Dance on Sunday afternoons in Balboa Park!

On Sunday afternoons I seem to be spending more and more time in the grand Ballroom of the Balboa Park Club. Cushioned chairs line the walls, and I can sit peacefully as I read or write, listening to gentle, sprightly folk music, occasionally looking up at happy people dancing.

I don’t do much in the way of dancing–not with my feet. But I’m sure some of you do! And I bet some of you’d like to learn all sorts of different folk dances!

I spoke to a nice lady who is a member of one of Balboa Park’s dance clubs, and she told me they are looking to grow their membership. There’s an opportunity for ordinary people with varying levels of experience to learn folk dances from many different cultures. And each lesson costs only a couple bucks!

As you can see from one of my photos, kids and parents can also learn how to dance the third Sunday of every month, from 3:30 – 4:30 pm. Sounds like fun!

Interested? Visit the International Dance Association of San Diego County website by clicking here!

If you can walk, you can dance!

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!

Do smartphones make people more shallow?

I probably shouldn’t post this blog. I share some of the guilt. After all, I’m a producer of internet content.

During my walk through Balboa Park today, I felt creeping despair.

Balboa Park is an amazing, wonderful, special place. Lifted eyes see a world that is infinitely interesting and beautiful.

About one third of the people I observed had their eyes absolutely fixed to the tiny screens of their smartphones. They were too obsessed to notice the vast world around them. Nor other people around them.

Of these, many were grown adults searching for a virtual Pokemon, a game fit for the simple mind of a child. At least these people looked up from time to time.

Yes, I know some people were busy communicating with friends, or perhaps looking up information, or a map of the park.

I also know that our lives are complex and so is human psychology. Everyone is different. I, too, have my silly, simple pleasures. It’s hard to draw firm conclusions. Technology changes. The culture changes. People change. Fads come and go.

But it does appear that humans are powerfully drawn to stimuli on isolated screens.

And, of course, the wonderful thing about smartphones is they can make life so much easier. Eye-to-eye politeness is no longer required. The potential for vulnerability in spontaneously spoken words is thankfully avoided. Problem solving is automatic. Critical thinking is less and less necessary. Simple and self-comforting ideas flood social media. Self absorption is made as easy as pie. Narcissism is rewarded.

I often wonder, as virtual reality becomes increasingly prevalent, whether people will permanently insert their whole selves into shallow, shrinking virtual worlds. The Matrix, of our own calculated making.

If it feels good, why fight it?

Another glorious spring Sunday in Balboa Park!

People walk through Balboa Park's sunlit Alcazar Garden on a beautiful spring Sunday.
People walk through Balboa Park’s sunlit Alcazar Garden on a beautiful spring Sunday afternoon.

I blog about Balboa Park frequently. I hope you’re not getting tired of it. I’m not.

I live downtown, very close to San Diego’s crown jewel, so I walk up to Balboa Park most Sundays. That’s what I did this afternoon.

It truly felt like spring today. The sun was out, the air was warm, flowers were blooming, fountains were splashing, and Balboa Park sparkled in its full glory.

I took so many photos, I’ll be posting many of them on my other website, Beautiful Balboa Park. Those upcoming posts will concern the amazing art collection of the San Diego History Center, and loads of fun artwork that I spotted in Spanish Village. Look for those photos in the next couple days.

Have a great week ahead!

The Southern California Plumeria Society was having their annual cutting sale inside the Casa del Prado. I learned they'll have many more cuttings at the upcoming Fiesta Botanica event in Balboa Park.
The Southern California Plumeria Society was having their annual cutting sale inside the Casa del Prado. I learned they’ll have many more cuttings at the May 26th Fiesta Botanica event in Balboa Park.
Someone plays with a hula hoop in the Casa del Prado's outer courtyard.
Someone plays with a hula hoop in the Casa del Prado’s outer courtyard.
Bright yellow sunflowers in hand blown glass vases in Spanish Village Art Center.
Bright yellow sunflowers in hand blown glass vases in Spanish Village Art Center.
A park squirrel seemed fascinated by this dragonfly sculpture at the edge of a rooftop in Spanish Village.
A park squirrel seemed fascinated by this shiny dragonfly sculpture at the edge of a rooftop in Spanish Village.
Playing sprightly music for passersby near the House of Hospitality.
Playing sprightly music for passersby near the House of Hospitality.
A clay female figure on display in one glass case outside the entrance to the Mingei International Museum.
A clay female figure on display in one glass case outside the entrance to the Mingei International Museum.
A family walks toward the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. It's a perfect spring day to be outside in San Diego.
A family walks toward the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. It’s a perfect spring day to be outside in San Diego.
A bicyclist has arrived for the two o'clock Sunday organ concert in Balboa Park, which is always free.
A bicyclist has arrived for the two o’clock Sunday organ concert in Balboa Park, which is always free.
A gorgeous spring bloom in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
A gorgeous spring bloom in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Some people emerge from a walk through green Palm Canyon.
Some people emerge from a walk through green Palm Canyon.
I watched a bit of folk dancing by the Cabrillo Dancers inside the Balboa Park Club.
I watched a bit of folk dancing by the Cabrillo Dancers inside the Balboa Park Club.
2018's youthful House of Pacific Relations queens line the stage during a program at the International Cottages.
This year’s youthful House of Pacific Relations queens stand on stage during a program at the International Cottages.
It seems there is now limited time to save the historic Starlight Bowl. If you want to help, please take action and visit savestarlight.org today!
It seems there is now limited time to save the historic Starlight Bowl. If you want to help, please take action and visit savestarlight.org today!
I'm a big supporter of restoring the Palisades section of Balboa Park. Learn more at the Committee of One Hundred's c100.org website.
I’m a big supporter of restoring the Palisades section of Balboa Park. Learn more at the Committee of One Hundred’s c100.org website.
Looking down at the fountain inside the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden.
Looking down at the fountain inside the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden.
Thousands of beautiful spring roses are in bloom.
Thousands of beautiful spring roses are in bloom.
Walking over the Park Boulevard pedestrian bridge from the rose and desert gardens, back toward the San Diego Natural History Museum and Plaza de Balboa.
Walking over the Park Boulevard pedestrian bridge from the rose and desert gardens, back toward the San Diego Natural History Museum and Plaza de Balboa.
A guitarist plays in some shade near the splashing Bea Evenson Fountain in the Plaza de Balboa.
A guitarist plays in some shade near the Bea Evenson Fountain in the Plaza de Balboa.

