Prehistoric Inspiration: California Desert Sculpture Safari

In a stretch of inhospitable desert 90 miles east of San Diego, a dry wind caresses the dramatic curves of a mammoth, whispers through the bared teeth of a sabertooth tiger, whips at the terrifying claws of a raptor. These imposing figures are both the history and the future of this plot of land: a history buried deep beneath the sands and a future imbued in the scrap metal structures that stoically greet visitors to this unassuming parcel of land called Galleta Meadows Estate.

The story of Galleta Meadows Estate – the modern story, anyway – began in the 1990s when multimillionaire Dennis Avery purchased a fabulously-priced huge parcel of land near Borrego Springs but had no concrete plans for it. The new landowner decided to listen to the land itself to figure out what belonged there.

The answer came to him after he learned that the area was known for the great archaeological secrets buried in the sands. Fossils from the Pliocene, Pleistocene and Miocene eras could be found in large numbers nearby, so Avery realized that he needed to use the land to recall its own history. He enlisted the help of Mexican artist Ricardo Arroyo Breceda to create a scrap metal zoo of pre-historic creatures right there in the middle of the desert.

Breceda’s creations are up to 4 meters tall and made of wire and hammer-pounded scrap metal. They are wild broncos, tortoises, camels, dinosaurs, sloths and tapirs among other wild creatures of long, long ago – all part of a strange safari frozen in time. A few humans even make appearances: gold miners and farmers who pay homage to the more recent history of the region.

(all images via: Galleta Meadows)

Galleta Meadows Estate is now a tourist attraction that accompanies Avery’s golf course, tourist resort and country club which share that parcel of land. The sculptures are scattered through Galleta Meadows, inviting tourists to explore the area and discover every one of them.