LAIKA LIVE San Diego–UPDATE!

LAIKA LIVE San Diego is coming to 2018 Comic-Con...bigger and better than ever!
LAIKA LIVE San Diego is coming to 2018 Comic-Con . . . bigger and better than last year!

In my previous blog post, I discovered Laika is returning to San Diego Comic-Con. This morning I walked down to check things out again and learned that Laika’s presence in the Gaslamp this year will be substantially larger and more interesting!

The Laika Experience in 2017 was so amazingly successful, with lines that were so long, they’ve decided to enlarge the space and include even more stuff. I learned that for LAIKA LIVE San Diego this year, there will be life-size movie sets that the public can enter, including Coraline’s bedroom! (I went on the tour since I wrote this. Turns out I misinterpreted what I heard. It’s a life-size replica of Coraline’s Other World Living Room. Still very cool!)

UPDATE!

Here’s some great info I received from Laika!

Oscar®-winning animation studio LAIKA, creators of Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and Kubo and the Two Strings, returns to the heart of San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter with an all new, bigger-than-ever LAIKA LIVE exhibit from Friday, July 13 – Sunday, July 22, 2018 coinciding with the city’s PRIDE and Comic-Con festivities. With a new location (350 Fifth Avenue) providing three times the space as last year’s fantastically successful LAIKA installation, the free and all new exhibit will feature a huge cache of props, puppets, and sets from LAIKA’s critically acclaimed and award-winning films. Highlights include fan art, technology demonstrations, drawings for a pair of coveted Coraline Dunks from Nike, social media activations, LAIKA merchandise offered for sale (including brand new items and limited edition Coraline items), multiple giveaways, and more.  LAIKA President & CEO Travis Knight will lead a Facebook Live tour of the exhibit and do an autograph signing with a soon-to-be-announced special guest on Saturday, July 21.

Curators will explain the magical process of LAIKA’s filmmaking as guests peek behind the curtain at one of the most imaginative film studios in the world. LAIKA’s roster of costume characters (appearing both at the exhibit and throughout the Gaslamp Quarter) will pose for photos and for the first time ever will include Coraline and Other Mother, in a nod to the iconic film’s 10th anniversary (release date was February 9, 2009). In addition, fans will meet the costume character Mr. Link and see a set and Mr. Link puppet from LAIKA’s latest film Missing Link (set for release April 19, 2019).

WHERE:

350 Fifth Avenue (between J & K Streets)

WHEN:

Friday, July 13 to Sunday, July 22, 2018

Hours of Operation:

Friday, 7/13:  2-10pm
Saturday, 7/14: 2-10pm
Sunday, 7/15:  11am-5pm
Monday, 7/16:  12-5pm
Tuesday, 7/17: 12-5pm
Wednesday, 7/18: 12-5pm
Thursday, 7/19:  10am-10pm
Friday, 7/20:  10am-11pm
Saturday, 7/21: LAIKA store opens at 10am; exhibit: 2:00pm-11pm
Sunday, 7/22: 10am-6pm

HIGHLIGHTS:

Saturday, July 21 (with soon-to-be announced special guest)

11am: LAIKA President & CEO Travis Knight (director of Kubo and the Two Strings) will take Facebook Live guests on a tour of the exhibit. (Details tba)

12:30 to 2:00pm: Autograph signing session with Travis Knight. Autographs of merchandise (available at the store at LAIKA LIVE) will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, time permitting.

WHAT TO SEE at LAIKA LIVE:

●  Sets, puppets, props and technology demonstrations from all four LAIKA films as well as our hero puppet and a set from the studio’s upcoming Missing Link.
●  LAIKA merchandise available for purchase.
●  Daily drawing for one pair of collectible Coraline Dunks from Nike.
●  Photo ops with LAIKA costume characters, including:

◦ Coraline and Other Mother from Coraline
◦ Norman and Zombie Judge from ParaNorman
◦ Boxtrolls Fish and Sparky from The Boxtrolls
◦ Kubo, Monkey and Beetle from Kubo and the Two Strings
◦ Mister Link from Missing Link

Steampunk vehicles exhibited in Balboa Park!

