My most recent trip to Los Angeles finally yielded a visit to the Watts Towers. I’m not sure what I expected to see but the effect of the towers rising, as their designer and builder Simon Rodia put it, “up to the sun,” was both breathtaking and calming. There, in the middle of a tidy, residential area, is the Watts Towers Arts Center, home to the single city block environed by the towers and their relevant structures, as well as a museum of contemporary art, a handfull of faded but still compelling murals, and some freestanding sculpture. It is a celebration of the neighborhood, the vibrancy of Watts, a full embrace of its past, and full advocacy of its present and future. There are artist residencies and music festivals, and jazz education and mentorship for emerging and developing youth musicians, but above all are the towers, Nuestro Pueblo.
[A note about the photos: I opted to develop the photos of the towers in black and white because my color versions were overwhelmed by the late-morning sunlight. The same light, of course, served ground-level photography quite well, making it possible to capture the brilliance and array of colors and textures that make up the rest of the work.]
As many of you already know, I recently bought my first real camera: a Fujifilm X-T10 with a Fujinon XF35mmF1.4 R lens. I look forward to checking out other lenses in the future but am quite happy for now just getting a feel for making non-phone photos with a fixed lens. I’m posting many of them on Instagram and also started a flickr page in order to post larger, less-compressed versions of the images. In any case, here’s a handful from my first month with the new set-up. I hope you enjoy them.