Art in Unexpected Places

I am going to start a segment called “Art in Unexpected Places” and start it off with a piece which I have yet to find but I’ll know it when I see it.  I suspect it will pop up without warning or fanfare, but there it will be in an unexpected corner of my life, and when I see it I will photograph it and post it here.  I wonder where it will be and what it will be of?  That’s the fun part of this new segment (that hasn’t even become a segment yet)!  I did see some nice art for sale in a deli last Monday when I was getting a sandwich.  It was a series of paintings of crows.  They were for sale.  Quite an unexpected opportunity to purchase some art: “I’ll have the salami sandwich, light mayo, extra lettuce, a lemonade, and a crow painting.  Yes, that is all.  Thank you.”  But since I didn’t take a photograph of the paintings I guess the deli-crow-art won’t be the kick-starter of this segment.

I started this post today on October 26th 2013.  Let’s see how long it takes me to find the art I’m looking for.

174 days to be exact.  That’s how long it took. Yesterday, April 23rd 2014 was the first time I was genuinely surprised to see art in an unexpected place.  I have seen art in expected places many times over the past few months, like in coffee shops, farmers markets, restaurants, airports, stores, etc, but it took until yesterday as I was aimlessly staring out the backseat window of my parents rental car into the barren, hostile desert landscape somewhere outside of Borrego Springs, CA that I was genuinely surprised by a work of art.  So surprised, I might add, that the only photo I managed to capture of it was this horrible shot:

See the art?  No?  Those two brown specks that look like dead tree trunks are art.  Hold on… let me magnify that for you:

Ooooooh they are HORSE SCULPTURES!  I see it now.  There were actually numerous sculptures scattered along both sides of the road.  I think there were even other animals mixed in among the horses (i swear i saw an elephant), but I was so surprised to see art in what felt like the middle of nowhere that I didn’t even register them until it was almost too late.  They were really incredible though and they looked like they belonged there in that landscape, natural as the shrubs and cactus that surrounded them.  Of course I had no idea of their story and the strange desert sculptures would remain a mystery that day.  Our intention was to go back and photograph them on the way home, but as suddenly as they had appeared they just as quickly disappeared from our minds and we took a different route back home, not passing by the art again.  I would have not remembered them at all if it wasn’t for this one photo, PROOF they are out there, that I captured as I fumbled to get the camera app on my cell phone turned on in time.  
Here is what I found out about the sculptures this morning from
Dennis Avery, land owner of Galleta Meadows Estates in Borrego Springs envisioned the idea of adding ‘free standing art’ to his property with original steel welded sculptures created by ‘Perris Jurassic Park’ owner/artist/welder Ricardo Breceda based in Perris, California. There are 129 metal sculptures located in Borrego Springs.

129 SCULPTURES?! Wow, I think I maybe saw 10 at the most.  Apparently I need to go back and re-discover this desert art more thoroughly.  I love how art can spring up and surprise people in ways like this series of sculptures does.  I love when people have a vision for amazing things like this, ‘just because’, that are free for all to come enjoy and add something exciting and unexpected to a long stretch of road that many would think seems desolate and barren otherwise (I’m personally a fan of the desert landscape, but I think it is an acquired taste for many).  If you get a chance, make the trek out there to see these great sculptures.  They are nothing short of incredible and I will be back to see them again for sure… but this time I’ll be expecting them.
Here are some photos of the stuff I missed (Google it to see even more): 

Magic Panda

It has been a busy few months at work leading up to the opening of our seasonal exhibit (hence the blog hiatus, hence no new pictures, hence no new facebook posts) BUT the great news is that the exhibit grand opening went fantastic and I’m back to being a normal human again working normal human hours and days.  Weeeee!!

