Wednesday, September 04, 2013

"I guess I was an artist" - Tressa Prisbrey

I'm very late to today's post. In fact, it's already Thursday in most of the world...and might even be Friday already just the other side of the International Date Line. I'm not completely sure of that, because the whole idea of the Date Line and what day it is on which side of it is kind of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey for me. At any rate, I've had a worse than usual headache most of the day, with the extra added attraction of an ocular migraine for a good portion of the afternoon, so I didn't know if I would get to this at all.

And, to be honest, the headache is still with me to a certain extent, and I should be doing other things to catch up with what I just didn't feel like doing earlier. But, I discovered this clip on YouTube this afternoon when I didn't feel like doing anything else, and I knew immediately that I had to share it with you all. This is Bottle Village, a collection of buildings and other artworks Tressa Prisbrey, known as Grandma Prisbrey, built over a number of years starting in the mid-1950s. Her village is considered to be very important folk art.

Back when I was growing up, however, and my own grandmother lived about a quarter of a mile down the street from Mrs. Prisbrey, she was sort of just the neighborhood eccentric, who went down to the dump every day and then built things out of what she found there. I well remember seeing her going back and forth on her excursions to the dump to gather material.

Sadly, in the Northridge Earthquake of 1984, much of the Bottle Village, which is located in Simi Valley, California, was destroyed by the quake. There are ongoing efforts, however, to rebuild the village and re-open it to the public on a regular basis. Here is another clip I found, from July of 2012, that is a good view of what has been cleaned up after the earthquake, what damage remains to be cleared, and what is left of Mrs. Prisbrey's work:

I am so glad these videos exist, not only so that people can see what Mrs. Prisbrey was able to do with found objects and a, a lot...of imagination, but so that I can revisit a part of my own childhood. Little did I know back then that the collection of bottle buildings we drove by on nearly a daily basis would someday be on the National Register of Historic Places, be on the California Register of Historic Landmarks, and be a Ventura County Landmark.

I think the whole deal is pretty cool.

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