Under Construction: New SPACES website on its way!

Posted in Resources, SPACES News


We are thrilled to announce that a new SPACES website will be launched soon! Our new website platform will increase accessibility to the SPACES collection, including photos and documentation of more than 800 art environments around the world. Improvements to site functionality will include an improved user experience through streamlined navigation, searchability, and mappings — as well as being mobile-friendly! It will also give us the ability to post additional documents and photographs for each environment, thus providing a more in-depth understanding of each artist’s work as, at the same time, we continue to add new webpages for sites not yet posted. We look forward to the new website’s contributions to the growing community of art environment researchers, curators, and enthusiasts and, as always, urge everyone to share information and photos of environments you visit in your travels.


As the website is migrated over to the new platform, users might encounter issues with the functionality of the current site, including navigation, page load speeds, and Google Maps. We appreciate your patience as we usher the SPACES website into its exciting next phase. Stay tuned for the official launch announcement!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the current website or what’s coming next, please feel free to reach out to info@spacesarchives.org or contact us through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.


watts-towers-scaffoldingPhotograph documenting the Watts Towers stress test, October 10, 1959


Crowdfunding for Dutch documentary “Bricoleurs” about American Visionary Art Environments

Posted in Self-Taught Arts in the News, Take Action



Amsterdam, April 12, 2019 – A small Dutch film crew is working on a film about Visionary Environments in the USA. The documentary includes interviews at well-known environments like Salvation Mountain, Wisconsin Concrete Park and Philadelphia Magic Gardens, as well as more unexplored installations. The team started a crowdfunding campaign for the last steps of the production. 

Bricoleurs transform everyday objects into Visionary Art Environments. These installations can be found out in the open space, in peoples’ backyards, in the middle of the city or surrounded by nature. They are made from bottles, cement, tires, hay bales and anything their creators could find. Bricoleurs shape these materials into a vivid and interior language, which comes to life in the film through poetic animations. 


The film portrays several American bricoleurs who create these big landscapes using only their hands and simple tools, despite lack of money, health, time and support. They share their struggles, dreams and ways of life. As the artworks are aging, it is the community that either saves or destroys their work. Their testimony is a triumph of creativity, an ode to dreams and imagination in a lesser-known America. 


The documentary is now in the final phase of editing. The crowdfunding will finance the post-production of the film. The campaign started on April 5 and will continue until May 3. In less than a week, 40% of the target amount has already been collected.



The premiere will take place in Amsterdam in the fall. The film will screen at American film festivals later. 


Take a look at some of the featured art environments on the SPACES Archives website:

Philadelphia Magic Gardens

Wisconsin Concrete Park

Dark Bird Palace

Salvation Mountain

Phantasma Gloria

Hamtramck Disneyland

Garden of Eden

Mary Nohl 

The Italian American Museum 



Visit to the Casa de las Ranas [The House of Frogs] and the Chapel of Jimmy Ray Gallery

Posted in Field Work, Found Objects


Jo Farb Hernández


During a quick spring break visit to Mexico, I was delighted, as always, by the wealth of unselfconscious and colorful aesthetic expressions I found virtually every time I turned my head. From the front perimeter wall of an auto parts warehouse in Mexico City - 




to an itinerant seller of brooms, mops, and hammocks in San Miguel de Allende - 




there is color and texture and movement everywhere. 

But the main attraction was the opportunity to visit Anado McLauchlin’s Casa de las Ranas [The Frog House] / Chapel of Jimmy Ray Gallery in the little village of La Cieneguita. McLauchlin and his husband Richard Schultz visited this relatively remote 2.5-acre site in 2001, and purchased it within two weeks – although their original idea had been to rent in the area for a year to see if they might like to live in Mexico on a long-term basis. Renovating the dilapidated two-story home that had been built in the form of a Swiss chalet, McLauchlin began what has become an ongoing work-in-progress, as little by little he is transforming the entire property into a complex and intriguing art environment.

image3-21-dsfExterior wall, Casa de las Ranas

Reflecting his decades of travels around the world, his aesthetic expressions riff off of motifs from native and tribal arts from around the world in a unique and idiosyncratic way: the Hindu deity Ganesh, for example, has taken on decidedly Mexican characteristics. Combining local Talavera tile with pieces of glass, mirrors, shells, found objects, paper cut-outs, local festival props, and crafts, all set against deeply saturated painted backgrounds, the site features several buildings as well as whimsical freestanding altars, mosaic stairways, a completely ornamented outhouse with compostable toilet, gardens, and a 150-meter (almost 500 feet) long wall sheathed in a variety of improvised images from McLauchlin’s dreams and visual encounters. 


image4-23McLauchlin with his outhouse with compostable toilet


image5-25Exterior walkway


image6-27Interior of the Chapel of Jimmy Ray Gallery


image7-29Kismet Street (detail)


image8-31Kismet Street (detail)


image9-33Home interior (detail)


image10-35Studio (detail)


image11-37Jo Farb Hernández interviewing McLauchlin. Photo: Thomas K. Seligman


The entire complex is a thoughtful and compelling site that warrants a visit, and with a requested donation McLauchlin offers public tours three times weekly. McLauchlin and Schultz are warm and welcoming, and I encourage you all to visit on your next trip across our southern border!


