Variations on a Gold Theme installed in Mingei courtyard!

A couple weeks ago I noticed a large mural was being installed on a wall of the courtyard at the newly transformed Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park.

Today I saw the work has been completed!

For many years, Variations on a Gold Theme, created by artists Ellamarie and Jackson Woolley in 1966, could be viewed in Escondido outside the museum’s satellite branch on Maple Street.

Originally this fantastic 12-by-36-foot enamel-on-copper mural made its home in downtown San Diego, at the First National Bank Building.

Now, as you can see in my photographs, the radiant, quite beautiful Variations on a Gold Theme inspires those who sit outside in the sunshine at the Mingei Museum’s new Lucille and Ron Neeley Courtyard!

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Balboa Park’s amazing, old Federal Building–like new!

Check out these amazing photographs!

For too many years, the exterior of Balboa Park’s historic Federal Building had languished neglected in a state of decay.

Not any more!

This is what I saw yesterday as I walked through the Palisades area of Balboa Park.

The Federal Building, built for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition, has suddenly returned to life. What visitors to Balboa Park will now see is something more like the building’s original appearance.

This uniquely beautiful building will be the home of the Comic-Con Museum, which is scheduled to open this coming Thanksgiving weekend.

The repair and painting of the Federal Building’s exterior was made possible in large part by the Balboa Park Committee of 100.

You can see photos of the historic restoration getting underway a few weeks ago and learn a little more by clicking here.

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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New public art coming to Balboa Park previewed!

Monumental public art is now being created for the Palisades area of Balboa Park!

Once completed, a pair of life-size grizzly bear sculptures will be placed on the roof of the 1935 California State Building, home of the San Diego Automotive Museum. In addition, a large 12′ x 20′ cold cast bronze panel is destined to greet visitors approaching the front entrance of the 1935 Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries, which today serves as the Municipal Gymnasium.

The two buildings were constructed for the 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park.

In 2021, almost a century later, both building exteriors, with the help of local architect Robert Thiele, are undergoing a historic restoration.

Today I was privileged to have an amazing preview!

Take a look at these photographs of a model grizzly bear standing in an indoor work area at Bellagio Precast. The bear, symbol of California, was created by San Diego sculptor Michael Matson and his son Kevin.

As you can see, the huge golden grizzly is ready to be completely cast.

A rendering shows how completed bear sculptures will be positioned atop the two front corners of the San Diego Automotive Museum, overlooking Pan American Plaza, with its proposed Singing Color Fountains.

The large bronze panel to be placed above the front entrance of the Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries building will soon be created out in the yard of Bellagio Precast. Some blocks of ornamentation meant to surround the panel are already finished.

The panel’s design is based on the original 1935 bas-relief designed by Arturo Eneim that was carved out of layers of fragile wallboard.

Imagery in the panel includes an electrical power plant and the gears of industrial machinery. During the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition, crowds marveled at the latest technological inventions. Inside the Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries was the House of Magic, which showcased a “talking kitchen” and television!

The following images show how the building and its panel will appear when all is completed.

A wood framework for working on the very large cold cast bronze panel is ready outside.

I took a photograph of finished blocks of ornamentation that will be installed beneath the panel, along the edge of the building’s marquee.

It will be interesting to follow the progress of these projects, which are made possible by the Balboa Park Committee of 100. It will be really exciting to see the final result!

Is it possible for beautiful Balboa Park to become even more amazing?

Yes!

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!

Exhibition of legendary Posada art in Escondido.

When one thinks of popular Mexican art, traditional images from Día de los Muertos quickly come to mind. The artist most responsible for this cultural identification, José Guadalupe Posada, was a printmaker in Mexico whose often used skeletons and skulls in his illustrations, to make satirical comments on society and the politics of his era.

Undoubtedly you recognize the image in the above photograph. It is Posada’s iconic La Calavera Catrina, a 1910–1913 zinc etching that was later popularized by Mexican painter Diego Rivera. Today La Calavera Catrina is a common sight during Day of the Dead.

