Aaron Rose & The Watts Towers - Nuestro Pueblo

Avant/Garde Diaries
Jan 28, 2013 10:57PM

If you wanted to delve into one of the most creative minds from the past decade, you’d be hard pressed to find a better candidate than Aaron Rose, a linchpin of the “Beautiful Losers” movement and director of the documentary with the same title. "Artists are the storyteller people of our world," says the Los Angeles native. As a writer, curator, publisher, editor, musician, and filmmaker, he’s quite the consummate storyteller himself. For The Avant/Garde Diaries, Aaron introduces us to Simon Rodia, an early twentieth-century Italian immigrant who constructed one of the most impressive, and unlikely, manifestations of avant-garde architecture in the past century. The Watts Towers are a monumental complex of seventeen interconnected sculptures located in the Watts area of LA. Rodia, a construction worker by trade, constructed piece by piece over thirty years what he referred to as Nuestro Pueblo, or “our town.” The Towers are a filigree of mortar-covered steel, adorned with a mosaic of broken glass, tile, shells, and other random finds Rodia collected during walks along the nearby train tracks. Shortly after completing the work, he moved north to Martinez, California, where he stayed until his death in 1965. It is said that Rodia never returned to Watts to see his creation, which was recognized by the United States as a National Historic Landmark in 1990. “I had in mind to do something big, and I did it,” Rodia later said. Aaron Rose calls them “a testament to the power of creativity itself.”

Directed by Francesca Mirabella & Peter J. Brant / Produced by Benjamin Gilovitz / Music by Nicholas Krgovich / Sound design by Brent Kiser / Simon Rodia footage courtesy of Moving Image Archive

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