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!

A fun Chinese New Year Festival in Balboa Park!

A demonstration of martial arts by members of the San Diego Wushu Center during the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival in Balboa Park.
A demonstration of martial arts by members of the San Diego Wushu Center during the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival in Balboa Park.

Today I experienced two fantastic cultural events in Balboa Park. The first was the Chinese New Year Festival hosted by the House of China at the International Cottages.

2018 is the Year of the Dog, and a huge crowd turned out to enjoy Chinese food, entertainment and a whole lot of good fun. I stayed for a while and watched talented performers dance, demonstrate Kung fu, and fling bright Yo-Yos into the sunny San Diego sky to the delight of all! It was great!

The 2018 Chinese New Year Festival continues Sunday, from 11 am to 5 pm. You really should go!

Just in case you can’t make it, I took some colorful photos…

Tents in the lawn area of the International Cottages featured food, unique crafts and many fascinating aspects of Chinese culture.
Tents in the lawn area of the International Cottages feature food, unique crafts and many fascinating aspects of Chinese culture.
Cheerful artwork and entertainment were plentiful at the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival, hosted by the House of China in Balboa Park.
Cheerful artwork and entertainment are plentiful at the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival, hosted by the House of China in Balboa Park.
Young students working with the Confucius Institute at San Diego State University dance during the program.
Young students working with the Confucius Institute at San Diego State University dance during the program.
Some traditional Chinese food being served included egg rolls, dumplings and bao--steamed buns with several different tasty fillings.
Some traditional Chinese food being served included egg rolls, dumplings and bao–steamed buns with several different tasty fillings.
I spotted one table with clever cards that open to colorful pop-up bouquets.
I spotted one table with clever cards that open to colorful pop-up bouquets.
Anyone could check the year of their birth against this Chinese horoscope. 2018 is the Year of the Dog.
Anyone could check the year of their birth against this Chinese horoscope. 2018 is the Year of the Dog.
These cool kids of the Riverview International Academy Yo-Yo Team wowed the crowd with their amazing skill.
These cool kids of the Riverview International Academy Yo-Yo Team wowed the crowd with their amazing skill.
I discovered a fascinating book about the history of the Chinese in San Diego. It's title is In Search of Gold Mountain.
I discovered a fascinating book about the history of the Chinese in San Diego. It’s title is In Search of Gold Mountain.
Some beautiful Chinese brush art and ink drawings were being displayed by friendly local artists.
Some beautiful Chinese brush art and ink drawings were being displayed by friendly local artists.
Energetic martial artists demonstrated various forms of Kung fu. Many routines seemed like precise athletic dances.
Energetic martial artists demonstrated various forms of Kung fu. Many routines seemed like precise athletic dances.
A graceful performance by members of the UCSD Chinese Dance Association.
A graceful performance by members of the UCSD Chinese Dance Association.
Many smiles and delightful surprises awaited visitors to Balboa Park during the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival.
Many smiles and delightful surprises await visitors to Balboa Park during the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival.

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!

Photography of Gjon Mili exhibited in Balboa Park.

Motion Pictures, Photography by Gjon Mili, is a free to the public exhibition inside the San Diego Museum of Art's Gallery 15.
Motion Pictures, Photography by Gjon Mili, is a free to the public exhibition inside the San Diego Museum of Art’s Gallery 15.

There is currently a free exhibition of Gjon Mili photography at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Gjon Mili was a photographer for Life magazine during the Golden Age of Photojournalism.

Born in Albania, Gjon Mili came to America to study electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he experimented with photography. As a photographer for Life, he captured a wide variety of action with his camera, including motion in sports and dance.

He was a pioneer in the use of stroboscopic light, stop-motion techniques, and other novel methods of photography. One famous innovation is his iconic light drawings. He also focused on jazz performance, and the work of contemporary artists, such as Picasso. In 1944 he filmed his first true motion picture, Jammin’ the Blues, after his passion for jazz was ignited by hosting a party that included Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Dizzy Gillespie.

