A celebration of Korean culture in Balboa Park!

Yesterday afternoon the House of Korea in Balboa Park hosted a big lawn program! Traditional music, colorful fan dance, K-pop, martial arts and more took the stage in a wonderful celebration of Korean culture!

Participants in the event gathered at the International Cottages from all around Southern California, including representatives from the Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles. As you might expect, many were in the audience!

It was interesting how some of the performances were a fusion of both Korean and American culture. When an expressive solo dancer began to dance with great emotion to the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody, there was loud applause from the audience!

Enjoy these photographs!

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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Big gathering of Azteca dancers in Chicano Park!

A group of about a hundred Danza Azteca-Chichimeca dancers filled Chicano Park today with life and color and tradition and joy!

To the rhythmic beat of drums, strummed lutes and rattled gourds, families danced within and around Chicano Park’s central gazebo, or Kiosko.

I don’t know a whole lot about the Mexican Concheros ceremony and dance, other than it’s a fusion of pre-Hispanic and Christian symbols and rituals. You can learn more here.

Additional elements in today’s dance I believe come from San Diego’s local Native American Kumeyaay culture–including the blessing of participants with white sage smoke, which purifies minds and hearts. Please write a comment if I need correction.

I do know that the energy of the performers and the spirit that emanated from their dance was uplifting. Even as I kept a respectful distance, the infectious beat made me want to dance, too! Perhaps because a human heartbeat is a thing we all have in common.

I hope these photos do justice to what those watching and listening experienced.

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 new International Cottages in Balboa Park are completed!

The brand new International Cottages in Balboa Park are finally finished! The construction site fences are down and the House of Peru is already moving in!

Late today I walked though the two new sections of the now expanded House of Pacific Relations International Cottages. Five structures have been built for nine nations or cultural units. As you can see from my photographs, the new cottages are beautiful!

Two new structures on the northeast side of the International Cottages will showcase Mexico, Panama and the Philippines; three structures on the southwest side will showcase Korea, India, Peru, Palestine, Chamorro and Turkey.

After years and years of bureaucratic delays and financial struggle, this truly historic project is complete!

I peered through many new cottage windows as I walked around and saw mostly vacant space. But the House of Peru has begun to move in and they’ll have a “soft opening” for the public beginning tomorrow!

If you’d like to see photos of the big festive groundbreaking event almost five years ago, click 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!

Evening music during summer in Balboa Park.

This evening, about an hour before sunset, after the daytime crowd had greatly thinned, I walked through Balboa Park.

In the Plaza de Panama some guys were producing beautiful music. The group is called the Sunshine Brass Quintet. I’ve seen them other days playing in the plaza.

When I finally walked past the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, I was excited to see the Twilight in Balboa Park concerts are returning for 2021!

The evening concerts will take place Tuesdays through Thursdays during the month of August. They start at 6:30 pm in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

Performers include Marine Band San Diego, Mariachi Estrellas de Chula Vista, the Coronado Concert Band, and many others! Check out the photo I took of the sign below, or visit the concerts page here.

Here are a few more photos of the Sunshine Brass Quintet this evening in the Plaza de Panama…

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!

Art purchased by the city from artists during COVID-19.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, local artists were supported through a special initiative undertaken by the City of San Diego. The city purchased almost 100 works of art for the Civic Art Collection. The initiative was funded by a generous art lover and philanthropist.

An exhibition of this acquired artwork, titled SD PRACTICE, can now be viewed at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park, and at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights.

I visited the San Diego Art Institute on Sunday to view their pieces. I noticed some of the artists are widely known, including Hugo Crosthwaite and Mario Torero.

Contemporary art is often provocative: subversive, angry, skeptical, iconoclastic. But many of the pieces I saw conveyed mostly a feeling of loneliness. Which I suppose isn’t surprising. They were created during a pandemic–a time of forced social isolation.

One canvas shows an elderly woman alone at a table set with dinner and cold smartphones. Other works–often with political messages–show people trapped alone behind borders or squares or lattices of drawn lines, or wearing masks, or concealed beneath sheets, or in shadow.

One artist’s tintypes were created with random people on the street. The artist and strangers pose together as if they are family. But the tintypes are very dim like faded dreams. And the momentary “families” weren’t real.

In one piece, an isolating smartphone has been dropped to one side, and two people lean into each other for simple human warmth.

As I walked through the gallery, one plastic chair made to appear gleaming and precious seemed inviting. But it was only one chair.

