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Local man’s house a colorful tribute to rock ’n’ roll

CARLSBAD — Richard Margolin lives in a home that can only be compared to the 1969 hit by The Temptations, “Psychedelic Shack.”
But this is no knockoff imitation. Margolin is an original.
Visitors walk through a shocking pink and neon blue-striped gate that is meticulously encrusted with 1,000 marbles to enter the property.
On the right is a spinning “Kick Wheel” with photos of legends such as Elvis, Otis Redding and Michael Jackson who have “kicked” and gone on to rock ‘n’ roll heaven.
To the left is a storage shed, which has been converted into a “Surrealistic Slave Shack,” a tribute to Etta James, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and other blues artists with roots to slavery.
A fireplace donated by Builder’s Candy Store in Leucadia serves as a shrine to Jim Morrison of The Doors.
“Here is a politically incorrect tribute to Ike and Tina Turner,” Margolin said pointing.
What seems a little out of place at first is a framed photo of Barack Obama looking like a flower child, sitting on steps at Occidental College where he was once a student.
“Art is the first priority and rock ‘n’ roll is integrated out of that,” Margolin explained.
In addition to shocking pink, hues of neon blue, orange and green predominate his palette.
“My subconscious has a strong psychedelic influence,” he said. “I integrate my soul into the abstract.”
This is the second home Margolin has used as his canvas. The first, a two-story Encinitas duplex known as the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Tribute House,” was featured in the book titled “Weird California.”
“It’s chaotic; it’s vibrant; it’s an overwhelming assault on your senses,” wrote Joe Oesterle. “And depending on your point of view, it’s either a whimsical homage to the pioneers of rock music and rhythm and blues, or a garish eyesore.”
The remark isn’t lost on Margolin, who admits he’s not the most accomplished artist in the world.
“There are a million guys more talented than me — I can’t draw or sculpt,” he said. “But I challenge anybody to show me art that makes them feel any happier than when they walk in here.”
He’s correct.
“Somebody asked me what inspired me,” he explained. “I said, 50 years of pent up artistic energy that finally exploded. I’m a complete believer in destiny and even miracles.”
Margolin said like anything else, the key is to know when to stop.
“My perspective is to take it to the very limit of excitement, complexity and detail — from a chaotic base and create order,” he said. “There’s a fine line between being spectacular and junky.”
Like everyone, Margolin said he’s had good times and bad. Finding a rental property where he had the freedom to express himself through art represented a new stage in his life.
“I was 53 years old and living in a motel,” he said. “To do something like this takes total focus and persistence. This represents positive energy. This is about spirit.”
Margolin supports himself with a tree trimming business. He estimates that he’s spent $10,000 to $15,000 over a period of 2 and a half years in materials on the project. One thing many people don’t appreciate is the work involved in the maintaining the property.
“To produce art like this you either have got to be stupid or rich and I’m not rich,” he said. “It’s almost like an outdoor park. If you were really going to keep this at a high level you’d have to have a full-time employee working 40 hours a week and a budget. I spend hundreds and hundreds of hours maintaining it.”
Ideally, Margolin would like to recoup some of his investment by renting out his property for weddings, photo shoots, even a movie locale.
“People ask, ‘What’s your message?’” he said. “My message is beauty. If you have beauty, that is the ultimate message to people — to feel good.”
For more information, call (760) 840-1147.
See video of Margolin’s house at

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