Read Anado McLauchlin’s story and see more images here!


image12-39Anado McLauchlin, April 3, 2019

 Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Jo Farb Hernández 

EOA Annual General Assembly 2019



25.-26. May 2019 by INUTI in Sala and Stockholm, SE
The conference on the topic “Ǝ Quality” will continue the emphasis on “The Artist´s Voice”
It will explore who decides what is good art and for what reasons and what is meant by ‘quality’ in outsider art. The conference will also focus on artists’ rights and the importance and challenge of building equality in the art world and how can we support inclusion. According to Inuti, the prerequisite for this is to create equal opportunities for all artists making our culture richer for all. We hope our conference E-Quality can be a tool for important discussions about quality in Outsider Art and equality in the wider art world.

Philly's Mosaic Man, Isaiah Zagar, celebrates 80 years!


Join Isaiah Zagar at the Philadelphia Magic Gardens as he rings in 80 years!


After a week of celebratory programming, the Philadelphia Magic Gardens is throwing a party to celebrate Philly’s Mosaic Man, most reknowned for the Magic Gardens, though his work can be seen on over 100 other buildings around Philadelphia, including The Painted Bride, a mosaic building facade in the news over the past year as supporters of Zagar’s work put forth effort to historically designate after the current occupant annouced they would be vacating the building — putting the work in potential jeoprady. (Read a response on the denial of the designation here: A Letter From Emily Smith)


On Monday, the gardens will be serving cake and raffling off an original Zagar mosaic to celebrate his birthday. Zagar will be in attendance, along with PMG director Emily Smith. Attendees there from noon until 1:00 p.m. will also have a chance to see the 75-pound Mummers suit that Zagar mosaicked in collaboration with the Golden Sunrise NYA

Spanning half a block on Philadelphia’s famous South Street, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) includes an immersive outdoor art installation and indoor galleries. Zagar created the space using nontraditional materials such as folk art statues, found objects, bicycle wheels, colorful glass bottles, hand-made tiles, and thousands of glittering mirrors. The site is enveloped in visual anecdotes and personal narratives that refer to Zagar’s life, family, and community, as well as references from the wider world such as influential art history figures and other visionary artists and environments.

For more information, visit www.phillymagicgardens.org


zagar-birthday-celebration-mppIsaiah Zagar and Michael Carwile, the captain of the Golden Sunrise Mummers Association in Philadelphia, featuring the Mummers suit they collaboratively made. Aimee Cicero, 2019.

See more of Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens on SPACES!



In memory of Silvio Barile, creator of Italian-American Museum

Posted in Self-Taught Arts in the News



Silvio Luigi Barile, creator of the Historic Artistic Italian-American Museum in Redford Township, MI, passed away on February 16, 2019 at the age of 80 years old. After immigrating to the United States from Italy with his family in 1954, Barile opened a pizzeria and pastry shop that he later transformed into a dense collection of artwork that celebrated the cultures of Italy and America. The sculptures quickly outgrew the pizzeria and expanded into the back patio and woods behind the shop, and soon word spread, inspiring visitors from near and far to come to see the artwork and hear Barile expound his opinions about Italian and American culture. As of this writing the site remains extant, with his heirs supportive of his work, although questions regarding future maintenance and financial obligations remain.




To read more about Barile, visit his environment page here:


Internship Opportunity at American Folk Art Museum

Posted in job opportunities


Curatorial Intern—Spring/Summer 2019

The American Folk Art Museum is seeking part-time interns for Spring/Summer 2018 for its 20th & 21st Century Self-Taught Art Curatorial Department. This position is open to students enrolled in a Master or a PhD program, interested in careers in art museums. Please note that this is an unpaid internship; credit toward class may be given if applicable. Work days and hours are flexible; however, a minimum commitment of eight hours per week for at least ten weeks is required.


  • Assist the curator in research for two upcoming large exhibitions


Qualifications/Skills Required:

  • Strong writing and organizational skills
  • Previous research experience
  • Ability to work independently and with acute attention to detail
  • Interest in self-taught artists
  • Computer skills, including experience with Microsoft Office, Excel, and TMS
  • Student in art history and anthropology preferred


To apply: Please email a cover letter and resume (two pages max.) to the attention of Curator Valérie Rousseau at curatorial@folkartmuseum.org. Indicate “Curatorial Internship – 20th & 21st Century Self-Taught Art” in the subject line.

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 jfh@cruzio.com 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



Browse Blog Archives by Month

Under Construction: New SPACES website on its way!
Resources, SPACES News

Visit to the Casa de las Ranas [The House of Frogs] and the Chapel of Jimmy Ray Gallery
Field Work, Found Objects

EOA Annual General Assembly 2019

In memory of Silvio Barile, creator of Italian-American Museum
Self-Taught Arts in the News

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

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