In the same vein as Elmer's Bottle Ranch in Barstow, Randyland--or Phantasma Gloria, as it's occasionally known--is a bottle hoarder's dream turned artistic masterpiece of multi-colored cultural awesomeness.
Anyone who's rolled down the quiet streets of LA's Echo Park has probably stopped and marveled at the colorful display of magic that radiates from the property on Lemoyne St. If not, take the trip, check it out and try not to get into a massive car accident (the streets are pretty narrow in these parts!) as you gawk and smile away at the translucent art installation before you. It's a pretty warm and happy place.
Though aesthetically hypnotic, a first glance might yield more questions than answers. It's like staring at a spiderweb for hours while on acid-- which is loads of fun, and highly recommended-- but what does it all mean? What madness has Randy cooked up here?
Then, you'll pan down and see the large wall that separates you from the front lawn, which oozes neon and is worthy of a blog post in its own right...
And just when you're ready to leave and chalk it up to "another cool art installation in SoCal" you realize there's a method to the madness: the glass is meticulously placed in patterns to create some pretty gnarly designs once the sun hits and highlights them. You'll then feel pretty silly for this initial oversight, but hey, is that the Virgin of Guadalupe I see in there?
And the man in charge here is named Randy (surprise!), who for 16 years has been crafting these glass masterworks in his spare time. And with the support of some forgiving neighbors-- and a lovable dog named Taco that lives across the street-- Randy doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon, which I'm fully supportive of.
And what makes Randyland so unique from the others is every visit offers a different experience, depending on where the sun is hitting that day. Since the sculptures contain bottles of differing shapes, colors, and sizes, the glass acts as a lens for the sun's rays to illuminate and make them really stand out. 10 am is apparently prime viewing, but I say make the trip regardless of time of day. It's still quite a sight to see in any light.
As for the pieces themselves, you've got the aforementioned Virgin of Guadalupe, and also a dolphin, shell and the sun, which all become pretty apparent when you look closely.
And if you're lucky (as I was the day we visited) Randy himself will be there to talk about the process and show you around the grounds. An artist by trade, Randy is a passionate creator who exerts an infectious enthusiasm around the project. The tour will also allow you to get an up close and personal look at the unique glass items that make up the bulk of Randyland. Like this glass head!
He'll also leave you with some goodies for the road, which is pretty generous of the guy to dish out to strangers. I got some magnets and postcards, all of which showcase the various ways Randyland looks when the sun hits at different times/angles.
In all, a fantastic experience and great example of the DIY art spirit that makes LA such a hotbed for the unique. Also, with all this talk of a big earthquake hitting the West Coast soon, I hope Randy keeps the place insured.