This very cool (and free) exhibition can be found in Gallery 15, through a door beside Panama 66 at the San Diego Museum of Art’s outdoor May S. Marcy Sculpture Court.

Here are a few photos to provide a hint of what you’ll see…

Long Island University basketball team demonstrates best scoring plays. Gelatin silver print, 1940.
Long Island University basketball team demonstrates best scoring plays. Gelatin silver print, 1940.
Gjon Mili (1904-1984), an immigrant from Albania, was a photographer for Life magazine. He could capture on one negative more grace and beauty than Hollywood cameramen could get on many feet of motion-picture film.
Gjon Mili (1904-1984), an immigrant from Albania, was a photographer for Life magazine. He could capture on one negative more grace and beauty than Hollywood cameramen could get on many feet of motion-picture film.
Woman playing badminton. Gelatin silver print, 1945.
Woman playing badminton. Gelatin silver print, 1945.
Starting line for the sixty-yard hurdles of the Millrose Games. Gelatin silver print, 1948.
Starting line for the sixty-yard hurdles of the Millrose Games. Gelatin silver print, 1948.
Gjon Mili on the set of Jammin' the Blues. Photographic reproduction, 1944.
Gjon Mili on the set of Jammin’ the Blues. Photographic reproduction, 1944.

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!

Getting the Starlight Bowl ready for action!

Guys work on an interactive kiosk that will be at the entrance to the renovated Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park!
Guys work on an interactive kiosk that will be at the entrance to the renovated Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park!

I was pleasantly surprised during my walk through Balboa Park today to see progress is being made in renovating the Starlight Bowl!

A couple of super cool guys from Save Starlight were installing an interactive kiosk at the outdoor amphitheater’s entrance. I learned that some events for the outdoor venue are already planned for early this year! How awesome is that?

If you are like me, you might have watched musicals performed in the Starlight Bowl under twinkling stars, before the San Diego Civic Light Opera went bankrupt in 2011. My memories from years ago are still vivid in my mind’s eye. I remember laughing as a young man at the humor of Kiss Me, Kate and The Pirates of Penzance.

I’ve blogged about the effort to save the Starlight Bowl on several occasions, and took a couple of photographs after a new paint job and clean up early last year. I posted those photos on my Beautiful Balboa Park blog here.

If you want to learn more about the Starlight Bowl’s history, challenges, rehabilitation and eventual reopening, visit this website. You can make a donation to help with the effort, or perhaps volunteer!

A performance in the Ford Bowl (now the Starlight Bowl) during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. No known copyright restrictions image from Flickr.
A performance in the Ford Bowl–now the Starlight Bowl–during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. (This no known copyright restrictions image is from Flickr.)
Save Starlight is making great progress bringing the famous and beloved Starlight Bowl back to life!
Save Starlight is making great progress bringing the famous and beloved Starlight Bowl back to life!

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!

Butterfly Project teaches students about Holocaust.

Naomi was born in Prague in 1932. She and her parents were sent by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt ghetto and forced to work. The family was then sent to Auschwitz and at age 12, Naomi was murdered.
Naomi was born in Prague in 1932. She and her parents were sent by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt ghetto and forced to work. The family was then sent to Auschwitz and at age 12, Naomi was murdered.

Today I discovered an inspired project that helps school students learn about the Holocaust, and how to fight injustice and bullying.

The Butterfly Project had a special event this afternoon at the San Diego History Center. By pure chance I saw a sign for the event as I walked through Balboa Park.

Inside the San Diego History Center, I watched as compassionate visitors painted ceramic butterflies–one for each child who perished in the Holocaust.

Then I heard presentations by two speakers who had family members endure the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. These powerful presentations, complete with photographs and touchable artifacts, are often made to students in school classrooms. The presentations encourage Hope, Optimism, Kindness, Dignity and the Power of One. I learned how there were amazing instances where the courage of one person against brutal Nazis saved many innocent lives in labor and concentration camps.

