I’ll See Your Angel Queen and Raise You a Lodestar
When I stood in the whipping wind off of the Salton Sea, I had no idea what I would find on the streets of Bombay Beach. From the vantage point of the welcome sign, I saw little more than a sandy haze in the distance.
My recollection of becoming aware of the name Bombay Beach was from images I’d seen years before of primarily abandoned buildings; something akin to a ghost town, a lifeless husk. What I found as I slowly rode through the streets was not quite that.
With the expectation of a ghost town, you can imagine my surprise when a towering chrome… banana with… a hat? came into view. It is amazing that a piece of this magnitude and presence could sneak up on me, but that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t see it until it was pretty much right there in front of me.
This is Lodestar by artist Randy Polumbo.
Currently installed in Bombay Beach, CA, Lodestar (2018), commissioned by the Coachella music festival in April 2018, is a 50-ft-high sculpture made from a 1940 Lockheed Lodestar WW2 military jet adorned with hand-blown glass flowers made out of mercury and silver-plated glass lit with LED lights and electronics. It is an instrument of destruction involuntarily crafted into an interactive flower.Randy Polumbo – Codaworx.com
But this story starts before seeing Lodestar. Let’s go back in time one day, when I was in Joshua Tree, California.
Angel Queen in Joshua Tree
Just the day before seeing Lodestar I was visiting the World Famous Crochet Museum in Joshua Tree. It was there at Art Queen that I’d stood admiring the sparkling orbs dangling juxtaposed below the weathered carcass of a… I didn’t know what. A crane? A tower room of some sort? Whatever it was cut a strangely organic-robotic hybrid figure under the desert sun. It looked like it could just walk away if it felt like it.
The piece was called Angel Queen. Looking at the glass shapes in the tower, it was clearly made by the same artist as the work perched in front of the shops near the Art Queen sign.
When I saw Lodestar, it was obvious that the distinctive piece was created by the same hands that made Angel Queen. Serendipity at work again. Dots connected. At the time, I had no awareness of the pieces nor the artist, Randy Polumbo. And in a one-two punch I was treated to two surprising and related encounters within 100 miles.
As a person with a mind which looks for patterns and meaning throughout life, I love it when that happens! Perhaps Angel Queen raised my antenna and Lodestar was indeed that, guiding me towards it.
A salvaged military airstrip control tower, Angel Queen is populated with hand-blown glass flowers as well as “planets” composed of a reflective array of glass beads, quartz crystal, and hand-silvered mirror. A sparkling galaxy of crystal and homemade mirror planets rotates around a ladder that leads into the roost. There the tension arises between the organic shapes and a technological idea of the future.Polumbo.com
Orient Point Lighthouse
As a complete surprise to me while looking up information on Randy Polumbo, I learned that he owns the Orient Point Lighthouse here on Long Island. Not only did he rehab the structure but additionally turned into an artist residence called the Plum Gut Grotto.
It remains fascinating to me how riding around, exploring the world around us opens so many doors. And, I particularly love how the exploring doesn’t stop once you turn the key off. Your imagination and curiosity have the privilege of traveling on.