Rescued art in Balboa Park’s Casa del Prado.

Original staff plaster memorial to Fray Junipero Serra, founder of the Franciscan missions in Alta California.  Was part of the 1915 Exposition's Food Products Building.
Original staff plaster memorial to Fray Junipero Serra, founder of the Franciscan missions in Alta California. Was part of the 1915 Exposition’s Food Products Building.

In the outdoor Panama-California Sculpture Court at Balboa Park’s Casa del Prado you’ll discover a small collection of rescued art. Most of these sculptures and decorative motifs are made of staff, which is gypsum plaster mixed with hide glue, reinforced with fibers. They were found in 1975 dumped in an unused corner of the nearby Casa de Balboa.  Many are remnants of the old Food and Beverage Building from Balboa Park’s 1915 Panama-California Exposition and were designed by architect Carleton Monroe Winslow. Visitors today can admire these beautiful historical pieces up close.

Castle, on left side of the base of Serra Memorial, depicts the heraldic emblem of the former Spanish Kingdom of Castile.
Castle, which was located on the left side of the Serra Memorial, depicts the heraldic emblem of the former Spanish Kingdom of Castile.
One of four identical heads created in 1914 for the Panama-California Exposition. It was located on the Varied Industries Building facade.
One of four identical heads created in 1914 for the Panama-California Exposition. It was located on the Varied Industries Building facade.
Plaster models of famous 17th century Spanish painters Velazquez, Murillo and Zurbaran.  Used to cast sculptures above what is now the San Diego Museum of Art.
Plaster models designed in 1924 of famous 17th century Spanish painters Velazquez, Murillo and Zurbaran. Used to cast sculptures above what is now the San Diego Museum of Art.
This round staff plaster Spanish Conquistador vignette, dated 1914, formed a pendant beneath sculptural groups on the Varied Industries Building.
This round staff plaster Spanish Conquistador vignette, dated 1914, formed a pendant beneath sculptural groups on the Varied Industries Building.
Freestanding figure of a woman in flowing robes titled Religion.  It stood atop the 1914 retablo of the Varied Industries Building.
Freestanding figure of a woman in flowing robes titled Religion. It stood atop the 1914 retablo of the Varied Industries Building.
Unused cast concrete replica of an original 1914 angel head finial.  Cast for the 1971 reconstruction of the Casa del Prado.
Unused cast concrete replica of an original 1914 angel head finial. Created for the 1971 reconstruction of the Casa del Prado.
Beautiful works of art in Panama-California Sculpture Court at the Casa del Prado.
Beautiful works of art in Panama-California Sculpture Court at the Casa del Prado.
Plaster column seen through arch of Casa del Prado.
Angelic column seen through arch of Casa del Prado.

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Kaleidoscope and a revolving bowl of flowers.

Interesting contraption in a nook at Spanish Village.
Interesting contraption in a nook at artsy Spanish Village.

In a nook of Balboa Park’s Spanish Village, right next to the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building, you’ll find this interesting contraption. Is it an antique device once used to navigate a ship? Is it a microscope? What is it?

It’s a kaleidoscope mounted above a revolving bowl of flowers! Instead of turning the kaleidoscope tube, you whirl the bowl of blooms and watch different colorful patterns form through the lens. Several mirrors in the tube create the complex symmetry.

Once I figured out what the contraption was, I tried putting my camera right up to the eyepiece. I got a bunch of interesting photos!

A kaleidoscope aimed at turning bowl of flowers.
A kaleidoscope aimed at turning bowl of flowers.
Mirrors of kaleidoscope turn flower blooms into art.
Mirrors of kaleidoscope turn flower blooms into art.
Revolving the bowl turns flowers and leaves into amazing patterns.
Revolving the bowl turns flowers and leaves into amazing patterns.
Infinite beauty created via the reflection of light.
Infinite beauty created via the reflection of light.

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Big indoor mural at San Diego Museum of Art.

In Search of Earthly Delights mural at San Diego Museum of Art.
In Search of Earthly Delights mural at San Diego Museum of Art.

If you’re walking around Balboa Park and feeling adventurous, you can sneak into a portion of the San Diego Museum of Art and enjoy a stunning indoor mural. Just enter the unlocked door near the Sculpture Garden’s outdoor cafe! Like the sculpture garden, this area of the museum is free to the public!

The 70 foot mural is named En Busca de las Delicias de la Tierra/In Search of Earthly Delights. Created by Writerz Blok, an innovative graffiti mural organization, it was painted by young artists Sake, Daze, Izze and Krown. Pieces from the museum’s collection of Mexican modern art were used for reference and inspiration.

