Echoes of Africa at San Diego Library.

The Central Library in downtown San Diego has a stimulating new exhibition in its Art Gallery on the 9th floor. Echoes of Africa opened last weekend.

Contemporary works by local African American artists are contrasted with African artifacts from San Diego Mesa College’s World Cultures Art collection, including objects that demonstrate the mastery of African artisans in metal, wood, ceramics, beadwork, and textiles.

One can see how the spirit and traditions of African ancestors live on, helping to guide the hands of inspired creators in our community.

As I wandered about the gallery, I was drawn to the abstract spray painted pieces by popular San Diego muralist and graffiti artist Maxx Moses. Traditional masks were translated into complex, colorful canvases full of symbolism. I was also stunned by some truly extraordinary wood artwork by Christopher Lloyd Tucker. Other talented artists in the exhibition are Andrea Chung, Angie Jennings, and Jermaine A. Williams.

Filling the gallery are dozens of fascinating pieces, accompanied by extensive descriptions, giving curious viewers an opportunity for contemplation and learning.

Additional objects from the extensive Mesa Colleges collection can be observed in glass display cases on the first floor of the Central Library.

The exhibition will continue through August 20, 2022.

Benin, 2022, Maxx Moses. Spray paint and acrylic on canvas.
Detelumo (Helmet Mask) of the Ejagham (Ekoi) People of Cross River, Nigeria. Wood, animal skin.
AGAIN, 2021, Christopher Lloyd Tucker. Padauk, wenge, rosewood, aromatic cedar, purple heart, walnut, maple, poplar and epoxy resin.
Bwoom (Helmet Mask) of the Kuba People of Democratic Republic of Congo. Wood.
Kuba Cloth of the Kuba People of Democratic Republic of Congo. Raffia fiber.
Ceremonial Dance Skirt of the Kuba People of Democratic Republic of Congo. Raffia fiber.

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!

Doing the laundry in early San Diego.

You think doing the laundry is a pain?

Well, back in the mid-19th century, in early San Diego, doing the laundry was a very big pain!

Last weekend I enjoyed listening to a Hidden History talk in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park about the difficulty of cleaning clothes before the advent of handy-dandy push-button washing machines.

Wash day was actually a three day project that began with walking down to the San Diego River multiple times while carrying a bucket. About 50 gallons would be required.

In dusty Old Town, with livestock running around, clothes would get really filthy. The sorting process included the consideration of material–often cotton or wool–and filthiness. After sorting came spot cleaning with lye soap (made by boiling wood ash) and borax (brought in from the desert).

Then clothes and under garments would be generally cleaned with boiling hot water in a big tub using a wooden paddle (for stirring) and washboard (possibly imported to the isolated, undeveloped town by ship) for scrubbing. (My arms are sore just thinking about it!)

Yes, then the hanging out to dry–fortunately San Diego has a warm, dry climate.

And then the ironing.

You had to prep the iron by scraping the bottom, put it on a stove and heat it to just the right temperature so you don’t burn yourself or the clothes, then more arm work. Later irons were more fancy–you could put coals in them. Just don’t get the ash from the coals on the clothes!

In those days, doing the laundry was a job designated for women. The process was so long and involved, they usually wouldn’t cook on wash days. Food for the family would be prepared in advance.

In 1860 San Diego had 4 dedicated laundresses–indigenous and Irish women. In 1870, when San Diego’s population had grown to 2300, there were 32, including Chinese immigrants who were then arriving in California.

That’s a hasty summary of the Hidden History talk, which everyone enjoyed as we sat on a pleasant Saturday in front of the State Park’s historic Colorado House.

On Sunday I threw my dirty clothes into a washing machine, added detergent from a plastic bottle and pressed a button. Transferring my clothes to the drier was oh-so difficult!

I tried to take good notes, but don’t rely on what I’ve written here as 100% accurate. If you’re doing research and came upon this blog post, make sure to read other sources!

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!

One of downtown San Diego’s oldest buildings.

A small, unremarkable brick structure in the Gaslamp Quarter is actually one of downtown San Diego’s oldest buildings!

You could easily walk past the current home of Lucky Brand and not realize this modest building has almost a century and a half of history.

I looked at its historical plaque yesterday to learn more about it. As you can see, the plaque is now very corroded and not easily read, so I took a photograph and enhanced the image by increasing the contrast.

The Combination Store, 1880.

Constructed in 1880, the Combination Store is one of the oldest brick structures still standing in the Gaslamp District, dating further back than the Yuma. Originally, the building was built for one store, and had a 35-inch parapet, a metal cornice, and a frame porch extending to the street. It was first known as the New York and Boston Combination Company, specializing in dry goods and clothing. In 1914, the building was divided into two stores. Later, the parapet was shortened and the porch removed.

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!

Holiday Bazaar helps refugees, immigrant owned business!

