If Simon Rodia hadn't built his 17 steel, mortar, tile, and glass sculptures in Watts, he would have built them in Beverly Hills, on the current site of the Beverly Hilton, according to an article in the New York Times. And even though the Watts Towers have an attendance problem and money troubles, imagine the NIMBY assault the Beverly Hills Towers would've faced. (They'd probably be long gone by now, because you can't throw an awards ceremony at a folk art installation.) The Watts location has its own problems, as the paper points out--it's far from MOCA, LACMA, and Disneyland, and in a lot of the US the neighborhood is still mostly known as the first word in the phrase "Watts Riots." (Europeans, on the other hand, love the Towers: "Officials said a majority of the 45,000 people who visit each year are from overseas.") LACMA, which recently took over restoration and maintenance responsibilities at the Towers, is fundraising now and considering running a shuttle between Miracle Mile and Watts.
· Budget Cuts Threaten a Hidden Treasure in Watts [NYT]
· LACMA Babysitting Watts Towers, Fussy Sib Hollyhock Demands Attention [Curbed LA]