San Diego Museum of Art visitor walks past large indoor mural.
San Diego Museum of Art visitor walks past large indoor mural.
San Diego organization Writerz Blok helped to create this mural.
San Diego organization Writerz Blok helped to create this amazing mural.

Whirl of green life before St. Paddy’s parade!

St. Patrick's Day Parade participants with signs.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade participants with signs.

San Diego’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held this morning. It ran along Fifth and Sixth Avenue, on Bankers Hill just west of Balboa Park.

I captured a whole bunch of fun pics just prior to the parade’s start. There’s no shortage of the color green! All sorts of people and pets were gathering and preparing and positioning themselves for the exciting event!

People head up Sixth Avenue to watch the big annual parade.
People head up Sixth Avenue to watch the big annual parade.
Bagpipers in kilts assemble for the parade near Balboa Park.
Bagpipers in kilts assemble for the parade near Balboa Park.
A colorful calliope stands by near start of parade route.
A colorful calliope stands by near start of parade route.
Mounted participants in San Diego's St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Mounted participants in San Diego’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Marines stand at the ready for the big event.
Cal Fire stands at the ready for the big event.
Girls anticipate marching on a sunny Saturday morning.
Girls anticipate marching on a sunny Saturday morning.
Junior Achievement kids hold THANK YOU spelled out for a photo.
Junior Achievement kids hold THANK YOU spelled out for a photo.
Hanging some Irish green tinsel.
Hanging some Irish green tinsel.
Last minute preparations on a School of Irish Dance float.
Last minute preparations on a School of Irish Dance float.
Another Smiling Irishman.
Another Smiling Irishman.
Gentlemen in capes and plumed hats hold flags.
Gentlemen in capes and plumed hats hold flags.
A band was playing on a float even before the parade started.
A band was playing on a float even before the parade started.
Kermit the Frog is proud to be green!
Kermit the Frog is proud to be green!
Big American Flag is ready on Sixth Avenue.
Big American Flag is ready on Sixth Avenue.
Another half hour until things really get rolling.
Another half hour until things really get rolling.
Clown's tie indicates Irish For a Day.
Clown’s tie indicates Irish For a Day.
Green-antlered hood ornament.
Green-antlered hood ornament.
Even dogs are wearing the green.
Even dogs are wearing the green.
San Diego Elks Lodge No. 168 and lots of shamrocks.
San Diego Elks Lodge No. 168 and lots of shamrocks.
A funny little wooden vehicle in line to start the parade.
A funny little wooden vehicle in line to start the parade.
Lincoln High School band members in green.
Lincoln High School band members in green.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in San Diego is a wonderful tradition.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade in San Diego is a wonderful tradition.

The fun, whimsical Sixth Avenue playground.

Imaginative children's playground in Balboa Park.
Imaginative children’s playground in Balboa Park.

Whenever I walk past the Sixth Avenue playground, located among pine trees in the northwest corner of Balboa Park, I wish I were a child again. To romp, climb and swing through this crazy colorful jumble would be a ton of fun!

The fun, whimsical Sixth Avenue playground.
The fun, whimsical Sixth Avenue playground.
Morning view of what is probably a fairly ordinary playground, but I still like it!
Morning view of what is probably just an ordinary playground, but I still like it!

Balboa Park’s vibrant WorldBeat Cultural Center.

Ancient Egypt inspires much of the vibrant mural.
Ancient Egypt and its symbols inspire much of the vibrant mural.

Folks heading up Park Boulevard beside Balboa Park often turn their heads as they pass the amazing, enormous mural painted on the side of the WorldBeat Cultural Center.

The WorldBeat Cultural Center, based in a former water tower, is a multi-cultural arts organization that promotes and preserves the African and indigenous cultures of the world through music, art, dance, education and technology. The center is also used as a venue for concerts and other special events.

Last Saturday I walked around the structure and took some pics of the huge, colorful mural. It completely spans the outside wall of the cylindrical building.