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!

A very fun Tanabata Festival in San Diego!

The Tanabata Festival was held today at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park!

This always fun festival included traditional Japanese kimonos, art, crafts, kids games, yummy food, the making of kokedama (Japanese moss balls) and other family activities.

Most importantly, visitors to the festival had the opportunity to write their own special wish!

Tanabata has its origin in a story about the Japanese deities Orihime and Hikoboshi, who shine in the heavens as stars. The Milky Way separates the two lovers who can only meet once a year. Tanabata is that day.

According to the Japanese Friendship Garden’s website here, “A common practice during Tanabata is to decorate the nanatsu kazari, or seven decorations…” Different types of ornaments are hung from bamboo trees to bring luck, skill, health or success.

I noticed many messages had already been hung. The hands of many at the festival wished for happiness in life!

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!

Photos of Viva La Frida in Barrio Logan!

A lively, very colorful event is going on this weekend in Barrio Logan!

Along Logan Avenue, southeast of Chicano Park, the neighborhood and local businesses are celebrating the iconic, enormously popular Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. The festive celebration is called Viva La Frida!

Early this afternoon, after enjoying the nearby Chicano Park Vive! lowrider event, I continued walking along Logan Avenue to check out Viva La Frida!

The sidewalks were full of people experiencing the colors, tastes, sounds and smells of the several blocks long festival. There was music, and lowriders, and families, and friendship, and plenty of tasty Mexican food, and lots of art on display, and vendors whose tables overflowed with Frida-themed wares. A traditional Día de los Muertos altar for Frida Kahlo honored the artist’s life.

I can only wonder what Frida would think if her spirit did indeed approach the altar and she was able to view this largely commercial event, and the endless variations of her self portraits everywhere people turn.

As I ambled along I noticed some new street murals on Logan Avenue that appear fairly new, and other street art that I’ve apparently missed during past walks. I’ll have to return in the near future, perhaps when the crowds enjoying the Viva La Frida celebration have departed and my camera has a better look.

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!

Lowriders gather for Chicano Park Vive!

Chicano Park Vive! is a series of festive events taking place this summer in Barrio Logan. Families and neighbors gather in Chicano Park for entertainment, cultural enrichment, food and fun. The community events promote “Healing, Educating and Leading.”

Today the theme was lowriders!

I arrived in the early afternoon and was wowed by all the cool vehicles displayed by several lowrider clubs. Dozens of amazing lowriders lined the street, well beyond Chicano Park.

Another simultaneous event, called the Viva La Frida celebration, was taking place along Logan Avenue, making the entire area feel like one huge party!

Chicano Park Vive! is brought to the community by the Turning Wheel Project, the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center, the Chicano Park Steering Committee, and The San Diego Foundation.

I noticed the Turning Wheel Project was featuring their mobile classroom, which I visited a couple years ago in Chula Vista. You can see what I discovered back then by clicking here!

Today I learned that the Director of The Turning Wheel Project, Alberto López Pulido, PhD, Professor of Ethnic Studies at University of San Diego, wrote a book concerning our city’s lowriders! It’s titled San Diego Lowriders: A History of Cars and Cruising. You can find that book here!

I was told by the professor himself that next Sunday about a hundred dancers will be performing at Chicano Park Vive! The theme will be danza. You can bet I’ll be there!

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!

Unexpected music, folk dance in Balboa Park!

The House of Austria, along with the House of Germany, put on a cultural show at the International Cottages in Balboa Park this afternoon!

After the Spreckels Organ concert ended, I hurried over to the lawn between the International Cottages to see if anything was going on. And I found myself enjoying the last few minutes of a small festival!

Four costumed dancers and six accordion players were entertaining the gathered audience with folk music and dance.

The lively dancers belong to the Performing Folk Dancers of Balboa Park. Look for their information on this page.

The half dozen musicians are members of the Accordion Lover’s Society International! Learn more about them here!

The cottages have been closed to the public throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s my understanding that all of the cottages will fully open next weekend for the Fourth of July celebration.

Hooray!

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!

What does it feel like to play the Spreckels Organ?

What does it feel like to play the Spreckels Organ, the world’s largest musical instrument located in the heart of Balboa Park?

Raul Prieto Ramírez, internationally renowned San Diego Civic Organist, played Johann Sebastian Bach’s masterpiece Toccata and Fugue in D minor to start today’s free Sunday concert.

Perhaps this series of photos can transmit a bit of the feeling…

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!