A very cool San Diego holiday event is coming up this Saturday in North Park!

A Holiday Bazaar will be held December 4, 2021 from 10 am to 1 pm at the urban farm at 3745 30th Street. Look for the outdoor space just north of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. According to the event website, you’ll be able to shop from “local refugee and immigrant owned business, explore global street food, and listen to live music.”

I came upon this urban farm four years ago and described my experience here. As you can see in the above photo, I met friendly refugee students whose new home was San Diego. They were gaining confidence and learning job skills!

The 3rd Annual Holiday Bazaar is put on by MAKE Projects and International Rescue Committee’s Small Business Development Center.

Why not swing by and find some unique Christmas gifts? Vendors will be selling clothing, art, crafts, jewelry and much more!

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!

Historical uniforms inspire a Fashion Redux!

Anyone in San Diego who is interested in history, fashion, or the evolution of fashion should visit the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

A new exhibit opened on Sunday titled Fashion Redux 2021. Collaborating with the History Center, inspired by four plain-looking late 19th to mid 20th century woman’s uniforms, students from Mesa College’s Fashion Program have designed similar but more contemporary clothing!

The four articles of clothing in the museum’s collection that were considered by the students are: a WWII Uniform, Navy Nurse Corps, c. 1940s; a ZLAC Rowing Uniform, c. 1895; a Girl Scout Uniform, c. 1919; and a Knights of Columbus Uniform, c. late 19th or early 20th century.

Just seeing those old uniforms in the San Diego History Center is interesting in itself, but to see how fashion design students have chosen to alter century-old styles provides a glimpse into the creative human mind, and perhaps a sense of our culture’s present day aesthetic tastes.

The exhibit allows visitors to compare the different clothing in detail, and learn about the talented students who are participating in this Fashion Redux.

Here is some of what you’ll see…

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Delightful entrance to The Village Hat Shop!

How many shops have an enormous hat sheltering their front entrance?

The Village Hat Shop in Hillcrest does!

They also have three great murals above windows that are brimming with fantastic hats!

Back in April, when I was researching the artist who created a civil rights mural in Mountain View, I learned that Rik Erickson of Murals Fantastic had also painted these three small but very delightful murals at The Village Hat Shop.

The Village Hat Shop was founded in 1980 in San Diego and now has several locations around Southern California.

If you’re a hat lover, you might enjoy paying a visit!

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The art and color of Kimono: A Living History.

A week ago, when I visited the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, I stepped into the Inamori Pavilion. There I found an exhibit, titled Kimono: A Living History, that features exquisite kimonos that are truly works of art.

By looking at the many displays and reading signs, I learned about this traditional Japanese clothing, which is often worn during special occasions, including weddings and tea ceremonies. I learned a little about the history of the kimono, from the ancient Yayoi period all the way to modern times, and how each kimono is made and worn. I learned that a formal kimono will include a family crest, which is a stylized motif within a circle.

What impressed me most was the beauty of the kimonos themselves. Their colors often reflect the season, and the designs can be simple or elaborate, but always very pleasing to the eye. Each appears like a painted canvas. To wear a kimono is to wear a work of art.

Here’s just a little of what I saw…

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!

Museum exhibit shows evolution of fashion.

Fashion changes from decade to decade. This is often due to economic factors, social movements, the popular culture and the evolution of materials and commerce.
Fashion evolves from decade to decade. This is often due to economic factors, social movements, the popular culture and changes in materials, manufacturing and commerce.

A new exhibition at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park concerns the fascinating evolution of fashion over the past nine decades. Titled Fashion Redux: 90 Year of Fashion, this exhibition includes a “timeline of garments” from the museum’s collection, plus a number of pieces that were created by fashion students who are studying at Mesa College. The dresses these talented students created are a unique fusion of the past and present.

I confess that I have no fashion sense. I’m content to wear blue jeans every day of the year. When they become a bit too scruffy, I buy a cheap new pair. I really have no right to proclaim anything about fashion.

But I’ve always been deeply fascinated by human creativity. And the origin, formulation and application of an aesthetic sense. And the twists and turns of history, of course.

Anyone who is curious about fashion and its evolution should head over to The San Diego History Center. The museum will be having a Grand Reveal Fashion Show on April 26, where you can meet some of the Mesa College fashion students and instructors. They’re also having a series of different demonstrations. You can find out more here.

Fashion during the past 90 years is presented in a special exhibit at the San Diego History Center. Included is the work of students from Mesa College, who created new designs based on old trends.
Fashion during the past 90 years is presented in a special exhibit at the San Diego History Center. Included is the work of students from Mesa College, who created new designs based on old trends.

Photographs on the wall are from the collection of the San Diego History Center. They were taken by Charles Schneider, who during his long career contracted with UPI photographing film stars and entertainers.
Photographs on the wall are from the collection of the San Diego History Center. They were taken by Charles Schneider, who during his long career contracted with United Press International, photographing film stars and entertainers.

