Los Angeles: Watts Towers
Welcome to my childhood dream in real life: visiting the Watts Towers.
We had a hands-on-art project in elementary school where we learned about these towers and used wires and beads and clay to pretend like we were replicating their sheer amazingness. My "art" piece is long gone now, but the desire to see the towers in real life remained.
Fast forward about sixteen years and I finally made it a priority.
Watts isn't exactly known as the safest neighborhood in Los Angeles, but driving up to the towers, it really seemed like any other neighborhood. A little run-down, but not dangerous.
The towers loomed over the walls surrounding it — the tallest one being almost one hundred feet high (30 meters). They live on a perfect corner to display their beauty — one that goes around it like a triangle instead of a square corner. Just seeing it from the outside, it was everything I thought it could be in person.
I don't know if you've realized by now, but I love quirky, random creations. Like the Bottle Tree Ranch, Salvation Mountain, and the Banana Museum among others. I guess they're great to me because the people that put them together didn't necessarily do it to create a profit or for a super specific reason when they started, but it just came together over time. And it became.
Specifically with the towers, I became even more appreciative of the structures once I knew the story. How the man who made them — Simon Rodia, an immigrant from Italy — used simple tools: he didn't use scaffolding, machine equipment, bolts, rivets, welds or drawing board designs. The structures are structural steel and covered with mortar, embedding mosaic pieces that he collected.
Simon Rodia wanted to "do something big," and then did it.
There's a museum and video of the towers before you go on the tour. The tour cost is $7 and allows you to go inside this mosaic tower garden which consists of seventeen major sculptures, along with giving you further details about the structures and the man behind the art.
(Make sure to check website for openings and available times.)
If possible, see it for yourself in person.