2 min

In the desert, jungle fever

Palm Springs famous Jungle Red sculpture

One of Palm Springs' most familiar landmarks is Jungle Red. Credit: Scott Brassart

It’s big, it’s long, and it’s hard. If you’re in the mood you can sit on it. It’s also Palm Springs’ most recognizable public sculpture.

Jungle Red — 14 feet high, 15 feet wide, 38 feet long — graces the entrance to Warm Sands, the most vibrant gay neighborhood in Palm Springs. The 2008 installation of the sculpture by Delos Van Earl marked the culmination of three years effort by the Warm Sands Neighborhood Association.

“The site suffered from benign neglect for years,” says Robert Stone, who spearheaded the campaign, in reference to the formerly ugly median strip at the entrance to the neighborhood. “We thought it would be good for everyone if the site were rehabilitated.”

Van Earl admits that he usually avoids doing public art. “It doesn’t suit my personality,” he says. “It’s a lot of paperwork and process, and I don’t deal with that very well.”

This project was special, though, because he wanted to give back to the Palm Springs community.

“I’ve been fortunate,” he says. “The gay community in particular has been very supportive of my work. So this sculpture is a wonderful way for me to give back, especially where it’s situated, right there in Warm Sands.”

The work is from Van Earl’s Luna series, a collection of large-scale sculptures based on the linear form. “I call them subterranean,” he says. “A portion of the work is beneath the ground, and is imaginary.”

Like all works in the series, Jungle Red appears to be a single, rhythmic line undulating over and around and through itself — a sculpted steel version of modern dance.

One of the great features of Jungle Red is that it is interactive; designed to be viewed from all angles, walked through, and touched.

“That’s what I like best about this piece,” Van Earl says. “You can stand next to it, you can sit on it. The back tail is actually designed so people can get up on it.”

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