SPACES Honors Lyn Kienholz, Trustee Emerita


Coco's Palais Idéal Paintings




A treasure trove of paintings of the renowned Ferdinand Cheval, known as the Facteur Cheval, the legendary postal carrier who created the spectacular Palais Idéal in Hauterives,  France, have been rediscovered. Some thirty works in oil on canvas, these paintings by the painter Coco were first displayed at the Palais Idéal in 1987. Coco was fascinated by Cheval’s work, and the paintings portray not only the Facteur himself but also his family and details of the Palais. The image used in the poster is the first known color portrait of Cheval.



SPACES Honors Lyn Kienholz, Trustee Emerita

Posted in SPACES News


It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our Trustee Emerita, Lyn Kienholz, who died at her home in the Hollywood Hills on January 25, 2019. She was 88 years old.


A forceful arts advocate, Lyn was involved in the nascent postwar art scene in Los Angeles as she worked at the seminal Ferus Gallery and married artist Ed Kienholz (1966-1973). She met SPACES founder Seymour Rosen at the Ferus; he served as their staff photographer, documenting the exhibitions and installations of the then-unsung artists who would go on to stretch the definition of contemporary art in the 1950s and ‘60s. Lyn felt strongly that California artists hadn’t received the visibility or support that they deserved, and she founded the California/International Arts Foundation to remedy that lack; under the auspices of the C/IAF she organized and curated several exhibitions in Europe, including at the Pompidou Center for the Arts in Paris. She famously crossed genre areas in both her advocacy and her curatorial practice, championing self-taught artists as well as those with formal academic training in her exhibitions and publications.


Following Rosen’s death in 2006, Lyn reached out to me and supported our early fight to ensure that all of the materials in SPACES archives were maintained together, so that they could be studied and understood in the holistic way that Rosen had approached all arts and cultural expressions. She formally joined our Board in 2006, providing wise counsel and support over that difficult transition. Lyn’s great gift was the ability to foster connections among individuals who might not otherwise come into contact with each other, and some of the folks that I met through her - most connected to the mainstream art world rather than our own more circumscribed sphere - became and remain staunch supporters of SPACES to this day.


Donations in Lyn Kienholz’s memory may be made to SPACES; please contact me at for further information.


Jo Farb Hernández


Become a volunteer docent at the Hartman Rock Garden!



The Hartman Rock Garden is offering a professionally-designed program to train people to give tours of this landmark art environment! Over three Saturday mornings sessions in March, learn the incredible story of Ben Hartman’s Historical Rock Garden and how it fits into the larger Visionary Art Environment world. Explore the inspirations that motivated Ben to build the garden, the materials and techniques that he used, and the process that it took to restore the garden to its 1930s appearance. Go behind the scenes at the site to examine the molds and parts that Ben used to make his artistic creations and visit the nearby stream where he gathered much of his rock and stone.


Upon completion of the program, docents will have the opportunity to share knowledge with visitors from around the globe. No prior experience needed. The time commitment is flexible and will vary month to month, likely ranging from one to four hours per month, so even people with busy schedules can find a way to contribute their talents!
This docent training is part of a larger plan to begin offering regular guided tours at the site. Tours will be offered at least once per week in warm weather months. As our volunteer base grows, we plan to increase the number of tours offered and also begin offering some special thematic and behind-the-scenes tours. In addition to our regularly scheduled tours, the garden receives numerous requests for tours by appointment from coach tour groups and regional clubs.


Training Cost: $10, which covers training materials, docent manuals, and refreshments. This is discounted from $25 with support from the Greater Springfield CVB. In order to successfully complete the training, please plan to attend all three sessions.