One of many cool vehicles you'll see at the San Diego Automotive Museum during their show Steampunk: The Exhibit.
One of many cool vehicles you’ll see at the San Diego Automotive Museum during their show Steampunk: The Exhibit.

There’s an amazing show that just opened yesterday at the San Diego Automotive Museum. It’s called Steampunk: The Exhibit. About half of the museum’s large floor is now occupied by mind-blowing steampunk vehicles and fantastic works of art!

Before I show you some cool photographs, let me introduce you to a friendly artist who I happened to meet as I walked about the museum. His name is Jeff Steorts. He creates all sort of Medieval-like artwork using wood, metal and a variety of found objects. As a young man, he attempted to create a suit of armor out of aluminum. Today he writes poetry and produces sculptural objects that take one back to the Age of Chivalry. He showed me his many gleaming works that are on display. Most of his pieces are symbolic. Some have keys that unlock a deeper meaning. Each piece contains a bit of himself.

Jeff has had his fantastic creations displayed in many places–even at San Diego International Airport! Check out his Facebook page here!

Now on to the exhibition! Once you see these photos, I think you’ll want to head over to the San Diego Automotive Museum in beautiful Balboa Park. Do so before September 30th when Steampunk: The Exhibit comes to an end!

The museum floor is filled with every sort of cool steampunk and unusual, retro-looking vehicle you might imagine!
The museum floor is filled with every sort of cool steampunk and unusual, retro-looking vehicle you might imagine!
The Cyclops, a steampunk trike with a 3-cylinder Triumph Daytona engine, by artists Baron Margo and Jaime Martinez.
The Cyclops, a steampunk trike with a 3-cylinder Triumph Daytona engine, by artists Baron Margo and Jaime Martinez.
Time Machine, by artist Richard P. Ingalls. This was commissioned in 2014 by the Salk Institute of Biological Studies for its annual staff service awards program!
Time Machine, by artist Richard P. Ingalls. This was commissioned in 2014 by the Salk Institute of Biological Studies for its annual staff service awards program!
Assemblage artist Dan Jones created this cool little robot sculpture. He exhibits his work at San Diego Comic-Con, as well as many galleries, steampunk and sci-fi conventions.
Assemblage artist Dan Jones created this cool little robot sculpture. He exhibits his work at San Diego Comic-Con, as well as many galleries, steampunk and sci-fi conventions.
Another cool work of art by Dan Jones.
Another cool work of art by Dan Jones.
Artist Ken Whitney created these body-like Hardware Sculptures out of metal washers, gears and other stuff.
Artist Ken Whitney created these body-like Hardware Sculptures out of metal washers, gears and other similar material.
Jeff Steorts poses for a photo. Some of his created objects are clocks or resemble them. He explores many themes including Time and Space.
Jeff Steorts poses for a photo. Some of his symbolic objects are clocks or resemble them. He explores many themes, including Time and Space.
Jeff shows me some of his fantastic art.
Jeff shows me some of his fantastic art.
Many of Jeff's creations resemble lockets, or golden hearts with keys. Others resemble shining religious relics.
Many of Jeff’s creations resemble lockets, or golden hearts with keys. Others resemble shining boxes or religious relics.
One of many super cool vehicles you'll see when you visit the San Diego Automotive Museum during Steampunk: The Exhibit.
One of the many super cool vehicles you’ll see when you visit the San Diego Automotive Museum during Steampunk: The Exhibit.
I apologize for failing to note what this is. But it's definitely awesome!
I failed to note what this is exactly. But it’s definitely awesome!
Loki, a custom 1981 Harley Davidson Ironhead Sportster, by metal artisan Marko Djoric.
Loki, a custom 1981 Harley Davidson Ironhead Sportster, by metal artisan Marko Djoric.
1929 Dodge Brothers Copper Rat, by Jeff Jones. The car has been on the cover of Ol' Skool Rods.
1929 Dodge Brothers Copper Rat, by Jeff Jones. This amazing car has been on the cover of Ol’ Skool Rods.
The car's interior is all hand-built copper and aluminum. 10,000 rivets were hammered into place.
The car’s interior is all hand-built copper and aluminum. 10,000 rivets were hammered into place!
The Rocket Roadster, a driveway build by Baron Margo.
The Rocket Roadster, a driveway build by Baron Margo.
The Metamorphosis, a Moderne Nautilus co-created by Baron Margo and Jaime Martinez. A Jules Verne inspired cross between an airplane and submarine!
The Metamorphosis, a Moderne Nautilus co-created by Baron Margo and Jaime Martinez. A Jules Verne inspired cross between an airplane and submarine!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

The little-known studio of an amazing artist!

