In 1976, Seymour Rosen’s photographs were exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. That groundbreaking exhibition, commissioned by SFMOMA as part of their bicentennial celebration, titled “In Celebration of Ourselves,” included over 700 photographs as well as materials from 34 California art environments. Most of the images and objects on display illustrated events, people, and arts that had never before received museum exposure—including street murals. Rosen later published a book with the same title (1979) that documented the range of works included in that noteworthy exhibition - in this book, Rosen reflects on how these murals developed and how they reflect the creative community at the time.
In June of 2022, Val Polyanin vacated his art environment outside of Crescent City, California, and left a note gifting his vast body of work to the City, his home of more than 20 years. Several city employees immediately saw the value in saving this collection and urged the City of Crescent City to acquire the work. Since that time, they have been diligently working toward a plan to permanently display this collection and tell Polyanin’s incredible story. Thank you to Bridget Lacey for sharing the details of this important project with SPACES in the interview below.
Architectural Historian Daniel Paul has more than 25 years of experience in the historic preservation field and has successfully listed local, state, and federal landmark applications that include the Capitol Records building in Hollywood, Tressa "Grandma" Prisbrey’s Bottle Village, and early U.S. Border Inspection Stations in Vermont. During his time with Bottle Village, Paul worked with SPACES Archives founder Seymour Rosen (pictured in the background of the above photo). He recently spoke with SPACES about his experiences in the field of art environments and where he sees this work headed.
Born in Alabama in 1917, Noah Purifoy lived and worked most of his life in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, California, where he died in 2004. After 11 years of public policy work for the California Arts Council, Purifoy moved his practice out to the Mojave desert. For the last 15 years of his life, he was dedicated to creating large-scale sculptures on the desert floor. Constructed entirely from junked materials, this otherworldly environment is one of California’s great art historical wonders.Joe Lewis is an artist, writer, educator, and the president of the Noah Purifoy Foundation who met Noah after seeing and writing about his retrospective at the California African American Museum in 1997. This year, Lewis took the time to meet with SPACES Archives and share about the Foundation and how they're continuing to use the "spirit of Noah" as their guiding philosophy.
An important part of the mission of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is to preserve the work of Isaiah Zagar. Exposure to weather elements and 165,000 visitors a year leaves the site vulnerable to damage, and that’s where PMG’s Preservation Team comes in. Their Preservation Team is lead by Preservation & Facilities Manager Stacey Holder, who took time to share about her role and experience working with the mosaics by Isaiah Zager in the Magic Garden and around Philadelphia.
“In a state where the weather never changes, the people do the changing,” noted SPACES founder Seymour Rosen on the cover of his 1979 book In Celebration of Ourselves. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Southern California is home to such an incredible array of art environments – several of which I had the pleasure of visiting earlier this spring.
Gabriel Chalfin-Piney is a performance artist and organizer with a background in cohort creation and public programming. They are interested in making by way of olfactory, gustatory, and tactile experiments, prompting audience members to participate as co-creators. Failure, co-learning, and storytelling are central to the projects that they participate in.God’s Glove, 2022, Speedwell Contemporary Performance by Gabriel Chalfin-Piney metal bells, beeswax candles, broom head, pomegranate, clementines, matches, whistle, matches, milkweed seed pods
We were invited down to Columbus State University as artist in residents to create a project using Eddie Owens Martin’s Pasaquan as a point of departure. Our idea was to create a portal connecting our world in Wisconsin with St. EOM’s site. Being inspired by both Eddie’s artwork and his way of building narratives, we developed a story of interconnected things, centering back to Eddie, which we used as our decision making tool in the creation of the portal. Eddie telling Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter’s fortunes, NASA’s Voyager Space Program, solar energy portals, St. EOM’s cosmic mirrors, the Buena Vista homemade space shuttle, and many other local tales and lore came to be our interconnected narrative web.
Erika Nelson is a visionary artist, educator and one of America’s foremost experts and speakers on the World’s Largest Things. She is a national researcher and speaker on Grassroots Art environments, Roadside Attractions and Architecture, and the World’s Largest Things. Nelson is also the founder and curator of a unique and innovative traveling roadside attraction and museum called “The World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things.”
Nothing beats the relentless march of time and elements, especially under a sun that bakes every surface in 120+ degrees days every summer. So it is no surprise that Salvation Mountain, a literal man-made mountain 28 years in the making, has been falling apart and being built back up almost daily since Leonard Knight started putting his heart into it all those years ago.