Two colorful, fun benches in Tidelands Park!

A couple days ago I posted photos of two super fun benches in National City’s Pepper Park. Today, during my walk in Coronado, I visited Tidelands Park in order to photograph two additional benches that were created by the same San Diego artist, Doug Snider.

These colorful benches are located at the playground in Coronado Tidelands Park. They also debuted in 2006 and are made of painted concrete.

Doug Snider is a member of the San Diego Potters’ Guild and operates out of Studio 15 in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village Art Center.

These benches appear to have emerged from a strangely wonderful dream. Wouldn’t you like to sit in one?

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!

A dark, disturbing look at art Beyond Reason.

Close photo of bronze figures of Tim Shaw's Middle World.
Close photo of several bronze figures in Tim Shaw’s Middle World.

A very disturbing and powerfully thought-provoking exhibition has recently opened at the San Diego Museum of Art. Yesterday I walked through the dark galleries that contain Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason, and this morning my mind is still digesting the half dozen fantastic installations created by the celebrated artist.

Tim Shaw is a Northern Irish sculptor who, as a child in 1972, witnessed firsthand the bombing of a Belfast cafe during Bloody Friday. That exact, horrifying moment is recreated in a bloodless, abstract way in his installation Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous. Eerily spinning trays hover in the air above suddenly upset tables and chairs; the shadows of fleeing people stream across surrounding windows.

That same feeling of malice and inescapable chaos seems to echo elsewhere in Tim Shaw’s work.

Walking through the dim galleries containing Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason feels inhumanly bleak. Little light, the low sound of a hollow, echoing, machine-like vibration all around, no human warmth. Like the corridors of a dark artificial video game world where there is no hope for actual daylight. Where synthetic horrors await around corners.

Themes explored by the six immersive installations range from the primal, unconscious complexity of human beings, to cynical exploitation in a materialistic society, to the uncertainties that rise in a technologically directed world.

I found the first installation that I encountered, Middle World, to be extraordinarily rich with symbolism. A massive sculpture, Middle World presents many small bronze figures that appear to have emerged from ancient mythology, Shakespeare, or the fleshy canvases of Hieronymus Bosch. The weird, expressive figures, some in masks, are arranged on a throne-like stage above what seem to be stalactites and beneath what seem to be Gothic columns and skeletons in catacombs. The sculpture incorporates the shapes of objects that are both modern and ancient, commonplace and supernatural. It’s a mixture of space and time and human passion and compulsion and perplexity. A melting, flowing work of sculpted substance like an unending dream.

Other more disturbing installations that compose the exhibition concern dehumanization and include subjects like the silencing of free speech, vigilantism, human exploitation and depravity.

Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be presents two rocking-chair-like figures that are in constant back-and-forth motion. Both are gagged, and the muffled voices that emerge from either are unintelligible. According to a nearby sign, the piece represents how voices are silenced with money, and how people are influenced by the proliferation of disinformation on the internet. (What it fails to mention is that billions of ordinary people now speak their thoughts more freely than ever because of the Information Age. As a blogger who pays close attention to such things, I can tell you that many ideas don’t go unheard because of stifling propaganda or censorship, but because the internet has become a complete babel of voices all desperately competing to be heard.)

Another unique installation concerns technology and our evolving understanding of what it is to be human. Aptly titled The Birth of Breakdown Clown, the interactive sculpture seems to have a great deal of potential. Visitors enter a small room and stand before a human-like robot that moves its head and limbs while engaging with the audience. A member of the audience is invited to stand before the robot and converse with it. Breakdown Clown is said to possess artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, during the performance that I witnessed, I couldn’t detect any sort of autonomous machine intelligence, or even working speech recognition. With an odd combination of humor, condescension and poetic rambling, the Genesis-quoting robot guided the entire conversation. Its often disconnected statements and responses were apparently composed by the artist.

Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason as a whole is a very forceful, challenging work of contemporary art that will strongly engage active minds. It presents unspeakable horror. It isn’t for the squeamish. It’s an examination of human darkness and potential inhuman darkness. It undertakes a quest for understanding. That which has come into existence tries to understand its own creation. An electronic clown tries to define the Mystery that underlies all things.

However, to my thinking, darkness should be contrasted with light. And clowns that are witty have a beating heart.

These photographs were taken by my poor old camera in very dim darkness, where no flash photography is permitted. The images are a bit blurry, but somehow that makes them more potent!

If you want to be intellectually challenged, and journey through galleries that are filled with warnings, uncertainty and darkness, check out Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason, which is now showing at the San Diego Museum of Art through February 24, 2019.

