SPACES—Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments—is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) public benefit organization that was incorporated in 1978 for the purposes of identifying, documenting, and advocating for the preservation of large-scale art environments and other self-taught artistic activity. Founding Director Seymour Rosen conceived of SPACES as a national (and, later, an international) organization; currently operating out of offices in northern California, it boasts an archives of approximately 25,000 photographs as well as numerous books, articles, audio and video tapes/DVDs, and primary artists’ documents. The archives also include a clipping file, personal letters and correspondence from artists, scholars, researchers, museum and gallery personnel, arts and history/humanities councils, and governmental agencies.
What does SPACES Archives consist of?
SPACES has become recognized internationally as the largest and most extensive archive on this subject. The databases are generally organized into four components:
- The site database, which contains historically-significant and varied information on over 900 sites in the United States alone, as well as on numerous sites overseas;
- The bibliographic database, which includes almost 2,000 multi-lingual entries citing documents relating to art environments;
- The exhibitions and events database, a comprehensive chronological record of thousands of museum/gallery displays, conferences, lectures, panels, and other events which featured these artists and their sites, including documented audience figures for each; and, most importantly,
- The archival collection, including some 25,000 photographs, site plans, and primary documents produced by the artists, maps, artifacts, video and audio cassettes and DVDs of artist interviews, and other materials related to self-taught artistic activities. This also includes a clipping file, personal letters and correspondence from artists, scholars, researchers, museum and gallery personnel, arts and history/humanities councils, and governmental agencies.
SABATO (SIMON/SAM) RODIA’S WATTS TOWERS COLLECTION.
Approximately 17 linear feet of archives, including clippings, correspondence, reports, and photographic prints, slides and negatives by Seymour Rosen. It also includes business records, correspondence, promotional and internal documents of the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts, another 501(c) (3) organization whose mission was to advocate for the Towers, and ephemera from the Watts Towers Art Center.
ART ENVIRONMENTS, VERTICAL FILES COLLECTION.
26.7 linear feet. Originally begun by Seymour Rosen, these vertical files consist of materials such as newspaper clippings, articles, correspondence, pamphlets, maps, and other ephemera on art environments worldwide. These files also includes fifty U.S. state files that detail information on the political organizations of each state, so as to facilitate the nomination of sites to historical landmark status, or to cut through the bureaucratic red tape when trying to save those that are imperiled. View the SPACES Vertical Files Collection Index
PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLECTION ON ART ENVIRONMENTS.
6.1 linear feet. A collection of images, including 35mm slides, black/white negatives, 4 x 5 color and black/white transparencies, and photographic proofs and prints documenting art environments worldwide. View the SPACES Photographic Collection on Art Environments Index
PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLECTION ON SELF-TAUGHT ART.
6.9 linear feet. A collection of images documenting themes including decorated motor vehicles, demonstrations, gardens, graffiti, murals, neon, parades, signage, tattoos.
ROBERT FOSTER PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLECTION ON ART ENVIRONMENTS.
4.2 linear feet. A collection of 35mm slides, black/white negatives, Polaroids, and prints documenting U.S. and Canadian art environments. View the Robert Foster Photographic Collection Index
HOLLY METZ COLLECTION ON ART ENVIRONMENTS IN THE UNITED STATES (VERTICAL FILES).
2.6 linear feet. These vertical files cover art environments throughout the United States, and consist of materials such as newspaper clippings, articles, correspondence, pamphlets, maps, and other ephemera. View the Holly Metz Vertical Files Collection Index
“ART” HAROLD BEAL’S NITT WITT RIDGE COLLECTION.
11.5 linear feet. Collection includes the following: Art Beal Foundation records (9 linear feet) 6 Personal scrapbooks of artist (photos, clippings, personal correspond) 2 music scrapbooks (incl. letters, contracts, copyrights, 1st songs, sheet music) 1 oversized box (photos, sheet music, personal papers, pamphlets, ephemera) 1 banker box (books, personal writings, artifacts)
ART EXHIBITIONS COLLECTION.
4.2 linear feet. Catalogs, flyers, articles, and announcements for art exhibitions worldwide, pertaining to the archive’s focus, from 1935 to present.
ART BOOK COLLECTION.
52.5 linear feet. Collection of books and folios on subjects such as art environments, folk art, architecture, photography, California Art, individual artists, and exhibition books and catalogs.
Collection of small works by the artist-builders of art environments; these include discrete works gifted to SPACES as well as pieces salvaged from art environments that were dismantled or destroyed. Less than 100 works in a variety of media.
ART PHOTOGRAPHY COLLECTION.
11.7 linear feet. Although primarily known as a documentary photographer, Rosen explored his creativity by casting a wide net; among other genres, he produced photograms, happenings, installation art, and a broad range of photographic expression. He exhibited and was acknowledged as a fine art photographer and installation artist during his lifetime, and his work continues to be extensively referenced and reproduced. The collection of photographs and negatives includes approximately 5,000 photographic prints, proofs, and negatives.
MICHAEL CORNWELL COLLECTION ON WATTS TOWERS.
1.6 linear feet. Consists of newspaper clippings, articles and correspondence pertaining to Cornwell’s service as president of the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts.
SPACES NEWSLETTER COLLECTION.
SPACES actively collects all kinds of materials pertaining to art environments and self-taught art in order to keep the archives updated.