An architectural masterpiece in San Diego.

An architectural masterpiece, the First Church of Christ, Scientist building by Irving Gill.
An architectural masterpiece, the First Church of Christ, Scientist building by Irving Gill.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist building, designed by renowned architect Irving Gill and completed in 1910, is considered by many to be a masterpiece. I often pause a minute or two to admire its simple, rhythmic beauty when I walk near Second Avenue and Laurel Street in Bankers Hill.

During the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event a couple weekends ago, I ventured inside the church for the very first time.

I was interested to learn that when it was completed over a century ago, the mayor of San Diego considered the building such an amazing architectural accomplishment that he showed it to visiting dignitaries. I also learned that the church underwent a “modern” remodel in the 1950’s, which removed archways, windows and the beautiful glass dome. Thankfully the building was restored to its original appearance in 1998.

To my fascinated eyes, the arches, windows and tower are elegant, like notes of music. The white stucco enhances every perfect line and curve, as if a cloud were carved precisely with the architect’s pencil.

I took some photos! Read the captions for additional information.

Simple arches and lines mount skyward like a cubist painting.
Simple arches and lines mount skyward like a cubist painting.
First Church of Christ Scientist 1909. I believe the 1904 signifies the year of their first small downtown building, which stands at Third Avenue and Ash Street and is now occupied by the attorney King Aminpour.
First Church of Christ Scientist 1909. I believe the 1904 signifies the year of their first small downtown building, which stands at Third Avenue and Ash Street and is now occupied by the attorney King Aminpour.
Balloons outside the entrance indicate this church is a participant in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation's OPEN HOUSE.
Balloons outside the entrance indicate this church is a participant in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation OPEN HOUSE.
Arched windows inside admit light and create an impression of heavenly space.
Arched windows inside admit light and create an impression of heavenly space. I’m reminded of a jewel’s bright facets.
Like a crown of gold, organ pipes dominate the altar of a light-filled sanctuary.
Like a crown of gold, organ pipes dominate the altar of a light-filled sanctuary.
The amazing stained glass dome above the church sanctuary.
The amazing stained glass dome above the church sanctuary.
A large poster containing photographs of the building's 1950's appearance and historic restoration. (Click image to enlarge.)
A large poster containing photographs of the building’s 1950’s appearance and historic restoration. (Click image to enlarge.)
The poster's legend. The restoration brought back much of the natural light admitted by the original archways and glass dome.
The poster’s legend. The restoration brought back much of the natural light admitted by the original archways and glass dome.
Photo of the sanctuary in the 1950's. Perhaps at the time this was considered tasteful, but today it seems very drab.
Photo of the sanctuary in the 1950’s. Perhaps at the time this was considered tasteful, but today it seems very drab.
Old photo of this famous Irving Gill building, the dome just visible on the rooftop.
Old photo of this famous Irving Gill building, the dome just visible on the rooftop.
I was told these are some of the original Irving Gill blueprints. The are displayed with other documents and historical photos in a hallway near the church sanctuary.
I was told these are some of the original Irving Gill blueprints. The are displayed with other documents and historical photos in a hallway near the church sanctuary.
An architectural marvel in San Diego's Bankers Hill neighborhood.
An architectural marvel in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood.

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!

Architecture and light at Timken Museum of Art.

The Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park is designed to be filled with natural light.
The Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park is designed to be filled with natural light.

Would you like to enter a truly magical place? Step into the Timken Museum of Art. Walls disappear, and suddenly you are surrounded by fine art masterpieces, natural light, and the greenery and open space of beautiful Balboa Park.

I took a special tour of the building during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event. I jotted a few notes and will now try to describe my experience.

According to our tour guide, David Kinney, a Balboa Park Conservancy Board Member, the building housing the Timken Museum of Art is disimilar in many respects to the extremely ornate Spanish Colonial buildings lining El Prado, which were designed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The Timken has clean, symmetric, simple lines. It is the only building in Balboa Park specifically designed for people to walk around. The museum was built in 1965 and incorporates many facets of modern architecture. It was designed by San Diego architect John Mock, who intended it to be a “see-through” museum, where boundaries are blurred and gardens and sky are visible from many points inside.

When built, the Timken was the most expensive building ever constructed in San Diego. The building is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of mid-century Southern California Modernism and the International Style in the nation.

The abundant travertine, bronze and glass create a magical effect. Visitors to the museum feel surrounded by San Diego’s native sunshine. There are views of small gardens, the Plaza de Panama, the Lily Pond and families enjoying picnics on nearby grass.

