Mingei’s lucky Japanese cats visit Friendship Garden.

The Mingei International Museum has a collection of over 150 maneki neko. Maneki neko are Japanese beckoning cats, made of clay, porcelain, metal, rock, wood or other material. They are talismans of good fortune in Japan.

Seventy examples of maneki neko in the Mingei’s collection are now on display in the Exhibit Hall at the Japanese Friendship Garden. Both the Mingei and JFG are located in Balboa Park, the cultural center of San Diego. Currently the Mingei’s building–the House of Charm–is closed to the public as it undergoes a major renovation.

This afternoon I visited the Japanese Friendship Garden and viewed this exhibition. It’s simply titled: Maneki Neko – Japan’s Beckoning Cats.

I must admit that until today I knew nothing about maneki neko. While admiring the many beckoning cats, I read some informative signs.

I learned that a maneki neko with a raised right paw indicates a wave of good fortune to a home, and a raised left paw brings luck to a business. The higher the paw, the greater the good fortune!

I learned maneki neko sometime wear colorful bibs, which represent an expression of gratitude for a wish realized. Also, the color of the cat is meaningful. Black symbolizes safety, gold symbolizes money, white symbolizes happiness, red symbolizes protection.

I learned about Hatsutatsu-san, a popular variety of beckoning cat that wears human clothing! (You can see an example in an upcoming photo.)

I also learned about a few of the different kilns in Japan that produce maneki neko, and how each kiln has its own distinctive style.

When you view this exhibition, you’ll probably learn a lot, too! And you’ll be charmed by the beauty and unique personality of every beckoning cat.

Planning a trip to Balboa Park? This wonderful exhibition can be enjoyed at the Japanese Friendship Garden through November 29, 2020.

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!

Amazing murals in cross-border art exhibition!

An international cross-border exhibition of urban art can now be enjoyed in both San Diego and Tijuana. Nine amazing, newly painted outdoor murals, created by regional artists in Southern California and Mexico, are part of this binational exhibition, which is titled Walls – Cross Border Urban Art/Muros – Arte Urbano Interfronterizo. The event is a collaboration between the San Ysidro community development organization Casa Familiar and the Municipal Institute of Art and Culture of Tijuana.

Yesterday I was given a tour of some of the murals that were created north of the border. My guide was Francisco Morales, Gallery Director of The FRONT, Casa Familiar’s art gallery at 147 W. San Ysidro Boulevard. The FRONT Arte Cultura is a cool community gathering place for exhibitions, concerts, education, and other cultural and artistic engagement.

The FRONT Arte Cultura is an art gallery in San Ysidro operated by the community organization Casa Familiar.
The FRONT Arte Cultura is a gallery in San Ysidro operated by the community organization Casa Familiar.

We began by looking at the following indoor mural, which was spray painted just inside The FRONT gallery by artist Juan Carlos Galindo, who is known as GRVR. His urban art is like graffiti with a surreal pop art quality, full of the color, zest and dynamism of life near the border. I was told that at night the brightly lit mural attracts attention through the gallery’s front window, luring the eyes of those walking or driving by.

We then crossed San Ysidro Boulevard to take a look at the three nearest outdoor murals.

The following amazing artwork by Mary Jhun, an artist representing the Filipino community, is a work in progress. It will be a permanent addition to what used to be an old hotel called La Nola, an historic building that will be renovated and repurposed along with several other nearby buildings.

Next is a colorful mural by Jorge Mendoza, whose very cool Nest Murals in Barrio Logan I once photographed here.

The third mural across the street from The FRONT gallery is by Stephanie “Fifi” Martinez, who is a very talented cartoonist and student at San Diego City College. Her themes often concern emotional turmoil and inspiration, as you can see in this really great mural she painted.

We then walked a short distance down San Ysidro Boulevard to the El Rincon Restaurant, whose outdoor wall was painted by Michelle Ruby, who is also known as Mrbbaby. Her pinata character Chucho is riding with a doll atop a colorful Quetzalcoatl, who appears to be in love with the moon! (I must admit this was my favorite.)

A variety of older murals in the neighborhood are also included in the Walls – Cross Border Urban Art exhibition. You can see a Google map of all the mural locations that are in San Ysidro by clicking here. I happened to photograph two older murals by Sand One and Victor Ochoa on a previous walk. You can see those two great murals by clicking here!

After viewing the above Mrbbaby mural, we walked north up Cypress Drive. I was told by Francisco that this walkable stretch that connects The FRONT gallery to the San Ysidro Branch Library is called the Cultural Corridor.

