Denny’s Adventures in Allee Willis’ “Willis Wonderland” (Part 93 – August 2010)

denny
Submitted by denny January 29th, 2011
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I know these have been posted before but I wanted to show everyone how truly fabulous the design of these panels are with an up close shot! I wish I could remember every story Allee tells me but I am pretty sure these came from a grocery store that was being torn down. These panels are VERY heavy and Allee even has a few in storage.

It’s always an adventure here at “Willis Wonderland”. What kills me about the oil drum grill are all the pieces of kitsch that are surrounding it. Plastic banana, sea sponge, bowling balls, tiki heads, amazing!

Gorgeous ashtray in one of my favorite areas! I don’t smoke (anymore) but sure do love staring at this when sitting nearby.

This sits on the outside. I love how this piece of kitsch is weather worn.

An incredibly comfortable chair!

I put this on my favorites list! Most of “Willis Wonderland” is on my favorites list! This is made from car radiators.

9 Responses to “Denny’s Adventures in Allee Willis’ “Willis Wonderland” (Part 93 – August 2010)”

  1. Allee Willis

    Allee Willis

    The panel in the first photo is 4 feet wide and 10 feet tall and weighs just under a ton. It’s made from heavy metal pipes and used to hang on the facade of the Gelsons supermarket on the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Riverside in Studio City, CA. The market was built in 1960 and they remodeled it about 15 years ago. I got 13 panels and only paid $60 for them on the condition that I just haul them away. They were so ungodly heavy it took six men all day to move them to my storage garage. Three of them are mounted in my backyard and the other 10 remain in the garage.

    The barrel BBQ in the second photo was given to me by my late collaborator, Sami McKinney, who wrote a couple big songs for Anita Baker. He got his break when he was Patti LaBelle’s hairdresser and he could do such great imitations of her that Patti had him sing all the demos that were sent to her so she could tell which songs she should sing. I met Sami in 1978 when I went to see Patti at the Greek Theater, one of the first famous people I ever saw sing my songs. This barbecue belonged to Patti, an amazing cook, before it was passed down to Sami and subsequently to me.

    The pedestal ashtray in the third photo was completely beat up when I found it. I sanded it down and sprayed it with chrome spray paint. I have to respray it about twice a year as it fades to primer gray in the sun. It sits out on the porch.

    The African mask in the fourth photo is made out of heavy metal. I use it as a door stop.

    The wire mesh chair is a very famous chair but I rarely know the names of designers because I collect because something’s esthetically pleasing as opposed to it has a famous namesake. These chairs usually have cushions in them but I use this one outside so it remains raw. The pedestal ashtray sits right next to it.

    Right above the ashtray and chair is one of my favorite sculptures, a city scene made out of car radiators. I always thought about doing this and almost died when I walked into an antique store in San Francisco in the early 90’s and saw it hanging there. Most things I own are under $10 but I popped 150 big ones for this one because I loved it so much. It’s about 4 feet wide. The little atomic looking spinning thing on top didn’t come with it. That’s an old desk sculpture I had and just stuck on there.

  2. denny

    denny

    I lived on La Maida in Studio City. Wasn’t there a kitschy diner across the street that has since been turned into fine dining or something?

  3. denny

    denny

    Your right. I think the diner was on Riverside, near the intersection. Then on one of the other corners was a little hamburger shack.

  4. windupkitty

    windupkitty

    i am insane over the radiator cityscape….i can’t imagine it without the antenna on top! that’s what makes the piece!!!!!!!

    The chair was design by Harry Bertoia and produced by Knoll…I like knowing that stuff, but I also agree that design and comfort ALWAYS trump labels!

    Wow, so cool you rescued those panel form the grocery store!!!! they are really fabulous!!!

    • Allee Willis

      Allee Willis

      The antenna on the radiator skyscape is actually a kinetic sculpture. All the pieces move separately from each other if you just give one a little push. It’s too close to the wall now to have any real effect but it’s quite outstanding when it’s a standalone.