In Escondido, California stands a mosaic garden of sculptures, snake walls and totems symbolizing mythic figures related to California’s history by artist Niki de Saint Phalle.
In planning the garden, Niki de Saint Phalle immersed herself in regional history and myth. They became “springboards to create imaginative creatures which celebrate the diversity of life,” said the artist, “as well as those factors which have played a large role in southern California (including the Spanish, Mexican and Southwestern Indian cultures.)”
Eight large totemic sculptures (ranging in height from eleven to twenty-one feet) surround Queen Califia. They are adorned with stylized monsters, protective deities, geometric symbols, crests, skulls, humans and various animals that once played vital roles in the lives of the people and are still endowed with sacredness and special powers. Of particular importance in the garden is the eagle, distinguished by his extraordinarily high flight, which brings him nearer to the sun and in closer proximity to the gods than any other creature.