August 10, 2008
Bottle Village in Simi Valley is an obscure folk-art marvel, akin to the Watts Towers: the creative handmade output of a single obsessed individual over the course of decades.
It was heavily damaged in the Northridge Earthquake, but when funds were made available for its restoration, Rep. Elton Gallegly sneeringly derailed the measure, along with Simi Valley city officials who considered it junk, trash or an eyesore. My wife and I visited recently (following a piece in the Star a week earlier), and while it is in sad shape, there is also much to marvel at. We were allowed in one structure, and the collection of embedded bottles in the walls looked like stained glass walls in some rustic cathedral.
It takes a certain amount of vision to see the past -- and see the potential -- in ruins, but it is fixable with a lot of work. Simply restoring the one structure we went inside could be enough to show the value of restoring the rest of it. In the bland Simi suburbia, it could once again be an oasis of color, funkiness and uniqueness.