SPACES Archives Year in Review 2020

Though, like the rest of you, we spent much more time safe at home than out in the field this past year, the SPACES team still had the great privilege to discover and engage with dynamic art environments and their advocates around the world. Here’s a summary of what we were up to in 2020!
DAS BUNTESHAUS: Courtesy of artist, Silja Coutsicos

Continue Reading
Bunteshaus Schoenenwerd 35

One Large, Living Artwork: The Ellsworth Rock Garden

Part of the Ellsworth Rock Garden’s (ERG) allure is its unlikely setting in Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park. The enormous waterway park is at the southern fringe of the northern boreal forest, consisting of islands and backcountry trails which connect Lakes Namakan, Rainy, and Kabetogama. The latter is the only Voyageurs lake that doesn’t share boundary waters with Canada and is the location of “the Showplace of Lake Kabetogama” as the ERG is locally known. Humans have long capitalized on the area’s natural resources such as the fur trade, logging, mining, and world-class fishing. We saw bald eagles everywhere while canoeing from campsite to campsite and had a few close encounters with black bears.  

Continue Reading
Screen Shot 2020 12 04 at 10.50.28 AM

I Am Alive! Exploring Seymour Rosen's 1966 Exhibition at LACMA

Photographer, cultural advocate, and SPACES founder Seymour Rosen is well-known within the world of art environments for his dogged determination to protect place- and life-specific works of art and expand their recognition as culturally and creatively significant sites. Rosen first visited the Watts Towers in 1952 – the very beginning of his photography career – and his subsequent dedication to art environments continued throughout his life. However, Rosen’s appreciation of cultural production was expansive and included many more forms of human expression – from art cars and existential messages left under overpasses to storefront churches and intricately woven baked goods.  

Continue Reading
Screen Shot 2020 11 20 at 1.11.07 PM

SPACES Interview with Filmmaker Allie Light

 SPACES was recently able to speak with Allie Light of Light-Saraf Films, the creators of the widely beloved series of films on self-taught artists called Visions of Paradise featuring the work of Calvin and Ruby Black, Harry Lieberman, Tressa Prisbrey, Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder, and Minnie Evans. Light and her partner Irving Saraf (who passed away in 2012) went on to create many more films, including In the Shadow of the Stars which earned them the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1991. Light has served on the Media Advisory Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She lives in San Francisco.  

Continue Reading

Exploring the Tree Cave of Ra Paulette with Jordan Quant

SPACES is excited to share this guest post from Jordan Quant – a recent graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and recipient of the Roads Scholarship for Research and Travel. Jordan Quant is an artist from Alpharetta, Georgia, and Chicago, Illinois, and recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work is grounded in garment design, with emphasis on fabric treatments and printmaking processes. Jordan expands garment making techniques to create soft sculptures that straddle definitions of functional furniture and wearable objects. In addition to sculpture making, she is invested in studying and creating choreographic notation, dancing, and learning about her family through cooking. 

Continue Reading
Caves 5

A Look Inside the Towers: Conservation in Watts with LACMA

Built from 1921 to 1954 by Italian immigrant Sabato (Simon) Rodia, the Watts Towers are made of concrete, bottles, cups, glass, tile, shells, and steel. After nearly 100 years, the art environment has experienced numerous rounds of conservation – the most recent and ambitious by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) with the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs. This project is a crucial effort to manage day-to-day maintenance and develop a comprehensive plan for the long-term preservation of the Towers. We're excited to share some insights from Lily Doan, Associate Conservator at LACMA about the ongoing project! 

Continue Reading
CA 750 Rodia 255

Thrift Mystery Leads Artist To Creation

Several years ago, while living in Dubuque, Iowa, I stumbled upon a small and very beautiful handmade shrine, about a foot tall, in a Goodwill thrift store. This piece of art became one of my most treasured possessions, but I could not find any information about its origins.  

Continue Reading
Screen Shot 2020 08 25 at 10.44.13 AM

Update from the Field: M.T. Liggett

International Artifacts continues to conserve M.T. Liggett’s totems, despite the 100+ degree heat. While Beth Wiza, Preservation Coordinator at Kohler Foundation, was on site, the team installed four conserved pieces, including the snowman-like piece (untitled, November 14, 1994) in the photographs. Conservation on the pieces includes paint restoration, stabilization, re-attachment of damaged parts through welding, treatment to protect the art from the elements, and more. 

Continue Reading
square snowman

Art Environments That Almost Weren't... and One That Needs Help!

Art environment builders create works that encompass their entire homes, yards, and even beyond. But what happens when the creator passes away, moves, or loses control of the property? Many times, the in-situ site is dismantled, the original context lost forever. Any remaining works are then acquired by a gallery or museum collection and, in some unfortunate cases, discarded. As Lisa Stone notes “Like the mainstream historic preservation field, the history of the preservation of art environments is replete with heated political struggles, debates over methodologies, funding obstacles, ruinous “acts of God,” marvels of individual commitment and great collaboration, and the challenges of ongoing preservation.”  How can you help? Other than financially, these environments thrive on community support. In theory, city officials are beholden to their citizens, and a vocal positive community opinion can make all the difference.  

Continue Reading
red face  gerry

Gregg Blasdel Makes Huge Contribution of Archival Materials to SPACES

SPACES is thrilled to announce the acquisition of artist, curator, and educator Gregg Blasdel’s photography collection and archive resulting from his longstanding commitment to the study of art environments.  

Continue Reading
IMG 1328