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!

Architecture and light at Timken Museum of Art.

The Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park is designed to be filled with natural light.
The Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park is designed to be filled with natural light.

Would you like to enter a truly magical place? Step into the Timken Museum of Art. Walls disappear, and suddenly you are surrounded by fine art masterpieces, natural light, and the greenery and open space of beautiful Balboa Park.

I took a special tour of the building during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event. I jotted a few notes and will now try to describe my experience.

According to our tour guide, David Kinney, a Balboa Park Conservancy Board Member, the building housing the Timken Museum of Art is disimilar in many respects to the extremely ornate Spanish Colonial buildings lining El Prado, which were designed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The Timken has clean, symmetric, simple lines. It is the only building in Balboa Park specifically designed for people to walk around. The museum was built in 1965 and incorporates many facets of modern architecture. It was designed by San Diego architect John Mock, who intended it to be a “see-through” museum, where boundaries are blurred and gardens and sky are visible from many points inside.

When built, the Timken was the most expensive building ever constructed in San Diego. The building is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of mid-century Southern California Modernism and the International Style in the nation.

The abundant travertine, bronze and glass create a magical effect. Visitors to the museum feel surrounded by San Diego’s native sunshine. There are views of small gardens, the Plaza de Panama, the Lily Pond and families enjoying picnics on nearby grass.

By taking a few steps into the museum’s intimate galleries, visitors can view one of the most amazing small collections of fine art in the world. There are 60 major works, paintings by the likes of Copley, Johnson, Bierstadt, Veronese, Guercino, Clouet, Claude, David, Brueghel, Rubens, van Dyck, Zurbarán and Murillo. The Timken owns the only Rembrandt to be found in Southern California. Every work is partially bathed in indirect natural light, from hidden skylights along the walls in each gallery. During our tour, as we gazed at the Rembrandt, a cloud passed over the sun, and the light in the gallery dimmed. It was an extraordinary experience that infused additional life into the moody masterpiece.

Come along with me as I show you a few photos. Read the captions for more info!

Fences enclosing a small garden and sections of the museum seem like airy lacework. The building's white travertine reflects San Diego's sunlight.
Fences enclosing a small garden and sections of the museum seem like airy lacework. The building’s white travertine reflects San Diego’s sunlight.
Turning west, we can see the California Tower across the Plaza de Panama.
Turning west, we can see the California Tower across the Plaza de Panama.
Our tour guide describes an architectural marvel.
Our tour guide describes an architectural marvel.
This small garden by one large museum window was created in 1983 by a Japanese master designer.
This small garden by one large museum window was created in 1983 by a Japanese master designer.
Inside the central lobby of the museum. The seats are Italian made. Another large window allows light in from Balboa Park's beautiful Lily Pond.
Inside the central lobby of the museum. The seats are Italian made. Another large window allows light in from Balboa Park’s beautiful Lily Pond.
Inside one of the galleries. The small fine art museum is free to the public and a popular destination in Balboa Park.
Inside one of the galleries. The small fine art museum is free to the public and a popular destination in Balboa Park.
Lights along the ceiling perimeter include skylights, admitting natural indirect sunlight.
Lights along the ceiling’s perimeter include hidden skylights, admitting natural indirect sunlight.
Saint Bartholomew, Rembrandt van Rijn, oil on canvas, 1657.
Saint Bartholomew, Rembrandt van Rijn, oil on canvas, 1657.
The Timken's collection was begun by the Putnam sisters, who had a passion for fine art. They also loved Russian Orthodox religious icons, a few of which are housed in one gallery.
The Timken’s collection was begun by the Putnam sisters, who had a passion for fine art. They also loved Russian Orthodox religious icons, a few of which are housed in one gallery.
Our tour ventured into the Timken's employee lounge, where we saw the original blueprints of this iconic building.
Our tour ventured into the Timken Museum’s employee lounge and meeting room, where we saw the original blueprints of this iconic building.
Also displayed was one early Timken architectural design concept, where the building would have been circular.
Also displayed was one early Timken Museum architectural design concept, where the building would have been circular.
A very cool free museum in San Diego, the Timken combines the magic of sunlight, a carefree day in Balboa Park and fine art.
A very cool free museum in San Diego, the Timken combines the magic of sunlight, a happy, carefree day in Balboa Park and fine art.

