitted with frames to protect their fragile limbs until the conservationists can explore options and decide on long term solutions to strengthen the concrete forms. As of this writing, fifty-nine figures have been taken to an offsite workshop for conservation. 

 

biocide-half-n-halfHalf of the statue has undergone biocide treatment, which shows the effectiveness of removing microorganisms that have nestled in the concrete.

 

The timeline for this project is November 2017 to June 2018. The most urgent task was to pack, transport and shelter those fifty-nine statues at risk, but emergency measures will also include filling cracks in the statues and the restoration of Gabriel Albert’s studio. The first stage of restoration, estimated to cost 252,602€, is 100% financed by the Region of New Aquitaine under the scientific and technical control of the Regional Conservation of Historical Monuments (Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs [DRAC] New Aquitaine - Ministry of Culture). They have done a truly fantastic job of documenting the history of the site and will surely continue the good work through conservation. 

 

4Splints, polyurethane foam, and plastic film help keep damaged limbs in check.

 

supported bustsAfter supporting the ground beneath and creating a protective structure, these busts that were formerly leaning are safe.

 

Learn more about the Gabriel Albert Sculpture Garden on SPACES here

 

All images: © Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine, General Inventory of Cultural Heritage. Christian Rome, 2017. 

Kohler Foundation + SPACES Archives Transfer Update

Posted in SPACES News

 

books-for-kfi-spaces-updateMany of the archive materials are only available in person - the archive boasts many books, publications, and other resources about sites around the world.

 

Kohler Foundation archivist Ann Gappmayer has been hard at work, plugging away to inventory and rehouse recently received documents and other SPACES archival materials so that they will be easily searchable. The SPACES archive, currently located in a secure warehouse in Sheboygan, Wis, is now open for researchers by appointment. While the SPACES website is growing and becoming more robust every day, thanks to our legions of supporters, many of the resources included within the archive, like library books and journals, are only available in person. Ann shared that one of the goals is to add all the books in the archive to WorldCAT, the world’s largest library catalog, so that researchers and interested parties can discover the assets in the archive more easily.  

 

fullsizeoutputa5-g43Ann double checks all files to remove staples and paperclips, which can rust. She then transfers everything into archival folders.

 

Ann has been delving into the vast amount of materials that lie within the “Art” Harold Beal collection. Art Beal created Nit Witt Ridge in Cambria Pines, California and SPACES Founder Seymour Rosen and includes an incredible depth of resources: extensive letters, photographs, and even Beal’s birth certificate.

 

manila archiveThe effects of newsprint and other non-archival materials are seen here in this manila folder.nat-geoVolume 122, Number 4 Issue of National Geographic from October 1962 that features an article with the Watts Towers.

SPACES Archives welcomes new Social Media and Communications Coordinator

Posted in SPACES News
spark-paintings-imageJen Balge leads a SPARK! Group at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center

SPACES Archives is pleased to announce the hiring of Jen Balge as our New Media and Communications Coordinator. Jen is taking over from Jennifer Joy Jameson, who has transitioned to the Alliance for California Traditional Arts as Programs and Media Director. She will focus on SPACES’ ongoing mission and goals as we continue to work to engage those familiar with our work as well as attract new audiences. 

 

Jen has worked at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center as Education Specialist since 2013, planning public programs and education components around works featured in their exhibitions and collections, many of which include art environments. With access to the JMKAC collection as well as SPACES’ physical archives – as it continues to transfer to the Kohler Foundation, Inc. – she is looking forward to exploring a range of topics to broaden our reach and impact. Among her short-term goals are to feature contemporary artists whose work has been influenced by art environments and to offer resources for educators. She also hopes to continue to build partnerships with other academic and general organizations who work in this field.

 

Jen holds degrees in art and education from Cardinal Stritch University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), and strives to use points of universal accessibility of artist-built environments to engage people of all ages and abilities. In addition to her position at JMKAC, she serves as the museum representative on the Wisconsin Art Education Association board and is currently president-elect for the Dementia Care Network of Sheboygan County.

