the Watts Towers Arts Center


Contact: Rosie Lee Hooks, Director
Phone: 213.847.4646


Dear Friends,
The email campaign in support of Rosie Lee Hooks has been effective.
In answer to our concerns, both Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero and Cultural Affairs General Manager Danielle Brazell actually came to last month’s Watts Towers Task Force meeting. Not with concrete responses or serious recommendations, however… just the same stonewalling we’ve been getting from the city agencies’ representatives.
We need your help again in advance of next week’s Task Force meeting to show them we expect real answers… especially since we have learned that the appeal hearing to consider rescinding Ms. Hooks’ recent suspension and paying her for time of suspension has still not been scheduled.
While we don’t deal directly with the suspension in the email, be assured that the issues stated are at the heart of the reason for the Cultural Affairs Department’s actions against her and we believe the Mayor is aware of this.
Please read the email below. It notes the major points that must be addressed openly and honestly at next week’s meeting. You are welcome to edit the email in accord with your own concerns.
Sign the letter and send it to:
and cc the other officials listed.
barbara.romero@lacity.org; danielle.brazell@lacity.org; daniel.tarica@lacity.org; leslie.a.thomas@lacity.org; edgar.garcia@lacity.org; luis.rivera@lacity.org; joel.jacinto@lacity.org; mike.davis@lacity.org; controller.galperin@lacity.org; joe.buscaino@lacity.org; david.ryu@lacity.org; councilmember.wesson@lacity.org; councilmember.harris-dawson@lacity.org; paul.koretz@lacity.org; councilmember.price@lacity.org; markridley-thomas@bos.lacounty.gov; sawoods@parks.ca.gov; leslie.hartzell@parks.ca.gov; terry.nicholson@mail.house.gov; michelle.chambers@asm.ca.gov; ericfboyd@mail.house.gov; lucy.walker@sen.ca.gov; holly.mitchell@sen.ca.gov; kelan10@att.net; keara.joe@asm.ca.gov; craig.watson@arts.ca.gov; ashley.stracke@lacity.org
Thank you,
Edward Landler, Boardmember, Friends of the Watts Towers Arts Center and Watts Towers Community Action Concil
Reverend Mac Shorty, Vice Chair, Watts Neighborhood Council

Dear Mayor Garcetti,
Without informing the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus or its support groups in advance, Deputy Mayor Romero and Cultural Affairs Manager Brazell personally attended the Watts Towers Task Force meeting in May. Despite their presence at this meeting, the community groups again met with the same usual lack of transparency in response to their stated concerns about the City’s support of the WTAC Campus.
In regard to the February 12 support groups’ letter to the Deputy Mayor regarding Task Force inaction on providing an equitable and fair share of resources to meet Campus infrastructure and personnel needs, Ms. Romero stated that she was not aware that the letter required a response from her. An acknowledgment, at the very least, of receipt of this letter would have been greatly appreciated at an earlier date.
However, Ms. Romero also stated at the May meeting that, in future Task Force meetings, the Mayor’s Office would be willing to share with community representatives its vision for the development of Watts and how it will affect the long-term residents of the historic community. We would eagerly anticipate this, especially in regard to the role of the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus as the only tourist site in Watts, attracting visitors from all over the United States and the world.
We hereby request that Ms. Romero and Ms. Brazell attend the Task Force meeting scheduled for June 19 so that we may focus attention away from WTAC Director Rosie Lee Hooks’ suspension to address the real issues at the core of what was originally established as a proactive task force: The specific requests we have consistently and repeatedly made for appropriate resources and personnel to fix the campus infrastructure and maintain its long-term sustainability.
We look forward to a full commitment from the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Cultural Affairs to engage seriously with Campus staff and support groups to identify resources to deal with these needs.
Show us you really care, Mr. Mayor.


Edward Landler, Board Member
Friends of the Watts Towers Arts Center, Watts Towers Community Action Council
Reverend Mac Shorty, Vice Chair
Watts Neighborhood Council

Sam (Simon) Rodia, builder of the Watts Towers - a portrait.

I Build the Tower is the true story of the life and work of Sam Rodia, the Italian immigrant who built the world-famous Watts Towers on a residential lot in South Central Los Angeles. Rodia's Watts Towers, designated as a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior in 1990, are now a component site of the California State Parks, managed by the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department.
Edward Landler got practical production experience with Satyajit Ray in India and Luis Bunuel in France, and worked on independent feature films in the United States. His first film, "Pharaoh's Dream", an experimental short, was shot in Calcutta and Los Angeles.
He is a founder and former president of the Independent Feature Project/Los Angeles (now Film Independent), a non-profit support organization for independent filmmakers and has taught film at California State University, Northridge, Woodbury University, and U.C.L.A. Extension. He is a regular contributor to CineMontage, the magazine of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, and is currently completing a cultural history of film.