Unfortunately that means there has been no time to do any new pictures lately (lies! there is one new one: The Brontothesaurus of Friendship – i’ll post it soon on the facebook page) but I did get a chance to meet up with an old friend today and get him ready for his big blog debut.  I am talking of course about Magic Panda.  He is a little bit shy and has been reluctant to come on the blog (which is why it has taken so long to officially introduce him), but I talked him in to it with promises of blueberries.  Oddly, he likes to supplement his diet of primarily bamboo with blueberries from time to time… i guess it’s the antioxidants… but blueberries are a pricey commodity in San Diego since they don’t grow here, so it was a treat he couldn’t pass up.  Seriously, $5 for a tiny little container of them?!  Outrageous.  But worth it to get him to finally make an appearance.  So without further ado, here he is for the first time, Magic Panda, everyone! <insert talk show audience applause track>

The first time I met Magic Panda was at a lunch with Rainbow Cow.  They are good friends, and Magic Panda was in town visiting for a few days (this was before he lived in the area) so he joined us at a nice little cafe that had a great garden patio and the best iced tea you could ever imagine… maybe I was just thirsty, but this iced tea was memorable.  Rainbow Cow and I did most of the talking since we had much to catch up on – it had been a while since we had seen each other and he wanted to tell me about some new projects he is working on (more about that later), and I wanted to tell him that I had finally tried cake pops (much to his delight).  “See? i told you they were good. didn’t i say cake pops are the best? i told you to try them so many times, and now you did, and now we can talk about how good cake pop are! today is the best! can we order cake pops here? i want a cake pop right now. lets make cake pops tonight too! we could eat cake pops together and it would be the best ever! Magic Panda, have you ever had a cake pop?”  I think it went on like that for longer, but the first time I heard Magic Panda talk was his response to the cake pop question: he smiled, looked down bashfully, and quietly said ‘yes’ with the slightest glimmer of a memory shining in his eye.  I didn’t think much of it then, but I would later learn the story behind his first cake pop encounter and that innocent, bashful smile would make so much sense.  It was a small, subtle gesture and it told an incredible story to those who knew him without using any words at all.  But in that moment, it was just a smile like any other, and i didn’t think anything of it.  I left lunch that day with my impression of Magic Panda being that he was sweet and gentle, shy but complex and probably had an adventurous side that would come out sooner or later.  I liked him, and I knew we would be friends.


I guess I need to give a little background on pandas and why he is magic and others aren’t.  It wasn’t always that way… other pandas were magical too.  In fact, ALL of them were magical in the distant past and there are still many pandas today who posses the same genetic anomaly that led to the magical powers that their ancestors had harnessed thousands of years ago.  But today, pandas will not acknowledge this power or practice magic any more and they will almost certainly deny it even existed at all.

(the great and powerful beast in action)

But I will tell you the truth (or what I know of it from things Magic Panda has told me):  The origin of their powers is thought to be from a strange anomaly in the panda’s brain (i’ll spare the detailed medical mumbo-jumbo) that was initially caused by eating bamboo that grew in close proximity to an underground mineral spring.  No one has been able to identify exactly what the mineral spring had in it that was being absorbed by the bamboo to cause this because the spring dried up long ago. Luckily researchers observed a slight pigmentation difference between the leaves on affected bamboo plants which allowed them to trace the dispersal of the affected plants over time. They reverse tracked it from its current known locations back to where it originated hundreds of thousands of years ago and that is how they came across the dried up spring. They believe the ancient pandas that lived in this region to be the common ancestors of all future populations of pandas.

(not surprising that such a magical setting produced magical animals)

On a side note, there is also evidence of ancient mining activity in the area, but no historical accounts exist of what was being mined – it is actually a big mystery among the geological community these days and a subject of much interest and debate because despite many geological surveys and sampling, there have been no conclusive results showing anything out of the ordinary in the soil, plants, and rocks of the region.

Whatever the case, the long and short of it is that pandas ate this altered form of bamboo, got special powers, and almost ruined the entire planet.  And now today, no pandas will even acknowledge the existence of their magical past or the blunders of their ancestors.  There is a much larger story here, but I’ll have to save that for another day because this is getting a bit long.  How did pandas almost ruin everything?  Why is Magic Panda so open about magic?  What happened on that occasion when he ate a cake pop for the first time?  How did Magic Panda and Rainbow Cow meet? (legitimate question, not even I know that actually)
There is much more to tell… tune in next time!