Department of Cultural Affairs – “FROM WHERE I’M STANDING” Watts 2013


      “FROM WHERE I’M STANDING”  Watts 2013

     People in Watts Document Their World


June 1, 2013- August 11,  2013  Charles Mingus Gallery


A multigenerational and multicultural documentary project in words and photographs


           From Where I’m Standing is an experiential, film-based black & white Photo-Documentary class, led by artist in residence, Gail Brown. Participants are loaned 35mm cameras which they use for the duration of the program. Students photograph, process film and make enlargements in the darkroom. All materials are provided. They also write, learn to share their writing within the support of the group and produce handmade accordion-format artist books which are expanded for wall display. The books belong to the participants. The program culminates with this exhibition of the work.

 Gail Brown, Artist in Residence & Curator


                                   Opening Sunday, June 1st, 2013

Beginning at 1:00 p.m. prompt with readings by project participants

                 Open-to-the-public and FREE ADMISSION


                  COME CELEBRATE     

 “ The 2013 Year of Italian Culture in the United States”


Tour the World-renowned 92 Year Old Watts Towers


Enjoy this phenomenal cultural experience, outside of museum walls in Watts, as we take you on a fascinating voyage and discovery of art and beauty given to us by Italian immigrant, Simon Rodia. Experience the extraordinary exhibitions and museum education offered by its curator and guardian, the 52 year old WattsTowersArtsCenter.


Come view the magnificent Towers and learn about the extraordinary man who created this renowned work of art. It took Simon Rodia 33 years to build the WattsTowers. Watch a 12-minute short film by William Hale in which Simon Rodia explains in his own words, why and how he created the WattsTowers.


Watts Towers Tour Hours:        Thursday & Friday 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Saturday 10:30 a.m.  – 3 p.m.

Sunday    12:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.






Sabato Rodia was born in Serino, Italy (AV) in 1879 and arrived in the United States around 1894. He came to Watts in 1921 at age 42 and was commonly known as ‘Simon’, or old ‘Sam’. The WattsTowers of Simon Rodia, 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”. It is located in the community of Watts in South Central Los Angeles, California.


The WattsTowers structure consists of seventeen major sculptures of steel, covered with mortar and embellished by decorative finishings of mosaic tiles, glass, clay, shells, and rock. As there is no welded inner armature, Rodia wired rebars together, then wrapped the joints with wire mesh, hand packed them with mortar, and added the mosaic surface. This folk art employs assemblage construction. The property extends 42 meters (138 ft.) along 107th Street on the south, 21 meters (69 ft.) on the west and 47 meters (155 ft.) on the north of this compact 400 square meter site. There are three tall spires, several small towers, two walls, gazebo, patio, ship, and other structures.


When Rodia finished his towers in 1954, he gave them, along with the deed to his triangular shaped land (pointing eastward to Italy) to his neighbor Mr. Louis Sauceda. Mr. Sauceda sold them to Joseph Montoya for $1,000.00 six months later. Mr. Montoya decided to convert the WattsTowers into a commercial venue. But, when he went to get a building permit the City of Los Angeles placed a demolition order on the structure because Simon did not get a permit to build his masterpiece.


Along came Bill Cartwright and Nick King who purchased the Towers from Mr. Montoya for $3,000.00 in 1959. They founded The Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts and saved the Towers from demolition with a “stress” or “load” test, designed by Bud Goldstone. The Towers proved stronger than the test equipment. Therefore, the test was stopped and the Towers were deemed safe, and preservation efforts began. The Watts community considered the WattsTowers part of their heritage and called upon the new owners to also invest in the community. Thus the WattsTowersArtsCenter began.


The 52-year old WattsTowersArtsCenter is synonymous with the WattsTowers of Simon Rodia. It has been the guardian and curator of the Watts Towers since its inception in 1961 when Lucille Krasne taught the first classes on the foundation of the burned down home of the man himself, Sabato Rodia.


The WattsTowersArtsCenter has served as a beacon of light for arts education and a conduit for social change. It continues to support and present master artists and to nurture aspiring young people. This arts education institution, which is currently the only tourist destination in Watts, continues to serve not only our local Southern California Community, but the world at large, as is evidenced by our large number of international visitors. Through its exhibitions, tours, and other programs, the WTAC has been associated with and presented more than 1000 artists in numerous disciplines including visual arts, filmmaking, writing, music, and performing arts in addition to its substantial arts educational programming. We continue in Rodia’s footsteps to re-purpose that which is discarded and set an example of what the possibilities are when we have a dream and willingness to “stick to it”.