 

Be sure to follow SPACES Archives on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up-to-date on our latest happenings. You can reach Jen with any new media and communications inquiries, suggestions, or comments at communications@spacesarchives.org. 

 

SPACES and Kohler Foundation Celebrate New Partnership at the Road Less Traveled

Posted in SPACES News

 

dsc9775L to R: Susan Kelly, Senior Preservation Coordinator, KFI; Bill Swislow, SPACES Board; Ann Gappmayer, JMKAC; Stacy Mueller, SPACES Archivist; Terri Yoho, KFI Executive Director; John Foster, SPACES Board; Christine Taylor, Incoming KFI Executive Director; Jo Farb Hernández, SPACES Executive Director. Missing: Lisa Stone, SPACES Board; Dan Smith, Senior Preservation Coordinator, KFI

The recent Road Less Traveled conference in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, hosted by a consortium that included the Kohler Foundation, Inc., the John Michael Kohler Art Center, and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, was the venue for the “official” announcement and celebration of SPACES archives partnership with, and move to, the Kohler Foundation, Inc.

 

screen-shot-2017-10-09-at-114503-amScenes from the In Celebration of Ourselves exhibition co-curated by SPACES Archives, including the works of Sanford Darling, from his House of 1,000 Paintings + figure from Calvin and Ruby Black's Possum Trot.

In conjunction with the conference, SPACES Director Jo Farb Hernández worked with JMKAC curator Karen Patterson on two complementary exhibitions that drew from the archive’s resources – one focused on the Watts Towers and one that presented components of the groundbreaking In Celebration of Ourselves exhibition organized by SPACES founder Seymour Rosen for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1978. Hernández, along with all current members of the SPACES Board of Trustees – including John Foster, Lisa Stone, and Bill Swislow – as well as SPACES archivist Stacy Mueller, also participated in a panel discussion describing the work of SPACES archives, its development and evolution, and its plans for the future.

 

wattstowerexcel20170002rosenwattsMore scenes from the exhibition, including early images from Watts Towers. Photo courtesy JMKAC.

As this partnership with KFI develops and the physical archives are transferred to Sheboygan, SPACES staff and Board will continue to fulfill our mission of identifying, documenting, collecting information about, and advocating for the preservation of art environments all over the world. And as we continue to do so, we encourage all of you to continue to send us your photos, your texts, and any information you can uncover about art environments. This site has truly become a crowd-sourced resource, and we couldn’t do it without you! Thanks to everyone for your support!

 

img1930-brightenedSPACES Director Jo Farb Hernández with SPACES Board Member Lisa Stone at the celebration honoring the transfer of SPACES to KFI. Photo by John Foster.

Read more about the week’s events + the accomplishments of SPACES in this new piece by Hyperallergic

 

To see a video tour of the exhibition, view more on our Instagram feed

 

SPACES IS HIRING: New Media and Communications Coordinator

Posted in SPACES News

spacesishiring



Today, we say farewell to our friend and former New Media and Communications Coordinator, Jennifer Joy Jameson, as she dives further into her responsibilities at the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. We’re glad to be able to continue Jennifer’s work by bringing a new person onto the SPACES staff to aid in accessibility and visibility for the organization as it transfers operations to the Kohler Foundation.

 

SPACES - Saving and Preserving Art and Cultural Environments, a 501(c)(3)public benefit organization, is looking for an individual who can combine digital media skills and an understanding of SPACES’s mission and goals to help us build new audiences for our organization. Familiarity with the genre of art environments and the fields of folk and self-taught art are preferred but not required.

 

We seek a self-starter with experience in communications and digital media content development who can successfully promote and build awareness for the unique sites and environments that SPACES represents. With the new national and international audiences you build, we will expect to see significantly increased page views on our website (www.spacesarchives.org).

 

This position is defined as an “independent contractor” and is expected to require the equivalent of approximately ten hours weekly; compensation will be negotiated commensurate with experience. The successful candidate will be reviewed after the first month, with a second review after six months. The New Media and Communications Coordinator will report directly to SPACES’s Director.