First Session: March 2nd from 9:00am to Noon
Second Session: March 9th from 9:00am to Noon
Third Session: March 16th from 9:00am to 12:30pm


About the Hartman Rock Garden:

The Hartman Rock Garden, located at 1905 Russell Avenue in Springfield, Ohio, is one of the nation’s revered visionary art environments, an outsider art phenomenon where self-taught artists construct fascinating worlds out of concrete, metal, stone, and whatever else they can find. Constructed between 1932 and 1944, it was the vision of local foundry worker Ben Hartman and his wife Mary. Starting small with the creation of a cement fishing pond, over the next decade, with time, cement and thousands and thousands of rocks, Hartman filled his yard in Springfield, Ohio with over fifty fascinating sculptures and figures. After years of neglect, the Wisconsin-based Kohler Foundation saved the garden in 2008. Working with the local community, folk art conservators began the process of restoring the garden to its original condition. In 2010, local citizens worked with the Kohler Foundation to form the Friends of the Hartman Rock Garden, a not-for-profit organization, which oversees the maintenance, preservation, and interpretation of this landmark art environment.


To enroll in this program, please contact:

Kevin Rose, Curator


Registration will close on Wednesday, February 27.

Information sheet here: hartman-docent-training-2019



Chris Vo’s Flower House in Cleveland has been destroyed against his will!


One year ago, Chris Vo, creator of Cleveland’s spectacular Flower House, was promised a reality television show about his elaborately decorated art environment by a national producer. The promise involved a “free facelift” for the house, and, as Vo thought he was being treated in good faith, he and his partner signed an Access and Work Scope Agreement, which is what they were told was a standard contract for filming, allowing the crews to enter the home. His partner even thought it might be a chance, down the road, to get his own show about dancing.


The actual “reality,” however, was that while Vo and his partner were housed by the network in a local hotel, the house was stripped of all of its decorations, and the lawn’s manicured tree and shrubs were uprooted and hauled away, along with statuary, ornaments, the outdoor grill, and garden structures. The Reality TV producer was apparently encouraged by an individual who had been in the process of selling his father’s rental home across the street, and was further supported by “helpful” neighbors who were supposedly placing the ornaments into storage boxes; while it had been promised that his property would be only temporarily removed and later would all be returned, most of it ended up in a dumpster, stolen, or destroyed. Following the stripping of the Flower House, the aforementioned individual sold his father’s property, previously valued at $90,000, for $130,000. 


To make matters worse, instead of a program celebrating the Flower House, it turned out to be a show about flipping houses. When they saw what was happening to the property, the couple wanted to cancel and move back into the house, despite its drastic change. In fact, only three days into filming, Vo pleaded with the producer, “Please, can I have my house back!” but he was told “It’s just a TV show, just do what I say and you’ll get your house back.” Vo and his partner were also told they had to do what they were told or they would be held responsible for all of the production costs of the show. 


After the destruction of his years of work, Vo was inconsolable and the couple split up. Now, one year later, despite the ongoing emotional pain over what was done to him, his home, and his relationship, Vo has decided to try to resurrect the Flower House.


The Reality TV producer and the cable network aired the show on March 27, 2018 under the title “Make My Neighbor Move,” using footage of Vo and his partner, although they had refused to sign an Appearance Release permitting them to do so. Angry and heartbroken, Vo asked for monetary reimbursement for repairs to the house and for the theft and destruction of his property. Offers were made by the network, but their highest offer did not even come close to covering the repair costs, let alone reimburse Vo for the loss of his personal property. The producer and others at the cable network have broken off communications with Vo.


A grass-roots GoFundMe account has been created to help replace the lights and other decorations and retain legal assistance in an effort to hold accountable those who participated in the destruction of the Flower House. For more information and to make a donation, go to


Jo Farb Hernández



exteriorExterior, January 2017, Chris Vo.flower-houseThe Flower House at night, May 2016, Fred Scruton.




Job Opening at Craft & Folk Art Museum Los Angeles, CA: Manager of Communications and Exhibitions

Posted in job opportunities

Job Opening!

