Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Do you believe in magic?

Yesterday Encinitas, today Escondido.  Kinda confusing, though one’s by the water, one’s a bit further inland. And today in Escondido, as the 300,000,000th American was being born, we saw our first Muffler Man actually still holding a muffler!  He’s downtown at Joor Muffler, where he’s been standing at attention for more than 30 years. With a pencil-thin mustache and rugged physique, he’s a truly striking specimen of mannus gigantus! 

   That was fine and dandy, but in no way prepared us for the jaw-dropping splendor of Queen Califla’s Magic Circle in the city’s Kit Carson Park. It’s a semi-stealth (very few signs) fiberglass, rock, tile and concrete installation in a distant corner of the park, created by a self-taught French-American artist named Niki de Saint Phalle.

   Niki got the idea from an old Spanish tale about an Amazon queen who ruled California (at least we think it’s fiction), which would speak to the state’s poly-cultural blend.  She wanted to create museum quality work in a family-friendly outdoor environment, and judging from the folks wandering through today, we’d say she succeeded in spades!

  There are totems, snakes, birds, female forms, funny faces and of course, the queen herself riding an eagle in the center.  Niki died before the work was finally completed, but the crew she assembled made sure that her wishes were carried out, and the Magic Circle has been open since 2003. With this much color and beauty staring you down, how can you help but believe?

Music in the van--Elvis Costello’s Starbucks Artist Choice

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