Randlett Lawrences frontyard sculpture, Phantasma Gloria, rises above the street in a glittering cobalt blue wave, swaying in the breeze in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Times reported on Lawrences installation in 2001, as he was starting it, and the artist has been adding to the work ever since. The piece now towers above the scarlet and gold bougainvillea bushes, the swirls of colored glass rising 24 feet high and spanning 50 feet in width. (Ann Summa)
Made out of bottles, beads, marbles, spring-loaded interlocking arcs of rebar and wire, the installation emerges below in a swirling hommage to the ocean, refracted light and the sun. (Ann Summa)
There are about 1,000 bottles in there, and they become a multiplicity of lenses of different shapes, sizes and colors, Lawrence says. Theyre lenses because theyre convex vessels, and when theyre full of water they act as a lens and you see the horizon in them, upside down and backwards. Instead of a brush stroke, Im using the sun itself, the horizon itself, arranged to create images. The whole thing is a huge swell, the upwelling of life. (Ann Summa)
Motifs include a womans face, a dancer, a dolphin, a nautilus shell and the sun. Lawrence says the idea for the sculpture came to him as he was reading about Francis Crick, one of the men who discovered the structure of DNA, and the scientists work on primate visual systems. A glass bottle was sitting on his windowsill. He noticed a bright spot in the center of the half-filled bottle and, upon closer inspection, saw the sky, the sun and horizon upside-down. (Ann Summa)
Lawrence says hes nowhere near done. Eventually the installation will wind farther around the house, which he calls Randy Land. (Ann Summa)
Spirals, arcs, circles: a web of color. (Ann Summa)
The city in a different light. In Sufi poetry they say you cannot stare at your beloved, just as you cannot stare at the sun, Lawrence says. Instead you stare at a reflection. There is something so sublime about the sunset and replicating it over and over. (Ann Summa)
Phantasma Gloria has become a local landmark. Like a rainbow, it looks different depending on the angle of view and time of day. Some people even swing by at night to view the effect. Lawrence says he gets notes in his mailbox from people who are cheered by the sight of the moon in the bottles. (Ann Summa)
Because there is so much space between the bottles, because and the rebar frame distributes stress like a spiders web, the structure is flexible in high winds and earthquakes, the artist says. (Ann Summa)
Head for the 1600 block of Lemoyne Avenue and look up.
If youre in nearby Silver Lake, you can see poster-sized, spectacularly strange photos of Phantasma Gloria at the Coffee Table, 2930 Rowena Ave. Theyre on display through July 5.
For more only-in-L.A. moments, check out our new design blog at latimes.com/home.
Note: An earlier version of this caption incorrectly said to head for the 2600 block of Lemoyne.(Ann Summa)