Manager of Communications and Exhibitions at the Craft & Folk Art Museum Los Angeles, CA


Job Summary

Located on Los Angeles’ historic Miracle Mile since 1965, the Craft & Folk
Art Museum (CAFAM) presents dynamic exhibitions featuring established and
emerging artists whose works create thoughtful and provocative visual
exchanges between craft, design, and contemporary art. CAFAM’s regular
programs and events provide opportunities for the public to participate in
artmaking and engage with local and exhibiting artists.

The Manager of Communications and Exhibitions is a full-time, exempt
position that reports to the Exhibitions Curator and works across multiple
departments, including communications, exhibitions, and facilities. Under
moderate supervision, the position encompasses full responsibility for
creating the museum’s communications strategies and managing logistics
related to exhibition installations.



Manage museum communications relating to exhibitions, programs, and overall
museum messaging:

  • Draft and distribute press releases for exhibitions and select programs
  • Maintain active press list and relationships with members of the media
  • Lead weekly marketing team meetings
  • Supervise and collaborate with Senior Designer & Digital Strategist

Manage exhibition production and installation:

  •  Assist Exhibitions Curator with maintaining exhibition calendar, budgets, and files
  • Draft contracts and MOUs in consultation with Exhibitions Curator
  • Manage exhibition installation process and contract staff
  • Assist with exhibition research and edit gallery texts as needed, including wall labels and didactic panels
  • Maintain consistent inspection of galleries and artworks while they are on display

Manage exhibition registration-related issues:

  • Provide insurance company with necessary documents relating to fine art insurance
  • Manage logistics relating to artwork transport and incoming/outgoing condition reports
  • Create loan documents and maintain contact with lenders of artworks


  • Be available for occasional evening and weekend events including select public programs, annual gala, and exhibition opening receptions



  • Minimum one year of communications experience in a museum, gallery, or other non-profit arts organization
  • BA or BFA in an art history, communications, or museum studies field
  • Experience supervising volunteers and contract workers or in delegating tasks
  • Comfortable cultivating relationships with members of the press
  • Experience writing press releases and shaping messaging to communicate museum brand and mission
  • Fluency in social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) and email marketing platforms such as Constant Contact or MailChimp
  • Ability to manage multiple projects at a time
  • Ability to manage and maintain email correspondence in timely manner
  • Superior written and verbal communication skills, including copyediting proficiency and communicating ideas to a group
  • Highly proficient in using Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
  • Team-oriented and comfortable working in a small organization and shared office space, superior interpersonal skills
  • Positive attitude and solution-oriented approach
  • Receptive and able to incorporate feedback into work
  • Extremely detail-oriented and organized
  • Awareness of arts and culture in Los Angeles
  • Ability to learn, understand, and apply new technologies and tools
  • Ability to work some weekends and evenings, as needed

Salary package includes medical, dental, and vision benefits after one-month period. The benefits package includes two weeks of paid vacation annually and paid major holidays. Please submit resume, cover letter, and three arts-related writing samples (include a press release sample, if possible) to Please indicate “Manager of Communications and Exhibitions” in subject line of email.

No phone calls.


Nitt Witt Ridge Enters the Real Estate Market!

Posted in Take Action, Threatened Environments



The art environment known as Nitt Witt Ridge has entered the real estate market, listed for $425,000 on Trulia. Built by Art Beal (variously known as “Art,” “Dr. Tinkerpaw” and ”Captain Nittwitt”) using only hand tools, Beal worked on this project for over fifty years. He built stone and concrete foundations and topped them with wood-framed structures he adorned with abalone shells, scrap metal, glass, and industrial discards. Beal’s one rule was to pay for nothing except cement. He terraced the hilly property using a pick and shovel, built rock and mortar retaining walls, and designed handrails that also functioned as irrigation pipes and sprinklers. Eventually his site boasted nine levels, with layers of assemblages connected by serpentine walkways.


img6932Nitt Witt Ridge, 2018. Sam Gappmayer.


