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!

Comic-Con panel: The rise of Mexican filmmaking.

Today I attended a fascinating panel at 2019 Comic-Con titled Making a Bridge with Genre Movies. The panel wasn’t held in the San Diego Convention Center, but offsite in Barrio Logan, in the Artists’ Loft at BarrioHaus. Panels at this location tend to concentrate on Latinx culture and contributions to the popular arts.

Four panelists–Victor Osuna, Frank Rodriguez, Sebastian Finck and Mitch Hyman–discussed the rise of independent Mexican filmmaking and how Latin filmmakers have increasingly achieved success reaching an international audience. I was introduced to the hashtag #Jallywood, which is a combination of Jalisco and Hollywood. Filmmakers are striving to attract creative people for projects in Mexico.

I learned that using today’s technology, a quality film can be produced by anyone anywhere. With the internet, to achieve substantial success no longer requires a relocation to Hollywood or other media centers–it requires vision, passion, persistence, and a broadly appealing story. Good stories are universal in nature–all people react similarly to powerful human dramas and themes. Genres, styles and topics might be diverse, but basic human emotions are shared by all. Spicing a film with the culture of Mexico, or any other place, simply adds uniqueness and authenticity. The trick is connection: creating that irresistible appeal.

I learned that not only is the cost of producing a film in Mexico much less expensive than the United States, but there are fantastic settings (and stories) just waiting to be tapped. The opportunities in Mexico are wide open to any creator who is optimistic–who can see and grasp that unlimited future.

In this digital world, isn’t that true for much creative activity? While good equipment and skilled production is essential for filmmaking, isn’t it the extent to which the end product achieves likes and shares and downloads and streams that increasingly determines real success?

At the panel’s conclusion, the audience was asked to share their experience on social media.

Seems to me like good advice!

Why did this panel fascinate me? I do a little writing here.

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!

The fantastic art of Richard Deacon in San Diego!

Double Talk by artist Richard Deacon, winner of the Turner Prize. Laminated wood and imitation leather. 1987.
Double Talk by artist Richard Deacon, winner of the Turner Prize. Laminated wood and imitation leather. 1987.

Look at these photos! Enjoy a taste of some wonders that have materialized inside the San Diego Museum of Art!

My docent friend took me on a tour yesterday morning of the jaw-dropping exhibition Richard Deacon: What You See Is What You Get. The abstract artwork of this world-renowned British contemporary sculptor, winner of the Turner Prize, is being shown for the first time in a major American museum–right here at the San Diego Museum of Art!

I don’t know how to begin explaining the various pieces. I did plainly see that Richard Deacon takes joy in inventive creation, working diverse materials, seeing organic forms bubble and expand into life. Gazing at his often huge pieces, I felt myself tumbling through a space filled with living shapes, mythological symbols, dreamlike visions. His muscle-crafted marvels have been extracted from infinite possibility, bent into reality.

I don’t know what else to say. I’ve added a little more description in my photo captions. But words are insufficient. What you see is what you get!

It’s great news that this special exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art has been extended through Labor Day, September 04, 2017. Go feast your eyes!

