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Dianne & Lew Harris, Tenth Wonder of the World

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About the Artist/Site

Dianne and Lew Harris were both born in Bakersfield, California. Lew moved to Los Angeles around 1959. After serving two years in the army in Kansas, he returned to Los Angeles. He moved to the south central area of the city in 1965.

Lew worked in the recycling business for seven years until the City of Los Angeles shut his company down for code violations. He had been collecting plastics, which were compacted and then shipped overseas for recasting as other consumables. Although not lucrative, the trade had provided Lew with sufficient earnings to purchase the small bungalow where he and his sister Dianne lived until the end of 2015.

Beginning in 1981, Lew Harris began using his scavenging skills to give new life to a wide variety of castoffs that no longer held meaning for others. Dianne began to collaborate with him. Eventually they created a dense construction in front of their home that they called the Tenth Wonder of the World.

The site, located on a quiet residential street, was fenced by carved clear acrylic stanchions tied with rolls of Mylar frames. Behind the fence, a small patch of grass abutted a conglomeration of large, vertical steel tubes, lacy steel domes, industrial fans, and clumps of plastic so dense they nearly obscured the bungalow. The assemblage was visually unified by the Harris’s selective color palette of white, deep red, and black. A constricted pathway—nearly enclosed by furniture, tarpaper, rags, plastic bags, tins, brooms, and buckets—led from the sidewalk to the house.

In addition to their collaborative work constructing and embellishing their art environment, Lew and Dianne both created discrete works. Lew carved clear hard acrylic into freestanding sculptures and polished pyramids. Dianne writes poetry and creates pen and ink drawings on board; her black and white motifs feature fantastic floral shapes and often include the image of an eyeball, reflecting the one once mounted atop the Tenth Wonder of the World.

During 2015 Lew became ill; with numerous doctor’s visits and hospital stays, they fell behind on their rent and other bills and were forced to leave their home, the interior of which was as jammed with materials as the outside had been. Almost immediately upon their departure, the house’s owner removed all art materials, razed the bungalow, and erected a two-story multi-family unit in its place. The property sold for $665,000 in May, 2016. Nothing remains of the Harrises’s works except for two hand-painted signs nailed high on the telephone pole in front of the house.

SPACES Archive Holdings

SPACES archives contain digital photographs of the site, 2011, and clipping.      

Map and site information

1145 W 62nd St
Los Angeles, California, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 33.983504 / -118.295539

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