As he aged, Beal had trouble maintaining the site. To allow him to live on the property for as long as he wished, and to access public funding to protect the site from destruction or developers, volunteers founded the nonprofit Art Beal Foundation in 1975. Six years later the site was awarded California Historical Landmark status. Beal continued to live on the property until 1989, when he moved to a nursing home. He died three years later. In 1999, Michael and Stacy O’Malley bought the site when it had been listed for $42,000 and has been offering tours by appointment as they restore the property. 



img7008Nitt Witt Ridge, 2018. Sam Gappmayer.


View the listing for Nitt Witt Ridge here.

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Celebrates 1 Year!

Posted in Preservation News, Take Action


Stationed in the South Pacific during World War II, Vollis Simpson used parts from a junked B-29 bomber to make a windmill-powered clothes washer. After the war, he made a windmill to heat his home. When he retired in 1985 from careers as a mechanic and mover of large buildings, Simpson wanted “to find something …better than watching television.” 


vswhirligigMark Karpal, 2007.


Simpson’s whimsical assemblages are created from inexpensive and recycled metal, including scaffolding, bicycle wheels, propellers, street signs and plumbing supplies. Characterized by simplicity and wit, they feature animals, bicyclists, musicians, carousels, lumberjacks, airplanes, rocket ships and angels, as well as abstract designs. Small works can sit comfortably on a table while the nearly thirty towering, large-scale constructions in the pasture across from his workshop rose to heights of nearly fifty feet. Larger works combine multiple motifs, with propellers, pinwheels, flanges and cups that clatter and spin in the wind. Together with the surrounding trees, they also have reflectors made from road signs, creating bursts of illumination in the headlights of passing cars after dark, and earned the nickname “Acid Park” by those who saw it.


The City of Wilson began work on the whirligig park in 2010, with Simpson’s whirligigs falling into disrepair as he grew older and no longer able to maintain them, the plans to restore and preserve the whirligigs was timely. The park’s nonprofit foundation bought the whirligigs, and teams began moving them into a workshop a few at a time to rebuild and restore them with Simpson able to advise. Upon his death in 2013 at age 94, the New York Times published an obituary for Simpson, describing him as “a visionary artist of the junkyard…who made metal scraps into magnificent things that twirled and jangled and clattered when he set them out on his land.” The story of Wilson’s plan to use the beloved whirligigs to reinvigorate the city center threw a spotlight onto the community. In 2013, whirligigs were named North Carolina’s official folk art and the City of Wilson recieved grants from ArtPlace America, the Kresge Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts to help acheieve the goal of opening the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum. In 2016, the Kohler Foundation partnered in the project, providing the means to complete the conservation efforts and took ownership of 31 large-scale whirligigs and about 50 smaller works, completing the restoration project. The Vollis Simpson Whirligig park held the grand opening on November 2, 2017 to much celebration by the events hundreds of attendees.


whirligig-parkThe Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, 2017.


Celebrating their first year of operation, a massive effort continues to document, repair, and conserve the whirligigs, originally constructed of recycled and salvaged parts, and damaged from nearly 30 years of exposure to the elements. New protocols for conservation of outdoor folk art and vernacular artist environments have been established through this project’s pioneering process. The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum relies on donations in order to insure that these incredible sculptures stay beautiful and working well.  Please help by following one of the links below to make a one-time donation or to become a member.   If you would rather receive a paper donation form, you can email your name and address to



Make a donation to the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum

Become a member of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum


A Letter from Emily Smith, director at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

Posted in Preservation News, SPACES News, Threatened Environments

Hi everyone, 


I’m assuming most of you know by now that we lost our bid to historically designate the Painted Bride. There was over three hours of very passionate testimony from both sides and the vote was dramatic: a 5-5 vote then 5-4 for the re-vote. It was a long and shocking afternoon, extra thanks to those of you that attended the meeting. It was intense. I needed a few days of space before reaching back out to all of you. Here’s a link to the WHYY coverage:  


What is frustrating about the outcome is that almost everyone in the room (even the Bride) seemed to agree with the historic criteria and that the building is an icon. Though hardship should have been dismissed for a second meeting, the final call was based on the Bride’s argument that designation would stifle their ability to move forward unencumbered. 


