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Greatest SoCal Accidental-Remarkable Human-Made Visionary Environments

Salton Sea, Bombay Beach: Village of rusting trailers and disintegrating buildings still partially submerged in dredge from floods over 25 years ago. Another nice human-made component are the tens of thousands of dead tilapia that occasionally appear all over the ground. On the eastern shore.

Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain: Claes Oldenburg meets God. Leonard Knight, self-taught artist spreading a message, painting a mountain and many other large-scale objects since 1986. Located in Niland.

Spaceship Kenny: Kenny Irwin’s intense creation with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights and numerous brightly colored large robots surrounding the family house in Palm Springs. He prefers visitors. Corner of Via Valmonte at Avenida Caballeros.

Desert View Tower/Boulder Park Caves: 1920s–1930s. Burt Vaughn’s self-taught construction in the form of a large circular, three-story, stacked building high on a peak overlooking nothingness. Accompanied by numerous huge boulders carved into animals and monuments by outsider W.T. Ratcliffe. Located in Jacumba at the Mexico border.

Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village: Sixty-year-old, self-taught Tressa “Grandma” Prisbrey began in 1956 making shrines, wishing wells, walkways and 15 whole structures from 90,000 bottles in mortar in an 11-year project. Since the ’94 quake, it is a sort of 20th-century archaeological site with large-scale remains. 4595 Cochran Ave., Simi Valley.

Watts Towers: Simon Rodia, 1921–1954. Super iconic, Seuss-like outsider-art environment. Was going to be a taco stand at one time. 1765 E. 107th St., Watts.

The Dominator shipwreck of 1961: Huge, rusted, sprawling remains of a hull, a whole bulldozer, engines etc., both run aground and protruding from the ocean. Lunada Bay, Palos Verdes.

Fort Irwin Rock Pile: Massive tower of rocks deep in the desert at a military training facility. Unit logos painted on giant boulders in a pile about 40 feet high. Fort Irwin National Training Center, Fort Irwin Road, 45 minutes north of Calico Ghost Town, outside Barstow.

Terminal Island at night: Just like Blade Runner except without people. Orange lights, columns of fire. Petrol, whining refineries and highly Expressionist architecture.

The Miss Velma Christmas drama: Over-the-top, jaw-dropping excess of gold shiny objects, Holy of Holies altar, large and small gold angels, Lawrence Welk–ian singers, and visionary scenes involving the need to build seven temples in very short order. Drs. O. Lee and Velma Jaggers were among the first televangelists in Los Angeles. Universal World Church at the Scottish Rite Temple, 4357 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire.


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