Watts House Project, an artist-driven neighborhood redevelopment organization based opposite the historic Watts Towers, has acquired three neglected houses and is re-creating them as The Platform, an office space, exhibition venue and visiting artist work site woven into the fabric of the area.
Programs Manager Trinidad Ruiz updates us on their progress:
A defining month
With the specter of foreclosures happening throughout Watts this month as a backdrop, the staff, board, and residents organized a retreat to envisage, discuss, and define the role that WHP’s property, the Platform, will have in the community. What are our core values, and how should that focus our programming: artist-in-residency, open classroom, tours and vocational scholarship programs? Next month we’ll share the final outcome of these discussions with you.
We are also are in the process of seeking donations for materials like windows, doors, building materials and we are also looking at ways in which the community can play a part in the transformation of the Platform. As the Platform is re-imagined, so is a neighborhood.
We were excited and honored to have Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the NEA and Craig Watson, Executive Director of the California Arts Council visit WHP on Feb 23rd! We introduced Mr. Landesman to several residents on the block - folks who will be directly impacted with the forthcoming revitalized of our headquarters, the Platform. Rosa Gutierrez, resident on 107th Street and our Resident Coordinator, sat with Mr. Landesman on the Flower House bench and shared a few impressions of her experiences with WHP - all is good, Mr. Chairman!
ps. Rocco's cowboy boots rocked the place!
In other news, WHP has just begun an exciting new collaboration with Verold, a Canadian based 3-D design company, to build a new website for implementing our Virtual Redevelopment Project (VRD). Verold is designing an online 3-D multi-user platform of the homes on E. 107th Street. This ground breaking technology allows for the families as well as designers to discuss and make changes in real time on the virtual model from any where in the world. Artists and designers from Watts and greater LA will be invited to submit proposals for the neighborhood and winning submissions will actually be realized. From the virtual to actual world, in collaboration with the families and WHP.
“There is an incredible growth opportunity with the VRD collaboration with Verold that would allow for WHP to express positive change to the E.107th Street neighborhood,” says Executive Director Edgar Arceneaux. “Bringing together many of the aspects that people admire about WHP into a series of focused actions. People working with people bringing beauty and quality of life improvements to residents’ homes.” Who wouldn't want to love that!
Finally, we’d like to take a moment to remember little Mario Avila, 4 years old, from the Watts community. He passed away this month from a heart condition. Mario loved to dance, was fascinated by cameras, and enjoyed being the center of attention. He danced his way into our hearts two years ago when we met him during the kid’s summer programs series at WHP. Our prayers and well wishes go to the Avila family for their loss.
PHOTO: Edgar Arcenaux and Rocco Landesman in front of one of the buildings that will become The Platform.