Sand sculpture murals show San Diego history!

Two bas-relief sand sculpture panels by renowned artist Charles R. Faust in the lobby of 2550 Fifth Avenue in San Diego.
Two bas-relief sand sculpture panels by renowned artist Charles R. Faust in the lobby of 2550 Fifth Avenue in San Diego.

Two amazing works of art can be viewed inside an office building in Bankers Hill. The small murals–sculptures made of sand that appear as bas-relief panels–decorate a wall in the lobby of 5th & Laurel, the building best known as the home of Mister A’s restaurant.

Commissioned by the now defunct Great American First Savings Bank to celebrate their Centennial in 1985, the two panels depict important San Diego landmarks and aspects of local history.

The two sand cast panels were created by Charles R. Faust (1922 – 2000), a prolific artist who for many years worked as the director of architectural design at the San Diego Zoo. His invention of moated animal enclosures in the mid-1950’s revolutionized how the world famous zoo and their Wild Animal Park near Escondido exhibited animals. He also designed the San Diego Zoo’s huge walk-in aviary–the first of its kind in the world.

After retiring from that job, Charles opened Faust Sand Casting in Ocean Beach with his son. Over his creative lifetime the art of Charles Faust would also include fine drawings, watercolors and oil paintings, many of which depicted life in the Old West, a theme he loved.

His sand sculpture murals have added beauty to many locations around San Diego. I photographed a couple of these murals in the past for Cool San Diego Sights, without realizing at the time they were created by Charles Faust. You can spot them here and here!

Yesterday morning I spoke to a security guard in the lobby of 5th & Laurel, and he said these two “sand art” panels were moved from a suite in the building where there used to be a bank. I believe they were in Suite 120, once the home of Pacific Premier Bank, and the future home of an upscale Italian restaurant. But I’m not sure about the exact history of these particular panels. If you know anything more about them, please leave a comment!

(Please note these photographs make the panels seem more yellowish than they are in reality, due to the indoor lighting and my modest camera.)

The left panel depicts early San Diego history, including Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the ranchos.
The panel on the left. It depicts early San Diego history, including Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the ranchos.
A friar outside the Spanish mission. The man on horseback might be a soldier from the old presidio.
A friar outside the Spanish mission. The man on horseback might be a soldier from the old presidio.
The bells of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, first Spanish mission in California.
The bells of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, first Spanish mission in Alta California.
Scenes from the Old West in San Diego.
Scenes from the Old West in San Diego, including an old wagon and a ride on a bucking horse.
A rancher or vaquero, and a herd of cattle.
A rancher or vaquero, and a herd of cattle.
The right panel depicts more San Diego landmarks. Images include Balboa Park, a streetcar, Coronado ferry, naval ship, farm and Victorian houses.
The panel on the right. It depicts many later San Diego landmarks. Images include Balboa Park, a streetcar, Coronado ferry, naval ship, farm and Victorian houses.
GREAT AMERICAN CENTENNIAL - 100 YEARS - 1885-1985
GREAT AMERICAN CENTENNIAL – 100 YEARS – 1885-1985
A sailboat and birds share San Diego Bay with a pre-bridge Coronado ferry and an old Navy warship.
A sailboat and birds share San Diego Bay with a pre-bridge Coronado ferry and an early 20th century Navy warship. In the upper right corner I spy a tiny Old Point Loma Lighthouse!
I recognize the Cabrillo Bridge and the California Building and Tower.
I recognize the Cabrillo Bridge and the California Building and Tower of Balboa Park.
I think I recognize the Long-Waterman House of Bankers Hill on the left. The house on the right might be a south view of the Britt-Scripps House, but I'm not certain.
I think I recognize the historic Long-Waterman House of Bankers Hill. The house to the right of it might be a south view of the Britt-Scripps House, but it appears a bit different.

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Lines, curves, contrasts and mysteries.

A mazelike X by artist Bob Matheny. His works of Almost Anonymous, mind-teasing art can now be absorbed at the San Diego History Museum.
A mazelike X by artist Bob Matheny. His works of Almost Anonymous, mind-teasing art can now be absorbed at the San Diego History Museum.

I took these unusual photographs yesterday during my afternoon walk through Balboa Park.

Each image seemed uniquely interesting to me for one reason or another. My eyes were drawn to lines, curves, contrasts and mysteries.

The passage of time glimpsed underfoot. Contrasted modes of decay.
The passage of time glimpsed underfoot. Contrasted modes of decay.
An elemental drama. Trees battle sky.
An elemental drama. Trees battle sky.
In one photo nature subdues architecture.
In one photo nature subdues architecture.
The iconic California Tower is swallowed by vertical distance.
The iconic California Tower is swallowed by vertical distance.
Looking through an arch of the California Quadrangle toward the original Administration Building, first building completed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.
Looking through an arch of the California Quadrangle toward the original Administration Building, the first building completed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.
Simple lines and curves, a small place in the park to rest.
Simple lines and curves: a small place in the park to rest.
Eyes are drawn in every direction in a nook beside the San Diego Museum of Art.
Eyes are pulled in every direction in a nook beside the San Diego Museum of Art.
Wild beauty is aesthetically arranged at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Wild beauty is aesthetically arranged at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
The Japanese Friendship Garden, where reflection becomes meditation.
The Japanese Friendship Garden, where reflection becomes meditation.

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!

Magic windows appear in Balboa Park!

Visitors to Balboa Park see a magical landscape from a window-like balcony high in the California Tower.
Visitors to Balboa Park see a magical landscape from a window-like balcony high up in the California Tower.

