An early Fourth of July in Balboa Park!

Should one celebrate Independence Day on the Third of July?

Why not!

Today’s Sunday lawn program at the International Cottages in Balboa Park was presented by the House of USA. It was a patriotic event for the Fourth of July–one day early!

Before the program began at 2 o’clock, I walked around and visited friendly members of two groups: Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution. One DAR member, I learned, is a descendant of Elihu Hickok, a soldier who served in the United States Revolutionary War.

The lawn program commenced with the presentation of colors and a beautiful, soaring rendition of the National Anthem sung by Ms. Helen Oh. She was followed by young pianist, Colton, who skillfully played America the Beautiful.

The Queen and Princess of the House of USA gave short speeches, then, after the main speaker, everyone enjoyed a performance of Western line dancing by the San Diego Coasters!

Then everyone was invited onto the stage to learn how to line 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!

World premiere Spider-Man exhibit opens!

The world premiere of Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing opened yesterday at the Comic-Con Museum in San Diego!

The extraordinary exhibition, which occupies nearly all of the Comic-Con Museum’s large first floor, celebrates the history of Spider-Man.

Visitors can see dozens of pieces of original art used in the creation of the comic books, and important props from many of Spider-Man’s immensely popular movies. The superhero’s appearance on television and in video games is also documented.

I spent a full hour today just reading the many displays and viewing incredible, historic artwork.

Originally drawn from the imaginations of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man has evolved over time, as new writers and artists have built on Spidey’s complex story. Societal norms and comic book sensibilities have shifted over the decades, but one thing has been fairly consistent. Spider-Man represents a youthful, optimistic “everyman” hero, who copes with life’s ordinary problems while battling fantastic villains.

A good crowd had already arrived as the museum opened at ten o’clock this morning, and I saw numerous families and excited kids–many wearing Spider-Man shirts and costumes. There are many opportunities to take selfies, and the atmosphere created inside the dynamic exhibition is truly exciting.

Walking through, I felt my old passion for Spider-Man flaring again. The exhibition makes it obvious why the wall-crawler remains one of the all-time favorite pop culture icons!

During Comic-Con, a shuttle bus will run between the San Diego Convention Center and the Comic-Con Museum. I encourage Comic-Con attendees to come up to Balboa Park and check out the exhibition. It’s well worth the time and effort!

Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing will continue at the Comic-Con Museum through the end of 2022.

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!

International Organ Festival begins with a Thank You!

The 34th San Diego International Organ Festival began this evening in Balboa Park.

It was the first festival concert of many to come this summer. They are free to the public on Monday evenings, beginning at 7:30 pm. See the full program here. Some of the world’s top organists will fill thousands of ears with dazzling sound from the incomparable Spreckels Organ.

But tonight, before San Diego Civic Organist Raul Prieto Ramírez began his magic, two people were brought to the pavilion stage for a special Thank You.

Past Spreckels Organ Society President Arlene Way and Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton spoke a few words–including doing good for the community and bringing happiness to people–then received applause.

I want to personally thank Robert Plimpton. He’s the one who “introduced” me to the Spreckels Organ. One day, I forget when, as a young man in Balboa Park, I sat down on one of those metal benches and listened. I hadn’t realized an organ could play so movingly, so exquisitely. Like poetry.

His energetic, elegant, precise play of the mighty Spreckels Organ made me a fan of the King of Instruments for life. Sitting on that bench, amazed, it might have been the first time I realized Balboa Park has a living heartbeat.

So, thank you to all who keep that heartbeat going.

And thank you Robert Plimpton.

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!

Copper printing blocks form storytelling art.

These copper Batik Printing Blocks, combined like words on a page, seem to tell a beautiful story. A complex story about life.

You can find this huge “panel” of Indonesian tjaps at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. The artwork has been installed on the second floor, near one of the doors that leads to the outdoor terrace overlooking the Plaza de Panama.

The copper blocks were used for wax resist textile printing. Each block, whose intricate design would be repeated on fabric, is combined with about 200 other unique blocks.

The cumulative effect is like a pile of golden Autumn leaves. Or shining memories collected like precious coins, spread on a table before one’s hands. Or a page ready set for a printing press.

It’s the story of a culture, created by many hands.

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 shining new Timken Museum of Art!

Oh my goodness! I stepped into the newly renovated Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park today and my mouth dropped open. The first thing I noticed: all that brightly shining brass!

Had I stepped into a golden palace?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Timken was closed to the public, not only was a new high tech air filtration added to the museum, but works of art were rearranged, gallery walls painted a pleasant slightly bluish off white (which works perfectly with the many painted masterpieces in gold frames), and all of the building’s brasswork was polished. I’m talking lots and lots of ornate brass, both inside the museum and out!

The building is now more light-filled and elegant than ever, but also less stodgy, more inviting. And it’s still free to view some of the very finest paintings on display in San Diego, including our city’s only Rembrandt.

I learned those two tapestries that used to hang in the central lobby were removed to preserve them, and that the Mercury sculpture has been moved into the outside garden. It’s visible in one my photographs.

