Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"It's A Wrap!" said The Weasels...

We plopped down the Red Carpet just in time to greet the Emmy Award-winning trio of Road Scholars, Randy, Mike, and Don, from Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations They call themselves "The Slow-Moving TV Weasels" and then called to say they were ahead of schedule! Was it possible to weasel them in early? No problem, "Let the Tour Begin!

The Grand-Grandma Tour of Bottle Village it was. The Deluxe Prisbrey Package. They became "The Slow-Moving TV Weasels"; wandering around, weaseling into every nook and cranny of Bottle Village. Don, the Camera Guy shot miles of tape, which will be archived in
"The Big Ball O' Tape". (B-BOT) Starting out as an aesthetic question-- "What do I do with all this used-up videotape?", Don found an answer, becoming the human rewind machine. The ever growing B-BOT follows along on every shoot, with Randy as the designated B-BOT hauler. It's getting VERY HEAVY, so Don bought Randy a little red wagon. Awwww... the sweetness of weasels.

Speaking of sweetness... Over the years, I've talked to dozens of media people; some very naughty, some very nice. Randy, Mike, and Don were by far, the best and most enjoyable. Combining their sense of humor with sensitivity toward "The Real Story of Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village" and achieving the perfect balance of a kid's enthusiasm and excitement along with an adult's reflection and amazement. A perfect day, I'd say.

The segment featuring Bottle Village is scheduled to air in Spring 2007. Meanwhile KCET, (LA area PBS station) carries Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations on KCET-DC (digital channel).
RVRR needs to be part of regular programming. Send an email to KCET mgmt.

1-2-3, Action!

"Three Gals in the Fountain With B-BOT"... JJ, Drew, and Katherine. The cuties on top? Sarah and Kathleen, Drew's daughters. Photo courtesy of RVRR, the Weasels

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Thanks, Simi Valley Acorn

Have a look at this week's Simi Valley Acorn. It's that little hometown newspaper which magically appears in your driveway every Friday. Don't say "throwaway" because it's chock full of news about Simi Valley. Read about a local landmark...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Seymour Rosen 1935-2006

It feels very strange to hear about someone's death from the "Daily Digest Emails" sent from a Yahoo Group. Seymour lived in Los Angeles and the post originated in Chicago, and included a link to a remembrance page for Seymour. Larry Harris (Narrow Larry) is in Houston, Texas. The internet is amazing.

Beginning in the late 50s, Seymour drove around and found places like Watts Towers, Nit-Wit Ridge, Possum Trot, and Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village. Fascinated with their unique creators and amazed at their creations, he felt compelled to photograph the magic of what he saw. Twenty years of photographs finally became a book in 1979. "In Celebration of Ourselves" was the first book which featured Grandma "Tressa" Prisbrey.

Larry's Tribute Page made me smile, I like his style...

"...Many of the words and phrases on that list describe Seymour as well:"evolutionary", "inspired", "irrepressible", "non-conformist", "obsessive", "real", and "visionary" (Yes, I suppose in small print we would have to add the phrases "often crabby" and "antagonistic 'ol fart who would piss ya off at least once during your friendship".)..."

I wrote Larry an email:

Hi Larry,
Just got my "Outsider Art Digest" with a post from Lisa Stone and link to you. I knew Seymour for a long time because of Bottle Village. Bottle Village Blogsite has a sidebar link for a selection of "Books For Your Bottle Village Bookshelf." There's no seller's photo on Amazon for the available copies of "In Celebration of Ourselves", so I scanned in an image of my own well-worn copy. Sat there and looked through the whole book, thinking about Seymour and "the old days" (I can't stand "back in the day"...) Thought about emailing him for permission to use some of the book photos for the blog. Yes, he was a stickler for that. "In Celebration of Ourselves" is still on the floor next to my chair. I did that yesterday.

Had a giggle about the inevitable friction-- we had our fair share of "Sandpaper Moments". No problem for me, I'm a bit cheeky myself.

Just like Sam, Grandma, Art, Sanford, Ross, and so many others, Seymour was way ahead of his time. "Art is serious business, this genre simply cannot be categorized", scoffed the lofty art world. Who is having the last laugh now? Go ahead and celebrate yourselves! All of you were on the inside before outside became inside.