Ed Landler and Brad Byer, who is the maternal great-nephew of Sam Rodia of the Watts Towers.

Brad Byer is the maternal great-nephew of Sam Rodia, the creator of the Watts Towers. Over 20 years, Landler and Byer collaborated to make I Build the Tower. They started working together to make the film in 1983, when they shot the last filmed interview with R. Buckminster Fuller who provided a structural analysis of the Watts Towers. Since that time, their efforts to produce the definitive work on Rodia's achievement have become part of the history of the towers.
Byer died in 2012. Landler is still strongly involved with the Watts Towers and the Watts Towers Arts Center.
Q&A with director Edward Landler after the screening.

The Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers West (BAD West) is a professional organization providing people of African descent working in documentary film, video or other media the opportunity to network professionally, share resources, exchange ideas and meet socially in order to enhance the development, production, promotion and exhibition of documentaries. The Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers West also advocates the recognition and professional advancement of Black documentary filmmakers.

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www.BADWest.org - Copyright (c) All rights reserved 2000-2010
Contact us: badwestla@gmail.com- (213) 534-6635
Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers West 
14431 Ventura Blvd PMB #115
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 

Watts Towers Arts Center & Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center

We are extremely grateful to our Support Groups for generating so much support for our Programs, Exhibitions, Events and on-going operations.

We continue to rely on the support of so many through letters, emails and word of mouth concerning the importance of our work to the Community, for the City of Los Angeles and with our international visitors.


• Huell Howser, 1945-2013 • William T. Cartwright, 1920-2013 • Cecil Fergerson 1931-2013



Sabato Rodia was born in Serino, Italy (AV) in 1879 and arrived in the United States around 1894. He came to Watts in 1921 at age 42 and was commonly known as ‘Simon’, or old ‘Sam’. The Watts Towers of Simon Rodia, his masterpiece and the world’s largest single construction created by one individual, was his obsession for 33 years. He called it, “Nuestro Pueblo” or “Our Town”. It is located in the community of Watts in South Central Los Angeles, California.

The Watts Towers structure consists of seventeen major sculptures of steel, covered with mortar and embellished by decorative finishings of mosaic tiles, glass, clay, shells, and rock. As there is no welded inner armature, Rodia wired rebars together, then wrapped the joints with wire mesh, hand packed them with mortar, and added the mosaic surface. This folk art employs assemblage construction. The property extends 42 meters (138 ft.) along 107th Street on the south, 21 meters (69 ft.) on the west and 47 meters (155 ft.) on the north of this compact 400 square meter site. There are three tall spires, several small towers, two walls, gazebo, patio, ship, and other structures.

When Rodia finished his towers in 1954, he gave them, along with the deed to his triangular shaped land (pointing eastward to Italy) to his neighbor Mr. Louis Sauceda. Mr. Sauceda sold them to Joseph Montoya for $1,000.00 six months later. Mr. Montoya decided to convert the Watts Towers into a commercial venue. But, when he went to get a building permit the City of Los Angeles placed a demolition order on the structure because Simon did not get a permit to build his masterpiece.

Along came Bill Cartwright and Nick King who purchased the Towers from Mr. Montoya for $3,000.00 in 1959. They founded The Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts and saved the Towers from demolition with a “stress” or “load” test, designed by Bud Goldstone. The Towers proved stronger than the test equipment. Therefore, the test was stopped and the Towers were deemed safe, and preservation efforts began. The Watts community considered the Watts Towers part of their heritage and called upon the new owners to also invest in the community. Thus the Watts Towers Arts Center began.

The 52-year old Watts Towers Arts Center is synonymous with the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia. It has been the guardian and curator of the Watts Towers since its inception in 1961 when Lucille Krasne taught the first classes on the foundation of the burned down home of the man himself, Sabato Rodia.

The Watts Towers Arts Center has served as a beacon of light for arts education and a conduit for social change. It continues to support and present master artists and to nurture aspiring young people. This arts education institution, which is currently the only tourist destination in Watts, continues to serve not only our local Southern California Community, but the world at large, as is evidenced by our large number of international visitors. Through its exhibitions, tours, and other programs, the WTAC has been associated with and presented more than 1000 artists in numerous disciplines including visual arts, filmmaking, writing, music, and performing arts in addition to its substantial arts educational programming. We continue in Rodia’s footsteps to re-purpose that which is discarded and set an example of what the possibilities are when we have a dream and willingness to “stick to it”.

We rely on our 92 year history (1921-2013) and world renowned artists, who came through the Watts Towers Arts Center, and continue to cultivate our long practice of cultural leadership and arts education as we preserve and document our proud heritage in Watts, California.

