Abandoned Resort Town of Bombay Beach Now Weird Artist Paradise

Over the last couple days I have been entertaining one of our friends visiting from Portland. It was a whirlwind few days hitting up various tourist and not-so-tourist spots. We spent Sunday in the desert including a visit to the Salton Sea. I’ve been several times now, but it’s always worth revisiting as it is ever changing.

Like most of the cities that fell victim to the tragedy of the Salton Sea, Bombay Beach sits on its shores decaying in the sun and wind. Ruins of vintage trailers are scattered amongst ones that are still occupied by the just under 300 residents. Many of the abandoned trailers have experienced some level of vandalism, by either graffiti or pure destruction. But what is so very odd is that Bombay Beach is experiencing…well…a bit of a revival of shorts. The Bombay Beach Biennale, a now yearly art festival (despite its name), that started in 2016 has brought with it hundreds of new visitors. Artists have bought various plots of land scattered throughout the small town and created large scale art installations as “permanent gifts to the town” including a faux drive-in. In an interview with LA Weekly, one of the founders and artists of the festival (and not to mention owner of a hotel in West Hollywood), Stefan Ashkenazy, claimed “The whole idea is to create art that stays and lives here, that enhances the town and embellishes its off-beatedness.” And we saw evidence of these works amongst the long forgotten trailers. However, the long-time residents are mixed on the influx of newbies. Some are glad for the breath of fresh air, others are concerned about the increase in land prices, and are not of a fan of the so-called “art.”

Art Installation - a faux billboard reading "The Last Stop For The Bombay Beach Resort" but with most of the letters fallen off, so it reads more like "The Last Resort"

Vintage trailer sitting fading in the sun

Faded paint and broken neon, reading "Cocktails"

Art Instillation: Save the Fallout Teddy Bears of Bomb Bay - teddy bears and a trailer painted yellow with nuclear waste symbol

A large statue of a black and white tiger seated

The fallout trailer, with text reading "Get Inside, Stay Inside, Cover Your Mouth and Nose, Seek Shelter, Stay Inside for 24 Hours"

A fake bomb lays in the dirt reading "Bomb"

An abandoned vintage trailer that has suffered a fire, and been tagged. One tag reads "Liza Wasn't Here"

Vintage trailer door, featuring a unique round window.

An abandoned trailer, faded, rusty, and surrounded by junk.

A wall full of graffiti and a pair of tall black boots hang on a nail

A boat of white and blue sits fading in the sun, reading "Disco Escape Boat"

Inside abandoned trailer, with a couch that has been slashed open and trash scattered about

Vintage trailer, abandoned, rusted and faded.

Art Installation - The Bombay Beach Drive-In, a faux drive-in with old, junk cars and a large trailer painted white to emulate a screen.

Art Installation - The Bombay Beach Drive-In, a faux drive-in with old, junk cars and a large trailer painted white to emulate a screen. Close up of a car door that was part of the La Carrera Classic

Art Installation - The Bombay Beach Drive-In, a faux drive-in with old, junk cars and a large trailer painted white to emulate a screen.

Art Installation - The Bombay Beach Drive-In, a faux drive-in with old, junk cars and a large trailer painted white to emulate a screen. Close up of interior of a car, over the steering wheel out toward the screen.

Two tone yellow and white trailer, with the door open. Beat up and faded.

Old ice machine, fading and rusting

Vintage trailer door, with unique diamond window. Two tone tan.

A long abandoned building with broken windows and falling apart

Vintage camper by "Komfort" two-tone, white and olive green.

A white upholstered chair sits upon the porch of a trailer, tattered and dirty.

Inside a trailer, with a broken drop down ceiling, faux wood paneling, and has been tagged with "Abandon Hope"

Part of the ceiling is gone of a travel trailer, through it the American flag waves.

Vintage travel trailer, spray painted with "The End" on the back

To read more on the Bombay Beach Biennale (which I am seriously considering attending next year) visit their website and you can check out the articles by LA Weekly and The Guardian.

You can check out my other Salton Sea posts here:
The Salton Sea
Desert Shores
North Shore Yacht Club

Leave a Comment!