A quote from Seymour's book sums it up:

"What distinguishes the builders of fantasy environments from most people? I had my theories, but they went very quickly.

What these builders seem to have in common is whimsy, independence and tenacity.Most of them like people and they like themselves they share a sense of caring, especially for small things, and are not awed by "professionals" of any sort. Very few worked from overall plans; their creations just grew.

What seems to make these people different is that they took their dreams and made the time to do something about them."

Without realizing, I think Seymour was writing about creating SPACES. It all fits, doesn't it?

Because of Seymour's SPACES, and his treasure of backyard builders, people were drawn inside to other worlds, inside other ways of seeing. Why are they called Outsiders? Beats the hell out of me.

Take Care,

Seymour took thousands of photograhs. His dream for SPACES was Saving and Preserving Cultural Arts and Environments. Tenacity. Perseverance. Passion. Determination. Dedication...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Rare Visions Road Trip Cruisin' Toward Bottle Village

Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, aka the "Slow MovingTV Weasels" are on the Road again, heading south along the West Coast. Oh my, they're not in Kansas anymore, well okay Kansas City. Kansas City Missouri is the home base of their award-winning PBS TV program, which airs on KCPT. Do their plans include a stop at Bottle Village?

"...We are absolutely hoping to see the Bottle Village in the near future. It's one of the all -time great sites as far as we can tell. Timing is still uncertain, but it could be as early as Sept. 25 or so. Is this possible? What can we do to arrange a visit for "Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations?..."

Bottle Village is penciled in for Sept. 26,27,28, or 29. Or maybe later. Not much later, though. Another Rare Vision or Roadside Revelation might show up along the way and that would mean another delightful detour. Ah, the wanderlust of weasels. You can follow their mileposts as they blog along to BV. Check out "For Your Bottle Village Bookshelf" in the links section of the sidebar.

KCET is one of the Los Angeles area PBS stations and it airs RVRR on KCET-DC (digital channel) What's a digital channel? Any clues for the infinitely uniformed?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Handout For Visitors- September 2006

Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village, initially closed by the City of Simi Valley in 1984 due to unsafe conditions, continues to disintegrate in the midst of suburban prosperity. A unified cooperative effort between Preserve Bottle Village and the City of Simi Valley or any alternative umbrella agency remains to this day, unsuccessful. Although the site is “Officially Closed”, Preserve Bottle Village owns the property, allowing volunteers to enter at their own risk. As long as no one complains about site activity, the City’s prevailing attitude seems to be “don’t ask, don’t tell” and “look the other way”. Donations and private tours are the only source of income.

Sustaining severe damage during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, Preserve Bottle Village applied for FEMA funding, receiving almost $500,000. In January 1997, Simi Valley's own Congressman and former Mayor, Elton Gallegly (R-24th) introduced "The Bottle Bill" (HR175)— "To prohibit Federal funding for earthquake-related repairs or restoration of Bottle Village in Simi Valley, CA". The "Bottle Bill” never became Law; however, FEMA funding was abruptly withdrawn. In 1996, two years after the Northridge Earthquake and still in ruin, Bottle Village received placement on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places.
As the focus of scholarly inquiry, featured in countless books and articles, and respected by the entire art world— it has universal appeal on many levels. From Professors to Dumpster-Divers— all who treasure the importance of creativity enthusiastically embrace it. People from all over the world come to see Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village— their only reason for a trip to an otherwise ubiquitous suburban city. Historically, Bottle Village is an integral part of Simi Valley. In addition to the National Register, it is recognized with Landmark Status by the State of California, County of Ventura, and the City of Simi Valley. Who are the responsible guardians of our Landmarks? Who is held accountable for the National Register of Historic Places when our elected Congressman abhors the site and calls it an “eyesore? Crumbling Bottle Village is an ironic paradox— built from cast-offs, now cast aside.

In order to continue and perhaps save what is left of Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village, Preserve Bottle Village needs a fully functioning active Board of Directors with close ties to the City of Simi Valley— a dedicated group of community activists who can renew the grassroots effort with enthusiasm and perseverance that embodies the true spirit of Grandma Prisbrey herself. No matter what, she never gave up.