According to this Wikipedia article, it’s estimated that during his long career, Posada produced 20,000 plus images for broadsheets, pamphlets and chapbooks… Examples of this material and a wide range of other artwork inspired by José Guadalupe Posada can be viewed at an exhibition now on display in Escondido.

The gallery walls in the Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido are covered with Posada’s bones. There are political figures, and military scenes, and scenes from ordinary life printed in Mexico City by his partner, publisher Antonio Vanegas Arroyo.

I visited the museum this weekend and could plainly see how influential Posada has been in the art world, Mexican culture and world history. I also learned how Posada died a pauper and was buried in an unmarked grave.

The exhibition, José Guadalupe Posada: Legendary Printmaker of Mexico, continues at the Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido through November 21, 2021.

Photograph of Posada’s Workshop, with Posada on the right.
Museum visitor views works of political art inspired by Posada.

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!

Mysterious ghost ship drifts toward San Diego!

An abandoned ship of mysterious origin is presently drifting toward San Diego’s harbor. It has been calculated that the very old sailing ship, named the Mary Celeste, will make landfall at the Maritime Museum of San Diego on October 29, 2021.

Reliable sources have reported that celebrated author and detective Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the character Sherlock Holmes, is speeding his way to San Diego to solve the mystery of this ghost ship.

Why is a deserted ship drifting slowly across the vast ocean without a single crewmember?

Was there a bloody mutiny?

Did they all leap overboard in a fit of mass hysteria?

Is it possible the Mary Celeste is being driven toward San Diego by a crew of ghosts?

If you’d like to help solve this perplexing mystery, please read what is written in the following photograph:

In case you’re curious, that first photo is a public domain image from Wikimedia Commons. I blurred it to make the present day “sighting” just a little more plausible!

According to its Wikimedia page, the old painting shows: Brigantine Amazon entering Marseilles in November 1861. In 1868 she was renamed Mary Celeste. She was found drifting with nobody aboard in November 1872, and is the source of many maritime “ghost ship” legends.

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!

Imperial Beach plaques remember slough surfers.

Bronze plaques near the foot of the Imperial Beach Pier recall the legendary slough surfers who once trekked from far and wide to the Tijuana Sloughs, where the Tijuana River meets the Pacific Ocean, just north of the Mexican border.

During much of the 20th century, the Tijuana Sloughs was considered the preeminent big surf break in California. There’s a great article concerning the history and geology of the Sloughs here.

If you walk around Portwood Pier Plaza at the foot of the IB Pier, you’ll see a bunch of colorful surfboard benches where you can rest and gaze out across the beach. Look down and you’ll discover plaques next to each bench.

The plaques recall those who rode the big waves at the Tijuana Sloughs and honor bits of Imperial Beach surfing history.

Surfhenge public art welcomes people to the Imperial Beach Pier and Portwood Pier Plaza. The plaza is located next to the beach between Surfhenge and the lifeguard tower to the south.
Visiting slough surfers 1940’s.
Regular slough surfers 1940’s and 1950’s.
Most of California’s finest surfers were lifeguards at some stage in their careers…
Dean of the Sloughs. In 1937 the Sloughs were first surfed by the legendary waterman Dempsey Holder. Over the years surfers from all over California showed up at Dempsey’s lifeguard station at the end of Palm Avenue.
Visiting slough surfers 1950’s.
Father of the Modern Surfboard. In the 1940’s Bob Simmons applied the principles of hydrodynamics to surfboard design and forever changed the sport of surfing. In 1950 he moved to Imperial Beach.
…From 1930 to 1950 the total number of California surfers grew from under 70 to over 1500.
In the 1940’s surfers from all over Southern California made the journey to what is now Imperial Beach to surf the then-known biggest waves off the continental United States.
The Tijuana Sloughs became the testing ground for mainlanders going to Hawai’i. Before Malibu, San Onofre and Windansea groups surfed Makaha and the North Shore of O’ahu, they experienced the thrill and fear of big waves at the Sloughs.

