The art and color of Kimono: A Living History.

A week ago, when I visited the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, I stepped into the Inamori Pavilion. There I found an exhibit, titled Kimono: A Living History, that features exquisite kimonos that are truly works of art.

By looking at the many displays and reading signs, I learned about this traditional Japanese clothing, which is often worn during special occasions, including weddings and tea ceremonies. I learned a little about the history of the kimono, from the ancient Yayoi period all the way to modern times, and how each kimono is made and worn. I learned that a formal kimono will include a family crest, which is a stylized motif within a circle.

What impressed me most was the beauty of the kimonos themselves. Their colors often reflect the season, and the designs can be simple or elaborate, but always very pleasing to the eye. Each appears like a painted canvas. To wear a kimono is to wear a work of art.

Here’s just a little of what I saw…

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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.

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Painting the 1915 Centennial Mural in Balboa Park.

Local artists put the finishing touches on the 20 foot long 1915 Centennial Mural in Balboa Park.
Local artists put the finishing touches on the 20 foot long 1915 Centennial Mural in Balboa Park.

My Sunday walk around Balboa Park took me through the Spanish Village Art Center. Not only were local artists painting live Flamenco dancers, but they were completing a fantastic 20 foot mural celebrating Balboa Park’s centennial. (Today I was also introduced by a couple of super friendly people, including a resident artist, to the history of Spanish Village. I will blog about that shortly, after a little additional research…and when I have the time!)

I hope you enjoy my photographs of this awesome mural. Titled “1915 Balboa Park”, it’s an imaginative composite of historical images painted by eleven talented artists. Each image occupies a 2 by 6 foot panel, and depicts locations from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, and people in early 20th century dress.

Spanish Village is home to some of San Diego’s very finest artists. Wherever you turn, you’ll find painters, potters, sculptors, photographers, glassblowers, you name it! It’s fun to just stroll through the colorful courtyard and visit the charming studios. If you want to purchase fine artwork for yourself or as a gift, this is an excellent place to go!

This weekend the public could watch as artists painted a historical mural in Spanish Village.
This weekend the public could watch as artists painted a historical mural in Spanish Village.
Spanish Village is like San Diego sunlight passed through a prism, with rainbow splashes everywhere.
Spanish Village is like San Diego sunlight passed through a prism, with rainbow splashes everywhere.
Bios of artists Carol Foster, Joan Boyer, Joan Nies, Laurie Carlock, Don Knapp, Michelle Gonzalez, Sonia Rumzi, Linda Lepeirs, Lucy Wang, Edward Juarez, Dot Renshaw.
Bios of artists Carol Foster, Joan Boyer, Joan Nies, Laurie Carlock, Don Knapp, Michelle Gonzalez, Sonia Rumzi, Linda Lepeirs, Lucy Wang, Edward Juarez, Dot Renshaw.
Ladies in period dresses occupy the left part of the cool mural.
Ladies in period dresses occupy the left part of the cool mural.
Now we're working our photographic way to the right, along the base of the Cabrillo Bridge. A hundred years ago there was a lake beneath the historic bridge! (Where Highway 163 is today.)
Now we’re working our photographic way to the right, along the base of the Cabrillo Bridge. A hundred years ago there was an artificial lake beneath the bridge! (Where Highway 163 is today.)
Bright color and shades of gray are fused together to depict the California Building with its iconic bell tower.
Two different styles (one with bright colors, the other with shades of gray) are fused together to depict the California Building with its iconic bell tower.
There were many lush gardens around Balboa Park a hundred years ago, planted specifically for the Panama-California Exposition.
There were many lush gardens around Balboa Park a hundred years ago, planted specifically for the Panama-California Exposition.
Artist studies the right end of the 20 foot long mural. That golden tree looks like it could be transplanted right into Spanish Village!
An artist studies the right end of the 20 foot long mural. That golden tree looks like it could be transplanted right into Spanish Village!

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Victorians, suffragettes and steampunk in a park!

San Diego Costume Guild members help Balboa Park celebrate its centennial.
San Diego Costume Guild members help Balboa Park celebrate its centennial.

Today a really cool event was held in San Diego called the Balboa Park Centennial Informal Gathering. A bunch of history lovers, park supporters, assorted clubs and organizations (including the San Diego Costume Guild) gathered together in Balboa Park and everyone wore period attire. The idea was to recreate what Balboa Park might have looked like one hundred years ago, when the 1915 Panama-California Exposition opened.

During my walk through the park, I saw folks everywhere wearing fancy dresses and hats . . . carrying parasols . . . sporting old-fashioned police and military uniforms . . . wearing suffragette sashes or steampunk goggles . . . riding high-wheeled penny-farthing bicycles . . . and lots of puzzled tourists looking about in complete astonishment. It was great!

Balboa Park Centennial Celebration marks 100 years of a truly amazing place.
Balboa Park Centennial Celebration marks the 100 year anniversary of an amazing place.
Folks in old-fashioned dresses and nostalgic garb were walking up and down El Prado.
Folks in old-fashioned dresses and nostalgic garb were walking up and down El Prado.
This 19th century fashion predates 1915, the year of the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park,
This 19th century fashion predates 1915, the year of the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park,
Two elegant ladies paused to smile for my camera in the park's central plaza.
Two elegant ladies paused to smile for my camera in the park’s big central plaza.
Some people dressed for the occasion enjoying the warm San Diego sunshine.
Some people dressed for the occasion were enjoying the warm San Diego sunshine.
Lots of very fancy hats could be seen everywhere I turned.
Lots of very fancy hats could be seen everywhere I turned.
Many in historical costumes would reenact a political march in support of Votes For Women.
Later in the afternoon, folks wearing historical costumes would reenact a political march supporting Votes For Women.
Two suffragettes with Votes For Women sashes follow a guy dressed in World War I era military uniform.
Two suffragettes with Votes For Women sashes follow a guy dressed in World War I era military uniform.
Back in 1915, the right for women to vote was an important issue and movement.
Back in 1915, the right for women to vote was an important issue and movement.
A display in the Balboa Park Club building included Women's Rights memorabilia from a hundred years ago.
A display in the Balboa Park Club building included Women’s Rights memorabilia from a hundred years ago.
Some people had steampunk goggles in the International Cottages area, where event participants converged.
A few people sported steampunk goggles. Event participants converged on the International Cottages lawn area.
Visitors from Balboa Park's past seem to come to life before my very eyes.
Visitors from Balboa Park’s past seem to come to life before my very eyes.
A bustle of Victorian activity in front of the House of England cottage.
A bustle of Victorian activity in front of the House of England cottage.

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