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Simon Rodia

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NEWS
October 23, 1992 | SUE REILLY, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Simon Rodia is best known for the flamboyant, eccentric junk-art tower he built in Watts, but at least one other remembrance of his eclectic genius delights scores of Southern Californians every day. There's a 4-foot-tall fountain in the center of the 23-acre site of Sunny Skies Country Preschool in Agoura, surrounded by several buildings, a swimming pool, a treehouse and about 100 oak trees.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 5, 2014 | By Bob Pool
Gregory Kelly is a small-scale historian who is out to memorialize big-time Southern California landmarks, one by one. There's the miniature Watts Towers, an elaborate depiction of Newport Beach's Balboa Pavilion and a proportionally correct model of Silver Lake's Music Box Steps - all tucked in Kelly's crowded Tustin hobby shop. Not bad for a man who had never even built a plastic model airplane before deciding at age 20 to open his own shop in a building owned by his father.
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OPINION
March 14, 2011
From a distance, the Watts Towers rise like tall cyclones of steel and concrete ? the highest nearly 100 feet ? spiraling toward the sky, standing guard over the Lilliputian bungalows lining East 107th Street. Up close the towers are a fantastical playground of archways and steps, inlaid with shards of pottery, glass and shells, their glistening gem-like surfaces begging to be touched ? something tour guides admonish visitors not to do. It took the eccentric tilemaker Simon Rodia 34 years to build the towers, finishing them in 1955 and then leaving Watts, never to return.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 5, 2013 | By Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times
If William T. Cartwright hadn't gotten lost on his way to visit an aunt in 1959, the Watts Towers might not have been saved. Cartwright was trying to find Lynwood, but soon realized he was near the famed folk art towers and took a detour to see them. Shocked by what he found, he quickly set about trying to rescue them. The mosaic-encrusted spires, created by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia over more than three decades, had been abandoned since the artist moved away in 1954. Five years later, Rodia's house had been lost to a fire, gates to the property stood open, and the area was littered with debris.
HOME & GARDEN
October 20, 2005
RE "Twisted Sense of Order" [Sept. 22]: Fanciful tuteurs are surely an inspiration for expressive gardeners! Surprisingly, tuteurs resemble the Watts Towers in their materials and method of construction. Italian immigrant Sabato (Simon) Rodia bent thousands of rebars and wired them together to create the amazing geometry of Nuestro Pueblo. Now known as the Watts Towers, they appear to have a welded inner armature but they do not. They are wired, like a tuteur. Rodia, using heavier rebar than the 3/8 -inch kind in the story, bent the steel rods with his body power, assisted by nearby Red Car tracks.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 19, 1986
Mayor Bradley suggests that California should erect a statue to parallel the Statue of Liberty. This statue would honor and greet immigrants to the United States whose entry port is Los Angeles. We already have one. We have had such a monument since 1921--an Italian immigrant's tribute to the United States: "I wanted to do something in the United States because I was raised here you understand? I wanted to do something for the United States because there are nice people in this country."
OPINION
July 7, 2003
Re "Grab This Getty Offer," editorial, July 2: It was not long ago when guests from out-of-town wanted to visit the Watts Towers. Upon our arrival, we were shocked: The decay is clearly visible even to the untrained observer, and there was the rotting carcass of a dog at the base of the towers. The Getty should do more than give advice; it should rescue this landmark from the city. We owe it to the genius of Simon Rodia and to posterity to save this underappreciated treasure. It seems the plight of the towers is symbolic of the problems facing much of South Los Angeles.
