Last summer we heard that the Watts Towers will take about $5 million to fully restore, and that the city's Department of Cultural Affairs was in talks with LACMA and the Getty to see if those big guys could help. Well, they can. Sort of. According to the LA Times, the DCA and LACMA are hoping to have an agreement in place by July 1 under which "LACMA would contribute its expertise and direct the conservation work" and review the Towers' marketing and operations practices. The Towers are owned by California, which has a 50 year caretaking and operations agreement with Los Angeles, and LA will still be paying for everything. The DCA's executive director estimates the city will budget $100,000 to $200,000 for the Towers this year; it's already dropped from $300,000 in past years. However, LACMA, according to its president, will "lend 'our influence and some of our connections' to help raise private donations for Watts Towers conservation."
The DCA has been chopped nearly in half (from 70 to 37) by all the city budget cutting, and one of the employees taking early retirement is Virginia Kazor, "longtime curator" of both the Watts Towers and Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park. On top of that, the city's Watts Towers "conservator has been on medical leave for most of the past few months...and a workman who does the hands-on replacing of fallen ornaments has had to spend most of his time at Hollyhock House." Mark Greenfield, the former director of the Watts Towers Arts Center and current director of the Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall is also taking early retirement. The DCA is thinking about making that space available as a satellite gallery for local museums and says MOCA's new director Jeffrey Deitch has visited. [Image via vin dog]
· Watts Towers may get LACMA as a guardian [LAT]