By taking a few steps into the museum’s intimate galleries, visitors can view one of the most amazing small collections of fine art in the world. There are 60 major works, paintings by the likes of Copley, Johnson, Bierstadt, Veronese, Guercino, Clouet, Claude, David, Brueghel, Rubens, van Dyck, Zurbarán and Murillo. The Timken owns the only Rembrandt to be found in Southern California. Every work is partially bathed in indirect natural light, from hidden skylights along the walls in each gallery. During our tour, as we gazed at the Rembrandt, a cloud passed over the sun, and the light in the gallery dimmed. It was an extraordinary experience that infused additional life into the moody masterpiece.

Come along with me as I show you a few photos. Read the captions for more info!

Fences enclosing a small garden and sections of the museum seem like airy lacework. The building's white travertine reflects San Diego's sunlight.
Fences enclosing a small garden and sections of the museum seem like airy lacework. The building’s white travertine reflects San Diego’s sunlight.
Turning west, we can see the California Tower across the Plaza de Panama.
Turning west, we can see the California Tower across the Plaza de Panama.
Our tour guide describes an architectural marvel.
Our tour guide describes an architectural marvel.
This small garden by one large museum window was created in 1983 by a Japanese master designer.
This small garden by one large museum window was created in 1983 by a Japanese master designer.
Inside the central lobby of the museum. The seats are Italian made. Another large window allows light in from Balboa Park's beautiful Lily Pond.
Inside the central lobby of the museum. The seats are Italian made. Another large window allows light in from Balboa Park’s beautiful Lily Pond.
Inside one of the galleries. The small fine art museum is free to the public and a popular destination in Balboa Park.
Inside one of the galleries. The small fine art museum is free to the public and a popular destination in Balboa Park.
Lights along the ceiling perimeter include skylights, admitting natural indirect sunlight.
Lights along the ceiling’s perimeter include hidden skylights, admitting natural indirect sunlight.
Saint Bartholomew, Rembrandt van Rijn, oil on canvas, 1657.
Saint Bartholomew, Rembrandt van Rijn, oil on canvas, 1657.
The Timken's collection was begun by the Putnam sisters, who had a passion for fine art. They also loved Russian Orthodox religious icons, a few of which are housed in one gallery.
The Timken’s collection was begun by the Putnam sisters, who had a passion for fine art. They also loved Russian Orthodox religious icons, a few of which are housed in one gallery.
Our tour ventured into the Timken's employee lounge, where we saw the original blueprints of this iconic building.
Our tour ventured into the Timken Museum’s employee lounge and meeting room, where we saw the original blueprints of this iconic building.
Also displayed was one early Timken architectural design concept, where the building would have been circular.
Also displayed was one early Timken Museum architectural design concept, where the building would have been circular.
A very cool free museum in San Diego, the Timken combines the magic of sunlight, a carefree day in Balboa Park and fine art.
A very cool free museum in San Diego, the Timken combines the magic of sunlight, a happy, carefree day in Balboa Park and fine art.

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!

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.

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!

Early American quilts: amazing color and patterns!

Carpenter's Wheel quilt, Mennonite, about 1890. Made by Mrs. Miller in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Carpenter’s Wheel quilt, Mennonite, about 1890. Made by Mrs. Miller in Easton, Pennsylvania.

My eyes opened wide with amazement last weekend, when my docent friend provided another special tour at the San Diego Museum of Art. This time we had a good look at a surprising exhibition of early American quilts from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

These quilts, which date mostly from the 19th century, created in many instances by lone Amish and Mennonite quiltmakers, are so dazzling with brilliant colors and inventive, abstract designs that they seem thoroughly modern, like hung works of art by the greatest 20th century Abstract Expressionists.

I know relatively little about quiltmaking.  All I know is that when I gazed at these vibrant works of art, I felt that I was peering into the inner life of a spiritual people, where joy, memories and dreams are represented with magically combined bits of color. These delights for the eye were created to be a warming family treasure, meant to last for generations.

In this blog post you can see just a few photos of the nearly 50 quilts on display. The craftmanship is intricate. I can’t imagine the many hours of persistent dedication, patience and love a quiltmaker required to create just one of these examples. They lived in a very different time and place. In their world living was more simple, and beauty was quietly formed from single threads.

All of these old quilts were discovered over several decades by collectors Gerald Roy and Paul Pilgrim, who also played an important role in the creation of the The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. Many of these quilts were collected solely for their aesthetic appeal. Paul Pilgrim, now deceased, was also an innovative quiltmaker.

Head to Balboa Park to visit the San Diego Museum of Art and you’ll be astounded by many of these quilts. If you do plan to visit, do so by September 5, 2016, when this very unique exhibition comes to an end.

