It's Memorial Day which means BBQs, reflection, relaxation, and all things Americana. In my travels with Angelina Christina I know that there isn't much more American to her than her travels to the desert, particularly The Salton Sea. I've written here about The Salton Sea before but I don't think I had any greater reminder about the area than the several consecutive trips we took out there together this year over the span of a few months. I started this set for our first adventure centered around a new sponsorship from a drone company called 3DR out of Austin, TX. I befriended Kate Blaising of 3DR during our trip to Miami. The company was so in love with Angelina's work that they took her on as a brand ambassador. We knew that the desert would be the best place to start shooting with the drone both for it's open skies and impressive nature. We went several times in a row to capture these images including a jaunt with Kung Fu Babe and World Wushu Champion Svitlana Zavialova.
During one of our stops through the area we hit up the local hot spring. I sat there, feet dangling in the water, holding my camera to protect it and shoot a few photos of Angelina when one of the locals swam up to me in the nude and told me my camera made her feel uncomfortable. I informed her I had no interest in taking her photo but this wasn't good enough for her. I found this particularly troubling because I hadn't been paying attention to her whatsoever and frankly this was all squatter land, owned by the US government so I found her sense of ownership off-putting. I walked away and engaged in debate with Angelina who raised the issue that plenty of photographers and filmmakers had come in to this area to exploit the locals. I love to converse with Angelina, who is one of the smartest and most enlightened people I know. Though sometimes our conversations leave us on either side of an issue, they never get heated, or personal and we both always learn something from it.
Part of the first leg of the trip also involved Angelina putting up a few wheat pastes of her design for her 1xrun print at East Jesus, a local art community in Slab City. This was the first time I had seen anyone do a wheat paste surprisingly and I learned a lot from the experience. At the tail end of this part of the trip we met up with our friend Paco, a local photographer in the Coachella Valley. Paco is one of the most talented photographers you may not know about. The three of us went and explored some parts of Slab City I hadn't seen before and got to check out killers works by MDMN, Eddie Colla, and Bandit.
We returned once more to The Tank where I met Bart. Bart had lived next to the inner tank aka The Kinetoscope and had helped with that project. I wasn't around for that and came in later for The Tank, and by that time Bart had already moved on. He was visiting and getting ready to sell the trailer occupying that space. Angelina and Bart sat by a bonfire for hours and talked as I took beautiful long exposure night shots of The Tank under the gorgeous desert sky.
We returned a few weeks later to Slab City. Someone on social media threatened to tag it so Angelina enlisted me and her brother Ricky's girlfriend Jordyn Richards to help her put an anti-graffiti coating on both tanks to protect the pieces. This was largely a one person operation for the actual coating, but having hands for all the equipment and travel was essential. Due to the downtime Jordyn and I wound up doing our own shoot at the encouragement of Angelina. We had a great time, but you could start to feel the energy shifting Slab City as Bernie, The Tank's current occupant, got ready to move out. A man named Jesse had been staying with Bernie and several local burnouts had been hanging around more. We feared for the future of The Tank which made the protective coating and frequent visits all that more important.
Some months passed and earlier this month my birthday began to roll around. I had started to associate my birthday with Angelina as two years prior my friends German and Nick took me out to the desert to see several of her pieces including the pieces in Palm Springs and the collab with Fin Dac on the western side of The Salton Sea. The next year, one year ago, I spent the entire week surrounding my birthday documenting The Tank, so it only seemed fitting that this year I return with Angelina to Slab City. We headed to East Jesus where Angelina created another mural on the side of the same trailer where she had previously done the two wheat pastes. After that she helped me do my first public wheat paste. We then travelled to Salton City where I did another and discovered some pieces by Roa and Caratoes. We had plans to travel to Lake Havasu for more projects, but had to cut the trip short due to the illness of a friend. On our way around we stopped by Angelina's collab with Fin where I got perhaps my favorite and the cleanest shot of the piece.
A little less than a week went by when Angelina asked me if I'd like to continue our journey. We headed back to The Tank where Bernie had moved back in and Jesse was gone. We made plans to paint the inside of The Tank and ran a mission to make keys of The Tank so we would have access. This trip was short but a gorgeous blue and purple sky afforded me my fourth gorgeous shot of The Tank (from the same vantage point). If you check my social media you can see the four shots together. We then headed to Havasu but that is another story for another day.
I think we will return soon to The Tank but for now click the photo below enjoy the sequel: Return To Slab City.