A new Children’s Zoo is under construction!

The Sanford Children's Zoo will contain two acres of new animal habitats and kid friendly experiences.
The Sanford Children’s Zoo will contain two acres of new animal habitats and kid friendly experiences.

Yes, I spent another Sunday in Balboa Park. It’s close to where I live, and I love it.

Look what I discovered while walking around today!

For a while I’ve been wondering about a very large crane rising above the southeast corner of the San Diego Zoo. You can see it just west of the Spanish Village Art Center, behind a construction fence that runs along the walkway connecting the zoo to the center of Balboa Park.

I noticed banners have been hung on the fence!

A new Children’s Zoo is under construction! It will be called the Sanford Children’s Zoo and will feature two acres of new habitats and fun things for kids to do. It appears the new Children’s Zoo will open in 2021.

Check out these banners to see come cool renderings and description!

The world-famous San Diego Zoo's new Sanford Children's Zoo is now under construction. It's due to open in 2021.
The world-famous San Diego Zoo’s new Sanford Children’s Zoo is now under construction. It’s due to open in 2021.
There will be a shallow stream for kids to play in and a rope bridge to a fun treehouse.
There will be a gentle stream for kids to play in and a rope bridge to a fun treehouse.
There will be a waterfall and cave behind it.
There will be a waterfall and cave behind it.
Visitors will be able to view a complex network of underground tunnels and burrows used by naked mole-rats!
Visitors will be able to view a complex network of underground tunnels and burrows used by naked mole-rats!
There will be some sort of big water globe near the new Children's Zoo's entrance. (Will there be fish in it?)
There will be some sort of big water globe near the new Children’s Zoo’s entrance. (I wonder how kids will interact with it. Will there be fish in it?)
A new walk-through aviary will include beautiful hummingbirds!
A new walk-through aviary will include beautiful hummingbirds!

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!

Niki de Saint Phalle’s Grande Step Totem.

One fantastic sculpture by renowned French-American sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle presently stands at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Those who pass by the cultural center on their way up North Escondido Boulevard can’t fail to miss it.

I stopped by to have a look at the monumental sculpture, which is titled Grande Step Totem.

A plaque near its base is weathered and cracked and is difficult to read now. I’ve tried to transcribe the English portion of it accurately:

Grande Step Totem

Based in Native American spirituality, Saint Phalle’s Totem is more solemn than much of her work. With a muted color palette and subject matter, this piece encourages introspection. The Totem returned to Escondido on December 19, 2012 after spending the summer on view with several other Saint Phalle pieces on Park Avenue in New York City.

NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE

2001

Polyurethane foam resin, steel armature, ceramic tiles, stained glass, tumbled stone.

As you can see, some construction work was being done around the base of the sculpture when I visited last weekend. Here are my photos…

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The most magical circus in the world!

Today I was wowed by amazing, dazzling, stupefying performances at the most magical circus in the world!

I know for a fact that I experienced the most powerful magic. I saw it, heard it, smelled it, got goosebumps. I felt magic in my sudden laughter and in my soaring heart. I saw magic in the joyful smiles of each circus performer.

The Zoppé Family Circus is performing this weekend at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. They are a circus whose history goes back to 1842, when, according to their website:

“. . . a young French street performer named Napoline Zoppé wandered into a plaza in Budapest, Hungary, looking for work. There, his eyes glanced upon a beautiful equestrian ballerina named Ermenegilda, who captured the hearts and minds of the crowd with her grace and showmanship. More important, this talented beauty captured Napoline’s heart.

Unfortunately, Napoline was a clown, and Ermenegilda’s father saw him as beneath her and disapproved of their relationship. The two ran away to Venice, Italy, and founded the circus that still bears their name . . .”

Today, the Zoppé Family Circus is filling our world with the time-tested magic of an Old World traditional circus. As Giovanni Zoppé explained when he welcomed the audience to the show, an authentic circus is all about family, tradition and struggle, and happiness and heartbreak.

I could see that the performers are also motivated by passion and a very deep love for what they do.

I spoke to Giovanni briefly, and he was such a nice person. I mean really nice.

