If a Los Angeles group backed by Tony Hawk has its way, young skaters will soon be kick-flipping and airwalking in the shadows of Watts Towers, a cultural landmark located in an emerging but still underserved community in South L.A.
Hawk, in cooperation with sports marketers Wasserman Media Group recently announced a proposal for a park adjacent to the monument. While neighborhood boosters think it will bring much needed attention to the area, arts groups are worried it would cheapen the significance of the National Historic Landmark, which was built by hand by outsider artist Simon Rodia over 34 years. The Tony Hawk Foundation, which helps fund parks in communities across the country, already raised $44,000 for the skate plaza.
While the Watts Towers park itself is well-maintained and frequented by neighbors,the land in question for the park, adjacent to the Towers, is oftencovered in trash and unused by local residents. The Towers, by the way, are completely surrounded by a very tall fence so no damage could be done, even by the most vigorously launched deck. The skate plaza would also work well with several major initiatives already in motion in the neighborhood, including artist Edgar Arceneaux’s Watts House Project, an artwork and community beautification program that’s slowly transforming the houses facing the towers.
What better place for two California cultural icons to collide?Rodia, the outsider artist who spent his life engineering theawe-inspiring Watts Towers from found objects and rebar, luring the artworld to an underappreciated corner of Los Angeles. And Hawk, whobrought Southern California’s most famouspastime to national prominence, his dedication and spirit helpingsecure its status as aprofessional sport.
All recreational benefits aside, can you imagine the awesome skate videos that will come out of this?