Middle World. Mixed media, 1989-Current, by artist Tim Shaw.
Middle World. Mixed media, 1989-Current, by artist Tim Shaw.
Ancient symbols and strange figures contained in Tim Shaw's Middle World.
Ancient symbols and strange figures contained in Tim Shaw’s Middle World.
Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous, Working Drawing I. Ink, charcoal, and collage, 2015, by artist Tim Shaw.
Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous, Working Drawing I. Ink, charcoal, and collage, 2015, by artist Tim Shaw.
Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Alternative Authority. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Alternative Authority. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
The Birth of Breakdown Clown, an artificially intelligent, interactive, speaking robot by Irish sculptor Tim Shaw.
The Birth of Breakdown Clown, an artificially intelligent, interactive, speaking robot by Irish sculptor Tim Shaw.

If you’d like to read a few philosophical works of fiction that I’ve written–stories about the complexity of life–about the mingling of darkness and light–please visit Short Stories by Richard.

A story about youth embarking on life’s journey.

I finished writing another very short story. It’s title Here We Go.

I suppose my own life experience is stirred into this small work of fiction. At least a few glimmers.

As our journey moves forward from youth to old age, who knows what we’ll encounter around every mysterious bend?

As we peer out of our eye-windows, what will we find? What will we learn?

You can read this dreamlike story by clicking here.

Superhero sand sculptures in Imperial Beach!

Superman enters a phone booth. When he comes out, who will he become?
Superman enters a phone booth. When he comes out, who will he become?

Today I headed down to Imperial Beach to enjoy the Sun and Sea Festival. The annual summer event is famous for its popular sand sculpture contest near the pier. You might’ve seen photos I took in past years.

In 2018 the theme for the sand sculpture competition was Superheroes In The Sand.

A big crowd turned out on a sunny summer Saturday in Imperial Beach to enjoy the annual Sun and Sea Festival.
A big crowd turned out on a sunny summer Saturday in Imperial Beach to enjoy the annual Sun and Sea Festival.
Cool comic book cover! A surfer wears a cape for the 2018 Sun and Sea Festival in Imperial Beach. The original sandcastle competition!
Poster looks like a comic book cover! A surfer wears a cape for the 2018 Sun and Sea Festival in Imperial Beach. The original sandcastle competition!
A big sand sculpture near the event's entrance greets one and all to the Sun and Sea Festival.
A big sand sculpture near the event’s entrance greets one and all to the Sun and Sea Festival. That caped hero seems to be holding a surfboard.
I found my first superhero on the beach. It's Wonder Woman!
I found my first superhero on the beach. It’s Wonder Woman!
Here's a tribute to a young superhero. A young lady named Angela had her wish made true by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Here’s a tribute to a young superhero. A young lady named Angela had her wish made true by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Titans Collide, a sand sculpture by the Sculpintures. Thanos and Hulk are ready to do battle.
Titans Collide, a sand sculpture by the Sculpintures. Thanos and Hulk are ready to do battle. I hope Thanos doesn’t have that gauntlet on.
Hulk is finally angry and ready to smash.
Watch out Thanos! Hulk is finally really angry and ready to smash.
The Coastal Carvers were creating the IB Bears. I'm not sure how exactly this fits with the superhero theme.
The Coastal Carvers were creating the IB Bears. I’m not sure how exactly this fits with the superhero theme.
Howie's Crew was creating Gotham City out of sand. I see the Bat Signal and the Bat Cave!
Howie’s Crew was creating Gotham City out of sand. I see the Bat Signal and the Bat Cave!
And I see Wayne Manor, too!
And I see Wayne Manor, too!
Scooby Doo is a superhero, right? The Guardians of the Sandlot had scenes from that favorite cartoon. Here's the Mystery Machine!
Scooby Doo is a superhero, right? The Guardians of the Sandlot had scenes from that favorite cartoon. Here’s the Mystery Machine!
And here's something scary! It's probably an old disgruntled lighthouse keeper in a yellow slicker cleverly disguised as a monster. Just my wild guess.
And here’s a super scary creature! It’s probably an old disgruntled lighthouse keeper in a yellow slicker somehow cleverly disguised as a big monster. Just my wild guess.
According to the San Diego Sand Castles, you don't need a cape.
According to the San Diego Sand Castles, you don’t need a cape.
Wonder Woman has no cape, nor She-Ra.
Wonder Woman has no cape, nor She-Ra.
Working on sand art celebrating She-Ra. You'll see why, shortly.
A local guy working on sand art that celebrates She-Ra. You’ll see why, shortly.
Heroes gathered in Imperial Beach the week before 2018 San Diego Comic-Con.
A variety of heroes gathered in Imperial Beach the week before 2018 San Diego Comic-Con.
Archisand was crafting a sandcastle fantasy and a beautiful face.
Archisand was crafting a sandcastle fantasy and a beautiful sleepy face.
There were sand sculptures on either side of the Imperial Beach Pier. Lots of surfers out today, too.
There were sand sculptures on either side of the Imperial Beach Pier. Lots of surfers out today, too.
Sandytales was creating Dreaming, an imaginative sand sculpture with another sleepy face and whimsical castle.
Sandytales was creating Dreaming, an imaginative sand sculpture with another sleepy face and whimsical castle.
Here's the castle and a smile. Creating that looks like fun!
Here’s the castle and a smile. Creating that looks like fun!
Team Sandstorm was creating something just north of the IB Pier.
Team Sandstorm was creating their sand sculpture just north of the IB Pier.
Forever Heroes. It's a big Purple Cross.
Forever Heroes. It’s a big Purple Cross.
Spheres are sculpted to become helmeted war heroes.
Sand spheres are sculpted to become helmeted war heroes.
Many heroes behind the medal.
Many heroes behind the medal.
The Sandcastle Man Team is creating a fantastic Star Wars setting.
The Sandcastle Man Team was creating a fantastic Star Wars setting.
A sand sculpture rendition of a distant world. Rebels and Resistance.
A sand sculpture rendition of a far distant world. Rebels and Resistance.
The I.B. Posse created a new chest emblem for Superman. It features a firefighter's helmet.
The I.B. Posse created a new chest emblem for Superman. It features a firefighter’s helmet.
Superman entered the phone booth in my very first photo . . . then emerged as a true hero firefighter!
Superman entered a phone booth in my very first photo . . . then emerged as a true hero firefighter!
Here are some hero lifeguards.
Here are some hero lifeguards.
Why do a number of local sand artists favor the heroine She-Ra?
Why do several local sand artists like the heroine She-Ra?
This sculpture by the San Squirrels honors a former member. I believe her name was Shera. Her surviving brother works with sand for the first time.
This sculpture by the Sand Squirrels honors a former member. I believe her name was Shera. Her surviving brother works with sand for the first time.
My Heroes, by the I.B. Family Posse, has Batman and Spiderman ready side by side.
My Heroes, by the I.B. Family Posse, has Batman and Spiderman ready side by side.
A kid is surrounded by Superman and other imaginary superheroes. He wears a fireman's helmet.
A kid is surrounded by Superman and other imaginary superheroes. He wears a fireman’s helmet.
My Heroes.
My Heroes.