One person can speak out. One person can take risks for others. One positive person can change many lives.

That one positive person can be you. Please visit The Butterfly Project website.

According to their mission statement, The Butterfly Project is a call to action through the arts, using the lessons of the Holocaust to educate about the dangers of hatred and bigotry through the painting of ceramic butterflies, permanently displayed around the world to memorialize each of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.

The Butterfly Project seeks to partner with anyone that has or wants to build a connection to history, honoring those who died in the Holocaust. They want to get their beautiful, symbolic butterflies into schools, museums and community centers. They want to be included in classrooms across the country as an important part of Holocaust and anti-bullying education.

Can you help? Click this link to learn how to get involved.

Will you be that one person who steps forward?

An event to raise awareness about The Butterfly Project was held at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
An event to raise awareness about The Butterfly Project was held at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
Ceramic butterflies are painted. Each one symbolizes a young person who died as a result of the Holocaust.
Ceramic butterflies are painted. Each one symbolizes a young person who died as a result of the Holocaust.
Some hands add color to the butterflies.
Some hands add color to the butterflies.
Bronislaw almost escaped the Nazis hidden in a suitcase, then in a backpack. Seven year-old Bronislaw was discovered and shot.
Bronislaw almost escaped the Nazis hidden in a suitcase, then in a backpack. Seven year-old Bronislaw was discovered and shot.
Holding up a labor camp uniform worn during the Holocaust. Presentations made to students bring terrible realities to light, and encourage positive action.
Holding up a labor camp uniform worn during the Holocaust. Presentations to students make the Holocaust real, and encourage positive, compassionate action.
One presentation shows the tragic journey of one man who was sent to multiple concentration camps. He ran into a forest during a forced death march and escaped.
One presentation shows the tragic journey of one man who was sent to multiple concentration camps. He ran into a forest during a forced death march and escaped.
The yellow badge that Nazis forced Jewish people to wear during the Holocaust.
The yellow badge that Nazis forced Jewish people to wear during the Holocaust.
Painted butterflies recall innocent lives lost. With hope, purpose and courage, we can fight inhumanity and teach kindness.
Painted butterflies recall innocent lives lost. With hope, purpose and courage, we can fight inhumanity and teach kindness.

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Collecting memories from Marston’s Department Store.

Remembering Marston's Department Store. Please help the Save Our Heritage Organisation gather artifacts and memories to preserve a part of San Diego history.
Please help the Save Our Heritage Organisation gather artifacts and memories to preserve a part of San Diego history. (Click this photo to enlarge the flyer for easy reading.)

I recently tood a photo of a flyer that I spotted in the Senior Lounge in Balboa Park. Please click the above image and read it.

Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) is seeking memorabilia, ephemera, merchandise and memories from Marston’s Department Store, which for nearly a century was the most elegant place to shop in San Diego. The department store was founded by George Marston, who is often referred to as San Diego’s First Citizen. As a civic leader and philanthropist, he was instrumental in creating Balboa Park, Presidio Park and the San Diego Historical Society.

Marston began as a clerk at the Horton House Hotel and eventually built the Marston Company, which ran a department store in San Diego. When earlier locations became outgrown, the large, elegant Marston’s Department Store on C Street, between 5th and 6th Street, built in the Renaissance Revival architectural style, opened in 1912 and became a popular downtown shopping destination. In 1961 it was sold by his family to The Broadway, which has since closed.

Artifacts related to Marston’s Department Store will be used by SOHO in a permanent exhibit inside their Marston House Museum in Balboa Park. Items that you contribute can be sent or delivered to the SOHO offices in Old Town. Recorded memories are also sought. The 2018 exhibit celebrates the 140th anniversary of the store’s founding!

Do you know anyone who shopped at Marston’s Department Store those many years ago? Perhaps they can help the Save Our Heritage Organisation with this very cool project!

