A Blinged-Out Helicopter Makes a Splash in Palm Springs

Palm Springs: an oasis of glistening pools, palm trees, glamorous resorts, and endless summer—and now, a pimped-out helicopter that appears to be part-animal, part-machine, and was created by the artist Steve Maloney. Courtesy of the Heather James Fine Art's booth, which opens this weekend at the Palm Springs Fine Arts Fair, Maloney’s Ride-Em-Copter (2013) is a Graceland-worthy vehicle, customized to extremes by the Santa Fe-based artist.

Inspired by his love for the Wild West and the 1969 movie Midnight Cowboy, memories of horseback riding as a child, and fascination with machinery and pop culture, Maloney took a decommissioned boneyard Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter and decorated it inside and out with a smorgasbord of found and repurposed objects. The work’s inventory is apropos of the artist’s vision, which he describes as “starstudded rodeo”: thousands of colored gemstones, a set of old cowhide chairs, his father’s well-worn saddle, a Longhorn Steer skull, an iPad with virtual flight simulator, a Swarovski crystal chandelier, LED lighting strips, and burgundy crocodile pattern mohair door panels.

“This gleaming eggbeater capable of attaining virtual altitude is where the intellectual subconscious stops and real-world whimsy begins,” Maloney said of his bejeweled heli-sculpture. And the visual treats don’t end there. Head to Heather James’s booth this weekend and you’ll also find a radiant gouache by Alexander Calder and a hypnotic Op Art work by Victor Vasarely, among other works.

Images courtesy Heather James Fine Art.

Explore the Heather James Gallery Fine Art booth at Palm Springs Fine Art Fair.