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!

LAIKA LIVE San Diego–UPDATE!

LAIKA LIVE San Diego is coming to 2018 Comic-Con...bigger and better than ever!
LAIKA LIVE San Diego is coming to 2018 Comic-Con . . . bigger and better than last year!

In my previous blog post, I discovered Laika is returning to San Diego Comic-Con. This morning I walked down to check things out again and learned that Laika’s presence in the Gaslamp this year will be substantially larger and more interesting!

The Laika Experience in 2017 was so amazingly successful, with lines that were so long, they’ve decided to enlarge the space and include even more stuff. I learned that for LAIKA LIVE San Diego this year, there will be life-size movie sets that the public can enter, including Coraline’s bedroom! (I went on the tour since I wrote this. Turns out I misinterpreted what I heard. It’s a life-size replica of Coraline’s Other World Living Room. Still very cool!)

UPDATE!

Here’s some great info I received from Laika!

Oscar®-winning animation studio LAIKA, creators of Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and Kubo and the Two Strings, returns to the heart of San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter with an all new, bigger-than-ever LAIKA LIVE exhibit from Friday, July 13 – Sunday, July 22, 2018 coinciding with the city’s PRIDE and Comic-Con festivities. With a new location (350 Fifth Avenue) providing three times the space as last year’s fantastically successful LAIKA installation, the free and all new exhibit will feature a huge cache of props, puppets, and sets from LAIKA’s critically acclaimed and award-winning films. Highlights include fan art, technology demonstrations, drawings for a pair of coveted Coraline Dunks from Nike, social media activations, LAIKA merchandise offered for sale (including brand new items and limited edition Coraline items), multiple giveaways, and more.  LAIKA President & CEO Travis Knight will lead a Facebook Live tour of the exhibit and do an autograph signing with a soon-to-be-announced special guest on Saturday, July 21.

