Sky Art in the Desert

“Blessings are meant to be shared” – Dennis S. Avery

anza art  004anza art  050Borrego Springs is a small town of about 3500 with many seasonal residents, which is actually an unincorporated area of northeast San Diego County about 100 miles from the city of San Diego.  It’s in a really dramatic setting surrounded by mountains and badlands.

The town was California’s first dark sky community, and has no stoplights. So it’s quite beautiful when the stars come out at night.  And the town’s surroundings are part of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which, at 643,000 acres, makes up more than half of the land of the entire California State Park System.

anza art  011But Borrego Springs might be best known for the life size sculptures found scattered all over the desert around the town on parcels of private land (Galleta Meadows Estate) owned by the recently deceased Dennis Avery, millionaire heir to the Avery labeling fortune, philanthropist and visionary.anza art  002anza art  016anza art  021

The sculptures are crafted of metal by sculptor Ricardo Breceda of Temecula, California, who welds scrap reinforcement bars, wire and metal together, and uses hammers to pound texture into the patches of metal.

Mr. Breceda, sometimes referred to as “the accidental artist” was a carpenter until he fell from a second story during a construction job.  While selling cowboy boots for a living, he traded a pair for a welding machine, and then began to “play” with it as a hobby.  He created his first sculpture, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, when his daughter asked for one after watching “Jurassic Park III”. He continued making sculptures as a hobby for a few years prior to selling any of his works.

anza art  022anza art  003anza art  010anza art  035In 2007, Dennis Avery happened to drive by Ricardo Breceda’s studio and spotted a 30 foot T-Rex leaning over a fence.  Mr. Avery owned about 3,000 acres of noncontiguous parcels in Borrego Springs that he wanted preserved from development, and had opened his land to the public.  A paleontology buff, he had financed a book cataloguing the fossil treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert.

The philanthropist and artist shared an obsession with the prehistoric, and, in 2008, Mr. Avery commissioned Mr. Breceda to create some of the prehistoric beasts from the book, animals that had roamed this area millions of years ago when it was a lush jungle.  They brainstormed the project and Mr. Avery named it “Sky Art”.

I love a great partnership, whether business or personal or both.

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Over the years, the sculpture collection grew to include prehistoric creatures not from this area, then historical incidents and characters, desert wildlife and mythical creatures.  There are now more than 130 sculptures.

Although Mr. Avery passed away last year, Galleta Meadows LLC remains, and a fund was set up so that when any of the sculptures are damaged, Mr. Breceda can repair them.

Hector and I love outdoor sculptures and set out to see all of them.anza art  014

anza art  030They are dispersed throughout the desert near town, to the north and the south and most are located within sight of the Borrego Springs Road.anza art  024

For those wanting a closer up view, there are a number of dirt roads from the main road leading to the sculptures and though some of these dirt roads are made up of softish sand, most are flat and hard.anza art  007

And, of course, I wanted to get REALLY close and walked over to many of them.  There is a lot of detail that can only be appreciated once you are close up.anza art  015

anza art  043There are enormous birds, prehistoric horses, camels and elephants.  There is a wonderful, giant Spanish Padre, an Indian Head, and a jeep going over rocks.anza art  044

Not to mention a sculpture of farm workers working a grape field.anza art  032anza art  028anza art  046anza art  034anza art  001anza art  049anza art  012anza art  038anza art  031anza art  045anza art  036

anza art  008anza art  027anza art  037anza art  005anza art  013anza art  019anza art  009anza art  029anza art  047anza art  039anza art  040One of the most impressive sculptures is a 350-foot sea serpent with various parts emerging from the sand and seemingly crossing the road.

Fabulous!anza art  042

anza art  041Sky Art is the most unique art project I’ve ever seen.  How wonderful of Mr. Avery to have commissioned these unique sculptures and opened up his land so that the public might enjoy them.

~ Brendaanza art  023

18 thoughts on “Sky Art in the Desert

  1. We discovered Borrego Springs last year. What a fantastic place! We drove over from San Diego for the day to visit Anza Borrego SP. Well, that’s all it took. We came back and boondocked for a few days, then spent two week in the state park campground. The Jeep trails and hiking trails are never ending. We can’t wait to get back. Hope you got to do some hikes. Great slot canyons!

  2. Wow, so lifelike! It is hard to tell the real Dinosaurs from the Sculptures! Looks like big country there! Easy to get lost????

  3. Thanks for all the wonderful photos! Have heard of Anza-Borrego but have no idea these existed. Now going on our bucket list…

  4. Wow, those are fascinating sculptures and great shots of them too!
    We have been to Borrego Springs several times in the past but not with Betsy and it appeared there are a lot of cool new stuff out there. We might just swing by there someday, for now we will just enjoy the place through you.

  5. Borrego has been on my list for quite some time. I’ve seen others post photos of these sculptures, but Hectors are definitely the best. The clouds were perfect adding some great dimension. Thanks for the background history on this unique art 🙂

  6. Now I wish we had tacked on a couple of extra days in Coronado last month to make the trek to experience this place. We will definitely have do it next time we are in the area. In the meantime, thanks for bringing it to me!

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