Metal Sculptures Draw Visitors
To Borrego Valley
Ricardo Breceda, Artist
by Diana Lindsay
The word is out – there is now more than desert wildflowers and the spectacular Anza-Borrego Desert State Park that is attracting visitors to Borrego Valley in Southern California. They are coming from around the United States and internationally to see the 129 and soon to be 130 full-size metal sculptures that draw on inspiration from the animals that roamed this desert millions of years ago. These range from prehistoric mammals to historical characters, fanciful dinosaurs, and a 350-foot-long fanciful serpent.
The sculptures are the perfect blend of superb craftsmanship and a picture-perfect placement in the open desert landscape surrounded by California’s largest state park. The sculptor has taken a primitive welding art form of Mexico to new provocative heights.
The creator of this whimsical collection, spread out on three square miles of non-contiguous desert land surrounding Borrego Springs, is Ricardo Breceda, a gifted artist who ten years ago never knew that one day he would have the talent and skill to build these remarkable sculptures. His talent grew out of a devastating accident on a construction job that changed his life.
One of the few jobs he could handle after the accident was selling exotic boots. One fateful day 10 years ago, he traded a pair of boots for a welding machine and began to “play” with it when he was not selling his boots. Probably nothing would have come from it but for a request from his seven-year-old daughter to make a life-size dinosaur.
From that beginning Breceda’s sculptures are now found across the world, from Canada to Australia. The highest concentration of sculptures are found in Borrego Valley and were all commissioned by Borrego landowner Dennis Avery who has scattered the sculptures on lands that he has held for years for conservation. The private property, call Galleta Meadows, is open to the public for viewing and short-term camping.
The original sculptures were inspired by animals that lived millions of years ago in the Anza-Borrego area during the Plio-Pleistocene age. Later sculptures were inspired by local history and then pure whim and fantasy. There is even a full-size Willys Jeep CJ-3A with a driver and a passenger.
The most dramatic of all is a giant 350-foot long serpent with a tail of a rattlesnake and a head of a dragon. See www.galletameadows.com for photos of the sculptures and comments from visitors. A newly published book, Ricardo Breceda: Accidental Artist (retail $24.95; 256 pages, hardcover, 280 full-color photographs, available at DesertUSA), tells the story of the artist and is lavishly illustrated with photographs of the sculptures.
Life-size fighting dinosaurs
The best place to get visitor information about the sculptures in Borrego Springs is at the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce at 786 Palm Canyon Drive (POB 420, Borrego Springs, CA 92004-0420) just east of the community’s roundabout at Christmas Circle (www.borregospringschamber.com or call 760-767-5555).
A Sky Art sculpture of Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza, for whom the state park was named, sits in front of the chamber offices. The chamber has free maps to the sculptures within its published Village Guide that offers complete visitor information for this community.
PUBLIC LECTURE IN SAN DIEGO JANUARY 22, 2012
AND A SNEAK PREVIEW OF THE NEWEST SCUPTURE
The San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park (call 619-232-3821) is hosting a free public lecture on the metal Sky Art phenomenon in their auditorium on Sunday, January 22 at 4 p.m.
Artist Ricardo Breceda will join Diana Lindsay, author of Ricardo Breceda: Accidental Artist, to present the story of how these metal sculptures came to be. Dennis Avery, who has commissioned the artwork that is on view and open to the public on land that he owns in Borrego Valley, will also speak about what motivated him to begin the Sky Art project. Visuals will provide the details needed to fully understand the story behind the sculptures. The newest addition to the spectacular display will be revealed at the lecture. Breceda promises that the 130th sculpture will be truly spectacular. It will be installed in Borrego Valley at the end of January.