Curators will explain the magical process of LAIKA’s filmmaking as guests peek behind the curtain at one of the most imaginative film studios in the world. LAIKA’s roster of costume characters (appearing both at the exhibit and throughout the Gaslamp Quarter) will pose for photos and for the first time ever will include Coraline and Other Mother, in a nod to the iconic film’s 10th anniversary (release date was February 9, 2009). In addition, fans will meet the costume character Mr. Link and see a set and Mr. Link puppet from LAIKA’s latest film Missing Link (set for release April 19, 2019).

WHERE:

350 Fifth Avenue (between J & K Streets)

WHEN:

Friday, July 13 to Sunday, July 22, 2018

Hours of Operation:

Friday, 7/13:  2-10pm
Saturday, 7/14: 2-10pm
Sunday, 7/15:  11am-5pm
Monday, 7/16:  12-5pm
Tuesday, 7/17: 12-5pm
Wednesday, 7/18: 12-5pm
Thursday, 7/19:  10am-10pm
Friday, 7/20:  10am-11pm
Saturday, 7/21: LAIKA store opens at 10am; exhibit: 2:00pm-11pm
Sunday, 7/22: 10am-6pm

HIGHLIGHTS:

Saturday, July 21 (with soon-to-be announced special guest)

11am: LAIKA President & CEO Travis Knight (director of Kubo and the Two Strings) will take Facebook Live guests on a tour of the exhibit. (Details tba)

12:30 to 2:00pm: Autograph signing session with Travis Knight. Autographs of merchandise (available at the store at LAIKA LIVE) will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, time permitting.

WHAT TO SEE at LAIKA LIVE:

●  Sets, puppets, props and technology demonstrations from all four LAIKA films as well as our hero puppet and a set from the studio’s upcoming Missing Link.
●  LAIKA merchandise available for purchase.
●  Daily drawing for one pair of collectible Coraline Dunks from Nike.
●  Photo ops with LAIKA costume characters, including:

◦ Coraline and Other Mother from Coraline
◦ Norman and Zombie Judge from ParaNorman
◦ Boxtrolls Fish and Sparky from The Boxtrolls
◦ Kubo, Monkey and Beetle from Kubo and the Two Strings
◦ Mister Link from Missing Link

Medieval knights mock fight in Balboa Park!

Look what I watched today!

Every Sunday afternoon, on a large area of grass in Balboa Park’s Morley Field Sports Complex, medieval knights come together and engage in mock combat! These brave knights hail from the Realm of Andor. They are a part of the international Belegarth Medieval Combat Society.

Wielding foam weapons like swords, maces and battle axes, these guys get a super fun athletic workout. I was told by a friendly member of the Realm of Andor that the sport is like a mixture of fencing and rugby, with fairly simple rules. When a combatant receives a strike to a critical area, they fall down as if dead. A hit on a limb results in a loss of its use. Two limbs gone, you’re a goner. The last one standing wins!

I watched as the combatants veered all over the place, swinging a variety of formidable ancient weapons. Two or three knights would gang up on another; others would be struck by a sneaky knight from behind. Some of the members, in their cool costumes and bearing shields, appeared to be rampaging extras in the filming of Lord of the Rings. Many make their own weapons. It’s all about fantasy and high energy fun!

If you’d like to learn more, or perhaps join, check out their website!

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!

Fun photos for those who love Star Wars!

San Diego Comic-Con is approaching fast.

With the appearance of this year’s Comic-Con trolley wraps, many people I speak to are starting to get excited.

Now that I’m thinking about Comic-Con, too, it has occurred to me that over the years my blog has featured lots of photos concerning one of the absolute biggest franchises in pop culture: Star Wars!

I’ve rounded up a bunch of links that would be fun to check out. You’ll find unique photos of Star Wars artwork, models, cosplay, and even some humorous Star Wars street art!

Star Wars lightsaber combat at Maker Faire!

Cool–and funny–Star Wars street art!

A cool Star Wars character created by local artist!

Star Wars cosplay at Independence Day parade!

San Diego artist spray paints cool Star Wars images!

Three cool street art faces in East Village!

(Click the above link at your discretion. Yes, I’m afraid there’s an image of Jar Jar Binks.)

Comic-Con insanity! More cosplay and a TV star!

(Click to see many instances of Star Wars cosplay, including a Jawa.)

Cosplay photos and other 2017 Comic-Con stuff!

(Click to see more Star Wars cosplay, plus a full size replica of a Star Wars T-47 Snowspeeder.)

Some cool photos from Comic-Con Preview Night.

(Click to see a fair amount of Star Wars stuff, including the full size speeder used by Rey in The Force Awakens.)

Enjoy!