Where is a Guardian Angel When You Need One?

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Sat, 01/20/2007 - 17:05.

I heard a fascinating, heartwarming and inspiring story on WCPN's Weekend America early this afternoon. It was about a fantastic sculptural building in Brooklyn called Broken Angel, the life's work of a unique romantic visionary, Arthur Woods. Outsider architecture might be a term used to describe his style. Woods is a self-trained architect and painter.

I have only been to Brookyn a few times and I never saw or even heard of Broken Angel when I was there, even though it is somewhat famous now. I tried to imagine what it might look like based on the description in the story. Phrases like impaled blimp, crumbling cathedral, moonshine distillery gone crazy and pedal driven flying machine have been used to describe Broken Angel. I was so intrigued I could not wait to get home and google search "Broken Angel Arthur Woods". What I saw in photos posted on various internet sites was something much more spectacular, beautiful and graceful than I had expect.

The story I heard today was really not just about Woods's genius or the beauty of Broken Angel -- I would have rather heard more about those aspects of the building -- it was about Woods's battle against time and the NYC building department. Woods, who is 72 and lives in Broken Angel with his wife, is facing eviction because of building code violations that he cannot afford to remedy following a fire.

Christopher Woods, Arthur Wood's son is leading a champaign to save the building and his father's art. They have requested help from architects or builders who would be willing to advise them how to meet code and they are asking for the funds to make the necessary repairs. Photographs of Broken Angel by Christopher Woods are being sold for $50 to benefit the project.

What I find so extraordinary about this story and Broken Angel is what Arthur Woods was able to accomplish with  such limited resources. Or were they really so limited after all? We look around Cleveland and we see so many uninteresting buildings design by professional, paid architects using new, full price materials. They lack what Woods seems to have always had in abundance -- creativity, inspiration and the ability to recycle.

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Eveyln, Thanks for the tip.

When I was young I visited the Watt's Towers during a time when the City of Los Angeles was in court trying to tear them down as  violations of building codes (no structural engineering stamp).  The towers barely squeaked through and survived. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watts_Towers

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Though wikipedia says otherwise, what I remember is that the fellow who built them worked for the County Sanitation Department and collected trash.  In those days everything was separated:  newspaper all went to newpaper drives at the schools, kitchen food scraps went into a galvanized pail set in the ground (to keep it cool) and it was picked up every few days for the local piggery, cans were flattened and put in another container, and all the class and ceramics went into another.   It was the glass which the Sculptor picked up which let him get all the blue Pepto Bismo bottles – and other cool colored glass - and use them whole and as picassiette  http://www.thejoyofshards.co.uk/glossary/picassiette.shtml  , in the towers.  

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Make certain to visit the Towers if you go to LA!


Very exciting design

This is a cool place - thanks for the info. I'd love to see an movement in NEO for creating innovative art houses like this. With all the vacant land in Cleveland, how about giving lots to the people with the most innovative plans... have a competition and track each project as they develop.

Disrupt IT