When rainfall and temperatures are just right, an otherwise dry, brown desert can explode with colorful spring wildflowers. Unfortunately, Mother Nature hasn’t been overly artistic the last couple of years in the Borrego Springs area, but there’s a different type of art you won’t want to miss – larger than life metal sculptures created by Ricardo Breceda.
First installed in 2008, and now numbering around 120, driving to each piece of Sky Art is a combination safari and treasure hunt. You’ll find giant prehistoric animals that resemble camels, sloths, and elephants, as well as common desert creatures such as tortoises, bighorn sheep, and scorpions. The latest piece added in 2011 is a 350 foot long Sand Serpent that’s as fierce looking as any dragon from a Hollywood movie. Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza, who trekked through this area with a missionary expedition, is also depicted in metal, along with a gold prospector and his mule, and field workers who harvested grapes here in the 1960’s. This is a short list.
The artist, Ricardo Breceda from Temecula, California, welds together scrap reinforcement bars, wire, and sheets of metal and then adds life-like texture by pounding the materials with hammers. Some of the detail is quite unexpected. Check out the metal eyelashes! Most of Breceda’s metal creatures are based on those found in the book Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert. You can read more about the artist in the Accidental Artist, a book written by Diana Lindsay. And if you want to own a one-of-a-kind piece, Breceda just needs a photo or sketch to turn your vision into a unique metal monument.
To locate the artwork, pick up the Borrego Springs Village Guide at the Chamber of Commerce (also found in many retail stores) and follow the map. Driving distances are short and just about everything can be found in three non-contiguous square miles of Borrego Valley. The Sky Art is located on land owned by the late Dennis Avery, as in Avery labels used for mailings and file folders. The land is known as Galleta Meadows Estate and is open to the public. Mr. Avery purchased 3,000 acres in the early 1990’s to keep it from ever being developed. He first commissioned Ricardo Breceda in 2007 to create prehistoric beasts that once roamed the Borrego Valley, and the collection has grown from there.
IF YOU GO:
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com