Scattered across the southern California desert near Borrego Springs are more than 140 amazing life-size depictions of animals that are said to have roamed this same landscape from prehistoric to present times.
Known as the Galleta Meadows Sculptures, the menagerie includes a 350-feet serpent (right), mastodons, dinosaurs, wild pigs, sabertooth tigers, ancient camels, wild horses and longhorn sheep.
Dennis Avery, who passed away in 2012, an heir to the founder of one of the world’s biggest label-making companies, was the master mind behind this massive installation of free standing art.
According to an article in the San Diego Reader, Avery “learned from open-space advocates that land in Borrego Springs was selling for rock-bottom prices. He wound up buying a number of noncontiguous parcels that added up to about three square miles of the town.”
Back in 2006, Avery underwrote the publication of Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert, (Sunbelt Publications). The book about the unusual paleontology of Borrego Springs included “detailed illustrations of the region’s landscapes over the past five million years and the creatures that once lived there,” according to the San Diego Reader.
Avery envisioned taking the illustrations in the book into three-dimensions and commissioned artist/welder Ricardo Breceda to create life-scale original steel sculptures to be placed on his property. The first sculptures–three giant tusked gomphotheres, ancient members of the
elephant family (pictured here)–were erected in the spring of 2008.
Breceda’s creates his works in his welding studio in Temecula, Calif. “I just look at a drawing,” said the self-taught artist, in a video posted on ‘Road Trip’ on KPBS San Diego. “All I need to know is the size and we go from there.”
Using recycled metal for the frame, Breceda welds rolled steel “together bit by bit” for the exterior.
For a map of the sculptures click on here. Sculputres are accessible via an easy driving tour. Free admission, 786 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs, Calif., (760) 767-5555.
There is RV camping available at nearby Anza-Borrego Desert State Park where there are developed campgrounds. Many visitors approach the park from the east or west via Highways S22 and 78. Highway S2 enters the park from the south off of Interstate 8.
— Julianne G. Crane First published on 11/30/2011, updated 12/30/14.
Photo: RVer Jane Justis of Susanville, CA., stands under part of artist Ricardo Breceda’s 350-foot serpent near Borrego Springs. (Photo by Kevin Justis) Bottom: The first sculptures were “Gomphotheres,” ancient members of the elephant family (Courtesy: Galleta Meadows).