Photos of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle!

Come with me. We’re about to enter Queen Califia’s Magical Circle.

We will step from our day-to-day routine into a mysterious maze of fractured white and black, turns and mirrors. We will suddenly emerge into a strange spiritual realm. A dreamlike surreal somewhere beneath our ordinary experience. A secret cosmos.

We will move through a fertile landscape teeming with faces and essential forms and wildly dancing colors and true symbols. Alive with infinitely circling snakes and joyfully soaring birds. We will find ourselves in Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, where our eyes will perceive our own existence more clearly.

Where life is triumphant.

These are the hands of those who assembled the magic.

That is the hand of sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle, who envisioned this magical circle and breathed into it her life.

(Click the photos of signs and they will enlarge for easier reading.)

You will learn:

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is the only American sculpture garden and the last major international project created by the renowned French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle.

Inspired by California’s mythic, historic and cultural roots, the garden consists of nine large-scale sculptures, a circular “snake wall” and maze entry way. The symbols and forms are freely drawn from Native American, Pre-Columbian and Mexican art as well as the artist’s own fantastic imagery.

Queen Califia and the Eagle Throne measures 24 x 22 x 20 feet. It is built of polystyrene encased in urethane skin with applied fiberglass coating over a steel armature.

Working from original clay maquettes, the eight totems were made in similar fashion. They are: Cathead Totem, Birdhead Totem, Yelling Man Totem, Bullhead Totem, Untitled Totem (Bird on a Square), Kingfisher Totem, Step Totem and Snake Totem.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle uses a greater diversity of mosaic materials than seen in any of Niki de Saint Phalle’s other large-scale projects. For the first time she used polished and tumbled stones such as agates, quartzes and turquoise. The results are magical and ever changing.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is nestled in a natural landscape within Escondido’s Kit Carson Park.

Niki’s original inspiration for the garden came while she was reading Assembling California by geologist John McPhee. There he discusses the legend of Queen Califia, a beautiful and powerful black Amazon queen who ruled over the island of California, a paradise of gold and riches.

The information sign includes an article concerning the opening of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in 2003. “The garden promises to become an instantaneous cultural landmark for the San Diego region–a place where visitors can roam at will, play, touch, dream…”

…a shimmering, virtuoso display of mosaic art…

A short biography of Niki de Saint Phalle. She was born in France in 1930 and raised in New York. She first came to international prominence in 1961 as part of the influential “New Realists,” a group that also included Christo, Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely (whom she married in 1971). In 1994 she moved to La Jolla, where she lived until her death in 2002.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle was completed one year after her death.

Other works of Niki de Saint Phalle can be enjoyed around San Diego. (You can find photos of them by searching this blog.)

Life raises new life.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A small memorial and The Aztec Warrior.

In Memory of Jesus A. Suarez del Solar Navarro. Was born in Tijuana, Mexico - died like a hero and he will live forever in our hearts.
In Memory of Jesus A. Suarez del Solar Navarro. Was born in Tijuana, Mexico – died like a hero and he will live forever in our hearts.

Today I walked through beautiful Kit Carson Park in Escondido. I was on my way to see Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, a world famous sculpture garden by Niki de Saint Phalle. It’s an extraordinary work of art that celebrates life. I’ll post many photos in the next day or two.

As I walked up a path near Eagle Scout Lake, I stumbled upon a small memorial under a tree. I looked down to read some words.

A family in Escondido's Kit Carson Park pauses to gaze at a small memorial.
A family in Escondido’s Kit Carson Park pauses to gaze at a small memorial.
American flags and The Aztec Warrior. Hero of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
American flags and The Aztec Warrior. Hero of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The gigantic bronze leaves of Kit Carson Park.

Five enormous eucalyptus leaves seem to have fallen beside a walking path in Escondido’s lush, beautiful Kit Carson Park. You can find them near the adult softball fields, just above Tree Lake.

The huge leaves are cast in bronze. One is gently curved to form a bench. Two stand on their stems to form a graceful arch. One edgewise on the grass seems to be blowing in the wind. The end of one seems to have become pressed into the walking path by passing feet.

These five timeless leaves were created by artist Christine Oatman in 1991. Together they are titled Eucalyptus Leaf Court.

Late this morning I sat on the leaf bench and time stopped. I was very small. As if in a dream, the trees around me were gigantic.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Many caring, animal loving volunteers needed!

