Photos beneath I-805 bridge in Mission Valley.

Yesterday morning I jumped off the Green Line trolley at the Rio Vista station. I walked east over Qualcomm Way via the pedestrian bridge then continued down the little-used walkway that runs parallel to the trolley tracks.

I had never gone that way before.

The concrete walkway leads behind the Marriott Mission Valley and several large, gleaming office buildings and finally terminates by a parking lot directly beneath the very impressive I-805 freeway bridge.

I turned my camera upward and snapped photos beneath the tall landmark bridge!

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!

Architecture inspired by nature . . . and UFOs!

An exhibition of truly amazing architectural designs recently opened at the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

Radiant Architecture: The Visionary Work of Eugene Ray showcases the futuristic architectural concepts of an emeritus professor from San Diego State University, who taught Environmental Design from 1969 to 1996.

Those who have driven through La Jolla might have seen the fantastic house and studio he built at 1699 Nautilus Street. It’s commonly referred to as the Silver Ship. It was erected in 1978 with the help of Environmental Design students from SDSU.

It’s no surprise that many of Eugene Ray’s designs appear a bit like spaceships. His inspiration comes not only from simple, efficient, resilient forms found in nature, but from his life-changing sighting of a UFO in 1947 when he was a boy.

According to one sign I read, many of the innovative designs synthesized “Ray’s concepts of the synergy of color, light, and sound to create holistic, healing and energizing environments.” He also sought to create modular structures, which would be affordable and easily assembled.

I was told that his organic, biomorphic designs are so futuristic, unusual and brilliant that world-famous science fiction author Ray Bradbury at one time had plans to make a movie about Eugene Ray’s work.

Here are a few photos of the original drawings, prototypes, renderings and highly creative artwork currently on display. This very cool exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery runs through October 6, 2019.

James A. Perry Residence - New Orleans, Louisiana, 1968.
James A. Perry Residence – New Orleans, Louisiana, 1968.
Aerodyne Sports House - 1984.
Aerodyne Sports House – 1984.
Nautilus Street Residence aka The Silver Ship - La Jolla, California, 1978.
Nautilus Street Residence aka The Silver Ship – La Jolla, California, 1978.
Blueprint of The Silver Ship, designed by Eugene Ray, located at 1699 Nautilus Street in La Jolla, California.
Blueprint of The Silver Ship, designed by Eugene Ray, located in La Jolla, California.
Pavilion for Holy Cross High School - New Orleans, Louisiana, 1967.
Pavilion for Holy Cross High School – New Orleans, Louisiana, 1967.
Untitled, Eugene Ray, 1969 (restored 2019). Acrylic and aluminum on canvas.
Untitled, Eugene Ray, 1969 (restored 2019). Acrylic and aluminum on canvas.

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!

Radiant Spire proposed for Notre Dame.

Appearance of rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral with Radiant Spire, designed by architect Eugene Ray.
Appearance of rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral with Radiant Spire, designed by San Diego architect Eugene Ray.

I guess it’s too late now. Last month the French Parliament passed a law that states Notre Dame Cathedral must be restored to its exact condition before the recent, catastrophic fire.

But how might Paris have appeared if Notre Dame were crowned by a glowing spire?

The Radiant Spire is a fantastic concept created by architect Eugene Ray, who from 1969 to 1996 headed the Environmental Design program at San Diego State University. In 2019, with the help of architect Joe Cordelle, he designed a geodesic structure that unites a cone and sphere, and which radiates light.

I saw these images today while visiting the exhibition Radiant Architecture: The Visionary Work of Eugene Ray at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. As a proposal the Radiant Spire is inspiring and very beautiful.

But, alas, it will remain an idea.

Description of Radiant Spire for Notre Dame Cathedral. The elegant structure evokes an exuberant spirituality reaching skywards...
Description of Radiant Spire for rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral. The elegant structure evokes an exuberant spirituality reaching skywards…
Elevation view of proposed spire for Notre Dame.
Elevation view of proposed spire for Notre Dame.

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 from the Mingei at Central Library gallery!

Belly Warmer, 1973, sterling silver, leather, wood. Arline M. Fisch.
Belly Warmer, 1973, sterling silver, leather, wood. Arline M. Fisch.

While the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park undergoes it’s monumental renovation and expansion (read about that here), select pieces from their permanent collection are on display at the San Diego Central Library’s Art Gallery.

The title of this exhibition is Crafting Opportunity: Mid-Century Work from the Collection of Mingei International Museum. Head up to the Central Library’s 9th floor gallery and you’ll discover unique and experimental pieces by noted artists and craftsmen, many of whom are from the San Diego region. You’ll see beautiful ceramics, fashion, metalwork, furniture and a surprising variety of other objects. Some of these pieces, representing the post World War II designer-craftsman movement, are on public display for the very first time!

I walked to East Village early this afternoon to see for myself!

