Monday, June 20, 2011

Queen Califia's Magical Circle Garden

A sculpture garden is a testament to the beauty and diversity of public gardens. On this midsummer's eve, I share a hidden gem, located in the Iris Sankey Arboretum section of Kit Carson Park in Escondido, CA. Hubby and I decided to check it out on a recent stay-cation day. I am familiar with the artist, Nikki de Saint Phalle since I attended UCSD and her piece Sun God is the a prominent fixture in the Price Collection and de-facto mascot of the university.

Despite my preconceptions of the artist, I was not prepared for the magnitude of Queen Califia. We entered through the one open gate and entered an Alice In Wonderland like maze of white, blank, and mirror tile. Once through the maze, we found Queen Califia herself surrounded by eight totem courtiers. Queen Califia (also known as Calafia) is the mythical Amazon Queen of the Island of California and is the origin of the state's name. She reminds me of Eugene Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People or a Queen Boudica - Cali style! The mosaics sculptures that represent her and her minions are made of glass, metal, natural stone and tile. In the heat of the day the bright colors were dazzling and the reflection of the sun off the light pavement added to the brilliant (and overwhelming) aspect of the garden. There is a unique tactile quality to the garden, visitors are encouraged to touch the pieces of the sculptures and contemplate their part in the whole. The garden has a feel of not being of this world; it is a retreat into myth, imagination, and vivid color.

Main Entrance into Queen Califia's Magic Circle Garden

Mosaic Tile Maze

Queen Califia in all her glory
Queen Califia and her Totem Courtiers

Detail of the Yelling Man Totem
The Kighfisher Totem
The Bull-Headed Totem

The Step Totem

Detail of the Snake Totem
To see more pictures of Queen Califia's Magic Circle Garden - Click here. For more information about Queen Califia, please go to Wikipedia.

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