This art van, Cinnabar Charm, belonged to the late “Container” Charlie Russell. Charlie was a resident of Slab City, California, an off the grid “no man’s land” nestled besides the Salton Sea which serves as home for a handful of rebels, drifters, scrappers and snow birds. Moving to “The Slabs,” Charlie hoped to add artists to that list. He started East Jesus, an open air sculpture garden and sustainability experiment hidden amongst the often grueling temperatures of the desert region.
Despite an over 12 hour, one-way drive from San Francisco, a handful of friends and I visited Charlie about five times over the course of a year and half. In the process, we were introduced to number of folks spread from Arizona all the way to the North West Territories. But, more importantly, shooting the sculpture garden by the full moon was always enlightening and calming.
So, when Charlie died unexpectedly last May at the age of 46, we made one final trip a couple of days later in his honor. This photo, a four minute long exposure on a Canon 5D Mark II, was made directly after we had a chocolate martini toast for Charlie out of the side of the van. For now, it may remain one of the last night photos I take in Slab City. As far as last photos go, I couldn’t hope for something more than this one.