This 1940's style dress was created by student designer Anna Acosta. In that decade garments were often designed to soften a woman's shape, create a sense of elegance.
This 1940’s style dress was created by student designer Anna Acosta. In that decade garments were often designed to soften a woman’s shape, and achieve a sense of elegance.

An activity center at the exhibition encourages kids to try their own hand and eye at fashion design. A nearby nook is the setting for fashion demonstrations by students and instructors from the San Diego Mesa College Fashion Program.
An activity station at the exhibition encourages kids to try their own hand and eye at fashion design. A nearby nook is the setting for fashion demonstrations by students and instructors from the San Diego Mesa College Fashion Program.

This garment reflects the mid-2000's, when the boho style reached its pinnacle. This dress was designed by student Zari Wabab.
This garment reflects the mid-2000’s, when the boho style reached its pinnacle. This dress was designed by student Zari Wabab.

The San Diego History Center should be the destination of anyone interested in the past, including fashion trends.
The San Diego History Center should be the destination of anyone interested in the past, including fashion trends.

This draped nylon and taffeta gown reflects the Golden Age of Hollywood during the 1930's and the Great Depression. Like an uplifting dream in those difficult times. Created by student designer Stephanie Castro.
This draped nylon and taffeta gown reflects the Golden Age of Hollywood during the 1930’s and the Great Depression. It seemed like a dream in that difficult era. Created by student designer Stephanie Castro.

This garment in the museum's collection represents the 1990's, a time when fashion evolved as the internet gained traction, and working from home and globalism began their rise.
This garment in the museum’s collection represents the 1990’s, a time when fashion evolved as the internet gained traction, and working from home and globalism began their rise.

Dresses from the past nine decades are like a timeline representing evolving culture and various impacts of technology.
Dresses from the past nine decades are arranged as a timeline, each representing the evolving culture and various impacts of technology.

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Elegantly dressed skeletons discovered in old hotel!

Two elegantly dressed skeletons can be seen seated just inside the front entrance of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town.
Two elegantly dressed skeletons have been discovered seated inside the front entrance of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town.

I was stunned to observe that a large number of skeletons have been discovered in an old San Diego hotel. The Cosmopolitan Hotel, to be exact. The elegantly dressed skeletons, wearing frilly dresses or top hats, were seen standing about the hotel’s entrance, in the saloon, even seated on chairs behind a large wedding cake.

Huh?

I’m just having a bit of fun! The Cosmopolitan Hotel is part of Old Town, and dozens of elegantly dressed skeletons appear in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park every year as Día de los Muertos approaches.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is actually a celebration of ancestors and loved family members who have passed away. In Mexico, the deceased are remembered and prayed for, and certain joyful traditions are observed. One unusual tradition is derived from La Calavera Catrina, a famous etching by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada, which depicts a female skeleton dressed in a fancy hat. Even though the image was originally created as satire, the Catrina has become a familiar sight in many places where Día de los Muertos is observed.

I snapped these photos at the historic Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town. The original building dates back to the late 1820s, when the wealthy Californio cattle rancher Juan Bandini built a “mansion” among the simple adobes in Old Town. When Bandini’s fortunes faded, he sold the house to Albert Seeley in 1869, who built a second story and converted the house into a hotel for a new San Diego stagecoach stop, which he also built nearby.

I believe I photographed a couple of the same skeletons a year or two ago, but I simply couldn’t help myself. They’re so much fun!

A covered wagon in front of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
A covered wagon in front of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

In celebration of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, two lady skeletons wearing frilly dresses greet visitors to the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Here's one.
In celebration of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, two lady skeletons wearing frilly dresses greet visitors to the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Here’s one!

Here's the other!
Here’s the other!

Inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel's saloon, more extremely elegant but skeletal customers are observed.
Inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s saloon, another lavishly elegant but skeletal customer is observed.

A shy skeleton in quite fancy attire stands silently in the corner of the Old West 1800s saloon.
A shy skeleton in very fancy attire stands silently in the corner of the Old West 1800s saloon.

A bony customer at the bar. That must have been a stiff drink.
A bony customer at the bar. That must have been a stiff drink.

A wedding cake for a skeleton bride and groom! Día de los Muertos is a joyful holiday that celebrates past life.
A wedding cake for a skeleton bride and groom! Día de los Muertos is a joyful holiday that celebrates the past lives of loved ones.

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Help protect the environment: Cool ideas at EarthFair.

Use cans and old kitchen tools for plant pots! Dryer lint as cotton with nail polish remover to take off polish!
Use cans and old kitchen tools for plant pots! Dryer lint as cotton with nail polish remover to take off polish!

Late this morning, I walked from Cortez Hill to the 2016 EarthFair in Balboa Park. The cool event, corresponding with Earth Day, is the largest annual environmental fair in the world!

