Fun photos for those who love Star Wars!

San Diego Comic-Con is approaching fast.

With the appearance of this year’s Comic-Con trolley wraps, many people I speak to are starting to get excited.

Now that I’m thinking about Comic-Con, too, it has occurred to me that over the years my blog has featured lots of photos concerning one of the absolute biggest franchises in pop culture: Star Wars!

I’ve rounded up a bunch of links that would be fun to check out. You’ll find unique photos of Star Wars artwork, models, cosplay, and even some humorous Star Wars street art!

Star Wars lightsaber combat at Maker Faire!

Cool–and funny–Star Wars street art!

A cool Star Wars character created by local artist!

Star Wars cosplay at Independence Day parade!

San Diego artist spray paints cool Star Wars images!

Three cool street art faces in East Village!

(Click the above link at your discretion. Yes, I’m afraid there’s an image of Jar Jar Binks.)

Comic-Con insanity! More cosplay and a TV star!

(Click to see many instances of Star Wars cosplay, including a Jawa.)

Cosplay photos and other 2017 Comic-Con stuff!

(Click to see more Star Wars cosplay, plus a full size replica of a Star Wars T-47 Snowspeeder.)

Some cool photos from Comic-Con Preview Night.

(Click to see a fair amount of Star Wars stuff, including the full size speeder used by Rey in The Force Awakens.)

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!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles street art!

Cool spray paint street art in a Logan Heights alley includes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Bold spray paint street art in a Logan Heights alley features the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Several long alleys in Logan Heights have been spray painted with super cool street art. I visited one alley recently that contains awesome images of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

This particular “Alley Gallery” can be found north of Commercial Street and west of 32nd Street. The colors are bold and the artwork is fantastic. Walking down the alley is almost like turning the pages of a TMNT comic book or graphic novel.

Enjoy these fun photos!

Leonardo, leader of the Ninja Turtles, stands alert beside some bold, colorful graffiti.
Leonardo, leader of the Ninja Turtles, stands alert beside some bold, colorful graffiti.
Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles surrounded by enemies.
Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is surrounded by enemies.
Donatello appears to be ready for action in an alley mural in Logan Heights.
Donatello appears to be ready for action in an alley mural in Logan Heights.
An ordinary turtle wandering through the sewers is caught in some strange glowing green ooze. This innocent reptile is certainly destined to mutate into a humorous humanoid martial artist!
An ordinary turtle wandering through the sewers is caught in some strange glowing green ooze. This innocent, unassuming reptile is almost certainly destined to mutate into a humorous humanoid martial artist!
Splinter, the rat sensei, is hanging out between more cool graffiti.
Splinter, the rat sensei, is hanging out on a wall between more cool graffiti.
Raphael emerges from a spray painted city. This particular turtle does not appear to be amused.
Raphael emerges from a spray painted city. This particular turtle does not appear to be amused.

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!

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!

Exquisite flower arrangements at ikebana show.

The highlight of my walk through Balboa Park today was the San Diego Wabi Spring Flower Show. My feet often halted as I passed dozens of exquisite Japanese ikebana flower arrangements. My camera couldn’t stop snapping. As you will see, the beauty was indescribable.

This annual event, which is held for one weekend inside the Casa del Prado, provides a breathtaking exhibition of the traditional Japanese art, as taught by the Ohara School of Ikebana. In addition to the many heavenly flower arrangements, there were demonstrations by local ikebana masters for those who are interested in learning about or practicing this ancient art form.

Many of these photos are close-ups of flower arrangements. I tried my own “hand” at artistic composition.

I’m so envious of the talent displayed at this show. Every careful work of floral art was a poem for the eyes.

The San Diego Wabi Study Group Annual Flower Show, with beautiful ikebana arrangements and demonstrations, was held this weekend in the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.
The San Diego Wabi Study Group Annual Flower Show, with beautiful ikebana arrangements and demonstrations, was held this weekend in the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.
Many superb examples of exquisite ikebana Japanese flower arrangement pleased the eyes of delighted visitors.
Many superb examples of exquisite ikebana Japanese flower arrangement pleased the eyes of delighted visitors.