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!

Rex the Lion sculpture debuts at San Diego Zoo!

An amazing Rex the Lion sculpture has debuted in front of the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park!
An amazing Rex the Lion sculpture has debuted in front of the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park!

Wow! Look what debuted this morning in the recently renovated plaza in front of the San Diego Zoo! A gigantic sculpture of Rex the Lion, whose roar during Balboa Park’s 1915 Panama-California Exposition inspired Dr. Harry Wegeforth to establish a city zoo!

The amazing, mind-boggling 27-foot sculpture is made of 10 tons of stainless steel and bronze. It was created by the obviously talented people of Blue Rhino Studio. This landmark public artwork is sure to become an iconic sight known by people all around the world!

When I saw a mysterious construction fence here weeks ago, I originally surmised the historic Jessop’s Street Clock presently in Horton Plaza would be installed near the zoo’s entrance. Boy, was I wrong!

During the ceremony this morning, colorful puppeteers and costumed stilt walkers entertained the crowd right next to the sculpture, while a couple brief speeches were made. I noticed lots of huge smiles lit up faces–including my own!

Super cool!

The 27-foot 10 ton sculpture of a lion that inspired the San Diego Zoo's founding stands in a newly renovated plaza by the zoo's entrance.
A 27-foot 10 ton sculpture of a lion that inspired the San Diego Zoo’s founding now stands in a newly renovated plaza by the zoo’s entrance.
Reporters and lovers of the zoo have gathered for a special dedication ceremony on Sunday morning.
Reporters and lovers of the zoo have gathered for a special dedication ceremony on Sunday morning.
People wait for the historic event to begin.
People wait for the historic event to begin.
I learned this cool It Began With a Roar t-shirt logo was designed by a lady in the zoo's marketing department. Very nice!
I learned this cool It Began With a Roar t-shirt logo was designed by a lady in the zoo’s marketing department. Very nice!
The ceremony is starting! Looks what's entering the area near Rex the Lion!
The ceremony is starting! Looks what’s entering the area near Rex the Lion!
A fun blue rhino circles around the sculpture to the delight of young and old alike!
A fun blue rhino circles around the sculpture to the delight of young and old alike!
These cool costumed stilt-walkers circled around from the other side!
These cool costumed stilt-walkers circled around from the other side!
Oh, man! What fun!
Giraffes, too! Oh, man! What fun!
Councilmember Chris Ward makes a short speech.
Councilmember Chris Ward makes a short speech. Who knew sparsely populated San Diego a century ago would originate one of the world’s most famous zoos?
In the plaza around the base of the Rex lion sculpture are a bunch of fun inlaid animals.
In the plaza around the base of the Rex lion sculpture are a bunch of fun inlaid animals.
Inlaid near the public art's base is the shiny inscription Rex's Roar. One Man - One Lion - One Encounter. 1916-2016. Celebrating 100 Years.
Inlaid near the public art’s base is the shiny inscription Rex’s Roar. One Man – One Lion – One Encounter. 1916-2016. Celebrating 100 Years.
I've spotted some flamingos nearby!
I’ve spotted some flamingos nearby!
Kids rush up to touch the golden sculpture!
Kids rush up to touch the golden sculpture!
Another nearby sign indicates Rex's Roar was made possible by a generous gift from Craig and Mark Grosvenor and their families.
Another nearby sign indicates Rex’s Roar was made possible by a generous gift from Craig and Mark Grosvenor and their families.
Everybody wants a close look!
Everybody wants a close look!
A gigantic golden lion now guards the entrance to the San Diego Zoo. It's Rex!
A gigantic golden lion now guards the entrance to the San Diego Zoo. It’s Rex, truly King of Beasts!
An historic day at the much-beloved San Diego Zoo.
An historic day at the much-beloved San Diego Zoo.
Parrots take flight underfoot.
Parrots take flight underfoot.
Rex the Lion, inspiration for the San Diego Zoo's creation, now lives eternally in Balboa Park!
Rex the Lion, inspiration for the San Diego Zoo’s creation, now lives eternally in Balboa Park!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

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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!

Superheroes walk and race for autism!

This morning thousands of generous, compassionate people are walking and running to support local autism programs! The Race For Autism is taking place in Balboa Park as I post this blog!

I wanted to get a taste of the event so I walked up Sixth Avenue from Cortez Hill. I saw so many smiling superheroes I knew at once that those who experience autism are in powerful caring hands.

You can support the National Foundation for Autism Research’s work, particular people, or Race For Autism teams by checking out the donation page here!

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