Richard Deacon. What you see is what you get. To see it, head over to the San Diego Museum of Art!
Richard Deacon. What you see is what you get. To see it, head over to the San Diego Museum of Art!
Eyes are met with an astonishing work of abstract art. Dancing in Front of My Eyes, 2006. Wood, aluminum.
Eyes are met with an astonishing work of abstract art. Dancing in Front of My Eyes, 2006. Wood, aluminum.
In places the screws, glue, and the wood itself seem to be unfinished parts of a living whole. The fluid piece undulates from the hand of its inventive creator.
In places screws, glue, and the wood itself seem to be “unfinished” parts of a living whole. The fluid piece undulates from the hand of its inventive creator.
An intangible tangle of shadow on the floor seems to be an important part of the sculpture. The artist calls himself a fabricator.
An intangible tangle of shadow on the floor seems to be an important part of the sculpture. The artist calls himself a fabricator.
An amazing creation, that seems to me like active muscles or tendons in a living body. Dead Leg, 2007. Steamed oak, stainless steel.
An amazing creation, that seems to me like active muscles or tendons in a living body. Dead Leg, 2007. Steamed oak, stainless steel.
The wood is artistically bent using steam and heat. During this process, Richard Deacon has about two minutes to permanently alter the wood’s shape.
This looks to me like supple leather. A portion of Fish out of Water. Laminated hardboard, screws. 1986-87.
This looks to me like supple leather. A portion of Fish out of Water. Laminated hardboard, screws. 1986-87.
Richard Deacon creates astonishing art using many different materials. These huge pieces are ceramic. They seem to have bubbled up from the Earth, or the artist's mind.
Richard Deacon creates astonishing art using many different materials. These huge pieces are ceramic. They seem to have bubbled up from the Earth, or the artist’s mind.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow C. Glazed ceramic. 2000.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow C. Glazed ceramic. 2000.
Housing 10, 2012. Marbling on folded STPI handmade paper, constructed with magnet button.
Housing 10, 2012. Marbling on folded STPI handmade paper, constructed with magnet button.
Richard Deacon enjoys playful, suggestive language and has called this huge piece Double Talk. The viewer can decide what is meant.
Richard Deacon enjoys playful, suggestive language and has called this huge piece Double Talk. The viewer can decide what is meant.
The abstract sculpture stretches and curves in an inviting way. It is both natural and larger than life.
The abstract sculpture stretches and curves in an inviting way. It is both natural and larger than life.
Falling on Deaf Ears, No. 1. Galvanized steel, canvas. 1984. My docent friend explained this represents the ship of Odysseus, as he sailed by the treacherous Sirens.
Falling on Deaf Ears, No. 1. Galvanized steel, canvas. 1984. My docent friend explained this represents the ship of Odysseus, as he sailed past the treacherous Sirens.
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.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

Salk Institute architect Louis Kahn: an amazing exhibit!

Photo of exterior of The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla. The famous building was designed by renowned modernist architect Louis Kahn.
Photo of exterior of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla. The famous building was designed by renowned modernist architect Louis Kahn.

One of the world’s most famous works of modern architecture is located in San Diego.  I’m referring to the Salk Institute building in La Jolla. Its designer was Louis Kahn, considered to have been one of the most important, innovative architects of the 20th century.

An exhibition now running at the San Diego Museum of Art takes a thorough look at the remarkable life, work and genius of Louis Kahn.

Last weekend I was given a personal tour of the amazing exhibit and found myself completely blown away by its scope. The photos, films, sketches, notes and architectural models, including a life-size portion of an extraordinary house–even works of art produced by Louis Kahn himself– were too much for my mind to absorb in one visit.

Kahn was undoubtedly a genius. His unique modern structures seem like ancient timeless monuments, made beautifully functional. They are simultaneously complex and simple. They are geometric, symmetric, modular, clean. They seem solid but light-filled. They contain unusual surprises of line, curve and angle. They are iconic.

Louis Kahn had a long, prolific career.  His work can be found throughout the world, and includes the enormous, citadel-like National Assembly Building of Bangladesh. Some of his more famous creations in the United States include the Kimball Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, the library at Philips Exeter Academy, the Norman Fisher House in Philadelphia, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, and, of course, San Diego’s own remarkable Salk Institute.

There is so much to see in this impressive exhibit–there were so many amazing designs produced by Kahn during his productive lifetime–that I can’t begin to cover it all in this blog. So I must direct you to the San Diego Museum of Art’s website. To get a small hint of what you will discover at the museum, you might want to check out the Wikipedia article on Louis Kahn.

This weekend I headed up to La Jolla to see if I could snap some good photos of Louis Kahn’s very famous Salk Institute building. Walking around, I managed to photograph the exterior, but I was unable to access the interior courtyard. So I’ve included one photo from Wikimedia Commons, just to provide a quick idea. Peering through a fence, I did glimpse some scaffolding in the interior area, so I suppose that would have nullified my photographic attempts, anyway.