A small army of Japanese kokeshi fill the James E. Watts Studio in downtown San Diego.
A small army of life-size Japanese kokeshi fill the James E. Watts Studio in downtown San Diego.

I had an utterly amazing experience today.

I was walking through downtown San Diego, along Seventh Avenue, when I noticed a small table saw out on the sidewalk. It was set up in front of an unmarked door–one that I’ve passed many times over the years. When I peered through the open door my eyes nearly popped out of my head!

Through that mysterious door I saw a wonderland!

A friendly person told me that I might step inside. That very cool, funny and interesting guy was James E. Watts, a local artist who has been creating unique works of imagination for decades in San Diego. His pieces have appeared in a variety of exhibitions and at important museums, including both the San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

Why the table saw? James Watts was just beginning a new sculpture of Quasimodo, and wooden blocks would be used to form the interior structure. Thin aluminum sheets nailed to the surface would produce the sculpture’s skin.

As you can see from the above photograph, his studio is dominated by a series of these large sculptures. They are based upon Japanese kokeshi, and his fun, symbolic pieces represent all sorts of characters from literature and history. He showed me a female Atlas, Don Quixote (with two small horses), Prometheus, Pandora, Jonah and Leviathan, and Joan of Arc. The humorous, collage-like skins were originally lunchboxes, signs, cans and other bits of colorful aluminum.

Another cool piece he showed me appears to be a combination of the Shroud of Turin, a horizontal religious shrine, and that wacky game Operation. Human anatomy is partitioned. Old age is contemplated. Bones fill box-like compartments. Colorful foam dots and dashes spell out a message in Morse code around the perimeter. The word BEAUTIFUL appears beneath the skull. (If you decipher the Morse code message, please leave a comment!)

And so I found myself standing in the middle of a fantasy world turning my eyes every which way. Rampant creativity jammed every wall, crammed every corner, was stacked high upon the floor. I could have happily lingered in that extraordinary studio all day long.

Thanks to James Watts for showing me around his artistic playground! There’s a special, little-known nook in the heart of San Diego, where one man’s imagination produces great treasures, and now I recognize the door!

James Watts near some artwork in progress. The wood blocks will fill the interior of a hunchbacked Quasimodo. I was told a bell will be placed atop the literary character's head!
James Watts near some artwork in progress. The wood blocks will fill the interior of a hunchbacked Quasimodo. I was told a bell might be placed atop the literary character’s head!
On the left a female Atlas holds up the world. To the right Don Quixote appears ready to tilt at windmills.
On the left a female Atlas holds up the world. To the right Don Quixote appears ready to tilt at windmills.
Many nudes also decorate the walls of the art gallery. They are done in various styles, reflecting famous painters of the past.
Many nudes also decorate the walls of the art gallery. They are done in various styles, reflecting famous painters of the past.
James Watts opens up a brain pan to reveal a brain!
James Watts opens up a brain pan to reveal . . . a brain!
So much cool artwork that I could barely take it all in.
So much amazing, cool artwork that I could barely take it all in.
Like a playground for a creator whose imagination seems to have no limits.
Like a playground for a creator whose imagination seems to have no limits.
I was told this abstract piece represents that brave person who stood in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square.
I was told this abstract piece represents that brave person who stood in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square.
An imaginative piece that represents the artist's contemplation of aging. Those colorful dots and dashes form a Morse code message!
A playful piece that has emerged from the artist’s contemplation of aging. Those colorful dots and dashes form a mysterious Morse code message!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Cool photos of chalk art at the ArtWalk!

