Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Bus Adventure

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that, about 20 years ago, I had a school bus that was converted into a motor home, I then went on to talk about hippie buses and how cool they were. Well, my bus was a 1962 Dodge. It was 32 feet long and had a 350 Chevy engine and automatic transmission. It was slow and got between 8 and 9 miles per gallon.  I bought it in 1990 for $800.

I wanted to move away from the L.A. area and needed a good camping vehicle. What I was really looking for was a Volkswagen bus. I saw an ad in the paper for an old school so I thought I'd go ahead and take a look, even though that was not what I was looking for. I have always loved the old hippie buses so I called the advertiser of the school bus and arranged to see it. I was a bit panicky as I caught myself making an offer on it. "What am I doing?" I thought to myself. "This is crazy." Amazingly they accepted my offer and then a big smile creased my face and the next thought was, "I just bought an $800 ticket to heaven!"

It was already partially converted inside. I went to work on it to finish the conversion by adding cabinets, cleaning up the kitchen, adding some furniture, etc. I painted the bus and my friend, Billy, made a wooden grille for it. I had a couple of yard sales to sell everything I owned that wouldn't fit in the bus, moved into it, and drove off into the night leaving Southern California behind for good. I didn't know where I was going or where I would end up. I was on the road! I ended up in Prescott, Arizona, where I still am today. In 1992 I traded the bus for a truck and a small travel trailer.

It was fun having the bus but I think, even more fun, will be the gypsy wagon I am building. Now that I am back from my annual allergy escape trip, I am back to work on it. I got the tongue-and-groove siding put on the front of the gypsy wagon this past weekend. The next step is to create the jambs for the door and windows.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Art Inside a Freeway

When Joe was in high school he discovered a mysterious portal into another world. At least it was potentially another world. He got to work and now, six years later, it is, indeed, a strange and mysterious place.

He found an entrance into the insides of a freeway overpass.  Joe wasn't the first person to find this place, either. He found evidence of previous visitors. This portal was likely created so that the structural elements of the freeway could be inspected from time to time. Apparently no one has tried to inspect this one for quite awhile. Maybe never.

The space consists of a vault that is just under six feet high, maybe eight feet wide, and probably over a hundred feet long. He divided the space into small rooms connected by tunnels. The string of rooms extends out probably 60 feet. At one point there are a couple of 4-inch holes in the concrete floor where you can see the road below. The tunnels are hidden and/or hung with strips of fabric and plastic so that it is a disorienting adventure to explore. The disorienting effect was on purpose. The vault is right underneath the road bed so you can hear the cars above and feel the vibrations when a big truck goes over,.

"It's all in the details," the artist says about his hidden creation. Everything inside had to be carried up through a 30-inch diameter hole. It is amazing what he managed to get in there. We saw a desk, two toilets (not working) and even a piano! I asked him how he got the piano in there and his response was a question, "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer, of course, is "one piece at a time." There have been parties inside the freeway, too, sometimes even with a live band, The port is just large enough to fit a bass drum through..

He says that there is an entry at the other end of the overpass with another art installation just beginning.  Obviously, all this was done without the permission or knowledge of the powers that be. Because of its clandestine nature, the location of this art installation cannot be disclosed. I probably couldn't find it again anyway.

It was pitch dark inside. We had no idea what we were in for when we went looking for the place so we didn't have much in the way of lighting. We managed to scrounge two flashlights. Because of the lack of light and the tightness of the spaces it was difficult to shoot video or take pictures in such a way that you get a good idea what is going on. Nevertheless, I put together a short video of the adventure called "Art in a Freeway Overpass."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

L.A. Graffiti and Murals

 I visited my friends, Bill and Jana, in Hollywood a couple of weeks ago. We managed to cram several days worth of art adventuring into only about 24 hours. We explored sculptural art installations in Elysian Park, went inside a freeway to see an unusual art installation, visited a artist's collective of sorts in a warehouse under a bridge, and went for a walk looking for graffiti. I'll start with our graffiti walk.

We took a three-hour walk down Hollywood Blvd. in search of graffiti and murals. There were plenty. There is art everywhere, some of it obviously done with permission and some obviously not done with permission. From simple tagging to elaborate paintings, I was impressed by the talent of these artists..
More photos