Watts Tower: RECYCLED MATERIALS in construction, Los Angeles

 Watts is  a poor black suburb just south of downtown Los Angeles and is    notorious for the 1965 riots . It was the most severe riot in the city’s history until the Los Angeles Riots in 1992. That period was a very critical stage . In the late 1960s, Charles  Manson founded a hippie cult group known as “the Family” whom he manipulated into killers.  On August 9, 1969, four of Manson’s followers brutally murdered Sharon Tate (Polansky’s wife), her unborn baby and four others who were visiting her

Built by  Simon Rodia, a semi-literate Italian immigrant ,who worked alone for 33 years from 1921 to 1954, the towers are now a symbol of Los Angeles.  Rodia was 46 years old when he started to build  and  he used to adorn his towers  nothing but found objects . His decorations are broken bottles, shells, old crockery collected for him by local children and tiles. An extraordinary  diverse mosaic of recycled materials. A taciturn man, the nearest Rodia ever came to explaining his masterpiece was to say, “I had in mind to do something big and I did it.”  So it is, in fact the tallest of his towers stands 99½ feet and has the longest slender reinforced concrete column in all the world.

Do they represent the reconciliation or division between rich white west LA and poor black east LA? It’s a complicated question, because of the permanent contrasts of the city,  but what Simon teaches us is the power of art to change things and his inheritance is  one of the world’s great public artworks.  Surely, he was the greatest recycler.

official trailer of the film “I Build the Tower” the Watts Towers by Simon Rodia.

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