Photos and text by Marlow Harris. Art by Martin Sanchez.
Restaurant-owner and folk artist Martin Sanchez has created an urban oasis, a garden of Eden, hidden behind shrubs, trees and a wrought-iron fence inside Martin’s Tio’s Tacos restaurant on Mission Inn Avenue in Riverside, California.
Detail of the exterior of the beer bottle chapel dome.
Relatively undiscovered, Mr. Sanchez has been working on his creation for almost 10 years. Patrons of the restaurant can walk underneath cooling streams of water flowing from a fountain garden made of broken pieces of clay and old pipes, discarded bicycles, dolls and other items. While we were there, we found Mr. Sanchez’ relatives helping him work to expand his garden paradise.
Using beer and soda pop bottles, Sanchez has created a light-filled folk art chapel, with his version of “stained glass”.
Detail of the interior of the chapel, resplendant with Virgins, crosses and saints.
There is topiary wire filled with Barbie dolls, perfume bottles and pipe elbows. There’s an incredible path through an archway lined in tubing pumping water, creating an obstacle course of water, where one can walk without getting wet.
Inside the restaurant, Sanchez has created tile mosaics of sea creatures such as lobsters and marlins. The mosaics are everywhere, covering the tables and floors.
Detail of beer and soda pop bottles imbedded in the walls.
Detail of the hand-painted bottle chapel dome.
All artwork by Martin Sanchez. All photos by Marlow Harris and JoDavid.