Near an open park-like space where the annual Día de San Ysidro/San Ysidro Day event is held we paused to admire two more murals on a low wall. The fun swirly one was painted by Luisa Martinez and David Pena during the 2019 community festival; the other was created more recently by Hector Villegas to encourage participation in the 2020 Census.

As you can see, the murals that are included in this binational exhibition are rather amazing. I’m told the murals in Tijuana are equally superb! Unfortunately, as I write this, the border is closed to all but essential workers due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

If you’d like to learn more about the Walls – Cross Border Urban Art/Muros – Arte Urbano Interfronterizo exhibition, or visit Casa Familiar’s very cool The FRONT Arte Cultura gallery in San Ysidro, make sure to go to this web page for much more detailed information!

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!

An amazing center for creativity in Chula Vista!

Interior photo of Chula Vista's Art on Third, courtesy Rich Walker.
Interior photo of Chula Vista’s very unique Art on Third, courtesy Rich Walker.

Check out the amazing interior of Art on Third in the heart of Chula Vista!

I was walking down Third Avenue on Saturday, taking photos of interesting things, when I peered through the windows of what appeared to be a colorful art gallery. And out comes Rich Walker, the super friendly artist who runs the place!

We talked. He showed me inside his fantastic Art on Third. I learned that it’s far more than a gallery. It’s a creative space and cultural event venue, where there are concerts, poetry readings, and a whole variety of community gatherings. It’s a place where eyes are dazzled no matter which way they turn! I felt as through I had stepped into a completely different world. A world of uninhibited freedom, joy and creativity!

Take a look at these photographs!

Rich explained he’d like downtown Chula Vista to become even more dynamic–to become a magnet for artists and those who love the arts. To become a popular, widely-known destination.

I don’t see why that shouldn’t happen. There are cool eateries and intriguing little shops up and down Third Avenue’s historic business district. Chula Vista has plenty of artists. And there’s the ideal location. Chula Vista sits smack dab in the middle of two major international cities: San Diego and Tijuana.

And, of course, there’s the very unique Art on Third–a truly amazing place with a smiling proprietor who believes in the following: Enjoy Life. Be Creative. Laugh Often.

At Chula Vista's cool Art On Third, love should be the loudest voice!
At Chula Vista’s cool Art On Third, love should be the loudest voice!
Photo of creative space Art on Third, courtesy Rich Walker.
Photo of creative space Art on Third, courtesy Rich Walker.
Crowd comes together for a concert at Art on Third, photo courtesy of Rich Walker.
Crowd comes together for a concert at Art on Third, photo courtesy of Rich Walker.

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!

Cool photo memories from September 2015.

Five years ago in September a whole lot of activity could be found in San Diego. No coronavirus pandemic back then! I must’ve been really busy walking around the city, checking out cool events, because I posted lots of photographs!

Following are links to a variety of interesting blog posts from five years ago.

As you can see, there was a US Sand Sculpting Challenge and Festival of Sail the Labor Day weekend of 2015. And there were other great events that September, including Fiestas Patrias in Old Town, the Trolley Dances, and the Pacific Islander Festival. On top of that, a unique new city park had just opened in East Village and a huge fantastic mural had been painted downtown…

Click the following links for lots of fun photos!

Team USA Olympics sand sculpture in San Diego!

Museum exhibit brings Coney Island to San Diego!

Beautiful tall ships visit San Diego for Festival of Sail!

Listen to the Earth whisper at Fault Line Park!

Photos of Fiestas Patrias in Old Town San Diego.

Photos of Coastal Cleanup Day in Ocean Beach!

Get out of jail free at old police headquarters!

Fun photos of Trolley Dances in water fountain!

Smiles, life and culture at Pacific Islander Festival!

Cool new parking garage mural in downtown San Diego!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

A fine art salon at the San Diego History Center!

Several museums in Balboa Park have reopened this Labor Day weekend. Among them is one of my favorite destinations–the San Diego History Center.

I ventured inside the museum this afternoon and discovered an amazing exhibit that I hadn’t yet experienced.

Revealed: The San Diego History Center’s Fine Art Collection presents many great examples of art in the San Diego History Center’s permanent collection. Dozens of paintings are arranged on several large walls in a salon style exhibition. A wide variety of important regional artists are represented, including Belle Baranceanu, Ivan Messenger, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, Dan Dickey, Dorr Bothwell, Alfred R. Mitchell, Maurice Braun, and Charles Reiffel.