Bottle Village is in a desperate situation. The future looks grim. Funding, even for minimal expenses is non-existent. Involvement is at an all time low. Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village deserves better.
  • For history, photos, and tour info, visit the Homepage BottleVillage.com
  • Newly created Blog devoted to news,views,volunteers,visitors, and what goes on behind the gates at Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village. Bottle Village Blogsite
Preserve Bottle Village is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, restoring, and re-opening Bottle Village. Donations are tax-deductible, and without your help, the future of Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village is uncertain.
Thank You.

Preserve Bottle Village
PO Box 1412
Simi Valley CA 93062 September 2006 JJ

Saturday, September 9, 2006

"Mystery Trips" Sleuth Around Bottle Village

Once a year, Dave Green organizes a "Mystery Trip" for about 25 of his friends. He charters a Big Yellow Schoolbus and their itinerary is top secret. It's a whole day of fun filled suprises: away from the job, away from the kids, away from the Saturday to do list, away from driving though the snarly LA traffic. Time to be a kid again and sing songs on the bus! What a fabulous idea! What a great friend!

The afternoon stop was "Over the Hill and through the Burbs, to Grandma's Place we go..." To Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village, that is. Imagine not knowing your destination while traveling the usual LA Freeways and exiting at Simi Valley.

"Why are we going to Simi Valley?..What's in Simi Valley, Dave?..This is bor-ing... More stores, more houses..Samo,Samo..I know, we're going bowling!...Ya right...I heard there's a paintball place out here...Maybe that's it...Daaaaaave,when are we gonna get there?"

The Big Yellow Bus finally pulls over and stops on a regular suburban street with houses all around. Sandwiched in a thick loaf of suburban sprawl is a gourmet slice of pure creation, the likes of which Dave's 25 friends have never ever seen or heard about. Peering out the windows in disbeleif, amid shrieks of delight, Dave pulled off a "great gotcha". There's a wonderful catch here, so stay with me.

"What the...? What is Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village?...In Simi Valley?

People who want to visit Bottle Village do so through BottleVillage.com They already know something about it. They're prepared. They have some connection, an established interest and definite reason for wanting a tour. Imagine going into the DMV and randomly choosing 25 people for a surprise trip to Bottle Village. After all, they were Dave's Mystery Visitors.

Everyone knows about the wide range of reactions toward Bottle Village and Dave's friends were strangers to the world of Grandma Prisbrey. They could love it, hate it, be confused, afraid, enchanted, inspired, disturbed, disgusted, delighted, amazed, or awed. Catching people off guard, away from what's familiar and comfortable; a visit to Bottle Village was a brand new experience. That's the important part. Whatever their thoughts, discovering something new, unseen, unknown is a rare commodity. Especially in LA.

They tumbled off the bus, hurried through the gates, and took off exploring; exactly like a bunch of kids. Tons of questions and wide-eyed curiosity. Not really a tour, more like you kicked over an anthill. A group portrait around the infamous Doll Head Planter. "Hurry up, gotta go, there's still another stop." Dave said.

The Big Yellow Bus drove away and one more mystery was solved. What is in Simi Valley, anyway?

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Here Come The Art Cars

Art Cars are mobile versions of places like Bottle Village. They caravan all over the place creating a parade-like atmosphere wherever they stop. Makes you want to run around like Steve Martin shouting about those phonebooks and just yell out "The Art Cars are Coming! The Art Cars are Coming! Every once and awhile some of these fantastic creations and their equally unique owners visit Bottle Village- it's all about reveling in the passion they share with Grandma Prisbrey.

One fellow brings a bust of Wagner along on his Art Car road trips. Visit
TheDeuce of Clubs and his Art Car to see some fine photos of his visit to Bottle Village. Wagner looks right at home around Bottle Village- almost seems like he lives there.

from Jillian Northrup's Blog: Because We Can 2/20/2006
...we drove to
Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village. This was an amazing place. Full of history and wonderful art from a very interesting woman. We spent quite a time there and I bought a 1' x 1' area plot of land there as a donation. They are having a hard time raising money to keep the place afloat- though it has been declared a national historical monument. And when you see the photos, you will know why. Someday soon I hope that Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village can get the funding and protection that Watts towers has gotten...
A Full Set of Jillian's Incredible Photos are HERE