Make sure you check this exhibition out before it ends on July 28, 2019.

A look at the current exhibition in the San Diego Central Library's art gallery. Crafting Opportunity: Mid-Century Work from the Collection of Mingei International Museum.
A look at the current exhibition in the San Diego Central Library’s art gallery. Crafting Opportunity: Mid-Century Work from the Collection of Mingei International Museum.
Vase, c. 1959, glazed stoneware. Harrison McIntosh.
Vase, c. 1959, glazed stoneware. Harrison McIntosh.
Owl, c. 1960, glazed stoneware. Marg Loring.
Owl, c. 1960, glazed stoneware. Marg Loring.
Untitled, c. 1965, mosaic and enameling. Ellamarie Woolley.
Untitled, c. 1965, mosaic and enameling. Ellamarie Woolley.
Plate, 1979, stoneware, porcelain. Peter Voulkos, who was drawn to the Zen notion of looseness of form and unpredictability.
Plate, 1979, stoneware, porcelain. Peter Voulkos, who was drawn to the Zen notion of looseness of form and unpredictability.
Bowl, 1954, glazed earthenware. Laura Andreson.
Bowl, 1954, glazed earthenware. Laura Andreson.
The Superior Masculine Mind, date unknown, glazed stoneware. Beatrice Wood, whose work often contains a playful feminist angle.
The Superior Masculine Mind, date unknown, glazed stoneware. Beatrice Wood, whose work often contains a playful feminist angle.
Weed Pots, c. 1965, glazed stoneware. Wayne Chapman.
Weed Pots, c. 1965, glazed stoneware. Wayne Chapman.
"Happiness" Yardage, 1967, machine-woven, hand-screen printed linen and wool. Jack Lenor Larsen, whose signature pattern remained in production for decades.
“Happiness” Yardage, 1967, machine-woven, hand-screen printed linen and wool. Jack Lenor Larsen, whose signature pattern remained in production for decades.
LCW (Lounge Chair Wood), c. 1946, molded plywood. Charles and Ray Eames, who famously revolutionized industrial design by introducing molded plywood.
LCW (Lounge Chair Wood), c. 1946, molded plywood. Charles and Ray Eames, who famously revolutionized industrial design by introducing molded plywood.
Untitled, 1969, enamel on steel. Kay Whitcomb.
Untitled, 1969, enamel on steel. Kay Whitcomb.
House of Cards, c. 1960, printed paper. Charles and Ray Eames.
House of Cards, c. 1960, printed paper. Charles and Ray Eames.
Helmet, 1970-71, silver, leather, rosewood, moonstones, rabbit fur. Marcia Lewis.
Helmet, 1970-71, silver, leather, rosewood, moonstones, rabbit fur. Marcia Lewis.

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!

Sand sculpture murals show San Diego history!

Two bas-relief sand sculpture panels by renowned artist Charles R. Faust in the lobby of 2550 Fifth Avenue in San Diego.
Two bas-relief sand sculpture panels by renowned artist Charles R. Faust in the lobby of 2550 Fifth Avenue in San Diego.

Two amazing works of art can be viewed inside an office building in Bankers Hill. The small murals–sculptures made of sand that appear as bas-relief panels–decorate a wall in the lobby of 5th & Laurel, the building best known as the home of Mister A’s restaurant.

Commissioned by the now defunct Great American First Savings Bank to celebrate their Centennial in 1985, the two panels depict important San Diego landmarks and aspects of local history.

The two sand cast panels were created by Charles R. Faust (1922 – 2000), a prolific artist who for many years worked as the director of architectural design at the San Diego Zoo. His invention of moated animal enclosures in the mid-1950’s revolutionized how the world famous zoo and their Wild Animal Park near Escondido exhibited animals. He also designed the San Diego Zoo’s huge walk-in aviary–the first of its kind in the world.

After retiring from that job, Charles opened Faust Sand Casting in Ocean Beach with his son. Over his creative lifetime the art of Charles Faust would also include fine drawings, watercolors and oil paintings, many of which depicted life in the Old West, a theme he loved.

His sand sculpture murals have added beauty to many locations around San Diego. I photographed a couple of these murals in the past for Cool San Diego Sights, without realizing at the time they were created by Charles Faust. You can spot them here and here!

Yesterday morning I spoke to a security guard in the lobby of 5th & Laurel, and he said these two “sand art” panels were moved from a suite in the building where there used to be a bank. I believe they were in Suite 120, once the home of Pacific Premier Bank, and the future home of an upscale Italian restaurant. But I’m not sure about the exact history of these particular panels. If you know anything more about them, please leave a comment!

(Please note these photographs make the panels seem more yellowish than they are in reality, due to the indoor lighting and my modest camera.)