The Salk Institute building’s walls are made of smooth exposed concrete. While this material might appear stark, the monumental appearance, the intriguing shapes and architectural symmetry are absolutely impressive. There is a mathematical, complex interaction between shadow and light that is difficult to describe–and quite beautiful.

Want to see more of Kahn’s brilliant work? Head over to the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park before this special exhibition closes on January 31, 2017.

Louis Kahn The Power of Architecture is a special exhibit showing at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park through January 31, 2017.
Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture is a special exhibit showing at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park through January 31, 2017.
Salk Institute in La Jolla from the interior courtyard. (A cropped public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.)
Salk Institute in La Jolla from the interior courtyard. (A cropped public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.)
Interior section of the Salk Institute just beyond the main entrance.
Interior section of the Salk Institute just beyond the main entrance.
Kahn's design seems both simple and futuristic. The interior space utilized by medical research scientists is said to be uniquely inspiring and functional.
Kahn’s design seems both simple and futuristic. The interior space utilized by medical research scientists is said to be intellectually inspiring and uniquely functional.
Another photo of the Salk Institute building's fascinating exterior.
Another photo of the Salk Institute building’s fascinating exterior.
A monumental building made of smooth exposed concrete with simple, clean lines, between green grass and blue San Diego sky.
A monumental building made of smooth exposed concrete with simple, clean lines, between green grass and blue San Diego sky.
A small but interesting portion of the Salk Institute building.
A small but interesting portion of the Salk Institute building.
The surface of the Salk Institute building is stark but surprisingly beautiful. Time has made the concrete appear more earthen and natural. Almost like marble.
The surface of the Salk Institute building is stark but surprisingly beautiful. Time has made the concrete appear more earthen and natural. Almost like marble.
Laboratory visible through one window. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine. Salk Institute today is a world leader in medical research.
Laboratory visible through one window. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine. Salk Institute today is a world leader in medical research.
It's a sunny day in La Jolla as someone walks toward a brilliant creation of the human mind--a building designed by famed modernist architect Louis Kahn.
It’s a sunny day in La Jolla as someone walks toward a brilliant creation of the human mind: a building designed by famed modernist architect Louis Kahn.

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 interesting photos for you to enjoy!

Powerful genius at San Diego’s Ion Theatre.

The Aliens, a powerful award-winning play by Annie Baker, is now playing at the Ion Theatre in San Diego.
The Aliens, an award-winning play by Annie Baker, is now playing at the Ion Theatre in San Diego.

Yesterday evening I experienced something completely unexpected. Out of the blue I received a powerful jolt, as if struck to the core by a hammer.

What happened? I went to see The Aliens at the Ion Theatre. The Ion Theatre Company produces cutting edge live theater in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood. The Aliens is a very unusual and surprising play that won the 2010 Obie Award for Best New American Play. It was written by Annie Baker.

I wasn’t expecting such power.

The Aliens is well performed by three great actors: Brian Butler, Tyler Oakley and Reed Willard. The characters they portray are absolutely human–slightly absurd and terribly broken. They are troubled in ways that are disturbing, heart-wrenching. They are frustrated, uncertain, in pain, alienated, almost hopeless.

But they aren’t hopeless.

Each character possesses awkward warmth and connection. And humor.

Then, like a bolt from the blue, at the very end, the emotional hammer strikes. I won’t tell you what happens. You’ll have to find out for yourselves.

Here’s a hint. In everyone there is unique genius. And while some people might not go far in this world, that genius–that yearning outflow from each individual heart–never stops. Life’s path might be unexpectedly short, but genius does not die.

Thoughtful adults should see this play. Check out the Ion Theatre’s website. The Aliens runs through December 12.

Join me for more cool stuff on Facebook and Twitter!

Do you like to read original, thought-provoking fiction? Visit my Short Stories by Richard writing blog!