There is still time to see our current exhibition!

January 20, 2013—August 11, 2013 Noah Purifoy and Charles Mingus Galleries

Charles H. Tatum, Sculptor

Charles Tatum Retrospective: 1973-2008

A Look at the Influence of African Art on the

Work of an African American Sculptor

Patricia Soltys & Rosie Lee Hooks, Curators

Collaborations with David Czuba, photographer &

Dutch Schulze, glass artist

Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 10:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.

Sunday 12:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.


Through The Eyes of Charles Dickson

August 25, 2013- March 2, 2014

Paul Von Blum and Rosie Lee Hooks, Curators



The Watts Towers Arts Center is the home of International Ethnic Instrument Collection consisting of 144 primarily non-western instruments collected from around the world. This wonderful collection was donated by Dr. Joseph Howard to the Watts Towers Arts Center in 1989.


We Need Your Help!

Come volunteer your services in our Garden Studio Program!

For further information please contact us at:

Watts Towers Arts Center/ Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center

1727 E. 107th street, Los Angeles, CA 90002 (213) 847- 4646

· Growing vegetables & fruits • Herbs • Visit Our Turtle Pond • See our tiling projects on campus and throughout our neighborhood


Visiting Schools Program—October 2012 to June 2013

Neighborhood Schools Program—Ongoing

Jazz Mentorship Program—Ongoing

Cal Arts Partnership Piano Program—Fall October 3, 2012 to December 15, 2012

Spring January 16, 2013 to April 27, 2013

Cal Arts & Sony Pictures Animation Program— October 10, 2012 to December 15, 2012

January 16, 2013- June 15, 2013

From Where I’m Standing Photography Program— October 8, 2012- December 15, 2012

February 9, 2013- May 11, 2013

Adults Special Needs Classes— Ongoing

Preschool Introduction to Art—TBA*

Summer Arts Camp- July 2, 2013 to July 26, 2013

TBA*—To Be Announced



Often we get so comfortable with those who are our foundation that we forget to single them out and say Thank You.

We take this opportunity to do just that. The Friends of Watts Towers Arts Center are a major source of support to us. Some of their funding contributions make it possible for us to:

  • Produce our Annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival and Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival

  • Underwrite Receptions for Openings of Exhibitions, Recitals, etc.

  • Provide After School Snack Program

  • Provide Supplies for Classes

  • Offer One on One Tutoring

  • Support Garden Studio AIR Program (Artist in Residence)

  • Graphic Designer for Materials to Publicize and Market our Festivals i.e., Festival Art, Mailers, Study Guides, etc.

  • And Much, Much, More


Friends of Watts Towers Arts Center Museum Store

for one of a kind art pieces

Available now

The Watts Towers 50 Years Inspiring Art Commemorative Program 1959-2009


Heart of Watts Project Watts Towers Project

Limited Edition Post Cards Limited Edition T-shirts


New Computers and Printers

Sculpture of Simon Rodia

String Bass

Photo Archivist

Replacement of lost trees

Sculpture of Charles Mingus

Mural Restoration

Upgraded Sound System

Additional Staff

Rebuild Simon Rodia’s House

Marquis for Watts Towers Arts Center & Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center

Representation of the Watts Towers in the DWP Holiday Lights at Griffith Park

Note: Yamaha C7 Grand Piano donated by Wade & Jerri Childress in honor of their aunt Jari Havlena. Thank You


For holding us up and preserving

The Watts Towers Arts Center

The Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center

And supporting continuing arts education programming

at the Watts Towers Campus


Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

City of Los Angeles City Council
The Greater Watts Community
Parents and Students
Friends of Watts Towers Arts Center
Watts Towers Community Action Council
The Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts
Mayor’s Task Force
Staff of the Watts Towers Arts Center & The Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center
Artists and musicians
Local, national and international visitors to the Watts Campus
And to the thousands of others who continue to add their voices to save this essential, 52 year old Arts Education Institution and Community Arts Center!


Watts Towers Arts Center & Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center

We are extremely grateful to our Support Groups for generating so much support for our Programs, Exhibitions, Events and on-going operations.

We continue to rely on the support of so many through letters, emails and word of mouth concerning the importance of our work to the Community, for the City of Los Angeles and with our international visitors.


Nick King, 1933-2012 • Calvin Hicks, 1941-2012 • Willie R. Middlebrook, 1957-2012
Mauricio Vallejo, 1949-2012 • Norman J. “Bud” Goldstone, 1926-2012B
rad Byer, 1954-2012 • Jayne Cortez, 1934-2012 • Huell Howser, 1945-2013



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website by Lucien den Arend sculptor
photography © Lucien den Arend
lucien at denarend dot com

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