VISTA — Ricardo Breceda’s journey in the art industry began 17 years when he made his 1-year-old daughter a tyrannosaurus rex.
The metallic sculpture made for his young child was 45 feet long and about 20 pounds, Breceda said.
“She wanted a dinosaur so I made one for her,” Breceda said. “It was a piece of cake.”
Hundreds of sculptures later and plenty of recognition, the sculptor who is most known for his unique pieces of dinosaurs will be at Alta Vista Botanical Gardens on June 12.
The 14-acre Botanical Gardens in Vista is home to seven of Breceda’s sculptures, which include giraffes and a five-piece serpent.
But Breceda’s path into the art world wasn’t a clear one. The 64-year-old resident of Aguanga, California, said he worked in numerous industries before becoming an artist.
“I was many other things,” Breceda said. “I used to be a teacher, bartender, waiter, carpenter — I had many different jobs.”
Now he devotes at least 40 hours a week to creating his majestic and massive pieces of animals. Perhaps, his most famous work are the more than 130 sculptures found in Borrego Springs.
The pieces on display in the outdoor gallery in the desert include a sabertooth cat, an elephant, and sculptures that recognize the history of the region, according to the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association.
The gallery, which has been on display since 2008, now attracts thousands of people to the region annually, according to the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Today, Breceda is working on creating 20 sculptures for the city of Norco, which he hopes to complete at the end of June, he said.
With his sculptures scattered throughout Southern California and featured in national publications such as the former National Geographic Magazine, Breceda said he hopes people will view his work with contentment.
“(I hope people) will have a surprise in their eyes, a smile on the face and wonder in their mind,” said Breceda whose personality is as forceful as his work. “Or maybe they’ll say ‘How the hell does he do this?’ or ‘Why does he do this?’”
In fact, he said he’s only proud of the work his customers are satisfied with.
“There have been many, many standout moments in my career,” Breceda said. “It’s always a pleasure, a joy to be an artist and have your customer satisfied. I enjoy it every day. It’s even better that I can make money from it.”
Roughly 17 years after beginning his artwork career, Breceda said his inspiration remains the same: his children. Breceda said his two daughters have driven his career.
“I put a smile on their faces,” Breceda said. “I really want to people to enjoy what I do even if they cannot buy it. If they take pictures, make memories and leave happy, that makes me happy.”
Alta Vista Botanical Gardens will host a public reception with Breceda from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 12. Admission to the reception is free for members or $5 per person.
A separate reception featuring Breceda will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event, which will include food and drinks, is $25 per person with proceeds benefitting the Botanical Gardens.
For more information or to purchase tickets, go to avbg.org.