In 1905, in an effort to increase water flow for farming into Southern California’s Imperial Valley, engineers accidentally overflowed a bank of the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona. For two years, while repairs were made to the breach, the river flowed into a centuries-dry lake bed, forming the land-locked Salton Sea, about 64 miles southeast of Palm Springs.
Beginning in 1940, the sea served as a naval training base for seaplanes, then became an experimental testing site for plane-launched rockets, space capsule sea landings, sea target bombings and atomic weapons exercises, continuing as a base until 1978. Simultaneously, the sea became a 1950s resort destination — 360 square miles of fish-packed water, abundant migratory birds and sea life — a glassy mirror of desert sky and clouds, ringed by white sand. Bombay Beach, built on the Eastern shore, buzzed with bars and a yacht club where Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys would party at a marina crowded with boaters and holidaymakers.
Soon, however, the lack of outflow, and subsequent instability of the water caused by agricultural runoff, raised the levels of salinity, algae, mercury and PCBs. Mass quantities of dead fish washed onto the beaches, whipping up noxious winds of decay. While alternatives for saving the sea were being discussed, the resorts emptied, leaving a post-apocalyptic environmental wasteland.
In 2015, three Los Angeles-based friends — a filmmaker, an art collector and a philanthropist — spent the weekend at the Salton Sea. With a remaining population of about 250, the tiny hamlet of Bombay Beach was now a marooned square-mile of burned-out trailers, small bungalows and lots with barking dogs behind chain-link fences, and the lake was receding to uncover an ecological disaster. The Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi and its principles acknowledge that objects and experiences are most beautiful when they evoke a feeling of spiritual longing, “nurturing all that is authentic by acknowledging that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect,” as Richard R. Powell wrote. To the friends, Bombay Beach did not just unsettle and confront as one of the poorest communities in California but also as a microcosm, an oracle, a canary in a coal mine and a site for re-imagination.
PS: “It’s important to note that the ‘us and them’ component is pretty much dissolved. We are all locals now and active participants in the community.” (Stefan Ashkenazy, co-founder of the Bombay Beach Biennale)
“Never let go of the fiery sadness called desire.” (Matsuo Basho)
Esoterica: The volunteer-led Bombay Beach Biennale, having no financial agenda, ignores its name by being held annually, by invitation only, for 72 hours of art immersion. The beach and town is used as a site for artists to riff on the environment and its abandonment. To save the residents from being overwhelmed with visitors, the Biennial’s details, including the event’s actual date, are withheld until the last moment. Cruising the installations and performances, where no tickets or merchandise are sold and no money is exchanged, the artists beam at their caring for the discarded under a star-exploded, desert sky. For the most part, the original residents say they appreciate Bombay Beach’s new purpose. “It’s bringing the town back to life,” said an old-timer. “And that’s fine by me.”
“There is such a spirit of the misfit here and a little Peter Panism. We’re inviting people to come and create and really manifest their dreams that they are not able to realize within the commercial art world.” (Lily Johnson White, co-founder of the Bombay Beach Biennale)
Location: between Puerto Vallarta & Mazatlan, Mexico
Week-long workshop in gorgeous paradise retreat for beginning and intermediate students in oils (or acrylics with experience). You will learn how to create a painting with beautiful light that captures viewers’ attention and keeps them fascinated. Small group size guarantees personal attention.
While you’re busy creating art and exploring, your friendly hosts at Casa Buena will ensure that your stay is memorable. Outstanding accommodations, food, and field trips will satisfy your desire for both comfort and adventure. Spouses are welcome!
For more info, visit: http://www.casabuenaartretreat.com/Retreat_Carol.htm or contact Carole at: email@example.com or call: 001-757-678-3340 (EST).
Gardens are my enduring inspiration, and getting to the heart of the flower, my passion.