Watching a demonstration of traditional ikebana flower arrangement. Every work in this ancient art form is like a visual poem.
Young eyes observe a demonstration of traditional ikebana flower arrangement. Every work in this ancient art form is like a visual poem.

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!

Art in Bloom at Japanese Friendship Garden.

You might have noticed I personally love the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. It’s so peaceful and beautiful. The garden always refreshes my mind and sparks my creativity. It’s one of my favorite spots to write short stories. (I hope to have a new one finished soon!)

When I learned a new cultural exhibition would open today in the garden’s handsome Inamori Pavilion, I knew at once that I had to check it out. The exhibition is called Art in Bloom – Floral Art of Japan.

The diverse pieces of artwork on display feature exquisite flower designs. By reading several signs in the exhibit, I learned about the symbolism of certain flowers in Japan. For example, I learned the camelia represents spring.

After feasting my eyes on the Art in Bloom exhibit, I walked up a winding path through the Lower Garden and carefully searched the grove of Japanese cherry trees for spring blossoms. None yet! One of the knowledgeable master gardeners informed me we have several weeks to go!

(Don’t forget to attend the certain-to-be-amazing 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival. This year it will be held on March 9 through March 11.)

Here’s a pic taken outside the Inamori Pavilion, followed by photos of a few works of the floral art inside…

Flowers at the Japanese Friendship Garden near the Inamori Pavilion, where the Art in Bloom exhibition is located.
Flowers at the Japanese Friendship Garden near the Inamori Pavilion, where the Art in Bloom exhibition is located.

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!

Art captures memories of San Quentin inmates.

Spaces from Yesterday is a collaborative exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery featuring the art projects of three San Quentin inmates.
Spaces from Yesterday is a collaborative exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery featuring the art projects of three San Quentin inmates. (Click image to enlarge for easier reading.)

There’s a fascinating exhibition right now at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. It’s titled Spaces from Yesterday and features the artwork of three San Quentin inmates.

The artwork was created in collaboration with San Quentin State Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho, who also has a few related pieces in the exhibition. But the work that I found most interesting came directly from the hands of the inmates.

All three of the artists summon happy memories from their childhood. These images are warm, but also hard-edged and unpeopled. One work, The Hallway by Dennis Crookes, almost looks like a long, harsh, narrow prison hallway that finally leads to a home’s light-filled kitchen.

I could find no explanation why these three were incarcerated in the San Quentin correctional complex, which contains California’s only death row for male inmates. That would seem to be an essential part of the story, and might explain certain qualities of the art. But the anecdotes that are written do reveal a common yearning for a past life that is fondly remembered.

The following photos show a description of each piece, followed by the actual artwork.

Spaces from Yesterday will be on display through January 28, 2018. Those interested in art, creativity, and often hidden aspects of human life should check it out. Admission to the SDSU Downtown Gallery is free.

Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho and Dennis Crookes began planning The Hallway collaboration while Crookes was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.
Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho and Dennis Crookes began planning The Hallway collaboration while Crookes was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.
The Hallway, Dennis Crookes, acrylic on canvas, 2016.
The Hallway, Dennis Crookes, acrylic on canvas, 2016.
The Garage, a collaboration with inmate Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., contains warm memories from a playful childhood.
The Garage, a collaboration with inmate Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., contains warm memories from a playful childhood.
The Garage, Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., mixed media on cardboard, 2016.
The Garage, Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., mixed media on cardboard, 2016.
Chanthon Bun painted memories from a childhood that included a play fort in an abandoned lot, comic books, baseball cards and a fish pond he created with his siblings and young relatives.
Chanthon Bun painted memories from a childhood that included a play fort in an abandoned lot, comic books, baseball cards and a fish pond he created with his siblings and young relatives.
The Last Summer, Chanthon Bun, acrylic on canvas, 2017.
The Last Summer, Chanthon Bun, acrylic on canvas, 2017.

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!

To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.