Historical uniforms inspire a Fashion Redux!

Anyone in San Diego who is interested in history, fashion, or the evolution of fashion should visit the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

A new exhibit opened on Sunday titled Fashion Redux 2021. Collaborating with the History Center, inspired by four plain-looking late 19th to mid 20th century woman’s uniforms, students from Mesa College’s Fashion Program have designed similar but more contemporary clothing!

The four articles of clothing in the museum’s collection that were considered by the students are: a WWII Uniform, Navy Nurse Corps, c. 1940s; a ZLAC Rowing Uniform, c. 1895; a Girl Scout Uniform, c. 1919; and a Knights of Columbus Uniform, c. late 19th or early 20th century.

Just seeing those old uniforms in the San Diego History Center is interesting in itself, but to see how fashion design students have chosen to alter century-old styles provides a glimpse into the creative human mind, and perhaps a sense of our culture’s present day aesthetic tastes.

The exhibit allows visitors to compare the different clothing in detail, and learn about the talented students who are participating in this Fashion Redux.

Here is some of what you’ll see…

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!

A celebration of Korean culture in Balboa Park!

Yesterday afternoon the House of Korea in Balboa Park hosted a big lawn program! Traditional music, colorful fan dance, K-pop, martial arts and more took the stage in a wonderful celebration of Korean culture!

Participants in the event gathered at the International Cottages from all around Southern California, including representatives from the Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles. As you might expect, many were in the audience!

It was interesting how some of the performances were a fusion of both Korean and American culture. When an expressive solo dancer began to dance with great emotion to the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody, there was loud applause from the audience!

Enjoy these photographs!

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Famous painting by Bruegel turns to chalk!

This afternoon a famous painting displayed in the Timken Museum of Art was turned to chalk! I witnessed part of the transformation myself, right in front of the museum in Balboa Park!

The Timken Museum’s summer weekend Creation Station event continued today. Part of the fun was a chalk art recreation of the 1557 painting Parable of the Sower, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Anybody walking through the Plaza de Panama could watch the chalk artist at work. If you want to compare the chalk art I photographed with the actual oil painting, click here!

The outdoor Creation Station’s amazing chalk art flows from the talented hands of @sidewalk_chalk_dad.

Unfortunately, I didn’t walk by after the artwork was completed. Use your imagination!

You can see another chalk art recreation of a painting in the Timken’s fine art collection by clicking here!

That smiling guy covered with chalk? The artist, of course!

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!

National Carousel Day in Balboa Park!

Everyone got a free ride on the Balboa Park Carousel today! That’s because it’s National Carousel Day!

Lots of excited kids and families were waiting for their ride on the historic carousel when I walked by. Every year on National Carousel Day people head to Balboa Park just for the special occasion!

The wonderful old carousel was built in 1910 by Herschell-Spillman Co. in North Tonawanda, New York. It ran for a few years in Luna Park, Los Angeles, then was moved to Coronado’s Tent City in 1913. In 1922 it was transported to Balboa Park where the Fleet Science Center is today. Finally it was moved to its present location near the San Diego Zoo in 1968.

Whenever I pause by the whirling carousel, I enjoy looking at the amazing carved animals, the carnival-like lights and mirrors, and the nostalgic art painted on passing panels. And I love listening to stirring music from the original band organ. I also gaze into a display case that contains historical information and artifacts concerning this special merry-go-round!

I’ve included two photos of the carousel being built back in 1910. Creating the carved animals required true artistry.

When beloved author Ray Bradbury turned a carousel into a time machine, I think he was onto something. Because whenever I ride one, I find that I’m a young boy again.

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!

The new International Cottages in Balboa Park are completed!

The brand new International Cottages in Balboa Park are finally finished! The construction site fences are down and the House of Peru is already moving in!

Late today I walked though the two new sections of the now expanded House of Pacific Relations International Cottages. Five structures have been built for nine nations or cultural units. As you can see from my photographs, the new cottages are beautiful!

Two new structures on the northeast side of the International Cottages will showcase Mexico, Panama and the Philippines; three structures on the southwest side will showcase Korea, India, Peru, Palestine, Chamorro and Turkey.

After years and years of bureaucratic delays and financial struggle, this truly historic project is complete!

I peered through many new cottage windows as I walked around and saw mostly vacant space. But the House of Peru has begun to move in and they’ll have a “soft opening” for the public beginning tomorrow!

If you’d like to see photos of the big festive groundbreaking event almost five years ago, click here!

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!

Evening music during summer in Balboa Park.

This evening, about an hour before sunset, after the daytime crowd had greatly thinned, I walked through Balboa Park.

