Welcome to SPACES!
We are so thrilled that our new website has finally gone live!
This is a process that is ongoing, for only a very small percentage of the photographs and other materials collected in SPACES archives have yet been digitized. As we digitize more, and write texts based on primary fieldwork and our archives, we will continuously be adding more content to the site. Further, we invite you to help us maximize this resource by sending us your own photos of art environments and other self-taught artistic activity that we can mount as well. Although the archives hold tremendous treasures, there remain numerous gaps, and we look to you to help us fill those in. We have received photographs and texts from contributors across the US as well as Austria, Belgium, France, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and Ukraine to date, and hope to continue to broaden our reach even further!
This year we have been very busy, not only with the website, but with many other projects as well. Last spring I attended the conference sponsored by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training at Northwestern University in Natchitoches, LA, and presented the illustrated lecture “Taking the Art to the Streets: How the Citizens of Los Angeles Saved the Watts Towers.” I was able to use many of Seymour Rosen’s vintage photographs of Watts in the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s for this presentation, in addition to bringing the narrative up to date with current photographs of my own. This text will be published in the Proceedings of the conference, hopefully available later this year. While in Louisiana, I was able to visit and document Juanita Leonard’s art environment outside of Montgomery, as well as Linda Hartley’s signs outside of Natchitoches.
Current circumstances are also taking up a significant portion of our resources. We have been working with and advising a group of individuals who are forming a nonprofit organization to help preserve Salvation Mountain (Niland, CA), now that artist Leonard Knight has moved to an assisted living facility and will no longer be returning to the Mountain to work. I spoke to media from NPR as well as local papers about the site, and this has helped to provide visibility for the need to advocate for the Mountain, leading to offers of help from all over the country. You can see some of the documentation HERE. We are also in contact with people in Spain, for Josep Pujiula’s environment is once again threatened, and he is beginning to dismantle this new iteration of his masterpiece, no doubt for the last time. At the same time, however, he is also expanding the fountain component of the site, created from concrete and steel, which will last longer and which does not pose the liability risks of the wooden labyrinth and towers that the local government so feared.
I am continuing to finish up my comprehensive book on Spanish art environments. I provided a preliminary lecture on the topic at San José State University in April, published a chapter on the O Pasatempo park in Betanzos for the 2011 issue of the Follies journal (Birmingham, UK), introduced several of the artists at a conference sponsored by the Patrimoines Ireguliers de France in July, and will have an article on Jose Maria Garrido in the inaugural issue of the forthcoming International Journal of Self-Taught and Outsider Art. I have moved into the editing stage of my book manuscript, and hope to see publication during the fall of 2013—although I am still continuing to do follow-up interviews and fill in some of the gaps in the fieldwork with the support of several archives and libraries in Spain. I have been studying and documenting some of these Spanish sites since 2000, yet every year I seem to find new ones. I imagine that as soon as the first book is done, it will be time for volume two!
Speaking of books, I am particularly pleased to announce the publication of two new books on art environments that we have recently received:
1) Gabriele Mina’s Construttori de Babele, Milano, IT: Elèuthera, 2011
is the first comprehensive book on Italian art environments, featuring
almost forty sites that have never before been published. The paperback is
packed with color photographs and accompanied by text that provides
important information about each artist and their work. Here is a teaser
video you can watch on this project:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hqqa8XKExJI, and you can order the book at
2) Bruno Montpied’s new book Éloge des Jardins Anarchiques, Montreuil,
France : L’insomniaque, 2011. This new paperback, with more than 250
photographs, is a suite of short monographs on around thirty sites. Going
beyond the typical emphasis on the masters Ferdinand Cheval (Palais Idéal)
and Raymond Isidore (Maison Picassiette), it includes a significant
bibliography and filmography for French art environments as well. It has the
added attraction that it is accompanied by a 52 minute DVD called Bricoleurs
de Paradis by director Rémy Ricordeau, co-written by Montpied. This work is
available at www.insomniaqueediteur.org.
Thanks to Gabriele and Bruno for their gifts of these new books to SPACES
Thanks also to our intrepid Dutch correspondent, Henk van Es, who introduced me to Klaas van den Brink's art environment near Amsterdam this summer. My new photos have now been added to SPACES archives.
We are most appreciative of everything that all of our friends have done to support SPACES over the years, and are delighted that now, with this new website, we will be able to make our holdings more easily available to a wider public. I encourage you to continue to provide us with information and photographs on art environments so that we can make the archives as comprehensive as possible.And thanks again, to you, for your continuing interest in and support of our projects and activities. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Jo Farb Hernández, Director
SPACES – Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments