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In 2008, WHP launched the Virtual Redevelopment Project, an open call to artists and architects to imagine without boundary how they would transform a house on E. 107th St in Watts. When Rosa was shown Carolyn Castaño’s proposal for a house submerged in flowers, she feel in love with it. Two days later, during the Watts Towers Jazz and Drum Festival, Carolyn, Rosa and her kids, along with volunteers from across Los Angeles, began to transform Rosa’s home into the “Flower House.” Since then, Genaro and Felix have built and installed a beautiful new rod iron fence; Merlin Gaspers of Gaspers Construction have worked with Rosa to design & build a custom bench, which is now adorned with a glorious mosaic created by local artist Raul Curial; and volunteers from Good Magazine, Jet Blue, LA Works, Scott Shrader and Julie Burleigh have planted succulents and vegetable gardens. Rosa believes in the power of creativity to transform community and has nurtured the Flower House into a work of inspiration. Rosa says, “Tourists now photograph the Watts Towers then turn around and shoot my house too.”
Rosa Gutierrez is a passionate community organizer, cares greatly for her neighbors and is the mother of ten children. Her four youngest children still live at home. Rosa grew up in Los Angeles, has lived in Watts for close to 4 years now and is on staff at WHP as our Resident Coordinator. Her role is keeping WHP informed of the daily happenings of the community from the schools to the gangs, from the city council to what the moms are saying at the supermarket. Rosa believes that if you want to see your community changed for the better you have to organize and do it yourself.
was born, lives and works in Los Angeles. Carolyn received her MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001. Her work explores notions of identity, fandom, power, and style in mixed-media works in painting, paper, and video. Carolyn’s work was recently featured in a solo exhibition entitled It’s Complicated at the Walter Maciel Gallery in Culver City in April 2009. She was also featured in LACMA’s critically acclaimed exhibition, Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement , which traveled to the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Rufino Tamayo in Mexico City, Museo Alameda in San Antonio, Texas, The Phoenix Art Museum, Museo de Arte Zapopan in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the Museo del Barrio and Art of the Americas in New York City. www.carolyncastano.com
was born in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico and now lives in Watts, CA. Raul is a sculptor who has been designing and creating mosaics for over 10 years. As a self-taught artist, Raul learned the craft from master mosaic designer Carmelo Fiannaca. He started working with WHP as one of the first artist-in-residents in April 2011. In dialogue with Flower House resident Rosa Gutierrez and artist Carolyn Castaño, Raul has designed and built a deeply detailed and beautiful mosaic for the bench at the Flower House, which he’s dubbed “The Bench of Alca.” The title is based on the Puerta de Alcalá, a Neo-classical monument in the Plaza de la Independencia (“Independence Square”) in Madrid, Spain. Rosa and Raul made the “The Bench of Alca” as a testament to the creative contributions of immigrants to Los Angeles, Simon Rodia being one of the most visible in Watts.
was born in Bolinas, a small artist community in Northern California. Merlin is a general contractor, craftsman and owner of Gaspers Construction. Merlin worked directly with Rosa in the design process of the Flower House bench. Rosa noticed that when people came and visited the Watts Towers they had no place to sit and wanted to offer this as a kind gesture to the 1000′s of tourists who visit her neighborhood every year. Merlin custom built on site a unique geometric bench that incorporates two planters which will eventually produce shade trees. The Flower House Bench is now called the ”The Bench of Alca” and was the perfect canvas for artist Raul Curial’s intricate mosaic landscape which you can visit here today. www.gaspersconstruction.com
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