Watts Towers

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Watts Towers,

group of folk-art towers in the Watts section of Los Angeles. The complex was built (1921–54) single-handedly by the self-taught Italian immigrant Simon Rodia (also spelled Rodilla, 1879–1965). Of varying heights (the tallest is nearly 100 ft/30 m high) and shapes, they are enigmatic and extraordinarily fanciful structures, sculptural in appearance and reminiscent of Antonio GaudíGaudí i Cornet, Antonio
, 1852–1926, Spanish architect. Working mainly in Barcelona, he created startling new architectural forms that paralleled the stylistic development of art nouveau or modernismo.
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's imaginative architecture. Elegant monuments to Rodia's inventiveness and industry, they are constructed of steel, stone, and cement, often in a kind of filigree, and inlaid with found objects such as china shards, bits of glass, seashells, and bottle caps in a multitude of patterns. Once considered an eyesore and threatened with demolition, the complex was eventually recognized as a significant work of art and designated a national landmark. Damaged by the 1994 earthquake, the towers underwent extensive renovations from 1995 to 2001.


See documentary film by E. Landler (2001).

References in periodicals archive ?
3 WATTS TOWERS, LOS ANGELES Whenever anyone slags my second-favorite city, Los Angeles, as a cesspool of twerps and dingbats and endless traffic and backstabbing wannabe celebrities, I always bring up the Watts Towers so they will relax.
The Watts Towers were created by a single artist who worked for over three decades to 'do something big'.
DREAM SOMETHING BIG: The Story of the Watts Towers (2011; $17.
Bradley's administration, which governed the city for the twenty years between 1973 and 1993, included African Americans in the municipal arts program by funding the Watts Towers Art Center, but funding for the community arts organizations that had nurtured the Black Arts Movement dried up.
Meanwhile, Sabato Rodia, an unassimilated Italian immigrant drawn to Los Angeles in the 1910s because of its offerings of plentiful wage work and cheap land, worked anonymously on the fringes of the city, building the region's most famous public artwork, the Watts Towers.
CRAHS #11, one of 18 high-performing charter schools operated by Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, opened this year in a new $9 million building in Watts, near the iconic Watts Towers.
He combines humor with pith in post-post-postmodern tales that re-create his experience into one that's as recognizable as an abandoned drive-in theater, Kindle's giant donut, or the Watts towers at sunset.
The event has attracted more than 1,200 museums and cultural institutions nationwide, including the Skirball Cultural Center, Watts Towers Arts Center & Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center and the Pasadena Museum of History.
Tucked back in the green foothills of Deadwood, on a beautifully maintained, pristine landscape, is Oregon's answer to the California Watts Towers.
In the wake of the 1965 riots in Watts and the subsequent artistic and social response of the community, Tapscott's organization and its offshoots were part of a thriving movement that included such organizations and efforts as Studio Watts, the Mafundi Institute, the Watts Towers Arts Center, and the Watts Writers Workshop.
Among Turrell's inspirations is Simon Rodia, the Italian immigrant labourer who created the Watts Towers, Los Angeles (1921-54), a piece of 'outsider art' that now looks more prophetic than eccentric, a model for a certain kind of artist.
Alex Donis is recalling his experience while hanging his artwork at the Watts Towers Arts Center in Los Angeles.