I’ve been staring at my laptop for a good 20 minutes now. Words typically flow from my fingers like pizza slices find their way into my belly. However, now that I have returned from visiting Robolights in Palm Springs, California, I’m nearly at a loss for words. Nearly. I discovered this Post Apocalyptic Wild Wacky World Of Recycled Wonders, while cycling. It’s quite exciting finding a home covered in man made robots while making a few right turns on the bike.
The reason why I am finding it tough to write about my experience today is that I am stuck between; did I just see one of the most creative home displays of my life, or did I witness the mind of a Sci-Fi madman. Regardless, I had a blast walking through Kenny Irwin Junior’s outdoor museum today. Every inch of the property is littered with Kenny’s recycled art. I spotted multiple Santa Claus’ (with shotguns), more than a handful of robots (with automatic rifles), one Alien Santa (with guns made from trophies), a mannequin reindeer installation complete with the back of a Yoda mask and even a microwaved microwave. You read that right.
Kenny has been working on Robolights since 1986, when he was only 12 years old. Originally started as a childhood fantasyland, the installation eventually wrapped the entire family home and became a Palm Springs winter attraction. The show evolved into a Christmas Light Show that ran until 2008 when a neighbor had enough of swarming visitors and complained. Another set back happened in 2012 when thieves stole over $1,000,000 in lights. Kenny and his father bounced back later that year reinvesting in better LED lighting, cameras and security guards, and reopened the display for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
You can’t miss the house once you find your way through the Movie Colony East community. I promise its the only house with Giant Robots in the area. When I arrived, the driveway gate was open so I wandered in. After standing there with camera in hand for a few minutes, a neighbor drove up and told me it was okay to go inside as long as the gate is open. Even with friendly confirmation, I was still hesitant knowing this is also someones property.
I made my way to the entrance, a colorful ROBOLIGHTS archway. A small sign let me know the house was open, where to put donations and a phone number to call for a private tour. I rang the number and Kenny’s father answered. After a few nice words he let me know Kenny would be there shortly, to look around and he would come find me. I waited about 20 minutes before proceeding, no Kenny. After lingering around the front for a while, I decided to forge on ahead solo. This is Kenny’s place, he will find me.
You know that age old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Kenny is living it. Recycled items have become fantastic art. Tires, vacuums, monitors, trash cans, arcade consoles, washing machines, spray cans, bottles, remote controls, wheelchairs, mannequins, gas masks, computers, the list goes on and on.
What may not come across in these photos is the magnitude of the displays. The property lot must be close to 3/4-acre. I really wish the show was running at night this time of year, I’d have come back later in the day.
These three robots were my favorite of the yard. They definitely have that, ‘More Than Meets The Eye’ thing going on. How many different items can you spot looking at the trio?
This hot pink UFO has been featured at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. His work has also been shared in the New York Times and various news outlets. I’ve seen my fair share of art and light displays, I’ve never seen anything like what Kenny has created. I’m going to leave you here with a gallery of images below. I highly recommend if you’re passing through the Palm Springs area, detour off the Date Palm exit and find your way to Robolights. You won’t be disappointed.
Robolights is open to the public free of charge. Donations are happily accepted to help keep all those LED lights glowing. You can find directions, daily hours and more about upcoming shows on their Facebook Page.
For those of you without Facebook, navigate your favorite map app to 1077 East Granvia Valmonte in Palm Springs, California. The phone number to setup a personal tour with Kenny is 760-320-1500.