Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2019

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Page 14 of 31

August/September 2019 15 E ven in the summer — when yes, it's very warm, and winds can bring in an admittedly pungent algae-bloom aroma, the Salton Sea should be on your must-visit list. The other-worldly setting, with jagged blue mountains reflecting into the sea, its flat surface, empty beaches, and the photographic ruins of abandoned beach homes, docks, and gas stations, are all reasons to visit. So too is the wonderful folk art of Salvation Mountain, the new art installations in place in the reviving Bombay Beach community, and the ability to simply walk along a shoreline so deserted it could be a dream. You'll be visiting a desolate, delicate, fascinating ecosystem, one that is in peril from changing climate and natural attrition, and it may just move you to support saving it and avert environmental disaster. But visiting is simply first and foremost, an experience to be savored. At the Salton Sea State Recreation Area, you'll find a boat ramp, bathrooms, and a long, low, quiet beach perfect for strolling. Rather than shells, fish bones crunch under foot. You won't find many creatures swimming in the calm, highly saline water, but it is a special place to take in the view or take out a kayak. Driving south to the small town of Bombay Beach, you'll find a growing number of fascinating sculptural art installations, created for and remaining permanently from, the ironically annual Bombay Beach Biennale art weekend, when music, visual art, and philosophical conversation, as well as talk about the ecological crisis of the Salton Sea, take place in the spring. In the summer, you'll likely be able to walk along the sand berm fronting the beach all alone, and then find a spectacular construction from a portion of an airplane, Lodestar, created by artist Randy Polumbo, as well as houses covered with plastic toys, houses painted in vivid abstract shades and shapes, and the fish- and helicopter-hybrid Da Vinci Fish, created by artists Sean Guerro, Royce and Juanita-Huff Carlson, John Murphy, and Jay Cobe, among other collaborators, shadowing the outdoor coffee house-style setting of the Bombay Beach Arts Culture Center. Ask for a key at the Ski Inn bar — which also offers good grilled cheese sandwiches — and visit Moral Turgeman's Museum Number Two with its individually color-coated rooms, or Greg Haberny's Foundation Foundation museum/gallery. Nearby, in Niland, the folk-art monument to faith that is Salvation Mountain rises just south of the entrance to Slab City's off-the-grid residences. Salvation Mountain was created from straw bales, mud, and paint, and is a gorgeous rainbow of colors, with catacomb-like niches formed from tree branches, old car windows, and tires. Its creator, Leonard Knight, passed away in 2014, but his legacy lives on, and his message of salvation is as pertinent to the sea itself as to the individual. A few miles up the road is the art community of East Jesus, an outdoor installation-filled gallery of unique works of found art, and a member of the California Museum Association. Do not miss the wall made from television sets or the rest of the art-strewn paths of the "Art Garden." In one way or another, the vast reaches and empty spaces of the Salton Sea draws creators, viewers, dreamers, and succors them. Now, the sea itself needs those who love it to step up, support the projects and plans — no less than eight at the moment — in play to save the sea. The rapidly shrinking body of water is not just beautiful to stroll, but the resting place for more than 400 species of migrating birds, and the gloriously wet solution to increasing and devastating dust and salt blowing through the Imperial and Coachella valleys. Perhaps the most compelling reason to visit the sea, then, is not its beauty or the outsider art in the area, but to really see it — to understand and support the need to save it, and help state political leaders to utilize the resources voters have allocated, sooner rather than later. inspiration Photos: Genie Davis FAITH IN DESOLATE LANDSCAPES By Genie Davis Why Visit the Salton Sea?

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