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

The Award

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jo Farb Hernández

For more information: jfh@cruzio.com



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 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

 

SELF-TAUGHT ARTIST JOSEP PUJIULA HONORED FOR ELABORATE INSTALLATIONS

78-YEAR-OLD ARTIST RECEIVES LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL HONORS

Josep Pujiula i Vila, whose labyrinthine installations outside the village of Argelaguer (Girona), Spain have been featured in books, films, articles, TV, and radio, has simultaneously been honored by the regional government as well as by one of the most prestigious juries for public artworks internationally.
 
On October 16, 2014, the Consell Comarcal (the regional government of the county that includes Argelaguer and environs) voted unanimously and across party lines to declare Pujiula’s work a “Bé Cultural de Interés Local,” a local cultural heritage site.  This official designation builds on the legalization of the site, which took place the preceding July, and confirms that the regional government will work to protect and preserve what remains of Pujiula’s works. The government was impressed not only by the efforts of the Argelaguer community to save this important public art installation, but by the receipt of a petition begun by SPACES’s Director Jo Farb Hernández, which received more than 1100 signatures by art admirers living in 38 countries around the world.
 
Josep Pujiula, known as “Garrell” or the “Tarzan of Argelaguer,” has spent almost forty-five years improvisationally constructing a variety of structures, including towers reaching close to 100 feet in height and labyrinths approaching one mile in length, all out of materials found locally. No formalized or written plans ever existed for his elaborate constructions. The constructions were full of personal histories, connections, and experiences, and this fusion of his art with his life became a total synthesis that dominated his days.  Yet he was forced to completely dismantle his structures three times due to governmental regulations or mandates; nevertheless, he always returned to the site and began to build again, each time creating a unique and complex series of structures that evidenced his increasingly refined aesthetic and technical abilities. Over time, Pujiula’s work has become known as one of the most unique, most monumental, and most compelling art environments worldwide.
 
At the same time that the regional government was formally acknowledging the importance of Pujiula’s work, the larger art world was also taking notice. In 2013 Hernández nominated him for the International Award for Public Art, a joint venture of Chinese and American public art curators and administrators. Although nominations came in from all corners of the world, only 120 of the most promising were selected for full research, apportioned to seven global regions. In the fall of 2014, it was announced that Pujiula is one of seven finalists for this award, representing all of Europe, including the Russian Federation. While other self-taught artists have been considered in previous years for this global honor, none before has achieved the status of being one of the final commended seven. Pujiula plans to attend the award ceremony in New Zealand in June 2015.
 

Singular Spaces book wins American Alliance of Museums Design Award!

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

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

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

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



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Highlights

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Take Action, Threatened Environments

Conservator-in-Residence Position, Hartman Rock Garden - Ohio
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Remembering Josep Pujiula i Vila (1937-2016)
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Just Added, SPACES News

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

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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

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