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North County Times Book Review by Richard Carrico
Jan. 29, 2012
Once, a long time ago, enormous prehistoric creatures strode through our deserts. Their fossils have been uncovered throughout Anza-Borrego State Park and provide paleontologists with important clues about ancient animal life and our ever-evolving environment.
Today the deserts just east of us are certainly less hospitable to living dinosaurs and huge raptors, but stunning metal sculptures of primordial animals can be found there, inspiring awe among us later-comers to the animal world.
"Ricardo Breceda: Accidental Artist" by Diana Lindsay is a carefully crafted story of a talented man who sculpted life-sized, outsized metal creatures, cowboys and other whimsical figures and placed them in the desert for all to enjoy.
Lindsay will be discussing "Accidental Artist" at the Sierra Club meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest (3900 Vermont St.).
Lindsay is a highly accomplished writer with several books to her credit. She is also a naturalist, desert conservationist and co-owner of Sunbelt Publications in El Cajon. Her interest in the arid reaches of our region stretch back to the 1970s when she began a master's thesis at San Diego State University that ultimately turned into a book. "The Anza-Borrego Desert Region," first published in 1978, remains a popular guidebook now in its fifth printing.
With a lively and passionate foreword by famed Oceanside author Victor E. Villasenor, this gorgeous and stunning book gets off to a rousing start. Villasenor calls Breceda "a Picasso who works with metal with the gusto of a child." As told by Lindsay, the youthful Breceda would hardly have been picked to leave his dusty village of Villa Union in the Mexican state of Durango to gain acclaim in southern California and the world. We follow him on his journey from unruly student, his trek to America, success as a boot salesman, employment as a restaurant manager, work as a highly skilled framer, and ultimately as the "accidental artist."
His skill and fame began with the manufacture of three large metal sculptures for his 7-year-old daughter and grew from there. Self-taught and originally working from a roadside sculpture garden, Breceda has created works that have found homes in seven states and in Mexico, Australia and Canada.
Lindsay's narrative focuses on how Breceda came to create the more than 120 pieces of engaging art work. Several of his pieces adorn businesses, homes and gardens. Most, however, are on accessible private lands within a holding called Galleta Meadows next to Anza-Borrego State Park.
A short day trip from North County via Highway S-22 or S-3 will reward the traveler with a one-of-a-kind collection of art pieces set amid the vastness of the Anza-Borrego Desert. If you are planning a trip to see the desert wildflowers this year, make sure you include a side trip to enjoy what else has sprung from the arid sands. To gain an even greater appreciation of the metal works and their setting, visitors may camp at the site.
Besides having a well-crafted narrative, "Accidental Artist" is a visual treat with high-quality photographs of many of Breceda's works. In all ways, this book transcends the moniker of "coffee table" book. Maps of the sculptures' locations allow the reader to travel, book in hand, to the desert to see the artworks for themselves. A highly useful bibliography is also provided for the reader who wants to know more about the Anza-Borrego Desert and Breceda.
San Diego Jewish World review by Donald H. Harrison: http://www.sdjewishworld.com/2012/02/26/artist-and-philanthropist-team-up-for-history-and-fantasy-in-borrego-springs/
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