Down at Watts Towers, a LACMA conservation team has been assessing Simon Rodia’s monument for several months. The team is working on an inventory of detached ornaments that have fallen from the Towers over time; securing loose or endangered elements; performing a thorough condition survey of the lower part of the monument; researching appropriate conservation materials, and monitoring cracks, to name just a few of their current activities. Part archaeology, part scientific inquiry, part artistic investigation, their meticulous work is fascinating to behold; they are getting to know the Towers inch by inch.
Here’s a short video interview with senior scientist Frank Preusser and one of his team, Sylvia Dorsch, about one aspect of the work: the way they monitor cracks in the monument.
If you’re thinking of visiting the Towers, join us in Watts this Saturday. LACMA, in conjunction with Slanguage Studios and Watts House Project, is hosting a party to celebrate Possible Worlds. Meet up there, or catch a free shuttle from LACMA, leaving from the BP Grand Entrance at 1 pm (no reservations, first-come basis). Make art, listen to poetry and music by DJ Cheebo, and enjoy this LA landmark.
These are such marvelous artworks! I visited them on my first trip (1960s era) to Calif. There was very little written about them back then but I had spotted a small article ‘n photo and begged to be taken to see this particular site. They were featured in the news alot (following my visit) as symbols of the area because of the infamous Watts Riots. The setting also got great press when they were part of a cover design on TIME Magazine when they did a feature of Calif.
I was impressed with the variety of techniques and materials used in creating the designs — tile, glass, shells. broken bottles and dinnerware and all kinds of everyday objects pressed into the wet cement to form a design (like a hammer!) The dizzying grace of the looming beauty above — OH WOW — they are marvelous. The patio areas inside the walls were unsung design glory too. The lil’ Italian immigrant creator was blessed with great imagination, fine construction capabilities and artistic talent. These are a sort of compliment to Gaudi’s rooflines in Spain.
I wish you continued success with the preservation. It is my hope many visitors pass through your gateways long into the future and are wooed to fall in love with the place like I did.