It was a disappointing day and if the building is demolished, I do believe in just a few years the city will be deeply regretting this decision. 


When I woke up on Saturday, I felt so proud of us. I know there was nothing we could have done differently: we were thoughtful, articulate, organized, and full of integrity. Fighting for art and for strange spaces will always be an uphill battle.  Every single person on this email took time from their busy schedules to voice their opinion. Our communities will never understand what these places mean to us unless we continue to push back. Even facing loss, it is so important to try. 


So thank you. Reading your letters of support, getting fired up during phone conversations, the handshakes of respect after we lost- those were invaluable moments. I hope that you will continue to talk about the building and tell this story. Maybe next time it can be different for someone else. 


In terms of next steps, there are not many options. We will not be appealing or suing, it doesn’t make sense in this situation. I think it is time to focus our efforts on encouraging the Bride to find a sympathetic buyer. I’d love any suggestions you may have in terms of rallying the community to petition the Bride in this way. 


Warm hugs from the Gardens, 


Hoffman's The Last Resort in California to Form Non-Profit

Posted in Preservation News, Take Action, Threatened Environments


In an effort to save and maintain The Last Resort, created by David Lee Hoffman in Lagunitas, Marin County, California, a nonprofit organization is being formed.


last-resort-faces-jfh-nov-2016Jo Farb Hernandez, 2016.

The site is at a critical point: the county is threatening to put the property up for auction next year, and the court-appointed receiver is ready to begin demolishing two of the structures.
The creation of the nonprofit will bring together people who will help to meet the challenges facing the survival – as well as, hopefully, to outline positive future plans – for this innovative art environment. Goals of the nonprofit will include fundraising to support financial obligations related to future code upgrade requirements, facilitating local and global interest in the use of ecologically-friendly black water and grey water systems, and creaing a vision for the educational and culture future of the site.


 See more about The Last Resort Lagunitas on SPACES and visit The Last Resort Lagunitas website here.


Read our previous update on The Last Resort:

Update on The Last Resort Lagunitas


Watts Towers Update: Rosie Lee Hooks found NOT GUILTY!


At the September 13 meeting of the Los Angeles Civil Service Commission, Rosie Lee Hooks was found not guilty on all charges stemming from having a mural of Charles Mingus painted on the Youth Arts Center named after him. The Commission found the evidence presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs to be seriously flawed. Hooks’ suspension has been revoked and the compensation from her suspension in April that was withheld will be paid. 


Mural of Charles MingusMural of Charles Mingus, a Watts native, on the Charles Mingus Youth Art Center building by L.A. artist Jacori Perry

Read our previous posts about Rosie Lee Hooks’ suspension:

Final Hearing for Watts Towers Art Center Director on September 13

Watts Towers needs our help again!


Browse Blog Archives by Month

Coco's Palais Idéal Paintings

SPACES Honors Lyn Kienholz, Trustee Emerita

Chris Vo’s Flower House in Cleveland has been destroyed against his will!

Job Opening at Craft & Folk Art Museum Los Angeles, CA: Manager of Communications and Exhibitions
job opportunities

Nitt Witt Ridge Enters the Real Estate Market!
Take Action, Threatened Environments

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Celebrates 1 Year!
Preservation News, Take Action

A Letter from Emily Smith, director at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
Preservation News, SPACES News, Threatened Environments

Hoffman's The Last Resort in California to Form Non-Profit
Preservation News, Take Action, Threatened Environments

Dispatch from the Field: Singular Spaces, Volume 2 in progress!

Kohler Foundation seeks Preservation Coordinator
job opportunities, Preservation News

The SPACES website allows you to save your favorite art environments and share them with your friends or colleagues. Create your own portfolio of your favorites from environments in the online collection.

Send them to your friends, post them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and tag #spacesarchives 

Look for this button on pages that can be saved:

Add Page to my spaces