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!

Standing woman sculpture at UC San Diego.

There’s an unusual sculpture at UC San Diego rising high in the air between the Medical Teaching Facility and the Basic Sciences Building. I say it’s unusual because it doesn’t feature a “usual” depiction of the human form and I’m not sure how it affects me.

The piece’s title is Standing, and its creator is artist Kiki Smith. The public art was added to UCSD’s Stuart Collection in 1998.

Gazing up at the small, vulnerable figure you’ll notice what appear to be nails sticking out from her upper body. It looks like an example of a surgical procedure in a medical textbook. It makes her look like a passive, punctured thing, not a vibrant human. The form appears tired, aged, fragile, resigned to her inescapable condition. It strikes me the sculpture depicts a confrontation with our human mortality. She stands atop a severed tree trunk. Her face seems to ask: Why me? When the fountain feature is on (it wasn’t when I walked by), water drips from her hands. I almost wonder if the dripping water makes one think of draining blood.

Yet, to me, the sculpture isn’t really that morbid. It’s simply seems a clear-eyed observation of the material human condition.

An interpretation from the website that describes the piece emphasizes certain dualities: “Cast from a live model, the female figure atop Standing calls forth thoughts of human strength and frailty, and both the power and the limits of medicine. Serene and ageless, she stands in a Madonna-like pose that is both vulnerable and generous. Ribbons of water – the source of life – flow from her hands into the rock-lined pond below, with a soothing, mellifluous sound.”

Perhaps my own interpretation is too bleak. It’s hard to see past those nails. They remind me of an earthworm dissection I performed using a square of cardboard and pins in high school. Perhaps if clear bright water was flowing from her hands my feelings would change.

If there is strength and generosity in this sculpture, it comes from within the form, from a place unseen–an organ those sharp painful nails cannot reach. And the water’s sound must be the gentle sound of present living. A sonorous whisper from a human standing.

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The famously “dumped” $200,000 sculpture!

The organic sculpture you see above seems to have been “dumped” in more ways than one!

In 1988, a sculpture titled Okeanos, commissioned for $200,000, was placed in front of La Jolla’s Scripps Green Hospital. World-famous British modernist sculptor William G. Tucker intended the thing to resemble an ocean wave. Art critics considered it a great, masterful work. People arriving at the medical facility thought it resembled something else.

So Okeanos, which was popularly called the Scripps turd, at the cost of another $40,000, was moved to the less-seen corner of John Jay Hopkins Drive and General Atomics Court, which happens to be near the middle of one the world’s most important biotechnology hubs.

Which seems appropriate. The dumping of this organic thing marked the end of a human push to expel it.

Okay, in all seriousness, Okeanos, when seen up close, is actually pretty interesting. It does make the surface of an ocean’s foaming wave appear like a complex, surging, living thing. I’m glad I checked it out!

I took these pics today during a long walk though UC San Diego and along North Torrey Pines Road, and half a dozen more blog posts concerning my adventure are forthcoming!

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!

How to support performing arts during a pandemic.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all experiencing a very difficult time.

Among those hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic are cultural institutions whose live performances are intended for gathered audiences. Many concerts and plays have been cancelled. Most of these institutions are nonprofits that can struggle financially even in the best of times.

If you have the means, now might be a good time to make a donation to help the performing arts through a very dark tunnel. That way, we can all enjoy a bit more light when we finally come through.

I’ve linked to the donation pages of some notable local institutions that are being hurt by the pandemic. And don’t forget the many museums throughout San Diego. They will also suffer as people avoid gathering in public.

Follow these links to make a donation:

San Diego Symphony

La Jolla Music Society

The Old Globe

La Jolla Playhouse

San Diego Repertory Theatre

San Diego Opera

We will get through this very difficult time.

Be safe.

Prints by Rufino Tamayo at America Plaza.

It seems few people realize the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has a small “gallery” inside One America Plaza, the tall building that stands across Kettner Boulevard from the museum’s downtown location. Works of art are often displayed behind several windows in a passage connected to the office building’s lobby.

The artwork now on display is titled Sun: Prints by Rufino Tamayo from MCASD’s Collection.

According to a sign in one window: “Rufino Tamayo was a prolific artist working in many media, from oil painting and watercolor to printmaking and even sculpture. Tamayo was also a prominent muralist, and completed projects for museums, universities, and libraries throughout the world. Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Tamayo emerged as one of the leading artists in his country and is recognized internationally as one of the most significant artists of the 20th century.”

This morning I enjoyed a look at the eleven pieces that are on display. To me they all possess a primitive, even elemental quality that seems mysteriously symbolic. These are representations of life that are both strange and intimately understood. They are visions that you might see in your dreams.

If you happen to be in downtown San Diego, or simply love the art of Rufino Tamayo, head into the main entrance of One America Plaza, then turn left to find this small treasure trove of fantastic art!

For the sun is in all his pictures, whether we see it or not; night itself for Tamayo is simply the sun carbonized. --Octavio Paz
For the sun is in all his pictures, whether we see it or not; night itself for Tamayo is simply the sun carbonized. –Octavio Paz

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!

Newly collected artwork at the Athenaeum.

The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla is now showing their recently acquired artwork. A variety of paintings, sketches, books, collages, sculptures and other works are on display in several galleries of the elegant library. The pieces have all have been added to their permanent collection since 2016.

Yesterday, during a visit to the Athenaeum, I stepped into the light-filled Joseph Clayes III Gallery, Rotunda Gallery and North Reading Room to see these new acquisitions. Many styles are represented–something for every taste.