Visit Balboa Park and you’ll discover many magic windows. They appear wherever you turn.

I looked through many magic windows today…

Windows at the Japanese Friendship Garden look out at the Karesansui Dry Stone Garden, where magic gradually appears for those who are still.
Windows at the Japanese Friendship Garden look out at the Karesansui Dry Stone Garden, where magic gradually appears for those who are still.
A bamboo kakei spills droplets of magic into a liquid window.
A bamboo kakei spills droplets of magic into a liquid window.
A rock window has been opened and polished, revealing the Earth's inner magic at the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building.
A rock window has been opened and polished, revealing the Earth’s inner magic at the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building.
Small windows to magical creativity delight the eye at the San Diego History Center. A current exhibition concerns the art of Bob Matheny.
Small windows to magical creativity delight the eye at the San Diego History Center. A current exhibition concerns the art of Bob Matheny.
Good Question, Bob Matheny, wood and enamel paint, 1967. True magic will forever remain a mystery.
Good Question, Bob Matheny, wood and enamel paint, 1967. True magic will forever remain a mystery.
A feathered subject in a magically rippling window appears for a photographer in Balboa Park.
A feathered subject in a magically rippling window appears for a photographer in Balboa Park.
A window to nature's magic at the Botanical Building.
A delicate window to nature’s magic at the Botanical Building.
Looking up toward a lath skylight full of green magic.
Looking up toward a lath skylight full of green magic.
The magical qualities of song become visible for a few minutes near the House of Ukraine at the International Cottages.
The magical qualities of song become visible for a few minutes near the House of Ukraine at the International Cottages.
This small window-like scene at the House of China contains a fantastic, magical vision carved from cork!
This small window-like scene inside the House of China contains a fantastic, magical vision carved from cork!
A magic window at the House of Charm looks forward into the future. The Mingei International Museum is undergoing a major renovation and expansion.
A magic window at Balboa Park’s House of Charm looks forward into the future. The Mingei International Museum is undergoing a major renovation and expansion.
One of many fine sculptures in the Plaza de Panama, and a window of the San Diego Museum of Art. Beyond that window are galleries full of magic.
One of many fine sculptures in the Plaza de Panama, and a window of the San Diego Museum of Art. Beyond that window are galleries full of magic.
Reflections join magically together in two very different rear windows of the San Diego Museum of Art.
Cloud reflections join magically together in two very different rear windows at the San Diego Museum of Art.
Deep inside one magic Balboa Park lamp one can find the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center.
Beyond this magic lamp’s window one can see the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center.
Window panes contain old magic at the Old Globe Theatre.
Window panes contain old magic performed at the Old Globe Theatre.
Another window into the future. This advanced art student is phenomenal. I didn't get his name. I am certain he will achieve great magic.
Another window into the future. This advanced art student is phenomenal. I didn’t get his name. I am one hundred percent certain he will produce great magic.
Nature's magic on Balboa Park's West Mesa, in a window formed by my camera's lens.
Nature’s magic on Balboa Park’s West Mesa, in a window formed by my camera’s lens.
A portal to the magic sky opens in a wall at the Spanish Village Art Center.
A portal to the magic sky opens in a wall at the Spanish Village Art Center.

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 you love Balboa Park, too? Check out my other website Beautiful Balboa Park!

Across the gray water into a dream…

Taking the ferry from downtown San Diego to Coronado is like crossing into a dream. It’s a journey to a magical place. The island is like a small, carefree paradise.

I had a variety of photos from my ferry ride and walk yesterday, so I thought I’d try converting a few into oil paintings! I cropped selected images then used the Oilify artistic filter that comes with the GIMP graphics editor.

It was a beautiful misty winter day.

Those are sea lions lying on a buoy in the bay!

The words etched in the sand near the Coronado Ferry Landing? I’ll let you decide.

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!

Changing light at Tuna Harbor.

The following series of photos represents a span of time from about 45 minutes before sunset to about 10 minutes after sunset. I took these shots this evening.

I lifted my camera periodically as I sat on a bench beside Tuna Harbor, on San Diego’s beautiful Embarcadero.

It was interesting to watch how the light would subtly change.

Our world’s inexorable journey through space and time gradually transformed Tuna Harbor’s fishing boats, the water and the sky, and various downtown buildings.

I took these photos as I sat working on a new short story. I’m pretty sure it will be titled Light at the Edges.

I hope the story will be finished to my satisfaction in the near future. When the words feel right, I’ll publish them here.

Late sunlight creates magic in Balboa Park.

Balboa Park is magical at any time, but as nightfall approaches, and the last rays of golden sunlight touch buildings and trees, the magic flames, becomes even more powerful.

I got off work early today and used the extra bit of daylight to walk about the park and take photographs.

These are the best…

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 you love Balboa Park, too? Check out my other website Beautiful Balboa Park!

Snow and winter beauty at Cuyamaca.

Early this morning I headed to the mountains east of San Diego. I yearned to see the new snow.

I departed before a crowd of families and kids, eager to sled and throw snowballs, might jump into their cars. It doesn’t snow in a city whose climate is said to be the best in the world. For many San Diego residents a journey to the snow is a rare treat.

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a little less than an hour east of downtown San Diego. I drove from Interstate 8 up Highway 79 and lingered in several spots, crunching crackly ice and crisp snow under my shoes. Good thing I dressed warmly!

Here are a few photographs of winter’s beauty in the meadows and mountains of Cuyamaca.

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!

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