The panel on the left. It depicts early San Diego history, including Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the ranchos.
The panel on the left. It depicts early San Diego history, including Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the ranchos.
A friar outside the Spanish mission. The man on horseback might be a soldier from the old presidio.
A friar outside the Spanish mission. The man on horseback might be a soldier from the old presidio.
The bells of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, first Spanish mission in Alta California.
The bells of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, first Spanish mission in Alta California.
Scenes from the Old West in San Diego, including an old wagon and a ride on a bucking horse.
Scenes from the Old West in San Diego, including an old wagon and a ride on a bucking horse.
A rancher or vaquero, and a herd of cattle.
A rancher or vaquero, and a herd of cattle.
The panel on the right. It depicts many later San Diego landmarks. Images include Balboa Park, a streetcar, Coronado ferry, naval ship, farm and Victorian houses.
The panel on the right. It depicts many later San Diego landmarks. Images include Balboa Park, a streetcar, Coronado ferry, naval ship, farm and Victorian houses.
GREAT AMERICAN CENTENNIAL – 100 YEARS – 1885-1985
GREAT AMERICAN CENTENNIAL – 100 YEARS – 1885-1985
A sailboat and birds share San Diego Bay with a pre-bridge Coronado ferry and an early 20th century Navy warship. In the upper right corner I spy a tiny Old Point Loma Lighthouse!
A sailboat and birds share San Diego Bay with a pre-bridge Coronado ferry and an early 20th century Navy warship. In the upper right corner I spy a tiny Old Point Loma Lighthouse!
I recognize the Cabrillo Bridge and the California Building and Tower of Balboa Park.
I recognize the Cabrillo Bridge and the California Building and Tower of Balboa Park.
I think I recognize the historic Long-Waterman House of Bankers Hill. The house to the right of it might be a south view of the Britt-Scripps House, but it appears a bit different.
I think I recognize the historic Long-Waterman House of Bankers Hill. The house to the right of it might be a south view of the Britt-Scripps House, but it appears a bit different.

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Cleverly designed furniture is surprising, playful art!

Artwork now on display in the SDSU Downtown Gallery includes extraordinary furniture!
Artwork now on display in the SDSU Downtown Gallery includes extraordinary furniture!

Some fantastic, highly innovative art is now on display at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Tom Loeser: Please Please Please is the title of the surprising exhibition.

Walk through the door of the SDSU Downtown Gallery and you might not be sure whether you’ve entered a bizarre furniture and hardware store or a dream-place where art conforms to your body. Those abstract paintings on the wall actually unfold into chairs! Those shovel handles in a row form the back of a beautifully crafted wooden bench! That colorful “luggage” tossed in a heap in one corner seems more appropriate for a comfortable living room than a cargo hold!

According to a sign in the gallery, Tom Loeser imagines new ways that the body, furniture and space can interact. He wonders: if the furniture we sit on were totally different, how might our lives be different too?

I can tell you resting on these pieces (and you’re allowed to actually sit on a few of his tumblers) would put me in a very creative and happy state of mind.

As I sat I might gaze at Tom Loeser’s artwork on the gallery’s walls, which includes fantastic blue cyanotypes and strangely elemental pyrography. Transformed by the artist’s genius, ordinary objects seem to radiate a weird spiritual essence. The images, like his furniture, seem to present a vision of unexpected potentialities in our practical, solidly physical world.

If you love really clever art, check out the SDSU Downtown Gallery before this exhibition ends on October 28, 2018!

The art exhibition Tom Loeser: Please Please Please is now showing in downtown San Diego.
The art exhibition Tom Loeser: Please Please Please is now showing in downtown San Diego.
Two works of art by Tom Loeser. Not a Dozen Even, 2014, cyanotype. Double Dig, 2016, white oak and shovel handles.
Two works of art by Tom Loeser. Not a Dozen Even, 2014, cyanotype. Double Dig, 2016, white oak and shovel handles.
S/M/L, 2014, cyanotype by artist Tom Loeser.
S/M/L, 2014, cyanotype by artist Tom Loeser.
A room full of practical objects made dreamlike.
A room full of practical objects made dreamlike.
Dig for Three, 2015, walnut and shovel handles by artist Tom Loeser.
Dig for Three, 2015, walnut and shovel handles by artist Tom Loeser.
LA/Chicago/New York, 2016, plywood, wood, felt, paint by artist Tom Loeser.
LA/Chicago/New York, 2016, plywood, wood, felt, paint by artist Tom Loeser.
A colorful tumbler that can be sat upon comfortably any which way.
A colorful tumbler that can be sat upon comfortably any which way.
Folding Chair, 1987, painted plywood, maple, stainless steel by artist Tom Loeser.
Folding Chair, 1987, painted plywood, maple, stainless steel by artist Tom Loeser.
Scythe by Scythe, 2016, maple, hickory, scythe handles by artist Tom Loeser.
Scythe by Scythe, 2016, maple, hickory, scythe handles by artist Tom Loeser.

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!

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.

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