A little over two years ago Charlie Russell moved out to a corner of Slab City to create a habitable, extensible art installation that he calls East Jesus. Shortly after he arrived, I visited him for about a month and helped a little with his growing project. I made a 15-minute video of this experience which I put online. I visited again in March of 2009 and the installation has expanded impressively.
Charlie is the "mayor" of East Jesus. He started by having an old shipping container delivered to the site. In 2007 I and a couple of friends helped start a sculpture garden using the junk that is lying around the place. As of my most recent trip, his installation now includes two travel trailers, several rooms built between the trailers and the shipping container, raised-bed gardens and the sculpture garden has been fenced and more sculptures added.
He has built a music room complete with a grand piano. The walls are covered with found-object art. He has begun a fantastic bottle wall using wine bottles and mortar. There is an LED light in the open end of each of the bottles so, at night, the wall looks spectacular.
Charlie's French friend, Segolene, was there when I arrived. She and Charlie both like to cook so we ate some delicious meals. It was quite a pleasant contrast to be sitting amidst the junk-turned-art right next to a military bombing range eating gourmet cuisine by the ambient light of the LED bottle wall.
A few days before I left, A Canadian musician, Natasha Duchene, arrived to record an album with Charlie as the recording engineer and guest musician. She writes music, sings, and plays the piano.
I added a few more sculptures to the garden on this trip as well as helping Charlie build some raised platforms to hang out on and watch the sun set. See a set of photos here.
The next installment of this blog will blow your mind. Check back in a week or so to read about, and see pictures of, an awesome mosaic environment.