After more than a year of virtual travels, I had the distinct pleasure of sneaking in a trip to Detroit this summer – post-vaccine and pre-Delta exploding across the country. Detroit is a cultural destination widely appreciated by seekers of U.S. automotive history, Diego Rivera’s populist murals, the music of Motown, and more. Lesser known, perhaps, is the city’s incredible wealth of artist-built environments – each of which helps tell the story of this dynamic and complex American city.
For the last 35 years, John Foster has been an educator, graphic designer, painter, and photographer and continues as a passionate collector and scholar of photography, folk art, self-taught art, and art brut. Art & Antiques Magazine named the Foster collection of vernacular photography as one of the Top 100 Art Collections in the United States. He and his collection have been featured in magazines and newspapers ranging from The New York Times, Harper’s, Raw Vision, and more.
Cody Ledvina is an artist and archivist currently living in Houston, Texas. Before taking on building the archives at the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art in Houston he was the Archivist at the Museum of Everything in London. He briefly details the Orange Show's history and highlights the joy of building an archive from 40 years of institutional memory through photos and documents.
SPACES is thrilled to share the following Story Map regarding the creation of the Dickeyville Grotto by Dr. Emma Silverman. Emma is a Mellon Public Humanities Fellow in Monuments and Memory with the National Park Service. She is currently developing a book manuscript on the Watts Towers in Los Angeles that examines how the site was built by a self-taught immigrant and claimed by multiple publics including modernist artists and the African American community in Watts. Emma has also collaborated with public partners to preserve cultural sites through research, oral history, and digital mapping projects. She earned her Ph.D. in the History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley and previously taught as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Smith College.
Charles Fowler is the caretaker at Pasaquan, the art environment created by Eddie Owens Martin (aka St. EOM) from 1957 to 1986 in Buena Vista, Georgia. He first began working at the site in 2016 as a preservation intern for the Kohler Foundation. For the past four years, he has been an employee of Columbus State University (the steward organization of Pasaquan) and Chair of the Special Events Committee for the Pasaquan Preservation Society.
For many years, Milton and Florence Walker created a sprawling, terraced rock garden in the yard of their home on a hill in West Seattle.The site included intricately mosaicked rock walls, pathways, towers, and other structures weaving back and forth across the undulating property. After the Walkers passed away, several groups and individuals fought to purchase and protect the residential site, but it remained in the possession of family members until it was razed in early June 2021.
After years of uncertainty regarding the future of David Lee Hoffman’s The Last Resort in Lagunitas, California, it appears that a recent court decision will result in the site being razed.
SPACES is happy to share this guest post from Gabrielle Christiansen on her recent visit to a grotto environment outside of St. Louis, Missouri. Christiansen is a Midwest-based art historian and museum worker who graduated from the Modern and Contemporary Art History Master's program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2020.
In 1932, during the height of the Great Depression, Harry George “Ben” Hartman (1883-1944) began building a rock garden after losing his job as an iron molder. He started small with the creation of a fishing pond, and over the next decade – with time, cement, and thousands and thousands of rocks – Hartman filled his yard in Springfield, Ohio with over fifty fascinating stone and concrete sculptures, diverse plants, and handcrafted figurines. Kevin Rose, curator at the Hartman Rock Garden, took some time to answer questions about his experience with this midwestern art environment, its connection to his community, and what's next for the rock garden.