What I enjoyed most about his exhibition was an amazing video documentary projected against one wall that concerns the creation of San Diego’s iconic sculpture, Guardian of Water. The video follows the conception and painstaking production of this extraordinary public artwork by renowned San Diego sculptor Donal Hord.

If you’ve ever wondered how that beautiful fountain and sculpture ended up on the waterfront side of the San Diego County Administration Building, you want to view this documentary!

Are you planning a visit to Balboa Park? Look for the Casa de Balboa near the east end of El Prado and step through the door of the San Diego History Center. Admission is free, but a donation is greatly appreciated. And while the COVID-19 pandemic persists, make sure to bring a face covering!

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!

Memories from the San Diego Museum of Art.

Exquisitely beautiful art shines at the Nancy Lorenz-Moon Gold exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art.
Exquisitely beautiful art shines at the Nancy Lorenz-Moon Gold exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art.

One terrible thing about the COVID-19 pandemic is the ongoing closure of so many great cultural institutions. Including museums.

One of my very favorite museums is the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Not only does SDMA feature masterpieces by important artists from all around the world, but it draws major exhibitions to our city. (Plus, my museum docent friend provides awesome tours!)

I’ve blogged about events and exhibitions at SDMA many times over the years. Because I miss visiting the museum–and perhaps you do, too–I figured now would be a good time to revisit some memories. Click the upcoming links to take a look at past exhibitions that I personally really enjoyed!

If you want to visit the San Diego Museum of Art virtually while it’s temporarily closed, check out their online activities page by clicking here! You’ll find podcasts, a cool app that allows you to remotely view the galleries, videos of lectures and performances, creative ideas for artists and art students, a book club, and a whole lot more!

Child Holding Book, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Child Holding Book, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.

Here come the links!

Black life and civil rights in Southern California.

Moon Gold shines in San Diego Museum of Art!

Alfred Mitchell’s fine paintings of San Diego.

Rare exhibition of Modern Masters from Latin America.

The fantastic art of Richard Deacon in San Diego!

Bathing, Alfred Mitchell, oil on board, undated.
Bathing, Alfred Mitchell, oil on board, undated.
The Native, oil on canvas, ca. 1936. Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Mexican, 1871-1946.
The Native, oil on canvas, ca. 1936. Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Mexican, 1871-1946.
Across this room soars Like a Bird. Laminated wood, 1984. Richard Deacon creates spacious wonders that tickle the mind and expand the spirit.
Across this room soars Like a Bird. Laminated wood, 1984. Richard Deacon creates spacious wonders that tickle the mind and expand the spirit.

Early American quilts: amazing color and patterns!

Amazing animal bronzes at San Diego Museum of Art!

The Art of Music lives in San Diego!

Museum exhibit brings Coney Island to San Diego!

Amazing modern masterpieces visit San Diego.

Fighting Buffalo, Arthur Putnam, 1900. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
Fighting Buffalo, Arthur Putnam, 1900. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
Amazing early American quilts on display at the San Diego Museum of Art feature beautifully contrasted colors and abstract designs.
Amazing early American quilts on display at the San Diego Museum of Art feature beautifully contrasted colors and abstract designs.
Vincent Van Gogh, The Old Mill, 1888, courtesy the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
Vincent Van Gogh, The Old Mill, 1888, courtesy the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

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!

Even more changes come to Balboa Park!

Another weekend, another walk in Balboa Park.

I passed through the sunny park about noontime today and noticed even more changes to San Diego’s crown jewel!

First, the Museum of Man has changed its name. It’s now the Museum of Us. Which not only sounds more inclusive, but it strikes me as less stodgy and more personally relatable. Various banners hung about the California Quadrangle reflect the anthropology museum’s recent name change.

Next, I noticed that scaffolding is now up around the House of Charm’s tower and in front of the historic building’s facade. The Mingei International Museum’s huge renovation and expansion continues!

On the west side of the Plaza de Panama a new bronze plaque honors winners of the Patrons of the Prado ICON Award for Arts and Culture. Winners have greatly benefited many of San Diego’s leading cultural institutions.

Then, as I headed through the park, I noticed a fifth new structure is finally rising at the International Cottages. This cottage, when finished, will be home to the House of the Philippines. I took a photo of an informative banner on the construction fence.

Lastly, I took photos of a small but beautiful change that occurred a couple of months ago. But until today I haven’t blogged about it.

At the corner of Park Boulevard and Presidents Way, at the southwest corner of the Veterans Museum parking lot, a small flower-filled succulent garden has been created!

There are so many changes happening in Balboa Park, it’s hard to keep track of them all!