Quilts and Color from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This special exhibition can be enjoyed at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park.
Quilts and Color from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This special exhibition can be enjoyed at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park.
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 fascinating abstract designs.
Spider Web quilt dazzles the eye. Many of the quilts feature unique visual effects or optical illusions.
Spider Web quilt dazzles the eye. Many of the quilts feature unique visual effects or optical illusions.
Fans quilt, Amish, 1900-1910. Made in Pennsylvania.
Fans quilt, Amish, 1900-1910. Made in Pennsylvania.
Field of Diamonds quilt, about 1860. The design is achieved by creatively combining hexagons.
Field of Diamonds quilt, about 1860. The design is achieved by creatively combining differently colored hexagons.
Close-up photograph of fantastic Sunburst quilt.
Close-up photograph of fantastic, radiant Sunburst quilt.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

To read a few thoughtful stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Public art “Tide” rises in plaza by Marriott Marquis!

Construction workers carefully install new public art near the Marriott Marquis hotel's conference center. The colorful pylons are part of a sculptural creation titled Tide.
Construction workers carefully install new public art near the Marriott Marquis hotel’s recently completed conference center. These colorful vertical posts are part of a sculptural creation titled Tide.

Look at one of the cool things I stumbled upon during my walk around downtown San Diego this morning!  New colorful public art is being installed in the plaza by the Marriott Marquis hotel’s new conference center! The bright, imaginative sculpture is titled “Tide”. You can see why in these photos. Looks to me like sunlight reflected from rolling water, creating a bright spectrum of rising colors! I can’t wait to see this piece finished!

I spoke for a moment to the artwork’s two creators: Katie MacDonald and Kyle Schumann of After Architecture. The friendly designers work out of Boston, Massachusetts and have created all sorts of cool stuff that can be enjoyed in public spaces around the country!

(There’s even more to come from a truly awesome morning adventure…)

The creators of "Tide" smile! That's Kyle Schumann and Katie MacDonald of After Architecture.
The creators of “Tide” smile! That’s Kyle Schumann and Katie MacDonald of After Architecture.
Looking along the wavy length of the colorful tide. The art seems to undulate like water.
Looking along the wavy length of the colorful tide. The public art seems to undulate like water.
A big crane lifts sections of the artwork into position on a sunny Saturday morning in San Diego. The Marriott Marquis' brand new conference center shines in the background.
A big crane lifts sections of the artwork into position on a sunny Saturday morning in San Diego. The Marriott Marquis’ brand new conference center shines in the background.
The artists supervise the installation of their monumental art. It will be finished just in time for San Diego Comic-Con next month.
The artists supervise the installation of their monumental art. It will be finished just in time for San Diego Comic-Con next month.
San Diego continues to grow more interesting and beautiful as public art is installed near the waterfront!
San Diego continues to grow more interesting and beautiful as public art is installed near the waterfront!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Symbolism in Barrio Logan’s new gateway sign.

The colorful new Barrio Logan gateway sign arches over Cesar Chavez Parkway.
The colorful new Barrio Logan gateway sign arches over Cesar Chavez Parkway.

A little over a week ago, the new Barrio Logan gateway sign had a dedication ceremony. The welcoming sign, arching over Cesar Chavez Parkway between Harbor Drive and Interstate 5, is similar to others that can be spotted in various communities around San Diego. Its design, however, is notably different. The cornice contains a variety of symbolic elements inspired by this neighborhood’s complex history.

The cornice contains a variety of combined symbols that represent the community.
The cornice contains a variety of combined symbols that represent the community.
One of two displays on either column that explains the design.
One of two displays on either column that explains the design.

Small displays near the base of each column can be read from either sidewalk. They explain the significance of the cornice design:

“This Barrio Logan sign was created with input from the local community. Their ideas resulted in this unique and relevant design, representative of one of San Diego’s oldest and most culturally rich urban neighborhoods.

The design pays homage to Kumeyaay, Aztec, Mayan and all other cultures, representing many concepts including creation, the cycle of life, and evolution into the modern world. The pyramids symbolize cultures coming together as one society. The fish and corn symbols refer to the reliance on the sea as a food source, and fertility of the lands.

The designs on the columns honor the kiosk in Chicano Park. The columns are also adorned with the Conch, Sky and Earth symbols, which were inspired by indigenous cultures.”

View of the gateway sign as one approaches from the Barrio Logan trolley station.
View of the gateway sign as one approaches from the Barrio Logan trolley station.

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

Cool pedestrian bridge over Harbor Drive.

Cool pedestrian bridge over Harbor Drive.
Cool pedestrian bridge over Harbor Drive.

This cool new pedestrian bridge spans Harbor Drive between the San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park.

The unique suspension bridge took longer to build than anticipated.  According to media reports I saw, the firm that designed it originally miscalculated how much weight it could hold!

Here are a few more pics!

Moon rising over the cool Harbor Drive bridge.
Moon rising over the cool Harbor Drive bridge.
Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge, Omni Hotel and Petco Park.
Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge, Omni Hotel and Petco Park.
Pedestrian crosses Harbor Drive on a fantastic bridge.
Pedestrian crosses Harbor Drive on a fantastic bridge.
People cross the beautiful Harbor Drive bridge.
People cross the beautiful bridge in downtown San Diego.