Thousands turned out for 2016 EarthFair in Balboa Park, where San Diego celebrates Earth Day and learns how to help the environment.
Thousands turned out today for the 2016 EarthFair in Balboa Park.  San Diego residents celebrated Earth Day and learned how to help protect the environment.

I blogged about EarthFair the last couple of years and showed you a little bit of almost everything–so this time I decided to take a different, more practical approach. As I walked through San Diego’s garden-like Balboa Park, I searched the many exhibits for useful ideas about things we can do in our daily lives to protect the environment.

Here are a few things I found. Please read the captions! And feel free to share!

1. Ideas for creatively repurposing used household items.

One major theme of EarthFair was re-using and repurposing old items that might otherwise be thrown away. I noted some cool ideas and took pics!

Poster shows many creative repurposing ideas! Click photo to enlarge and read some cool, very unusual ideas that you might try!
Poster shows many creative repurposing ideas! Click photo to enlarge and read some cool, very unusual ideas that you might try!

These shiny, colorful handbags were made from recycled Kool-Aid and Capri Sun packets!
These shiny, colorful handbags were made from recycled Kool-Aid and Capri Sun packets!

Take old clothes to make new clothes for homeless and toys for kids.
Take old clothes to make new clothes for homeless and toys for kids.

Recycling vintage fabric into baby bibs.
Recycling vintage fabric into baby bibs.

Turn old sweaters into beautiful pillows.
Turn old sweaters into beautiful pillows.

People check out the world's largest fair celebrating Earth Day--EarthFair in San Diego's sunny Balboa Park!
People check out the world’s largest festival celebrating Earth Day–EarthFair in San Diego’s sunny Balboa Park!

2. Tasty ways to use up excess fruits and vegetables.

One display created by the County of San Diego provided excellent information about how to use leftover or surplus fruits and vegetables, to avoid unnecessary waste. Those pics came out blurry, so here’s what I noted:

Spinach–add to sandwiches, soups, egg dishes, pasta or smoothies.

Bananas–add to cereal, yogurt or smoothies. Blend frozen bananas with milk and vanilla for a healthy dessert.

Citrus–add to green or fruit salads, soups, pasta or sauces. Add peels to vinegar for a simple household cleaner.

Tomatoes–add to salads, egg dishes, sandwiches or pasta. Use to make fresh salsa, tomato sauce or bruschetta.

Onions–add to salads, soups, egg dishes, sandwiches or stir-fry. Pickle red onions. Make onion preserves.

Peppers–add to sandwiches, salads, egg dishes or stir-fry. Steam and puree to make soup or a sauce for meat or pasta.

Avocados–add to smoothies, salads, sandwiches, egg dishes or baked goods. Spread on toast. Use in pasta sauce with lemon, garlic, oil and basil.

Beets–add to salads, soups or stir-fry. Use roasted beets in place of meat on sandwiches.

Broccoli and Cauliflower–add to salads, soups, egg dishes or stir-fry. Add finely chopped or grated cauliflower to rice.

Berries–add to fruit or green salads, hot or cold cereals, smoothies or yogurt. Use in a fruit salsa served with bread or chips.

Potatoes–add to salads, soups or egg dishes. Use russet potatoes to make potato skins. Use leftover baked potatoes to make hashbrowns.

Corn–add to soups or salads. Use to make a fresh corn salsa. Bake into cornbread or potato pancakes.

3. Things you can do to help protect the environment–and save money!

Here are a few displays I photographed that contained some great advice! Click the photos to enlarge them!

Compost can be made with shredded paper, grass clippings, wood chips, garden leftovers, leaves, livestock manure, chopped up yard debris and used coffee grounds.
Compost can be made with shredded paper, grass clippings, wood chips, garden leftovers, leaves, livestock manure, chopped up yard debris and used coffee grounds.

To save energy, use efficient lighting, adjust your thermostat, install solar, reduce driving, and keep you car maintained and tires properly inflated.
To save energy, use efficient lighting, adjust your thermostat, install solar, reduce driving, and keep your car maintained and tires properly inflated.

Check to see if your city offers free utility inspections and efficiency analysis. In San Diego, a free water survey program is available.
Check to see if your city offers free utility inspections and efficiency analysis. In San Diego, a free water survey program is available.

Ride a bicycle to work! In San Diego, Bike to Work Day in 2016 is Friday, May 20. You might consider walking or taking public transit, too!
Ride a bicycle to work! In San Diego, Bike to Work Day in 2016 is Friday, May 20. You might consider walking or taking public transit, too!

Many San Diegans saved energy, reduced air pollution and stayed healthy by riding their bicycles to EarthFair!
Many San Diegans saved energy, reduced air pollution and stayed healthy by riding their bicycles to EarthFair!

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