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The Watts Towers

2011 February 7
by JoDavid

We photographed The Watts Towers in Los Angeles in April 2006. Simon Rodia (1875-1965) was an Italian immigrant itinerant worker who spent 33 years of his life creating this inspired visionary masterpiece.

The structures are fashioned from metal bars, pipes and rods, bound together by wire and encased in concrete, and the surface decorated with a mosaic of broken crockery, glass and shells. Relief elements and impressions of tools pressed into the wet cement adorn and embellish the surface. Once threatened by Los Angeles city authorities who sought to demolish them, they are now listed as a National Monument, and administered by the city, which has carried out a million-dollar restoration program on The Watts Towers.

All art by Simon Rodia.

• Photos by Marlow Harris and Jo David •

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