Many fans of outdoor art have never heard about Galleta Meadows. You don't even have to be all that into the art to be stunned by this collection of sculptures that's scattered around Borrego Springs. These gigantic installations of prehistoric dinosaurs--about 150 of them--are all over the place, lurking silently across a span of 3,000 acres in the desert.
Each piece is the combined product of sculptor Ricardo Breceda's artistic genius and Dennis Avery's generosity toward his beloved San Diego.
Avery was heir to the Avery-Dennison label-making fortune, but he blazed a distinct path of his own in San Diego. He was a Cal Western Law School graduate who for a time worked in the San Diego City Attorney's office, and later served as an associate dean for the law school. But much of his attention was devoted to Borrego Springs. He purchased the land with the intention of preventing it from ever being developed.
At some point, while traveling back and forth visiting his children at college in Riverside, Avery happened on the Perris studio of Breceda, a Mexican-born and self-taught sculptor. The studio was called Perris Jurassic Park, and the men quickly discovered a mutual love of dinosaurs. Breceda drew inspiration from watching the movie Jurassic Park with his young daughter. When she asked for a T-Rex for Christmas, Breceda endeavored to please her, and a major era in his artistry began.
In 2008, Avery commissioned Breceda to create iron sculptures of a variety of prehistoric beasts for Galleta Meadows, an appropriate site, since Borrego is home to one of the richest troves of fossils in North America.
When Avery died in 2012, there were approximately 150 pieces in the collection. There's no funding to create more. However, he did leave behind an endowment to pay Breceda for repairing weather-related damage to his pieces.
A tip to photographers: The real magic happens here at night, with a backdrop of a million stars.
To see more off-the-beaten-path places in San Diego, go to hiddensandiego.net.
Galleta Meadows 786 Palm Canyon Dr. Borrego Springs, CA 92004