 

The New Media and Communications Coordinator may work remotely from their home or business.

 

> > > Click here to review and download the attached PDF for the full job description.

 

There is a short window of opportunity to apply: Applications are due by Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.

Add Your Name in Support of Saint Malo’s Famed Seaside Sculptures in France!

Posted in Threatened Environments

numrisation0139-environmentslideenlarge-1024-1024

Sculpted from the rocky seashore by French priest l’abbé Fouré between 1895 and 1907, the famous Rochers of Rothéneuf have been suffering incremental damage for years, damage that has now reached a critical point where conservation is essential.

Please consider adding your name to a list of those who support including it among official French historical monuments and/or remarkable gardens (either would provide protection and support), as well as naming it a French heritage site. To ADD YOUR NAME, please send your name along with a 1-2 word description of yourself (collector, researcher, professor, photographer, etc.) to joelle.jouneau@orange.fr, and please copy SPACES Director Jo Farb Hernández as well, at jfh@cruzio.com.

See the attached letters of support below for more context, and thank you for helping to save this important art environment!

ENGLISH: Letter in Support of Rochers de Rotheneuf (Jo Farb Hernández)

—————————

Sculpté du rivage rocheux par le prêtre français l’abbé Fouré entre 1895 et 1907, les Rochers célèbres de Rothéneuf subissent des dégâts supplémentaires pendant des années, des dommages qui ont atteint un point critique où la conservation est essentielle.

S’il vous plaît, envisagez d’ajouter votre nom à une liste de ceux qui l’accompagnent parmi les monuments historiques français officiels et / ou les jardins remarquables (soit fourniraient une protection et un soutien), mais aussi le nommant un site patrimonial français. Pour ajouter votre nom, envoyez votre nom avec une description de 1-2 mots de vous-même (collecteur, chercheur, professeur, photographe, etc.) à joelle.jouneau@orange.fr et copiez également le directeur de SPACES Jo Farb Hernández , À jfh@cruzio.com.

Consultez les lettres ci-jointes de soutien ci-dessous pour plus de contexte, et merci d’avoir aidé à sauvegarder cet environnement artistique important!

FRENCH: Letter in Support of Rochers de Rotheneuf (Joelle) / FRANÇAIS: Lettre à l’appui de Rochers de Rotheneuf

SPACES, Inc. Moving to Wisconsin's Kohler Foundation, Inc.

Posted in SPACES News

 (L) Sign by the late NC artist James Harold Jennings, from the collection of Seymour Rosen;
 (R) Executive Director Jo Farb Hernández at SPACES. Photos by Jennifer Joy Jameson, 2017.

SPACES was informally organized in 1959 and has operated as a formal nonprofit organization since 1978. After some 5 1/2 decades, it is now time for us to take a new step that will enable us to put our collections and resources to even greater use. We are thus truly excited to announce that SPACES has decided to partner with Kohler Foundation, Inc., and will transfer SPACES’ archives and the operation of the website to the only foundation in the country dedicated to the preservation of art environments. KFI is committing extensive resources to the present and future of SPACES mission and archives, and we will look forward, through this anticipated partnership, to maintaining the resources to continue to support SPACES’ mission for generations to come.

screen-shot-2017-06-07-at-44702-pm

 (L) Library view of the Aptos, California Archive

 (R) Archivist Stacy Mueller and Executive Director Jo Farb Hernández at SPACES. 

Find out more about this exciting transition in the upcoming months. Please note that due to the move, SPACES is no longer able to welcome scholars and researchers to our Aptos offices. We will notify our supporters when the archival materials once again become accessible for study, but in the meantime, keep up with SPACES online!

Browse Blog Archives by Month
Highlights

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

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

Kohler Foundation seeks Preservation Coordinator
job opportunities, Preservation News

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

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

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

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

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

Association des Amis de Chomo unveils new website

Gabriel Albert Sculpture Garden Undergoes Restoration
Gardens, Preservation News, Self-Taught Arts in the News

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