We rely on our 92 year history (1921-2013) and world renowned artists, who came through the Watts Towers Arts Center, and continue to cultivate our long practice of cultural leadership and arts education as we preserve and document our proud heritage in Watts, California.


There is still time to see our current exhibition!


January 20, 2013—August 11, 2013                           Noah Purifoy and Charles Mingus Galleries


                                            Charles H. Tatum, Sculptor           

                                    Charles Tatum Retrospective: 1973-2008

                                    A Look at the Influence of African Art on the

                                    Work of an African American Sculptor


Patricia Soltys & Rosie Lee Hooks, Curators


Collaborations with David Czuba, photographer &

             Dutch Schulze, glass artist


Gallery Hours:         Wednesday-Saturday 10:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.

                                     Sunday 12:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

                                                     UPCOMING EXHIBITION!


Through The Eyes of Charles Dickson

       August 25, 2013- March 2, 2014


                                                 Paul Von Blum and Rosie Lee Hooks, Curators







The Watts Towers Arts Center is the home of International Ethnic Instrument Collection consisting of 144 primarily non-western instruments collected from around the world. This wonderful collection was donated by Dr. Joseph Howard to the Watts Towers Arts Center in 1989.





 We Need Your Help!

Come volunteer your services in our Garden Studio Program!

 For further information please contact us at:

Watts Towers Arts Center/ Charles Mingus Youth Arts CenteR

1727 E. 107th street, Los Angeles, CA 90002  (213) 847- 4646



  • Growing vegetables & fruits •  Herbs • Visit Our Turtle Pond • See our tiling projects on                                          campus and throughout our neighborhood




Visiting Schools ProgramOctober 2012 to June 2013

Neighborhood Schools Program—Ongoing

Jazz Mentorship Program—Ongoing



Cal Arts Partnership Piano Program—

Fall October 3, 2012 to December 15, 2012

Spring January 16, 2013 to April 27, 2013


Cal Arts & Sony Pictures Animation Program—

October 10, 2012 to December 15, 2012 

January 16, 2013- June 15, 2013


From Where I’m Standing Photography Program—

October 8, 2012- December 15, 2012

February 9, 2013- May 11, 2013

Adults Special Needs Classes— Ongoing 

Preschool Introduction to Art—TBA*

Summer Arts Camp- July 2, 2013 to July 26, 2013


TBA*—To Be Announced 









Often we get so comfortable with those who are our foundation that we forget to single them out and say Thank You.


We take this opportunity to do just that. The Friends of Watts Towers Arts Center are a major source of support to us. Some of their funding contributions make it possible for us to:



  • Produce our Annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival and Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival
  • Underwrite Receptions for Openings of Exhibitions, Recitals, etc.
  • Provide After School Snack Program
  • Provide Supplies for Classes
  • Offer One on One Tutoring
  • Support Garden Studio AIR Program (Artist in Residence)
  • Graphic Designer for Materials to Publicize and Market our Festivals i.e., Festival Art, Mailers, Study Guides, etc.
  • And Much, Much, More




Friends of Watts Towers Arts Center Museum Store


for one of a kind art pieces



Available now


The Watts Towers 50Years Inspiring Art Commemorative Program 1959-2009





  Heart of Watts Project                          WattsTowers Project

  Limited Edition Post Cards          Limited Edition T-shirts                  



New Computers and Printers

Sculpture of Simon Rodia

String Bass

Photo Archivist

Replacement of lost trees

Sculpture of Charles Mingus

Mural Restoration

Upgraded Sound System

Additional Staff

Rebuild Simon Rodia’s House

Marquis for Watts Towers Arts Center & Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center

Representation of the Watts Towers in the DWP Holiday Lights at Griffith Park


Note: Yamaha C7 Grand Piano donated by Wade & Jerri Childress in honor of their aunt Jari Havlena. Thank You

T H A N K     Y O U

For holding us up and preserving


The Watts Towers Arts Center

The Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center


And supporting continuing arts education programming

at the Watts Towers Campus



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