OPINION
August 31, 2009
Tale of Watts Towers Re "Traveler in her own backyard," Opinion, Aug. 25 I have read a ton of articles about Watts Towers and Simon Rodia (I've even written one or two myself) but I've never seen one that so well captures the feel of the place from the point of view of a newcomer as Robin Rauzi's Op-Ed article. I worked at the center and heard that film so many times -- we used to laugh at how strange the music was. I could almost hear it in my sleep. Simon Rodia was full of so many passions, so many highs and lows, but he was a true artist and visionary, even if completely un-self-aware.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 26, 1985
The reopening of the Watts Towers has been called a "tentative reintroduction" by John Outterbridge, director of the Watts Towers Arts Center, and that is a fair appraisal, given the amount of unfinished business. The basic restoration is now completed, paid for by the state. But commitments for continuing maintenance and guarantees of permanent public access have yet to be assured.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 31, 2013 | By Angel Jennings, Los Angeles Times
From a distance, the Watts Towers rise as a beacon of pride in a community that has struggled for years with poverty and crime. But up close, tiny cracks are tearing through the historic sculpture. One particularly nasty fissure starts thin at the base of the 99-foot center tower, then widens and snakes over colorful tiles, branching like a network of veins from an artery. Decorative ornaments - pieces of glass, seashells and pottery that artist Simon Rodia painstakingly affixed - are falling off, bit by bit. The towers have been deteriorating for years, prompting quick patch jobs that did little long-term good.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 14, 2013
Fans of the teen mystery series "Veronica Mars" have been clamoring for a movie ever since the show was canceled in 2007. Now they may finally get their wish, but it's going to cost them. Star Kristen Bell and creator Rob Thomas have paired up to launch a Kickstarter campaign and hope to raise $2 million by April 13. If their goal is reached and it appears there are enough fans willing to fork over money for a product they haven't yet seen, Thomas and Bell say Warner Bros. has agreed to fund production of the film version.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 13, 2013 | By David Ng
The Watts Towers in South Los Angeles will be the subject of a new study conducted by experts from UCLA to determine the stability of the historic sculptures, which were completed by Simon Rodia in 1954. The study, now  underway, is expected to be completed by early next year. Chief among the concerns are cracks that have plagued the towers for many years. Sensors have been placed around the site to measure variables such as wind and sun exposure. Experts are also measuring the effects that earthquakes have had on the sculptures.  The study is being carried out by engineers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 15, 2012 | By Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times
The public is invited to express its preferences on two different matters in a city-sponsored barbecue Saturday at the Watts Towers. The pleasant and easy one is: hot dog or hamburger? The thorny and contentious one - an issue simmering since 2009 - is whether it's a good idea to plant a state-of-the-art skateboard plaza in the shadow of the Watt Towers, a national historic landmark that's one of the most revered and symbolic public artworks on the West Coast, if not the nation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 23, 2012 | By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times
Nicholas King was an actor and an assistant to renowned Hollywood photographer Bob Willoughby in the late 1950s when a close friend of Willoughby stopped by his home with intriguing news. The friend, film editor William Cartwright, had visited the famed Watts Towers for the first time and was surprised by what he saw. The unique work of folk art, created over 33 years by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia, had been abandoned since he moved away in 1954. His former house had burned down, the gates to the walled property were open and unguarded, and the grounds were littered with refuse left by unwanted visitors.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 24, 2012 | By Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times
Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and a big baseball fan, spent Thursday afternoon in two poor South Los Angeles neighborhoods, Watts and Willowbrook, playing the arts-funding equivalent of small ball. "Small ball" is a scrappy and opportunistic style that some major league baseball teams use to score runs when they can't afford star sluggers who can win games with one big swing. At the NEA, a parallel to small ball is Our Town — a new, $5-million-a-year initiative that Landesman, previously a Broadway producer, named after a landmark Thornton Wilder play that reliably packs a big emotional wallop without requiring much in the way of props, costumes or scenery.
OPINION
March 14, 2011
From a distance, the Watts Towers rise like tall cyclones of steel and concrete ? the highest nearly 100 feet ? spiraling toward the sky, standing guard over the Lilliputian bungalows lining East 107th Street. Up close the towers are a fantastical playground of archways and steps, inlaid with shards of pottery, glass and shells, their glistening gem-like surfaces begging to be touched ? something tour guides admonish visitors not to do. It took the eccentric tilemaker Simon Rodia 34 years to build the towers, finishing them in 1955 and then leaving Watts, never to return.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 10, 2011 | By Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's new role as conservator of the Watts Towers has brought an almost immediate payoff: a $500,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation, announced Wednesday, to help fund repair and preservation of the landmark folk-art masterpiece. "We're thrilled," said Olga Garay, executive director of the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, which manages the towers and recently struck a trial one-year agreement with LACMA for conservation and help with promoting the towers to prospective visitors and funders.
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