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Accidental artist behind Highway 79 sculptures

Published On: Nov 28 2012 07:02:56 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 30 2012 05:00:00 PM CST

A series of metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda has people talking on Highway 79.

TEMECULA, Calif. -

Many desert rats travel up Highway 74, through highway 79, on their way to Temecula and San Diego.

Recently their commute became much more scenic, thanks to an artist placing his work along the twists and turns of the winding road.

26-gauge sheet-metal, a welding torch and hammer, that's all it takes to put the finishing touches on a larger than life cobra, that will appear ready to strike, as drivers make their way across the highway.

The artist, Ricardo Bredeca says, "Enjoy the ride and go wow! Wow! So many different pieces! The road is big, so we could put up 30 to 40 pieces more."

It's the latest in a series of metal sculptures, bringing Hwy 79, to life. Four horses were the first Breceda put up, after moving to Vail Lake, 6 months ago.  He says, "I know if I could put something amazing on the highway, everybody will ask who's doing that?"

Ricardo, originally from Durango, Mexico worked as a cowboy boot salesman, when he discovered his talent for metal art, by accident.
He says, "This was by accident but what a great accident! Man, it's good!"

It all started about 12 years ago, after taking his then 6 year-old daughter, to see the movie Jurassic Park 3. He says, "After the movie we went to dinner and I opened my big mouth and said what do you want for Christmas and she wants a dinosaur, but wants me to make it myself and life-size."

Eleven months later, he finished it and put it up along the 215 freeway. He says, "The freeway was bumper-to-bumper both ways."

Now, his work is stopping traffic on this well-traveled, rural highway. Chances are if you've taken Highway 79 out of Temecula, back home to the desert, you've seen a lot of Ricardo's work, but it's not until you stop by the side of the road, to check out the enormous stagecoach, that you realize the tremendous amount of detail involved. Steps lead inside, to reveal a woman, holding her purse, sitting across from a cowboy.  Wagon wheels actually spin. And thin strands of twisted metal create the flowing manes and tails, on the team of horses. Across the street, an Indian Chief sits on horseback. When you finally enter Vail Lake, there are surprises around every corner.  You'll find dinosaurs casting shadows on buildings,  coyotes you can almost hear howling, monkey's climbing trees and even a sea serpent slithering along the lawn.  With an imagination so vivid, Breceda even remembers to include eyelashes and stringed instruments on a series of three amigos.   Breceda says, "I'm from Mexico where the Mariachis come from, so I like Mariachis. I like music. They don't play music, but there fun to watch!"

When he's not sculpting, he's talking to people who stop by, wanting to know more. While we were there for the interview one man stopped by and wanted to see Ricardo's magic hands. He hopes everyone leaves Vail Lake, remembering his work, with the intention of coming back.  He says, "wow ! I just want to be known as Ricardo, the guy who makes the nice metal art, who puts a smile on people."