The idea of building with bottles isn’t new, but most existing bottle buildings have fallen into disrepair. It’s rare to find such a perfect and intact edifice as the bottle chapel built by restaurant owner and folk artist Martin Sanchez.
Sanchez has created an urban oasis, a Garden of Eden, hidden behind shrubs, trees, and a wrought-iron fence at his Tio’s Tacos restaurant in Riverside, Calif. Sanchez’ complex is located on a city block near the historic Mission Inn, and has several outdoor elements that he’s continually creating, appending to the complexity of his design.
There’s the sculptural chapel made out of ferro-cement, beer and soda bottles, bits of tile and glass, and fabulous statuary from his home country of Mexico. There are several gardens created out of found objects — trash and ephemera otherwise thrown away — that he’s rescued and put to his own visionary use.
Down garden paths made of stone and bottle caps, remnants and rummage, you’re led to a unique urban environment where broken Barbie dolls and other children’s toys grow like flowers amidst the tree branches and handmade wrought-iron arches.
Sanchez has been working on his creation for almost ten years. Patrons of the restaurant can walk beneath cooling streams of water flowing from a fountain garden made of broken pieces of clay and old pipes, discarded bicycles, and other items. There’s an incredible path through an archway lined in tubing that’s pumping jets of water, creating an obstacle course where one can walk without getting wet.
Inside the restaurant, tile mosaics of sea creatures such as lobsters and marlins cover the tables and floors. Sanchez welcomes everyone to view his beautiful creation, and he hopes it will bring the viewer as much joy as it has brought him to build it.
>> Tio’s Tacos: makezine.com/go/sanchez