A Transformational Journey
Saturday, June 11
A native of Serino, Italy, Sabato “Simon” Rodia was born in 1879. He arrived in the U.S. around 1894, and made his way to Watts, CA in 1921. The Watts Towers, his masterpiece and the world’s largest single construction created by one individual, was his obsession for 33 years. He called it “Nuestro Pueblo,” or “Our Town.”
The structure consists of seventeen major sculptures created of steel, is covered with mortar, and embellished by finishings of mosaic tiles, glass, clay, shells and rock. There is no welded inner armature. Rodia wired rebar together then wrapped these joints with wire mesh and hand packed it with mortar and his mosaic surface.
In 1959, the International Conference of Museum Curators resolved that “Rodia’s Towers are a unique combination of sculpture and architecture and the paramount work of folk art of the 20th century in the United States.” The Towers are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are a National Historic Landmark, a State of California Historic Monument, and a State of California Historic Park. In March of 1965, the Watts Towers were officially designated as Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Monument Number 15. At the time, the Towers were owned by the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts; they were deeded to the City of Los Angeles Municipal Arts Department in 1975.
For many, Watts continues to evoke reflections of the uprising over 50 years ago. From the Watts Towers website:
“On August 11, 1965, a young black man named Marquette Frye was arrested at the intersection of Avalon and 116th Street. It was a hot summer’s day when Frye was stopped on suspicion of drunk driving by a white police officer. Soon after that stop, a crowd gathered, arrests were made and six days of civil unrest followed. There was looting and arson. The National Guard was called in. By week’s end, there were 34 dead and more than $40 million in damage. All the violence and destruction was about so much more than a mere traffic stop.”
These many years later, communities across the nation continue to experience an imbalance of justice.
Please join us on a Transformational Journey to Simon Rodia’s Towers and the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus on June 11, 2016, from 10:00 until 2:00. We will tour the campus and exhibitions (there is a $7 fee for the Towers tour), then lunch at LocoL, Chef Roy Choi’s startup that aims to bring healthy food to underserved areas while employing local residents. (You can read more about Choi here.)
For further information, please contact Ada Ramirez: 626.583.2734 or firstname.lastname@example.org — or visit the Transformational Journeys table on the lawn on Sunday May 29 or June 4.