Friday, June 5, 2015

Photo Essay: A Metal Menagerie of Wild Animals

I remember seeing those sculptures, out there in the distance, somewhere around Borrego Springs. Back then, it didn't occur to me to get out of the car and get a closer look at them. To me, they were like the wild horses or burros you see for a fleeting moment while barreling down a country road – better admired from a far, left to be wild.

But three years ago, the artist who created those giant rusted metal beasts opened up shop in an RV Park a little closer to LA, just outside of Temecula. While I was passing through on a road trip this week, I decided to pay him a visit.

Ricardo Breceda's studio is open to the public, but most people probably just pull over briefly to admire a few of his roadside creations...



...like this renegade stagecoach...



...drawn by four galloping horses.



Or perhaps passers-by will veer off the side of the road to examine some dinosaur teeth...



...the curly mane of a rearing mare...



...or a striking serpent.



But if you drive past the security kiosk and into the RV park...



...you'll enter a quiet, shady grove...



...that opens up to a whole menagerie of metal creatures, both extant and extinct.



Some are scattered along the hillside in situ...



...and others are displayed in a kind of outdoor showroom.



Everything here is for sale.



But if you don't find something you like, from any particular era of the geologic time scale...



...Ricardo can fulfill custom requests.



He aims to please.



Although he specializes in the prehistoric and the equine, he has also created sharks, bears, giraffes, a tortoise, a ram, and even a trio of mariachis. Feathers, hair, fur, shells, and scales can all be rendered in metal, down to the finest detail.



A visit to his studio also reveals some of his newer creations, which haven't fully rusted – giving them a shinier, almost pinkish hue, the newborn babies of Jurassic repopulation.



During my visit, I got the chance to meet the artist himself, a charming Mexican man who lived in Paris for years before coming to California. Ricardo came outside to offer me a cold bottle of water, noticing my sunburn and the sweat on my brow. He's a self-proclaimed "proud papa" of a beautiful daughter, who runs his website and social media and checks his email for him. If you want to talk to Ricardo, you'll have to call him on the phone – or go see him in person.

"I'm glad you like my yard," he said, and I chuckled, because it is so much more than a yard.

"I do, I like it very much," I said.

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