Volcan Mountain Foundation

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San Diego County, California

Painting of Volcan Mountain by Sally Snipes

History of Art & Volcan Mountain

Artistic expression has always played an important role in the Volcan Mountain Foundation. Just after the Volcan Mountain Preserve Foundation was incorporated in 1998, world-acclaimed artist and Julian local, James Hubbell, painted a watercolor of the mountain that he had made into a poster that was sold to raise money for the infant organization.  Lynn Horton, Board member and past VMF president, designed a logo with the phrase “not your ordinary mountain” that was also used for a t-shirt design to publicize the organization and raise funds. A bronze plaque with artwork can be seen on a bench just inside the gateway that board members and friends built in her memory in 1995.  

Once the first 220 acres had been secured for public use in 1989, the Board asked James Hubbell to design an entrance to the trail on the west face of the mountain that would celebrate the passageway to the high summit and cause people to pause and appreciate that they were entering a special place.  In 1990, with local volunteers spearheaded by Caryn Brause and Vicki Bergstrom, Mr. Hubbell built a beautiful gateway of native rock and cedar beams collected from and milled on nearby Palomar Mountain.

Using James’s design, his son Brennan built the tall iron sculptures in front of the gateway.  Bill Porter added the organic metalwork on the back side of the entrance and Mirko Mrakajic carved the creatures on the wooden beams. A great story is when Mirko finished the carvings; a county official was not happy because he thought the carved figure of "Universal Man" looked too "demonic."  Mirko, in his humble way, said nothing but quietly turned it into a frog!

James and stone mason, Vincent Guerrero, trained volunteers to build the walls and kiva (seating area) with native stone gathered from nearby streambeds and road cuts. The group worked every Sunday morning for over a year to complete the project.

Joe Garcia, another internationally acclaimed Julian artist, donates posters and paintings to the VMF annual fundraiser, and was the first honoree, when VMF inaugurated the ‘Artist of the Year’ concept for annual dinner dances in 2010.  An exquisite cedar bench was hand-carved by Ken Wright in memory of local biologist and outdoorsman, Clint Powell.  The bench is located near the summit and serves as a reminder of all our wonderful artists and local volunteers. Many artists have long been inspired by Volcan Mountain, including Clint's longtime partner and gardener extraordinaire, Sally Snipes, whose beautiful watercolor graces the top of this page.  Sally and these other amazing artists have been donating beautiful artwork each year to our fund raising efforts.   

Art and photography grew up together on Volcan Mountain.  With photography now in the digital age, new horizons are being sought and achieved.  San Diego photographer Blair Shamel has been documenting the seasons on Volcan since 2009 and donating his stunning photographs to the Foundation.  In 2011 several local photographers participated in the first of a series of photo outings with the theme of ‘Keeping it Wild’.  The photos were then juried, displayed at the library and sold as a fundraiser for the VMF Education-Outreach Committee.  VMF is committed to keeping art and the mountain alive in the public eye and with expansion of these projects and other art events planned for the near future.