The da Vinci Fish is a collaborative work by five artists. Lead artist, Sean Guerrero (aka ChromeSean), had an idea to make a giant flying fish sculpture out of an airplane fuselage and donate the sculpture to the community of Bombay Beach on the edge of the Salton Sea in California. It is a contribution to the budding art scene that appears to be re-inventing this deteriorating community as an arts destination and bringing the environmental issues of the Salton Sea to the attention of more people. Read this article about Bombay Beach and what is going on there.
The sculpture is over 40 feet long with a 44-foot wingspan and is mounted 12 feet up on a vertical axle so it moves with the wind. The tail is articulated so it moves back and forth. The idea was for the da Vinci Fish to appear to be in a state of decay while also having a da Vinci’s workshop look to it. It took us about eight months to fabricate all of the parts. Much of the project was fabricated in Paonia and Crested Butte, Colorado. Juanita and I made our part of it at our home near Prescott, Arizona.
In March of 2018 Sean and I were in Bombay Beach, California for the Bombay Beach Biennale. He had built a large sculpture of a rotting ship there out of driftwood and other detritus – The Death Ship. At one point he mentioned there was a Beechcraft King Air fuselage for sale in eastern Colorado. We mused about it a little and even asked other artists if they might be interested in buying it. No takers. About a month later Sean called and told me of his idea to get the fuselage and turn it into a giant flying fish. He asked if I would design and fabricate the fins, wings, and tail. I said “Hell YES!” His work is inspiring and I thought our artistic styles would be compatible. The project was off and running.
The plan was to have the installation completed before the Bombay Beach Biennale which was held March 22-24, 2019. We arrived two weeks early so as to be sure it got done. Everything went so well with the assembly that it was finished a week before the event.
Sean Guerrero – lead artist, modified and decorated the fuselage and coordinated the project.
Royce Carlson – made the fins, wings, and tail.
Juanita Hull-Carlson – made mosaic panels for the sides of the fuselage.
John Murphy – made the base.
J. Cobe – facilitator, web and videography skills.
Rob Williams – applied the can-lid scales to the fuselage.
Gordon Durkee – assembly help
Greg Hill – assembly help.
Rebel Dharma – heavy equipment operator.
Thanks to all who donated to the project. Special thanks to Dave Day for providing the space to put the da Vinci Fish and for taking care of us while we were there.
The da Vinci Fish at Bombay Beach
The da Vinci Fish is a permanent installation in Bombay Beach, California. It is at the corner of 2nd Ave and D Street at the Bombay Beach Arts and Culture center. You can go see it any time.
Video of Royce Carlson making fins for the project:
Video of Juanita Hull-Carlson making mosaics for the project:
Here’s my drawing of the idea:
Summer 2018 – Sean inside the fuselage and Royce outside of it
September, 2018 – Working on the tail in my shop
September 2018 – The tail completed
November 2018 – The mounting brackets for the wings
November 2018 – The wings test-mounted on a truck chassis. The truck chassis is not part of the sculpture. It was just so I could work on the wings. The truck chassis will be the base for my next project.
January 2019 – Juanita Hull-Carlson laying out the mosaic stripes for the fuselage
February 2019 – The base of the da Vinci Fish partially laid out at John Murphy’s shop in Crested Butte. It will be welded together on-site in Bombay Beach. The upper part of the base on its trailer and being delivered to the desert.
February 18, 2019 – Juanita Hull-Carlson painting a banner that will be displayed while we are working at Bombay Beach.
February 18, 2019 – Rear fin fabrication completed and I managed to scrounge up materials to create some lighting.
February 18, 2019 – Sean Guerrero is just about finished with the metal art on the left side of the fuselage.
Claudia Bokulich of Paonia, Colorado added her oil painting rendition of da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man to our project. It is mounted on a black cloth background and fixed at a 30 degree angle to be seen through the fuselage access door from the ground. Thank you Claudia for your talent!
February 26, 2019 – Detail shot of one of the windows.
The artists at Bombay Beach with the fuselage: Nita, Royce, Sean, and John.
Photo by Gary Faye