“A rich array of perspectives on the creative work of the eccentric immigrant laborer who created one of the most mysterious landmarks of Los Angeles.” —Donna Gabaccia, Professor of History, University of Minnesota
The Watts Towers, wondrous objects of art and architecture, were created over the course of three decades by a determined, single-minded artist, Sabato Rodia, an Italian immigrant laborer who wanted to do “something big.” Now a National Historic Landmark and internationally renowned destination, the Watts Towers in Los Angeles are both a personal artistic expression and a collective symbol of Nuestro Pueblo—Our Town/Our People. Featuring fresh and innovative examinations, Sabato Rodia’s Towers in Watts revisits the man and his towers.
In 1919, Rodia purchased a triangular plot of land in a multiethnic, working-class, semi-rural district. He set to work on an unusual building project in his own yard. By night, Rodia dreamed and excogitated, and by day he built. He experimented with form, color, texture, cement mixtures, and construction techniques. He built, tore down, and rebuilt. As an artist completely possessed by his work, he was often derided as an incomprehensible crazy man.
Providing a multifaceted, holistic understanding of Rodia, the towers, and the cultural/social/physical environment within which the towers and their maker can be understood, this book compiles essays from twenty authors, offering perspectives from the arts, the communities involved in the preservation and interpretation of the towers, and the academy. Most of the contributions originated at two interdisciplinary conferences held in Los Angeles and in Italy, and the collection as a whole is a well-rounded tribute to one man’s tenacious labor of love.
A portion of royalties will go to support the work of the Watts Towers Arts Center.