Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
Simon Rodia arrived in the US from Italy with a desire to do something big. He doggedly created his masterpiece, the Watts Towers over the course of 33 years from 1921 to 1954. Spires of reinforced concrete, the towers are constructed of a steel core wrapped in wire mesh. They are covered with mortar, and inlaid with a variety of materials that Rodia collected, including tile, glass, shell, pottery, ceramics and rocks. Rodia considered himself an explorer in the mold of Marco Polo and the entire project can be considered a metaphor for a ship. The walls that frame the towers are shaped like a ship. The towers themselves represent the sails of the ship. An effort to save the Towers by two local artists was successful after they were condemned to be demolished in 1957. The Towers are again in a precarious situation due to budget cutbacks.
Posted May 10, 2010