Local Undercover Artist Reminds Us of the Meaning of Art and Life

by Rachel Laffer

AUG 15, 2017

If someone asked me if the Ranch was fertile ground for budding artists to publicly display their talent, my rhetorical answer would be short and most likely deeply unbecoming. Let’s just say it would include a ruder version of having just sighted pigs flying over Lake Hodges. And yet, yesterday morning the latest and final installment of our resident undercover artist arose at 20 feet high and 40 feet long on Calzada del Bosque, across from Chino Farms, depicting two EMT medics carrying a giant red broken heart on a gurney. Hell has indeed frozen over and I’m downright euphoric about it.


The Ranch hasn’t witnessed so much mystery, intrigue and giddy who-dunnit tittle-tattle since the man dubbed the “Pink Panther” was caught on video sliding out of his caddy under the presumed veil of night to pluck RSFA candidate campaign signs off the Rababy’s gas station lot. Drama is hard to come by in these parts, and that’s a good thing. That said, I’ll take this kind of feel-good creative captivation any day of the week.

Some have called our visual virtuoso Rancho’s answer to London’s Banksy, the street art master of sociopolitical metaphor and symbolism. If we’re going to theoretically travel across the pond for comparison, some of the installations, such as the penultimate 15-ft high, 32-ft-around display featuring 700 hand-painted fluorescent butterflies on El Apajo, remind me of the ring leader of the Young (now old) British Artist posse, Damien Hirst, specifically his work, “Imploration,” a 7×7 foot collage of dreamy iridescence, composed completely of real butterfly wings. Most of you know that all you have to do is pop over to Veladora at Rancho Valencia to indulge in all of its sublime glory.

When I lived in London, one of my first stops as resident tour guide for out-of-town friends was to the old South-Bank-located Saatchi Gallery, where one was instantly “avant-garded” by Tracey Emin’s “Tent,” or hyper-realist artist Ron Mueck’s sculptures, and of course by Brit pack’s don, Damien Hirst, who would dunk large dead animals in glass tanks filled with formaldehyde. There was another one of his installations that is burned in my psyche entitled “A Thousand Years,” which involves a fly-covered cow’s head. Let’s just say I’m glad RV picked the butterflies.

I know I digress, but perhaps that’s what summer and art are all about. These artistic creations and moments in time transport one to another world where everything slows down just a little bit. It’s nepotistically shameful that I include a picture of my daughter in front of our Ranch artist’s penultimate butterfly display, but I include it because the image and the art somehow encapsulate summer itself. You look out to the sea in an arm chair in the sand, or stare into thick swirls of oil on canvas in a gallery, or watch your daughter cartwheel under a blue sky and across a mural of neon butterflies and peace signs. . . And in those moments you let go, let your mind drift off, and perhaps take time to reevaluate your perception and maybe even your priorities in life. Our resident mystery artist has certainly inspired that in me and I’m sure many others.

The latest display, which is dedicated to friends and family who have passed, is the 7th and, as the anonymous Ranch artist has relayed, last installation. But you can find all of the images of his works and his inspiration on his Facebook page, RSF Art.

I suppose August is indeed the Sunday of our summer, so it’s rather fitting that the artist’s finale is wrapped up in the season’s closure. The subject matter and pop-up style is indeed a metaphor for the intrinsically ephemeral nature of life itself. Acknowledge and appreciate it in the present before it’s gone.

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