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Jack Waltrip

There Is Something Out There

There Is Something Out There

3D exhibitions

  • There Is Something Out There

    HERE WE ARE NOW: The Ecology of Seymour Rosen and SPACES

    The mid-to-late-20th century curator/photographer/preservationist Seymour Rosen is by today’s standards a forgotten figure in the history of Outsider and Folk Art. “Here We Are Now: The Ecology of Seymour Rosen and SPACES,” an exhibition curated by Brian Chidester and Annalise Flynn seeks to change that. Rosen’s star first rose in the late 1950s when he became an assistant to the architectural photographer Marvin Rand and was active in the campaign to save the Watts Towers in Los Angeles from being demolished. Once successful, Rosen was given a solo show at the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA) in which to exhibit his photographs of the Towers, they being instrumental in the preservation effort. In 1966, his cosmology expanded greatly with a follow-up exhibition at LACMA entitled “I Am Alive.” Here Rosen combined documentary photos of the Watts Towers with functional objects from everyday life, natural history specimens, experimental photograms, and artifacts from the environments themselves. More installation, in fact, than exhibition, he treated “I Am Alive” as an opportunity to break from curatorial tradition and by extension show that creativity was ubiquitous rather than the province of a specialized few. By the early seventies, Rosen would apply his aesthetic eye to an ever-expanding field of art environments and vernacular subjects around the state of California, which allowed them to be seen as unique and beautiful. These included: shaped architecture, neon signage, mural art and graffiti, decorated vehicles, pageants, swap meets, parades, and many others. It culminated in the 1976 exhibition (and subsequent book) held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art entitled “In Celebration of Ourselves.” Thereafter Rosen incorporated SPACES–Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments—as a repository of archival documentation related to artist-built environments, not just in California, but across the U.S. and around the globe. He also influenced a wave of popular books and exhibitions in the 1990s and 2000s on vernacular architecture and Californiana by new historians such as Jim Heimann, Alan Hess, and Sven Kirsten. Up until his death in 2006, he was actively committed to advocating for the preservation of artist-built environments, and in encouraging folklorists, art historians, critics, and others to join forces in “coordinated efforts of scholarship and preservation” through his SPACES newsletter and various personal correspondences. The work of SPACES continues, and the Archives are now a preservation project of the Kohler Foundation in Kohler, Wis. “Here We Are Now” is an exhibition that rekindles Rosen’s exceptional production as an artist and also reflects his work through the ecology of subjects, objects, and influences which populated his pioneering curatorial efforts. It is produced by Gigi Spratley and Jack Waltrip: artists and friends of Rosen during the last two decades of his life.

    latest works

    • How the show came together
    • About the environments
    • Ferus and vernacular culture
    • Seymour as the avatar of SPACES
    • Seymour Rosen

      Kite and Towers. (From the SPACES Archive.)
    • Here We Are Now Intro
    • Seymour Rosen

      Seymour perched on a spire at his second home, the Watts Towers, c. 1962.
    • Seymour Rosen

      Visionary artist James Harold Jennings wearing one of his celestial crowns, proudly posed amid his constantly changing roadside environment near Pinnacle, North Carolina, 1986.
    • Seymour Rosen

      Seymour Regalia. (From the SPACES Archive.)
    • Seymour Rosen

      “Ed Kienholz ‘Expert,’” 1958. From the SPACES Archive.
    • Seymour Rosen

      Original poster from one of Rosen’s many live slideshow events of his Watt Towers photos in the early sixties. (From the SPACES Archive.)
    • Seymour Rosen

      The Watts Towers. (From the SPACES Archive.)
    • Seymour Rosen

      Portrait of the artist as a young man. Seymour Rosen with camera c. 1951. (From the SPACES Archive.)
    • Seymour Rosen

      Blueprint designs for the entrance to and interior layout of Rosen’s 1966 exhibition at LACMA entitled “I Am Alive.” From the SPACES Archive.
    • Seymour Rosen

      A pre-Python/pre-Pepper dress-up party at Rosen’s house, c. 1963, with members of the Ferus Gallery/Assemblage art scene, including sculptor Ed Bereal. (From the SPACES Archive.)
    • Seymour Rosen

      Early contact sheet (c. 1953) of Rosen experimenting with angles, shapes, and contrast. It would become a signature later in his many images of the Watts Towers. (From the SPACES Archive.)
    • Seymour Rosen

      Litto Damonte's Hubcap Ranch, Pope Valley, CA (near Napa), c. 1972.
    • Seymour Rosen

      Two worlds collide. The vernacular surrealism of Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village is aesthetically framed by the lens of Seymour Rosen. (From the SPACES Archive.)
    • Seymour Rosen

      John Ehn's Old Trapper Lodge, Sun Valley, CA. (From the SPACES Archive.)
    • Seymour Rosen

      Graffiti. (From the SPACES Archives.)