These cool guys with the San Diego Humane Society are looking for lots of animal loving volunteers! That might be you!
These cool guys with the San Diego Humane Society are looking for lots of animal loving volunteers! That might be you!

Do you live in San Diego? Do you love dogs, cats and other animals? The San Diego Humane Society needs your help!

I learned from two friendly guys in Balboa Park that the San Diego Humane Society needs lots and lots of new animal loving volunteers at their San Diego, Oceanside and Escondido campuses. Last week, an agreement with the City of San Diego has the humane society taking over the city’s animal control services. That’s an enormous job! That means literally thousands of more lost pets and “unwanted” critters to care for!

There are many volunteer opportunities. You can foster. You can walk dogs. You can love kittens. Yes, even cleaner-uppers are needed. The humane society already has over 5000 volunteers, but that’s not enough!

They really need your help! For more information, check out the San Diego Humane Society website here!

Spread the word!

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

A walk around the the Sikes Adobe Farmhouse.

Photo of the rustic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse on a sunny November day.
Photo of the rustic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse on a sunny November day.

This morning I drove up to Escondido. One highlight of my day was walking around the historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse, which is located near a popular trailhead of the San Dieguito River Park’s long, not-yet-complete Coast to Crest Trail.

The Sikes Adobe, built around 1870, is a City of San Diego historic site. It contains a museum which is open every Sunday. Also on Sundays, the farmstead is where the North San Diego Certified Farmers Market is held.

As I walked around Sikes Adobe, I happened upon some interpretive signs which explain the history of the farmstead. I took photos if you’re interested. Click those sign images and they will expand for easy reading.

People had very different lives long ago in California. Fresh air, hard work, quiet hours, simple pleasures. And wild, untrod paths. I believe I would have loved that life.

The historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse is located near a trailhead of the Coast to Crest Trail, just east of Lake Hodges.
The historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse is located near a trailhead of the Coast to Crest Trail, just east of Lake Hodges.
The trail past the old farmstead is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
The trail past the farmstead is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
A sign shows proposed improvements to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead Park, including event space and a reconstructed barn.
A sign shows proposed improvements to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead Park, including event space and a reconstructed barn.
Scarecrows stand guard inside a community garden near the simple farmhouse.
Scarecrows stand guard inside a community garden near the rustic farmhouse.
Approaching the Sikes Adobe. One can tour the inside on Sundays, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.
Approaching the Sikes Adobe. One can tour the inside on Sundays, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.
In this photo you can see the small creamery building and the base of the restored windmill.
In this photo you can see the small creamery building and the base of the restored windmill.
A simple adobe house, typical of the early American era, shortly after California had achieved statehood.
A simple adobe house, typical of the early American era, shortly after California had achieved statehood.
View of the farmstead from the nearby trail.
View of the farmstead structures from the nearby trail.
Zenas and Eliza Sikes, with six children, arrived in 1870 and began their wheat farm here between the communities of Escondido and Rancho Bernardo.
Zenas and Eliza Sikes, with six children, arrived in 1870 and began their wheat farm here between the communities of Escondido and Rancho Bernardo.
A small vegetable garden near the restored windmill and creamery.
A small vegetable garden near the restored windmill and creamery.
Old rusty farm equipment in a corner of the farmstead.
Old rusty farm equipment in a corner of the farmstead.
Between 1860 and 1893, wheat was California's first bonanza crop. The creamery at Sikes Farm was built in the 1880s as their farm diversified and became more generalized.
Between 1860 and 1893, wheat was California’s first bonanza crop. The creamery at Sikes Farm was built in the 1880s as their farm diversified and became more generalized.
A town called Bernardo used to be located a couple miles southeast of the Sikes Adobe. The construction of the Lake Hodges Dam spelled the end for that town.
A small town called Bernardo used to be located a couple miles southeast of the Sikes Adobe. The construction of the Lake Hodges Dam spelled the end for that town.
Looking from the nearby trail past prickly pears at the farmhouse.
Looking from the nearby trail past prickly pears at the farmhouse.
Some horses have arrived at the trailhead's dirt parking lot.
Some horses have arrived at the trailhead’s dirt parking lot.
Sikes Adobe depends on your support. Become a docent or volunteer!
Sikes Adobe depends on your support. Become a docent or volunteer!
The Sikes Adobe Farmhouse rises behind a row of green grape vines.
The Sikes Adobe Farmhouse rises behind a row of green grape vines.

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