People gather around chalk art created on boards for the 2018 Mission Federal ArtWalk in Little Italy.
People gather around chalk art created on boards for the 2018 Mission Federal ArtWalk in Little Italy.

Here come more cool photos that I promised you!

Half a dozen colorful works of chalk art were displayed at the 2018 Mission Federal ArtWalk in Little Italy. Piazza della Famiglia isn’t the ideal place to create chalk art, so the pieces were rendered on boards.

Every work of art was great! See for yourself!

Gold and Yellow Roses, chalk art by Cecelia Linayao.
Gold and Yellow Roses, chalk art by Cecelia Linayao.
A colorful chalk art Salvador Dalí, by artist Chris Brake.
A colorful chalk art Salvador Dalí, by artist Chris Brake.
A chalk art lion representing the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, created by Lorna Prijoles.
A chalk art lion representing the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, created by Lorna Prijoles.
Young girl kisses a happy wrinkled woman. Touching chalk art by Brenda Mora and Jessie Reyes.
Young child kisses a happy wrinkled woman. Heartwarming chalk art by Brenda Mora and Jessie Reyes.
A striking chalk art face by Meg Canilang.
A striking chalk art face by Meg Canilang.
Another superb chalk art piece by young local phenom Lidia Vasquez.
Another superb chalk art piece by young local phenom Lidia Vasquez.
Half a dozen beautiful works of chalk art could be seen in Piazza della Famiglia at the 2018 Mission Federal ArtWalk!
Half a dozen beautiful works of chalk art could be seen in Piazza della Famiglia at the 2018 Mission Federal ArtWalk!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Naruwan Taiko’s thundering, unabashed joy!

This afternoon I headed to the Pacific Rim Festival in Chula Vista’s Bayside Park. I’ll blog more about this fun event shortly!

The highlight of my day was an incredible performance by Naruwan Taiko!

Imagine resonant, heart-pounding, pulsing beats, and drummers swinging unstoppable arms in a synchronized dance. Imagine smiles and shouts, muscles and sweat, powered by a pure love of life. For a few moments Bayside Park was stirred by magic. Hearts were lifted by thundering, unabashed joy!

I was ready to leap over the sun!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Amazing views from sky deck of The Barcelona!

Old photo of The Barcelona Apartment-Hotel in Bankers Hill, built 1921-1923.
Old photo of The Barcelona Apartment-Hotel in Bankers Hill, built 1921-1923.

I hadn’t planned to visit The Barcelona yesterday during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event. But as I walked up Bankers Hill from one site to another, I spotted the old building and decided to venture inside. I’m so happy I did!

The almost century-old structure originally featured both a hotel and apartments, complete with solarium, ballroom, restaurant and golf course. Today it has been converted into an apartment building with amazing views of nearby downtown San Diego.

My favorite part of the short tour was visiting the sky deck up on the rooftop. Check out my photos and you’ll see why! Make sure to read the captions for more info about this historical building.

The Barcelona's apartments today, photographed from Juniper Street.
The Barcelona’s apartments today, photographed from Juniper Street.
The Barcelona is a featured location during the San Diego Architectural Foundation's 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.
The Barcelona is a featured location during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.
City of San Diego historical landmark plaque near entrance to The Barcelona.
City of San Diego historical landmark plaque near entrance to The Barcelona.
The Barcelona was built in the Spanish Colonial/Spanish Eclectic style. It was designed by architect Eugene Hoffman.
The Barcelona was built in the Spanish Colonial/Spanish Eclectic style. It was designed by architect Eugene Hoffman.
Excavation of the site took 6 months. The current penthouse units on the 5th floor roof originally formed a solarium.
Excavation of the site took 6 months. The current penthouse units on the 5th floor roof originally formed a solarium.
Historic postcards of The Barcelona in San Diego.
Historic postcards of The Barcelona in San Diego.
A volunteer for the OPEN HOUSE event took me up the historic elevator!
A volunteer for the OPEN HOUSE architectural event took me up the historic elevator!
The cool old elevator reminded me of my childhood, when I dreamed of becoming an elevator operator!
The cool old elevator reminded me of my childhood, when I dreamed of becoming an elevator operator!
The volunteer guide quickly showed me one of the sunlight-filled apartments. The view of downtown is incredible.
The volunteer guide quickly showed me one of the sunlight-filled apartments. The view of downtown is incredible.
But the sky deck is something else!
But the sky deck will take your breath away!
Incredible view of Bankers Hill and San Diego Bay from the sky deck of The Barcelona!
Incredible view of Bankers Hill and San Diego Bay from the sky deck of The Barcelona!
The building's penthouse apartments are beyond this comfy outdoor sofa.
The building’s penthouse apartments are beyond this comfy outdoor sofa.
Looking down on the rooftops of Bankers Hill!
Looking down on the many colorful rooftops of Bankers Hill!
An incredible view of the downtown San Diego skyline from the sky deck of The Barcelona!
An incredible view of the downtown San Diego skyline from the sky deck of The Barcelona!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Transformation of Mingei Museum previewed!