After I got home, I did some reading and learned: “Giovanni Zoppé, the director of the circus and a sixth-generation performer, says the show aims higher than what passes for circuses these days. ‘We try to touch every emotion during the show,’ he says. ‘They’ll laugh, they’ll cry, and they’ll feel for the characters. It’s more of an event than a show.’

His performance as Nino the clown was hilarious, winning and utterly human. It was perfect. It was masterful.

The entire spectacle was fantastic.

Under the big top, in the spotlight at the center of the ring, the magic of the Zoppé Family Circus never ceased. There was magic in the acrobats, trapeze act, jugglers and tightwire act. There was magic in the trick horse riding and the lady who shot an arrow with perfect accuracy using her feet while doing a handstand. There was magic in the mustachioed fellow who flew through the air absurdly with a rope tied to his hair. He spun like a top, circled high above the ring, soared like a bird. There was magic in the glittering costumes, and the smell of sawdust and buttery popcorn, and the excited chatter and laughter of children. There was magic when Nino couldn’t find his hat, then couldn’t reach it when it dangled from the top of a broomstick that he held.

There was magic in every single moment.

My camera failed to take good photos in the subdued light under the big top. But I got some photos in front of the tent during a humorous pre-show performance.

In my photos you can see a little bit of that magic. And much of the humanity.

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’s fantastic Toy Train Gallery!

One of my favorite attractions in Balboa Park is the absolutely huge, incredible San Diego Model Railroad Museum. And my favorite room in the museum is the fantastic Toy Train Gallery!

Check out these quick photos of the gallery’s super fun toy train layout operated by the San Diego 3-Railers Club!

The colorful layout features O-Scale Lionel-type trains running through a world full of sound and movement. Signs and billboards light up. Cars pull in and out of driveways. People move back and forth. Ghostbusters contend with a rampaging Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

A Choo-Choo Cam lets visitors experience an engineer’s perspective as one model train passes through tunnels, over bridges, and past nostalgic, often humorous scenery. The view is sure to delight children . . . and the child that hopefully remains within each of us!

If you or your family would like to visit the very cool San Diego Model Railroad Museum and their fantastic Toy Train Gallery, you can learn more 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!

A small story inside the Coronado Library.

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time reading in the Coronado Public Library.

I was sitting comfortably in the library’s Reading Room, my eyes resting on Donal Hord’s sculpture Mourning Woman, when I became aware of happy, excited voices drifting in from the Children’s Room.

And a small story whispered into my mind.

The story isn’t about Death–it’s about Life. So I changed the Mourning Woman to the Silent Woman. I also changed the season, and the appearance of the Reading Room.

If you’d like to have this very small story whisper to you, click here.

Third grade students create self-portrait quilts!

Last Tuesday I headed to Liberty Station to check out a cool exhibition at IDW’s Comic Art Gallery before the start of Comic-Con. I arrived half an hour before the gallery opened, so I moseyed around Liberty Station’s beautiful park-like setting.

I walked by the Visions Art Museum and poked my nose inside.

There I discovered something inspiring! One of the museum’s walls featured a display of small quilts made by third grade students who attend Perkins Elementary School in Barrio Logan. (About a year ago I photographed part of this school’s outdoor mural.)

Their teacher, who was sitting at the Vision Art Museum’s front desk, briefly told me her students, some of whom are homeless, were super excited to create this artwork. They drew the design first, then cut out pieces of colorful fabric, which they assembled into expressive self-portraits!

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!

Wizard of Oz glass panels at Coronado Library.

Five years ago I blogged about the Wizard of Oz festival which was held in Coronado’s Spreckels Park. After checking out the festival, I took three photos of the beautiful Wizard of Oz glass panels inside the Coronado Library, which is located across Orange Avenue from the park.

Last weekend during my visit to Coronado I enjoyed looking at the panels again. I had stepped into the library to photograph pieces of art by two internationally famous artists. (I’ll post those photos at some point in the future, probably after Comic-Con.)

The thing is, as I paused in front of the wonderful Wizard of Oz artwork at the entrance to the children’s room, I suddenly realized I hadn’t posted photos of all the fun scenes. So I will right now!

This colorful Wizard of Oz Children’s Library Entry Portal was created by artist Brenda Smith.

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!