I tried to capture some of the artwork with my camera, but to experience it best you should see it with your own eyes.

The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library is open free to the public. This current exhibition of Recent Acquisitions comes to an end December 28, 2019.

Reading, Charles Glaubitz, 2017. Acrylic on paper.
Reading, Charles Glaubitz, 2017. Acrylic on paper.
Study for "Study of Rods, Holes, and Balls", Joshua Miller, 2016.
Study for “Study of Rods, Holes, and Balls”, Joshua Miller, 2016.
#9, Sue Whitman, 2018. Paint on canvas.
#9, Sue Whitman, 2018. Paint on canvas.
Restaurant Musicians, Hunza Valley Pakistan, Eloise Duff, 2016. Watercolor and ink on paper.
Restaurant Musicians, Hunza Valley Pakistan, Eloise Duff, 2016. Watercolor and ink on paper.
Platycerium Biturcatum/Cuerno de Alce, Mariana Magdaleno, 2018. Watercolor on watercolor paper.
Platycerium Biturcatum/Cuerno de Alce, Mariana Magdaleno, 2018. Watercolor on watercolor paper.

Patricia, James E. Lasry, 1999. Lithograph on Arches Cover, Bistre ink.
Patricia, James E. Lasry, 1999. Lithograph on Arches Cover, Bistre ink.
Maple, Marshall Weber, 2017. Signed by artist, one of a kind.
Maple, Marshall Weber, 2017. Signed by artist, one of a kind.
El juego del reflejo = The Game of the Reflection, Derli Romero, 2017. Signed by artist.
El juego del reflejo = The Game of the Reflection, Derli Romero, 2017. Signed by artist.
Waiting (London), Adrienne Joy, 2016. Oil on panel.
Waiting (London), Adrienne Joy, 2016. Oil on panel.

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!

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Niki de Saint Phalle’s Grande Step Totem.

One fantastic sculpture by renowned French-American sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle presently stands at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Those who pass by the cultural center on their way up North Escondido Boulevard can’t fail to miss it.

I stopped by to have a look at the monumental sculpture, which is titled Grande Step Totem.

A plaque near its base is weathered and cracked and is difficult to read now. I’ve tried to transcribe the English portion of it accurately:

Grande Step Totem

Based in Native American spirituality, Saint Phalle’s Totem is more solemn than much of her work. With a muted color palette and subject matter, this piece encourages introspection. The Totem returned to Escondido on December 19, 2012 after spending the summer on view with several other Saint Phalle pieces on Park Avenue in New York City.

NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE

2001

Polyurethane foam resin, steel armature, ceramic tiles, stained glass, tumbled stone.

As you can see, some construction work was being done around the base of the sculpture when I visited last weekend. Here are my photos…

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!

Compacting sand for world-class sculptures!

This morning sand is being compacted in wooden forms on the Broadway Pier. That means Labor Day weekend can’t be very far away, along with the 2019 U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge!

During this annual festival, fine art will be created by some of the world’s top sand sculptors inside the pier’s Port Pavilion. Meanwhile, I was told that the carving of several sponsored sand sculptures outdoors on the pier begins tomorrow!

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

World-famous fine art inside the Coronado Library.

Rear view of Mourning Woman, 1966, the last sculpture by Donal Hord, which now is displayed in the Coronado Public Library.
Rear view of Mourning Woman, 1966. This last sculpture by Donal Hord is now displayed inside the Coronado Public Library.

Displayed inside the Coronado Library are many beautiful works of art. Several of these works are important pieces by internationally famous artists.

The two world-renowned artists are Donal Hord and Alfredo Ramos Martinez.

Donal Hord’s iconic sculptures can be found in various places around San Diego. He was one of the artists who exhibited in the 3rd Sculpture International held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1949.

Alfredo Ramos Martínez is considered to be the Father of Mexican Modernism. He served as the Director of the National Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico City. He was founder of the Open Air (Aire Libre) School of Painting in Mexico. His students included Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueros, and Rufino Tamayo.

I took these photographs a couple weeks ago during a visit to Coronado.

You can learn more about the history of these amazing pieces and other artwork in the library here.

Donal Hord's granite sculpture Mourning Woman stands in the Coronado Library's Spreckels Reading Room. It took ten months to complete.
Donal Hord’s granite sculpture Mourning Woman stands in the Coronado Library’s Spreckels Reading Room. It took ten months to complete.
Tapestry designed by Donal Hord titled Earth Mother or Fruits of the Earth. Woven by Marian Kendall, U. Kelley, and F. Manchester in 1939.
Tapestry designed by Donal Hord titled Earth Mother or Fruits of the Earth. Woven by Marian Kendall, U. Kelley, and F. Manchester in 1939.
Canasta de Flores, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, 1938. The mural, painted for the La Avenida Café, is now located inside the Coronado Public Library.
Canasta de Flores, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, 1938. The mural, painted for the La Avenida Café, is now located inside the Coronado Public Library.
El Dia del Mercado, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, 1938. Fresco originally located at the La Avenida Café, now behind the front desk of the Coronado Library.
El Dia del Mercado, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, 1938. Fresco originally located at the La Avenida Café, now behind the front desk of the Coronado Library.
Section of fine art mural El Dia del Mercado by Alfredo Ramos Martínez inside the Coronado Library.
Section of fine art mural El Dia del Mercado by Alfredo Ramos Martínez.

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!