I was really inspired this morning by the story of Simon Rodia and his desire to create the monumental sculpture that is the Watt Towers in Los Angles with such a humble and workman like manner. I have to admit his name is one I haven’t crossed paths with on the internet before today, however The Avant Garde Diaries put together this short film on artist Aaron Rose recently and Mr Rodia’s life’s work has had a big influence on this creatives mindset, so I was intrigued to learn more. I’ve actually included this short film below because I think it provides a great deal of context and is for the most part about the Watt Towers and how they came to be. These were constructed over a period of 33 years by my counting, beginning in 1921, a year after Simon settled in the residential district of Watts, and were concluded in 1954 when Simon was 79 I’m led to believe, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a remarkable feat.
Building these took so long because Simon had to work on the towers when he wasn’t at his day job as a construction worker, using only materials he found on the neighbouring train tracks to create these monstrous works of art. I can’t say his style is one that I typically reference here or go looking for, but the fact he was so dedicated to making what many would consider impossible I can’t help but admire both the landmark and the man. Reading into his story further I was saddened to learn that vandals often attacked his work and this actually delayed the completion alongside time constraints. Once the work was finished he decided to move on to Martinez in the Contra Costa County as he had become rather disillusioned with the vandalism, not returning before his death in 1965.
Thats a bit of a negative note to leave this post on so I hope you can oversee this and appreciate what Simon was able to achieve on the site in the face of adversity. I think his story is a remarkable lesson of what can be achieved when you set your mind to it, he focused on the possibility not the limitation and in turn I think he leaves a lasting legacy that is well worth visiting if you get the chance. Making a tour for the time being is going to be a bit of a tall order from England but if you are near by and are interested regular tours are run via the website which I will link to just below.