Strawberries among the weeds, in concrete, Boyes Hot Springs, 2019
With thanks to artist Jack Baker
One of the main objects of the Springs Museum is the study of Neighborhood Phenomena.
Perhaps not to define it to precisely is best. However, we can say that NP may be exceptional things or mundane things seen in an exceptional way. Collecting (and it is an exercise in collecting) NP is an act of noticing, something that it is all to easy not to do in an environment that is so familiar as we pass through it daily.
Photography is a good mode for collecting NP, as is sketching, sound recording, rubbings, or actually picking up objects (but try not to disturb the environment. Observers should limit their impact on the world being observed.) Study over time is of interest, so repeated visits to sites are encouraged.
Here is a list of some of the possible categories to look at.
How trees and built environment interact
Signs. What they say, how they change.
Pavement and how is deteriorates.
Plants in all their many different forms
Animals among us, including pets
Infrastructure such as wires, drains, etc.
Design-everything built is designed, if only by default
Holes in the ground
Mounds of things
Further Inspiration: Artists as collectors. Collections as art:
“The mission of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is to inspire wonder, discovery and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds.”
“Including those items is part of the museum’s effort at redefinition, although the curators were drawing on an eccentric set of collections that were never really part of the natural history tradition. The facade of the building still bears its original title: Los Angeles County Historical and Art Museum. In fact, the art collection became the heart of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the early 1960s, when the “natural history” title was adopted.”
“It all adds up to a reminder that, even as the art historians have been slowly trying to squeeze the history out of their discipline, artists have been assiduously turning themselves into historians, archivists, even collectors of a sort.” Barry Schwabsky, the Nation April 2014
“As Ellen Dissanayake has observed, the function of art is to “make special”; as such, it can raise the “special” qualities of place embedded in everyday life, restoring them to those who created them…”
“A starting point, for artists or for anyone else, might be simply learning to look around where you live now…”
“Psychologist Tony Hiss asks us to measure our closeness to neighbors and community and suggests ways to develop an “experiential watchfulness” over our regional “sweet spots,” or favorite places. Seeing how they change at different times of day, week and year can stimulate local activism…”
Quotes from The Lure of the Local, Lucy R. Lippard
The collection, and, by extension, the museum is a work of art:
“Bottle Village began as a practical need to build a structure to store Grandma Prisbrey’s pencil collection (which eventually numbered 17,000) and a bottle wall to keep away the smell and dust from the adjacent turkey farm. However, it was her ability to have fun and infuse wit and whimsy into what she made, which over time became the essence of Bottle Village. Practicality alone would not explain The Leaning Tower of Bottle Village, the Dolls Head Shrine, car-headlight-bird-baths, and the intravenous-feeding-tube-firescreen, a few examples of her delightfully idiosyncratic creations.” From the Bottle Village website. http://www.bottlevillage.com/