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!

Comic-Con Museum’s historic Federal Building restored!

The exterior of the historic Federal Building in Balboa Park, future home of the Comic-Con Museum, is currently being restored!

During my walk today I noticed the unique building, built in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition, is being patched up and painted to match several principal buildings in the Palisades area of the Balboa Park.

The Federal Building was designed by architect Richard Requa, who gave this and other nearby buildings a pre-Columbian appearance. According to this article, the ornamental detailing on the main entrance was unquestionably derived from the Palace of the Governor in Uxmal, Yucatan.

In one photograph you can see how the Federal Building was once home of the San Diego Hall of Champions.

The Comic-Con Museum will be opening this Thanksgiving weekend, in conjunction with the 2021 Comic-Con Special Edition to be held at the San Diego Convention Center.

After taking these photos I peered through the front windows, and I could see some preliminary construction going on inside.

The Comic-Con Museum already has 15,000 members. And I’m one.

I can’t wait for it to open!

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!

UPDATE: Russian sub to be new reef off Ensenada, Mexico!

I learned something interesting this morning!

I was walking along the Embarcadero past the Maritime Museum of San Diego when I noticed the hull of their badly rusting old Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine, B-39, was partially wrapped with orange material. I asked at the ticket booth for the latest news concerning this historic Russian sub, and I was told it’s being prepared for one last journey. It is to be towed away from the museum next month.

During the Cold War this particular diesel electric submarine, which was commissioned in the 1970’s, might have lurked at times off the West Coast, tracking United States Navy ships. Its final destination will be the Pacific Ocean off Ensenada, Mexico. There it will be sunk to create a new underwater reef!

UPDATE!

Oh, the perils of a blogger whose website, through mysterious algorithms, is considered by some a news site. I make a lousy journalist!

The gentleman I relied on for the preceding information was only partially correct–and very wrong concerning the main matter. The submarine will indeed be towed to Ensenada (at an as yet unknown time) to be disassembled for its valuable metal components. But will it become a reef? I’m told, no.

I heard this a couple days later from a much more reliable source during another visit to the Maritime Museum.

I also took the following photographs. You can see strips of orange safety fence wrapped around a portion of the rusted outer hull.

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!

Plaque at Cabrillo honors National Parks hero.

A beautiful bronze plaque near the entrance of the Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center honors Stephen Tyng Mather.

It reads:

STEPHEN TYNG MATHER

JULY.4.1867. JAN:22.1930.

HE LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEFINING AND ESTABLISHING THE POLICIES UNDER WHICH ITS AREAS SHALL BE DEVELOPED AND CONSERVED UNIMPAIRED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. THERE WILL NEVER COME AN END TO THE GOOD THAT HE HAS DONE.

You can learn more about Stephen Mather and how he promoted the creation of the National Park Service and became its first director here.

The Wikipedia page states: “In 1932, his family and friends established the Stephen Mather Memorial Fund, which commissioned numerous bronze plaques honoring Mather’s accomplishments and installed them in national park units.

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!

Visiting the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway.

Once a month, every third Saturday, the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway opens to the public.

Today I enjoyed a tour of the archaeological site and its educational visitor center. I was surprised to find so much history preserved in this small island of natural beauty just off Poway Road.

Poway is derived from the Native American Kumeyaay word Pauwai, which means the shape of an arrowhead or the merging of two creeks. A short distance to the south is Poway Creek.

As you will see in the following photographs, a small Kumeyaay village of approximately 20 families once lived on the hill that I and my docent tour guide, Heidi, explored.

The Kumeyaay people have lived in this region for at least 10,000 years. These first people had their lives severely disrupted with the arrival of Europeans in 1769. Today, descendants of those who lived in Pauwai are members of the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians.

