One woman’s castle is another woman’s shack

Written By: Kathy Price-Robinson - Aug• 30•07

NittwittridgeIf you have a friend who lives in the arty village of Cambria, as I do, she is likely take you to see the local curiosity called Nitt Witt Ridge, as my friend Jeannie did earlier this week.

Nitt Witt Ridge is the creation of the late Art Beal, aka Capt. Nitt Witt, a reclusive self-taught sculptor and one-time garbage collector of Cambria who cobbled together this rambling hillside oasis over 50 years entirely with found objects and stuff other Cambrians set out with the trash. He used beer cans for smoke stacks and toilets for planters. He also worked at Hearst Castle and there are rumors some items came from there, as well.

NittwittkitchenAs Jeannie and I beheld this house, now designated State Historical Landmark No. 939, we had markedly different responses.

I’m thinking: Oh, what a mess. This is why building codes and permits were invented.

Jeannie, on the other hand, thinks I am missing the point, that this house is a monument to creativity, sustainability and resourcefulness.

Indeed, the plaque says the property is a "blend of native materials and contemporary elements, impressive in its sheer mass and meticulous placement … a revealing memorial to Art’s unique cosmic humor and zest for life." Perhaps the bottom photo here of Nitt Witt’s kitchen, by Nancy Koren and as shown in the local weekly New Times, brings to life the spirit of the house in a way I could not appreciate from the street.

What do you make of this?

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