In the Plaza de Panama some guys were producing beautiful music. The group is called the Sunshine Brass Quintet. I’ve seen them other days playing in the plaza.

When I finally walked past the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, I was excited to see the Twilight in Balboa Park concerts are returning for 2021!

The evening concerts will take place Tuesdays through Thursdays during the month of August. They start at 6:30 pm in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

Performers include Marine Band San Diego, Mariachi Estrellas de Chula Vista, the Coronado Concert Band, and many others! Check out the photo I took of the sign below, or visit the concerts page here.

Here are a few more photos of the Sunshine Brass Quintet this evening in the Plaza de Panama…

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!

Hundreds of new trees planted in Balboa Park.

I was walking through Balboa Park on Sunday, making my way toward Park Boulevard, when I noticed a newly planted tree with a shiny plaque beside it.

I veered across the grass to investigate…

The plaque states:


This tree and hundreds of others have been planted throughout the park by the Balboa Park Conservancy, Urban Corps, Tree San Diego, and Parks & Recreation.

Funding for this California Climate Investments grant project has been provided through the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Urban and Community Forestry program.

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!

Big community celebration coming to Balboa Park!

There were many smiles throughout the large audience at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Every bench was full.

An exciting community celebration will be held in Balboa Park at the end of July!

Everyone is invited to gather at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on the evening of Saturday, July 31, 2021 to enjoy this amazing free event, featuring notable performers from all around San Diego.

Participating in the celebration will be Opera4Kids, San Diego Civic Dance Arts, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Grupo Folklórico Sabor de México, San Diego Master Chorale accompanied by San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez, and the fun Organ Pavilion Rock Band! The entertainment starts at 5:30 pm!

What is this big community celebration all about?

The reopening of San Diego after the pandemic!

Learn more by clicking here!

More history at the Golden Hill Fountain Grotto.

Last month the Friends of Balboa Park installed a new information sign at the Golden Hill Fountain Grotto. The sign provides a good description of the fountain grotto’s history in Golden Hill Park. The community park, with views of downtown and Florida Canyon, is located in the southeast corner of much larger Balboa Park.

Five years ago I posted photos of the grotto on my now dormant blog Beautiful Balboa Park. You can read what I wrote and see those photographs here. I walked to the grotto again last weekend to check out the newly installed sign.

The sign explains how Golden Hill Park, developed in 1889, was the site of San Diego’s first playground. The Golden Hill Fountain Grotto was a decorative park installation designed in 1907 by Henry Lord Gay. He was also responsible for downtown San Diego’s Western Metal Supply Co. building, which is now a part of Petco Park.

Henry Lord Gay “created a sunken garden grotto built of stone and concrete with twin cobblestone stairways curving down to a sheltered fountain and seating area in a rugged canyon…Stones evoke mystery, creativity and contemplation; flowing water signifies life, and pathways lead out to the open sky…”

You can see in my photos how the fountain was made to appear like a natural spring whose pool trickles down into a hollowed rock.

Sadly, I observed evidence of homelessness and drug use in the secluded grotto. These tragic problems have become widespread in San Diego. Trash, graffiti and a burnt out fountain is probably not what Henry Lord Gay and the early residents of our city envisioned.

The Golden Hill Fountain Grotto is over a century old and is, according to the information sign, Balboa Park’s oldest designed feature.

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 purchased by the city from artists during COVID-19.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, local artists were supported through a special initiative undertaken by the City of San Diego. The city purchased almost 100 works of art for the Civic Art Collection. The initiative was funded by a generous art lover and philanthropist.

An exhibition of this acquired artwork, titled SD PRACTICE, can now be viewed at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park, and at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights.

I visited the San Diego Art Institute on Sunday to view their pieces. I noticed some of the artists are widely known, including Hugo Crosthwaite and Mario Torero.

Contemporary art is often provocative: subversive, angry, skeptical, iconoclastic. But many of the pieces I saw conveyed mostly a feeling of loneliness. Which I suppose isn’t surprising. They were created during a pandemic–a time of forced social isolation.

One canvas shows an elderly woman alone at a table set with dinner and cold smartphones. Other works–often with political messages–show people trapped alone behind borders or squares or lattices of drawn lines, or wearing masks, or concealed beneath sheets, or in shadow.

One artist’s tintypes were created with random people on the street. The artist and strangers pose together as if they are family. But the tintypes are very dim like faded dreams. And the momentary “families” weren’t real.

In one piece, an isolating smartphone has been dropped to one side, and two people lean into each other for simple human warmth.

As I walked through the gallery, one plastic chair made to appear gleaming and precious seemed inviting. But it was only one chair.

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!