George Marston, circa 1907-1908, San Diego businessman, civic leader and philanthropist. Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.
George Marston, circa 1907-1908, San Diego businessman, civic leader and philanthropist. Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Photo of The San Diego Union newspaper from Monday Morning, January 1, 1912. Depicted is the brand new Marston Department Store. The headline reads: Modern Mercantile Emporium One of Best Three on Coast.
Photo of San Diego Union newspaper from Monday morning, January 1, 1912. Depicted is a brand new Marston Department Store. The headline reads: Modern Mercantile Emporium One of Best Three on Coast.

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!

Exciting debut of San Diego’s new Civic Organist!

Raúl Prieto Ramírez, San Diego's new Civic Organist, raises his arms in greeting.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez, San Diego’s new Civic Organist, raises his arms in greeting.

I’m still in a state of elation after experiencing the exciting debut this afternoon of San Diego’s new Civic Organist!

The first appearance of Raúl Prieto Ramírez as official organist for the city of San Diego was nothing less than phenomenal. He performed in Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where the public will now enjoy his free performances every Sunday at two o’clock.

His great love of music, his energy, his vivaciousness and his extraordinary skill were apparent from the start. An enormous audience filled the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and welcomed him warmly. At the conclusion of the exciting concert, he received a well-deserved standing ovation.

San Diego is so fortunate. The shoes of previous Civic Organist, Dr. Carol Williams, would be difficult for anyone to fill, but Raúl Prieto Ramírez seems definitely up to the task. His playing is crisp, nimble, precise, and full of expression. His smile is enormous. His mission in life, he told the audience, was to bring to the world great music. That makes him happy.

Raúl Prieto Ramírez comes to San Diego from Barcelona, Spain. He is internationally acclaimed, the founder of the Barcelona-Mataró International Organ Festival. Now he will perform his magic in Balboa Park as Civic Organist and Artistic Director of the Spreckels Organ Society. I can tell you right now the future of the 103-year-old Spreckels Organ is incredibly bright.

My photos of today’s concert captures a true artist’s unbounded passion. That passion translates into musical gold.

Jack Lasher, President of the Spreckels Organ Society, welcomes new San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez to the world's largest outdoor organ in Balboa Park.
Jack Lasher, President of the Spreckels Organ Society, welcomes new San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez to the world’s largest outdoor organ in Balboa Park.
A sparkling debut concert is about to begin.
A sparkling debut concert is about to begin.
A tradition for the Sunday organ concerts in Balboa Park, Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays America to get things started.
A tradition for the Sunday organ concerts in Balboa Park, Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays America to get things started.
The San Diego audience loved our new Civic Organist from the word go.
The San Diego audience loved our new Civic Organist from the word go.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about coming to San Diego, before his brilliant performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about coming to San Diego, before his brilliant performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
Playing the Spreckels Organ with style and passion.
Playing the Spreckels Organ with style and passion.
There were many smiles throughout the large audience at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Every bench was full.
There were many smiles throughout the large audience at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Every bench was full.
Finishing a difficult Classical piece with a triumphant flourish.
Finishing a difficult Classical piece with a triumphant flourish.
With theatrical flair, Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about the next piece, Danse Macabre.
With theatrical flair, Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about the next piece, Danse Macabre.
Concentration.
Concentration.
Feeling.
Feeling.
Intensity.
Intensity.
More smiles.
More smiles.
After a great organ rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, Spreckels Organ Society's Executive Director Ross Porter announces kids are needed for the next number.
After a great organ rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, Spreckels Organ Society’s Executive Director Ross Porter announces kids are needed for the next number.
Kids from the audience take the stage right next to the Spreckels Organ console.
Kids from the audience take the stage right next to the Spreckels Organ console.
Here comes a fifth kid.
Here comes a fifth kid.
Instructions are secretly given.
Instructions are secretly given.
While Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays Batalla Famosa, the kids read a short sentence that introduces each part of the music.
While Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays Batalla Famosa, the kids read a short dramatic sentence that introduces each part of the music.
Too much fun!
Too much fun!
Meet the new San Diego Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!
Meet the new San Diego Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!

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!