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!

Art along Imperial Avenue celebrates Encanto.

Dance.
Dance.

Near the center of Encanto, along Imperial Avenue, colorful panels celebrating the culture, history and life of this diverse community have decorated lamp posts on the street’s median for almost 30 years. I took photos of seven panels during a recent walk near the Encanto trolley station.

Twenty four panels, by local artist Eddie L. Edwards, many of which appear to be dated 1992, were part of the “Streetscape Art Project” along Imperial Avenue, which was completed in 1993. The intention was to revitalize Encanto’s modest commercial center, from 62nd Street to 69th Street. As you might imagine, the panels, exposed to almost three decades of sun and weather, have cracked and faded. But to eyes that pause and look up they remain alive, and tell the story of a hilly urban community that still feels rural even as San Diego has grown.

I’ve radically altered the brightness and contrast of these photos to help revive the color of the old panels.

(During my walk I also photographed lots of great street art. I’ll share those photos in a bit.)

Education.
Education.
Transportation.
Transportation.
Nature.
Nature.
Work.
Work.
Play.
Play.
Music.
Music.

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!

Street art at San Ysidro and Cottonwood.

Follow your heart.
Follow your heart.

Many electrical boxes have been painted with street art on San Ysidro Boulevard, just northwest of Cottonwood Road. It appeared during my Saturday walk that some of the boxes were painted long ago, and others this year.

I took photos. The art speaks for itself.

Mental health matters.
I am loved. Grow strong.
Aztec skull imagery.
Aztec skull imagery.
A people's spirit lives on.
A people’s spirit lives on.
Two doves.
Two doves.
You are better than unicorns and sparkles.
You are better than unicorns and sparkles.
Quédate en casa con un rico pan dulce y cafecito. (Stay home with a delicious sweet bread and coffee.)
Quédate en casa con un rico pan dulce y cafecito. (Stay home with a delicious sweet bread and coffee.)
Lady Liberty in a serape.
Lady Liberty in a serape.
Kindness matters, and fireworks or stars.
Kindness matters, and fireworks or stars.
Por tu salud. (For your health.) We love our community. Street art painted in San Ysidro during the coronavirus pandemic.
Por tu salud. (For your health.) We love our community. Street art painted in San Ysidro during the coronavirus pandemic.
Firefighters of Fire Station 29 in San Ysidro.
Firefighters of Fire Station 29 in San Ysidro.
A local firefighter at work.
A local firefighter at work.
Purple and lavender flowers.
Purple and lavender flowers.
Butterfly rises near a hot air balloon.
Butterfly rises near a hot air balloon.
Bicycle by a fruit tree, and a trolley in the background.
Bicycle by a fruit tree, and a trolley in the background.
Trolley windows full of passengers.
Trolley windows full of passengers.
Trolley driver emerges from a painted electrical box.
Trolley driver emerges from a painted electrical box.
A little land and a living. Un poco tierra y una vida.
A little land and a living. Un poco tierra y una vida.
Working the land.
Working the land.
A family on a sweeping, colorful landscape.
A family on a sweeping, colorful landscape.
Handfuls of good earth.
Handfuls of good earth.

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!

Cool photo memories from August 2015.

Another month has slipped away already? Summer is halfway over? The days fly quickly!

Well, I suppose it’s time to once again turn the clock back and recall what I was blogging about five years ago.

In August 2015 a whole bunch of interesting things were going on in San Diego!

In Old Town the early trades of San Diego came to life again, and Mark Twain and other famous authors seemed to rise from the dead! On the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship, an extraordinary Moby Dick reading marathon activated the imagination of those who listened. In Balboa Park, a special exhibit retold the history of the Spanish Village colony of artists, and suffragettes went on a march! At Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers were still in San Diego and putting on their annual FanFest!

And much more was happening all over the city, from Hillcrest to Chula Vista! Of course, I also saw a lot of fascinating activity downtown during my walks.

It was one very fun month!

Click the following links to see many photos!

Trades That Shaped the West live on in Old Town.

White whale glimpsed from deck of world’s oldest sailing ship.

History of Spanish Village artists in Balboa Park.

Photos of San Diego Chargers 2015 FanFest.

Photos of art come to life at CityFest in Hillcrest.

Twain and classic literary characters roam Old Town!

Workers install engraved name pavers at Broadway Pier.

Fishermen unroll a huge net onto Tuna Harbor pier.

Photos of good times at Chula Vista’s HarborFest!

Suffrage rally and parade celebrates 19th Amendment.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.