View of the House of Charm in Balboa Park, home of the Mingei International Museum.
View of the House of Charm in Balboa Park, home of the Mingei International Museum.

I made a very cool discovery today during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event!

After an amazing tour of the Timken Museum in Balboa Park, which I will be blogging about shortly, I crossed the Plaza de Panama to catch the final part of a special talk at the Mingei International Museum. I was astonished to learn the museum is about to undergo a complete transformation!

What I learned about the upcoming changes is really exciting! In order to make the museum more dynamic and accessible to the San Diego community, the first floor Plaza Level will become a free space where ordinary people can mingle and openly enjoy culture and expression with friends and other visitors. New additions will include a cool sculpture garden, a small sit-down restaurant, and a new theater space. A balcony overlooking the Plaza de Panama will provide amazing views of Balboa Park, and stairs to the second floor art gallery will ascend through the House of Charm’s iconic tower, with views of the beautiful Alcazar Garden below, where there will be a new west entrance!

I didn’t catch all the details, so I hope that what I’ve just told you is correct. You can see some of the plans on the Mingei’s website here. I did learn that this amazing transformation will begin later this year–I believe I was told around September–and the museum will close during construction. During the House of Charm’s renovation the museum will have surprise pop-up exhibitions around San Diego and other fun events to fill in the void.

I also learned the total cost of the project is $40 million, and more money needs to be raised. Can you help? If you’d like to help shape Balboa Park’s brilliant future, check out this page!

Visitor to the Mingei learns about the museum's upcoming transformation during the San Diego Architectural Foundation's 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.
Visitor to the Mingei learns about the museum’s upcoming transformation during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.
Images were displayed after a talk by celebrated architect Jennifer Luce. This one shows a theater space to be added to the building's southeast corner.
Images were displayed after a talk by celebrated architect Jennifer Luce. This one shows a theater space to be added to the building’s expanded southeast corner.
Rendering of the theater that will add even more life to the Mingei International Museum.
Rendering of the theater that will add even more life to the Mingei International Museum.
Stairs to the second floor Gallery Level will ascend through the House of Charm's iconic tower. A new entrance to the museum will be added at the east end of the Alcazar Garden.
Stairs to the second floor Gallery Level will ascend through the House of Charm’s iconic tower. A new entrance to the museum will be added at the east end of the Alcazar Garden.
Rendering of daytime activity on a new second floor balcony overlooking the Plaza de Panama.
Rendering of daytime activity on a new second floor balcony overlooking the Plaza de Panama.
Rendering shows diners at night on the balcony. Illumination along the balcony will add a signature touch to the museum's appearance.
Rendering shows diners at night on the balcony. Illumination along the balcony will add a signature touch to the museum’s appearance.
People freely enjoy a new pocket park-like sculpture courtyard at the Mingei.
People freely enjoy a new pocket park-like sculpture courtyard at the Mingei.
Photo taken today of the House of Charm and its iconic tower from the Alcazar Garden. Big changes are coming!
Photo taken today of the House of Charm and its iconic tower from the Alcazar Garden. Big changes are coming!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!