Front entrance of the WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park.
Front entrance of the WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park.
The WorldBeat Cultural Center is based in an old water tower.
The WorldBeat Cultural Center is based in an old water tower.
A variety of bold faces gaze in every direction from the mural.
A variety of bold faces gaze in every direction from the mural.
Fantastic images catch the eye of people passing on Park Boulevard.
Fantastic images catch the eye of people passing on Park Boulevard.
The north side of the WorldBeat Cultural Center.
Egyptian figures painted on the north side of the WorldBeat Cultural Center.
The back door looks like a magical entrance to another realm.
The back door looks like a magical entrance to another realm.
Exotic falcon with spread wings.
Exotic falcon with spread wings.
Diverse cultures from around the world are celebrated.
Diverse cultures from around the world are celebrated.
Image in mural similar to Tutankhamun's mummy mask.
Image in mural similar to the Mask of Tutankhamun.

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San Diego’s unknown tiny corner of heaven.

This hidden gem is the perfect spot for a picnic or quiet relaxation.
This hidden gem is the perfect spot for a picnic or quiet relaxation.

This morning I headed out to enjoy a special event in Balboa Park: the Japanese Friendship Garden’s Cherry Blossom Festival. Unfortunately, lots and lots of people were in line at the front entrance, and my feet didn’t want to stop. So I kept moseying along, pointing my nose toward the park’s Gymnasium, where I believed the big annual Rummage Sale was being held. This massive fundraiser is put on every year by the Thursday Club, and attracts thousands of eager bargain-seekers. Well, what do you know? The only thing going on in the Gymnasium was a basketball game. Strike Two. Okay, I thought to myself, I’ll just keep on going and have a leisurely walk…

Thursday Club Rummage Sale banner on Park Boulevard.
Thursday Club Rummage Sale banner on Park Boulevard.

Wham! Suddenly in front of my eyeballs loomed a gigantic banner–the Rummage Sale was being held this year across Park Boulevard, in Balboa Park’s Activity Center, a building I’d never visited. In fact, I’ve seldom walked about the park’s Inspiration Point area, except to visit the Veteran’s Museum. My restless feet were once again redirected…

People descend stairs of Balboa Park Administrative Building.
People descend stairs of Balboa Park Administration Building.

The handsome Spanish Colonial Revival style Balboa Park Administration Building (which originally was headquarters for San Diego’s Naval Hospital, built in the early 1920s) lured me forward into uncharted territory.   Several people leaving the Rummage Sale were heading down the stairs.  So up the stairs I went, around the quiet building and…WOW!

Gazebo with colored tile roof near entrance to hidden park.
Gazebo with colored tile roof near entrance to hidden park.

I’d stumbled upon a corner of heaven.

Balboa Park Administration Building Courtyard's benches are empty.
Balboa Park Administrative Courtyard’s benches are empty.

After a bit of research, I learned this beautiful and seldom-visited area is called the Balboa Park Administrative Courtyard. One website calls it a San Diego hidden gem, and I must concur. The place was stunningly beautiful–and completely empty. Nobody was present. Not a soul. On this warm Saturday, the rest of Balboa Park was crowded with people.

Fountain in the Balboa Park Administrative Building Courtyard was once part of San Diego's United States Naval Hospital.
Fountain in the Balboa Park Administrative Courtyard was once part of San Diego’s United States Naval Hospital.

The park-like courtyard and three nearby buildings–the old Navy chapel (now the Veteran’s Museum), the administration building, and an old medical library and auditorium building–used to be part of a sprawling Navy Hospital campus. Today the modern hospital is located just east of the courtyard, down in Florida Canyon. You can see a small part of it in the first photo. Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) is also known as Bob Wilson Naval Hospital or Balboa Hospital.

Palm trees line courtyard behind Balboa Park's Administrative Building.
Palms line the tranquil courtyard behind Balboa Park’s Administration Building.
Another view of Balboa Park's seldom-visited paradise.
Another view of Balboa Park’s seldom-visited paradise.

I’m glad I randomly walked in a new direction! Adventures and discoveries await in unexpected places!

Trees, green grass, blue sky and a small corner of heaven.
Trees, flowers, walkways, blue sky and a small corner of heaven.

I revisited this beautiful place in late 2014…

Plane approaching Lindbergh Field flies above Balboa Park Administration Building.
Plane approaching Lindbergh Field flies above Balboa Park Administration Building.
A pleasant stroll past bird of paradise flowers.
A pleasant stroll through an arbor past bird of paradise flowers.
Fountain is near center of a large, quiet grassy space.
This fountain is near the center of a large, quiet grassy space.  A second, slightly smaller fountain can be found to the north.
Some people rest on a bench in the sunny courtyard.
Some people rest on a bench in the sunny courtyard.

Two more pics from September 2015.  Still as beautiful and peaceful as ever!

Have a picnic.
Have a picnic.
Read (or write) a book.
Read (or write) a book.

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