Please enjoy the following photos to get a taste of what you might discover when you visit. Read the captions for a few of the things I learned.

Are you a local history or anthropology enthusiast? Or a community-minded person who loves the outdoors? The Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center is always looking for volunteers!

Check out their Facebook page and learn about the special days and hours when you can visit here.

Sign at the end of Ipai Waaypuk Trail, south of Poway Road, where there is parking.
Kiosk welcomes visitors to an important historical site.
My tour guide Heidi starts up stairs that lead to short looping trails.
At the Replica Village in a clearing stand several recreated Kumeyaay ewaas. These are shelters made of sycamore or willow tree branches, covered with cattails or baccharis, and tied with yucca or agave fiber string. These replica ewaas are old and need to be refurbished. The Kumeyaay would refresh their watertight ewaas regularly. A grinding stone, or metate, lies nearby.
This nearest ewaa was recently reconstructed. Volunteers who’d like to maintain this special place are welcome!
Heading up to the top of the hill along a very short, moderately steep section of trail.
I’m shown Wild Cucumber. Like many native plants, it had various practical uses. Seeds ground into a powder by the Kumeyaay were added to pigments to create rock art. The crushed roots, when tossed into water, would paralyze fish!
In the distance we could see Mt. Woodson, Iron Mountain, and Cuyamaca Peak. Depending on the season, the Kumeyaay would migrate east to the mountains or west to the Pacific Ocean coast.
One of several outdoor ramadas built for visitors to the Interpretive Center. Historical ramadas erected by the Kumeyaay were shady places for village activities and ceremonies.
It was thought that rock art might be found on these monumental boulders crowning the hilltop, but a thorough study using modern technology detected no traces.
A wise Kumeyaay observer found in this rock formation a whale, a turtle, and the head of a dolphin. Do you see them?
A nearby fire pit once used by the Kumeyaay villagers.
Soot remains in this natural rocky oven. A crack in the rear conveniently served as a flue for smoke.
Cooking stones would be heated in the fire, then placed in baskets to prepare food.
Many small broken pottery sherds have been found near this primitive kitchen.
At the top of the hill are very deep grinding holes, or morteros, where acorns were ground for thousands of years. After being reduced to powder, the acorns would be leached of tannic acid and cooked into a mush called shawii.
A important cultural site representing thousands of years of indigenous history in Poway.
A Coast Live Oak beside the trail. One of several types of oak trees in the San Diego region. Acorns were a staple of the Kumeyaay diet.
As I and my tour guide walk back down the trail, another group heads up toward the hilltop.
A hollow Elderberry branch. Not surprisingly, these were used to make musical instruments such as flutes.
Some of the rugged natural beauty that we enjoyed.
At another ramada replica, we saw a series of genuine metates that Third Grade students can use during educational field trips! These metates were rescued during road construction many years ago and were donated to the Interpretive Center.
There is much to learn about Kumeyaay tools, food, basket weaving, pottery and more!
Third Grade students use these small stones to paint their own rock art!
We head into the building at the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center to learn even more!
Look at all the smiling docents!
Dorothy M. Tavui was a Kumeyaay friend who helped to establish the Interpretive Center in Poway.
Shelves full of artifacts that kids can explore and handle to learn about Kumeyaay life.
A willow basket full of acorns. The long conical acorns are from Coast Live Oaks. The big acorns are from Black Oaks in the Cuyamaca Mountains. They were the largest and tastiest! The abalone shells you also see were obtained from the coast and often used as trade items.
Old photo of a 6 foot tall willow basket! Acorns would be gathered in season to last the entire year.
Sandals made of natural plant fibers.
I learned this is a seed beater! It’s being demonstrated on dried blooms of sage.
A beautiful mural inside the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway shows what village life was like here for many thousands of years. By artist Brigitte Lopez, 2012.

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!