Saturday, June 2, 2012

Field Trip: Watts Towers!

Watts Towers have become a landmark of Los Angeles. Art lovers and artists from all over the world pilgrimage to this site to take in its beauty. 

The towers were constructed by Simon Rodia over 33 years, from 1921-1954. Rodia constructed these towers using all sorts of found objects. The steel armatures, and there are 17 of them, are literally covered in mosaics made from all sorts of materials. For example, 7 Up bottles, water spickets, bed frames, ceramic tiles, just to name a few

Rodia worked at Malibu Pottery. When there were tiles that had been damaged or unsellable, he would take them home and add them onto his project. He called the towers Nuestra Pueblo, or Our Town. All over the structures, Watts imprinted the year into the grout. It's a serious piece of history.

As you can see, the towers are now enclosed in a fence. To get up close, you must pay for a tour at the nearby arts center.

In 1955, Rodia gave the property away. He moved away and never came back.
The city of Los Angeles wanted the towers destroyed, but a lot of people all over the world came together to protect the towers. So, there was a test.

Albert, showing off this beautiful sculpture in front of the Watts Towers cultural center

In order to prove that the towers were unstable, the city of Los Angeles attached a cable to the towers using a crane. The crane couldn't move the towers at all. They didn't even waver.

I think that most of these bottles were 7up bottles... 
A closeup of the bottle wall/mosaic

After a lot of preservation and effort from those who love the Towers, the city finally designated Watts Towers as a National Historic Landmark in 1990. They built a cultural arts center right next to the towers, which offers hourly tours to visitors.

The towers from where Rodia's bungalow used to be. Note the chimney on the left, still standing.

Rodia pushed a water spicket into wet concrete to make this flower design

The ceiling of a portion of Watts Towers.

My husband and I really enjoyed visiting the towers. If you like art or just really fun, offbeat things, this is certainly a place to get a fix of both. Rodia seemed like such an interesting man. We learned that he actually built a small house next to the towers and he lived there for a while.

Rodia would bake bread for visitors to his structure inside of this oven.

Some of the stairs inside of the structure. Note the cat repellant on the left side of the stairs... They have a problem with strays taking over the property.

Rodia originally called this "Nuestra Pueblo", Our Town. 

You can visit the official website of Watts Towers for more information. A history of the place is provided here. Watts Towers also has its own Wikipedia page. Lastly, California Department of Parks and Recreation has a page for Watts Towers here. Next time you're in Cali, you don't want to miss it!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous19.6.12

    Love this!
    This reminds me of a little chapel on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel that i went to as a kid!!
    Thanks for sharing! (if you want to see the little mosaic chapel)