June 05, 2015

Photo Essay: A Metal Menagerie of Wild Animals (Updated for 2018)

[Ed: New photos and intro added 2/24/18 9:32 PM PT]

I'd heard that metal sculptor Ricardo Breceda had lost his spot at the Vail Lake Resort and had moved a little farther east towards Anza-Borrego... on my road trip last weekend, I set out to find it.

It didn't take much investigating, as his new location is just about eight miles down Highway 79 from where he'd been—and, of course, it's marked by those telltale horses, carriages, and other creatures perched up on the hillside.

Some of them are so new that they haven't yet acquired their desert patina, their seams and bolts and rivets as yet unrusted, defying the laws of oxidation.

Others are surely on their way...

...and still others seem to have made themselves right at home, as though they've known no other home than this one.

Here follows my original post from 2015, when I first visited Breceda in his former location:


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... 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...'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.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: The Creatures That Conquered the Desert
Photo Essay: A Treasure Trove of Roadside Dinosaurs
Photo Essay: The Living Ghost of Yermo
Photo Essay: Curiosity Crawl at Dapper Cadaver

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