The museum’s huge windows not only invite in ample light, beauty and life from the outside world, but the collection now extends itself into that outer world, as well!

I noticed two pieces recently added to the Timken’s world-class collection are now on display, including the fantastic Salomé, considered the most famous painting of artist Ella Ferris Pell.

You might enjoy reading something I posted four years ago, after an architectural tour of the Timken’s remarkable building. The sleek building is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of mid-century Southern California Modernism and the International Style in the nation. You can find that blog and see those photos by clicking 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!

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!

Top Gun car honors United States Veterans.

A car has been specially altered to honor those who’ve served in the United States Armed Forces.

Andy “Bluebat” Mercado (@bluebatmobile) told me today in the parking lot near the San Diego Automotive Museum that the intent is also to honor his own Veteran father. Yes, today is Father’s Day.

I’d seen Andy’s blue and yellow 1997 Acura NSX, with distinctive U.S. Navy markings, and a tribute to deceased Blue Angels pilots printed on the rear window, at other special events. But today I noticed the words Blue Angels decorating both sides of the car had been changed to the Top Gun movie logo. The change was made a couple of weeks ago.

Of course, the original TOPGUN (United States Navy Fighter Weapons School) was located at San Diego’s old Naval Air Station Miramar. Pilots competing at the school were an essential part of the first Top Gun movie, whose blockbuster sequel opened a few weeks ago.

I see from a decal Andy supports various causes. I spotted The Wingman Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, and PTSD Awareness.

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!

Balboa Park performer on So You Think You Can Dance!

Did you know a long-time street performer in Balboa Park has appeared on the popular television show So You Think You Can Dance?

If you’ve visited San Diego’s Balboa Park in the past few years, it’s quite likely you’ve seen Kareem “Anointed” Ali and his talented friends wowing huge crowds with their athletic dance routines, acrobatic leaps, physical contortions and fun bits of humor. All concluded with an inspirational message.

Well, a number of years ago, while speaking to Anointed Ali, I learned he’d appeared as a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance. I then found a YouTube video of his routine here.

The judges were absolutely amazed. You will be too!

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!

Hidden birdhouses, art planters in Balboa Park!

Very few visitors to Balboa Park will see these fun birdhouses and artistically painted planter boxes. They’re a bit hidden behind the Centro Cultural de la Raza’s home, their repurposed water tank off Park Boulevard.

I believe the birdhouses were created in 2021 and are designed for owls. The way they’re painted certainly suggests that!

It appears at least some of the planter boxes were painted this year.

I took this series of photographs Sunday as I walked randomly around waiting for a San Diego Fringe Festival performance to begin. I thought I’d share them.

Enjoy!

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!

Induction Dance at the San Diego Fringe Festival!

Would it be silly? Serious? Amateurish? Professional?

I really didn’t know what to expect when I purchased a ticket today for the Induction Dance performance during the 2022 San Diego Fringe Festival.

I took my seat inside the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park and waited for the dance to begin. And what we got was a guy in a gorilla suit playing guitar! Then a clown on a tricycle!

Okay, I thought to myself. It’s the Fringe Festival. Only 10 bucks.

But then the performance changed dramatically.

And some good ballet dancing began. Really good!

I was blown away by the fluidity, sensuousness, and gorgeous moves by two dancers who obviously knew what they were doing!

Philip Amer, the Artistic Director of Induction Dance, danced with Saori Maeda. When each of several dances were completed, the audience applauded loudly. It was deserved.

Philip Amer hails from Escondido. Over the years he has performed with numerous ballet companies across the country. He also teaches dance.

Saori Maeda is 23 years old. She’s from Japan, now studying ballet and training in Southern California. Her moves were graceful and flawless. She is destined to be a star!

The performance today included several humorous skits that worked quite well, including a dance with a cloth dummy, and a mime-like ballerina trying to communicate words with particular movements.

Philip Amer stated his object is to make ballet entertaining and accessible for ordinary folk. I don’t know about the guitar playing gorilla and clown on a tricycle, but the rest of the act was original, witty, magical!

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!

Encountering life up close at MOPA.

An extremely powerful exhibition of portrait photography is now on view at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

Encounter: Photographs by Jed Fielding features numerous street portraits that make you feel the strangers you see have somehow become your friends. Because that’s the very personal way Jed Fielding approaches his subjects.

The photographs are full of life, smiles, eye contact, playfulness, emotion, sincerity, vulnerability, pride, sadness, freedom. Kids at play in Naples, Italy are pleased to stop for a moment and shyly grin. A mixture of more subtle emotions appear openly in the faces of those who’ve grown older.

I was particularly moved by photos Jed Fielding took of blind children in Mexico City. As his camera shutter clicked, small hands were doing their own seeing. In one photograph fingers reached up to feel the lens.

In those portraits of blind children, more than the others, not a soul wears a mask. Every expression is unaffected, absolutely genuine.

It’s an authentic connection between people that makes these photos so powerful. So alive.

Encounter: Photographs by Jed Fielding is on display at MOPA through September 25, 2022.

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!