cv | works | sculptures | site specific | environmental | land art | architectural | publications | exhibitions | symposia/lectures | cities | encounters | accounts
the Watts Towers by Sam Rodia, in Los Angeles
I visited the Watts Towers in 2006. Even though I have lived in the area during my youth, I had never visited them before. I do remember seeing the local news on TV, when, in 1959 the Department of Building and Safety of Los Angeles ordered the Towers demolished. A group of concerned citizens, calling themselves "The Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts", fought successfully to save the Towers by collecting signatures and money and devising an engineering test in 1959 that proved the Towers' strength and safety.
When I was studying art at Long Beach State College in 1964 and 65 there was a sculpture symposium on the campus in which the Dutch sculptor and creator of land art, Joop Beljon, participated. He knew about Sam Rodia's life work and visited the Watts Towers before the Watts riots broke out. So, I decided to see them at a more appropriate time. Beljon dedicated his monumental concrete work to Sam Rodia.
I wonder if Sam Rodia ever regarded himself as being an artist; I don't suppose so. But, like an artist, he wanted to make something "big".
A few years after returning to Holland, during one of my walks in the polder, I was struck by the tall pylons in the Dutch landscape - and upon receiving my first commission to make a proposal for what became my second land art project, I chose this site as the location for my Walburg Project.