When do the creative juices flow? At what age do your artistic genes kick in and send you in a new direction? Some people can look back to a singular point in their lives and answer these questions while some never experience that moment. Rick Randall can tell you when it happened to him. A life changing event steered him into what has become a passion to create public art.
Even as a youngster Rick liked to build things and he worked a lot with wood and metal. For 30 some years he earned a living in an auto body shop where he honed his fabricating and painting skills. He enjoyed the challenges of putting the cars back together looking like new. Then In 2011, the business he worked at closed overnight and he was suddenly, and without warning, unemployed. He wasn’t immediately sure what his next move would be. His life partner and wife Jaydon was making an income selling handmade jewelry at street fairs and swap meets but her income alone wouldn’t pay all the bills.
A neighbor, Josh Bowman, proved to be the catalyst for Rick’s career change. Josh, an artist, was creating a sculpture in his nearby yard. Passing by on one of their walks, Rick and Jaydon inquired as to what he was up to. Josh told them the sculpture, titled “joy figure”, was being made for a public art display in Vista. That’s when Rick and Jaydon learned about the “Kites over Vista” project that was calling all artists to participate. From the way Rick told his story to me I have the impression that he didn’t, at that time, consider himself to be an artist.
Jaydon told me that it took a little nudging and a lot of encouragement but eventually Rick submitted not one but five sculptures. If you have ever been to the public library in Vista you have seen one of his sculptures. Rick calls it “Climbing into Adventure”. It’s whimsical, colorful, it incorporates kinetic motion, and it has a message for the library’s younger customers. Rick told me the book that is featured on the very top of the sculpture was assembled in his home workshop and when it was time to join it to the sculpture, it cleared the extra-large doorway by inches.
Some of the other sculptures that have originated at the Randall Art and Sterling Gardens in Vista, include; “Mardi Gras Pin Wheels”, “Winds of Change”, Flight of the Butterflies”, “Fireball”, and “Tranquil Palm”. Their sculptures have also been seen outside of Vista in the San Diego Botanical Gardens, in Huntington Beach, and at the El Paseo in Palm Desert. Randall’s creative sculptures have appeared in the “Art in America” magazine and his most famous sculpture, Alley Art Man, is currently featured on the cover of the Vista Chamber of Commerce’s Vista Magazine that can be found at businesses all over town.
Alley Art Man is a steampunk inspired sculpture that was created for the first Alley Art Festival in Vista held on 9-13-14. The tall stooped figure with a spinning helicopter like blades sprouting from his back wears a top hat, a cape, and at night it flashes glowing red eyes. He is located on the sidewalk median on S. Indiana Ave. between E. Broadway and Main Street. Visitors daily come from all over to see this iconic sculpture. He even has his own Facebook page.
In 2014 Alley Cat was unveiled in front of URBN pizza for the 2015 Alley Art Festival. Alley Cat also wears a top hat. His tail switches and he has a companion Alley Rat that pokes his face out of a trashcan. Rick loves to embellish his imaginative designs with kinetic features but he told me the sculptures that are displayed in the public need to be bullet proof. Alley cat’s animated features are broken if people try to re-position the tail. The motor and sensor are currently undergoing repair in the ranch’s workshop.
Bike racks designed and built at Randall Art and Sterling Gardens can be seen in front of some of Vista’s popular downtown locations. Finding parking in Vista’s downtown is getting tougher and tougher so if you’re peddling to the downtown for food or beverage you can park your wheels next to Lush Coffee, Mother Earth, AVO Theater or in front of the Yellow Deli. Of course, some people will refrain because they feel that the unsightly bicycles will take away from these delightful works of art.
Mary and I visited the Randall Art & Sterling Gardens in Vista this week to see what might be appearing at this year’s Alley Art Festival. We parked on the street and entered the gardens that are filled with succulents, fruit trees, and tropical plants. Between the foliage we saw lively colorful foam sculptures that I first took to be ceramic. As we made our way up the dusty road from the street the first thing I noticed were the two giant heart shaped open frame sculptures sitting on a flatbed trailer. They are joined together like a locket and have crossed steel wires inside the frames that are on a grid like the mesh in a tennis racket. Rick estimated the weight of the hearts to be about 1000 lbs. which explained the flatbed trailer. Rick is building the sculpture on a newly purchased flatbed trailer in order to facilitate relocating it to the location where it will be displayed in downtown Vista on September 3rd.
As we got closer to the flatbed trailer we could see another sculpture sitting on the trailer behind the twin hearts. The back of the sculpture was facing us so we had to walk around to the end of trailer that was just a few feet from the doorway to the workshop. She is beautiful! She is Alley Art Woman! Silver hair, Green eyes, a 19th-century bosom, and a ring in her nose. Inside the workshop her spinning parasol is sitting on Rick’s centrally placed wide workbench. Alley Art Woman is wearing a steampunk top hat and dangling spoon tipped earrings. She is only finished from the waist up but, my, oh my! Alley Art man is going to like this gal.
Unfortunately, all Alley Art Man will be able to do is gaze at his new girlfriend across Main Street and through the wire mesh in the twin hearts. You see, when these new sculptures are installed they will be on display in separate locations.
During the Alley Art festival, padlocks will be available for purchase by the public. Soft engravable metal tags will accompany the padlocks so the buyers can imprint their names on them before attaching the locks to the wire mesh.
The keys for the padlocks will then be dropped into a collection container at the foot of the sculpture. These keys will be used in an additional artwork at a future date. However, the more locks that are added, the less and less the two metallic lovers will be able to see each other. Sometimes love can be very painful.
Alley Art man and Alley Cat were donated to the City of Vista. The “Climbing into Adventure” sculpture was commissioned for public library by a generous supporter of the arts in Vista. All the other fantastic sculptures are for sale. Yes, FOR SALE! Anyone can purchase these art pieces and either move them into their yards or donate them to the city for continued viewing by the public.
There is another, less expensive, way you can participate in the public art being created at the Randall Art & Sterling Gardens. I asked where Rick got all the spoons he is using for the Alley Art Woman sculpture. He told me that he accepts donations of metal. He can and will use every kind of metal in his distinctive creations.
“We are a husband and wife team of Visionary Artists. We consider ourselves “Visionary Artists”, because we are self-taught and our art is spontaneous and reflects what is going on in our minds and life at that time.”
This statement from their web site speaks volumes about this artistic couple. Their artworks include the aforementioned public art sculptures and the following; Wall Sculptures, Bike Racks, Fountains, Bird Feeders and Houses, and rich colored Foam Sculptures. If they don’t have something you want for sale… they can build it.
If you are an aficionado of Art, Vista has a plethora of it. South Vista (the other side of the 78) has two of the sculptures from the Randall Art Ranch & Sterling Gardens. The Vista Public Library has a sculpture at the driveway entrance and lots of other art inside. The downtown area is like an art magnet. Murals are found on the sides of many of the buildings and sculptures from many artists, including some of Rick and Jaydon’s wonderful designs, are prominently exhibited on every street. Randall Art Ranch & Sterling Gardens generates a lot of this public art. For More info you can visit the following web sites;