From tiny seeds grow towering things.

I was walking through downtown San Diego this morning, on my way to catch the trolley for work, when I noticed that a store owner had written on their window: A giant sequoia tree is the result of one tiny seed.

As I looked about, the only gigantic things I could find were surrounding buildings.

Then a startling truth occurred to me.

Even the most towering skyscraper is the result of one tiny seed . . . in the human mind.

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!

La Jolla Library and the Voyage of Discovery.

Visually stunning public art dominates the interior of the La Jolla Library.
Visually stunning public art dominates the interior of the La Jolla Library.

Enter the La Jolla Library, take a few steps into the central atrium, then look up.

In this public library, curious minds become part of an amazing Voyage of Discovery!

Voyage of Discovery, an abstract catamaran hull by artist Christopher Lee, reminds visitors to the La Jolla Library that they are on a journey of exploration.
Voyage of Discovery, an abstract catamaran hull by artist Christopher Lee, reminds visitors to the La Jolla Library that they are on a journey of exploration.
A sculpture of an abstract catamaran is suspended beneath a large skylight at the La Jolla Library.
A sculpture of an abstract catamaran is suspended beneath a large skylight at the La Jolla Library.
Photo from the ground floor atrium of the La Jolla Library of Voyage of Discovery.
Photo from the ground floor atrium in the La Jolla Library of Voyage of Discovery.
Looking up at the stunning skylight.
Looking up at the stunning skylight.
Someone reads near the sail-like cast glass panels of the north window inside the La Jolla Library.
Someone reads near the sail-like cast glass panels of the north window inside the La Jolla Library.
A wood and muslin chandelier is the keel of the abstract catamaran.
A wood and muslin chandelier is the keel of the abstract catamaran.
The inner face of each half of the hull is lined in gold leaf.
The inner face of each half of the hull is lined in gold leaf.

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.

San Diego’s 250th Anniversary coming in 2019!

Close photo of bowed head of The Padre on Presidio Hill.
Arthur Putnam’s sculpture The Padre on Presidio Hill.

If one considers San Diego’s founding to have occurred in 1769, the year both Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the El Presidio Reál de San Diego were established on Presidio Hill, then 2019 will be our city’s 250th Anniversary!

That’s no small thing! One would suppose that huge celebrations are being planned!

Well, when I perform an internet search, I can find no plans for celebrations mentioned, apart from Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá’s announced church events, and a Founders’ Day Festival in Old Town.

It’s hard to believe, but I find almost no discussion of the city’s upcoming 250 year anniversary.

Unfortunately, as many of you might remember, the occasion of Balboa Park’s Centennial in 2015 was not celebrated with the fanfare that would have been appropriate.

I do hope that behind the scenes serious plans are being made for the appropriate celebration of San Diego’s 250th birthday! Or that plans will be made!

Just a thought from a silly blogger who loves San Diego!

A proposal: Celebrate San Diego Day!

Here’s a fun idea!

Yesterday, when I arrived for Silent Movie Night at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, I knew almost nothing about Harold Lloyd. I had no idea that this very famous silent movie actor had once lived in San Diego, and had graduated from San Diego High School perhaps a mile from where I sat. As I watched the movie, I recalled that parts of Citizen Kane, often considered the greatest movie of all time, had been filmed in Balboa Park.

And suddenly–out of the blue–a crazy idea popped into my head!

It would be incredible to have a big annual festival in Balboa Park that celebrates San Diego! An enormous parkwide event that celebrates the amazing history, culture and people of America’s Finest City!

Imagine diverse people from every community in San Diego converging on Balboa Park to celebrate our common heritage and shared optimism. Imagine the swell of civic pride and the endless opportunities for education and entertainment!

The special day would celebrate San Diego’s artists, musicians, entertainers, athletes, authors, inventors, scientists, teachers, volunteers, visionaries . . . It would celebrate those who have contributed to our fascinating culture, and honor those who are working today to create an even more dynamic future.

Balboa Park already hosts a number of fantastic annual events, such as EarthFair, Maker Faire, Fiesta Botanica, December Nights and Make Music Day. I propose a parkwide event that celebrates San Diego!

Such an event might include San Diego musicians, Mexican baile folklórico, silent movies featuring Harold Lloyd, readings from Dr. Seuss, local outdoor artists at work, lots of tasty regional food, demonstrations of past and future technologies developed in San Diego, a tribute to Jonas Salk, performances and presentations by school students, samples of Kumeyaay culture, a variety of historical reenactments. . . There might be exhibits concerning Charles Lindbergh, and the birth of naval aviation, and Juan Bandini, and Kate Sessions, and George Marston, and Gregory Peck, and Sally Ride, and Dennis Conner, and Tony Hawk, and Meb Keflezighi, and our world champion Little Leaguers, and the history of San Diego’s tuna fishing industry, and the Palomar Observatory, and Charles Hatfield, and Richard Henry Dana Jr., and Jimmie Johnson, and Tony Gwynn, and Eddie Vedder, and Switchfoot, and Joan Embery, and Alfred Mitchell, and Roger Revelle, and L. Frank Baum, and . . . and . . . and . . . and . . . you get the idea!

The event would be like a small World’s Fair–a San Diego Fair–not unlike the two Expositions held in Balboa Park a century ago for which the park is historically famous.

My guess is an annual event like this would prove enormously popular. Everyone living throughout San Diego who loves our city would be represented and interested.

Anyway–it’s an idea that might be a lot of fun.

What do you think?

US National Beat Poet Laureate in Balboa Park!

Chris Vannoy, US National Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2019, reads live poetry in the Zoro Garden during the Garden Theatre Festival in Balboa Park.
Chris Vannoy, US National Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2019, reads live poetry in the Zoro Garden during the Garden Theatre Festival in Balboa Park.

Tomorrow you have a chance to hear US National Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2019, Chris Vannoy, read live poetry in Balboa Park! He’ll be performing with local poetry group The Mightier P.E.N.S. (Poetic Expeditionary Nation of Semanticists) in the Zoro Garden beginning at 2 pm.

Today during my extensive walk through Balboa Park, I happened to stumble upon this summer’s weekend Garden Theatre Festival. As I entered the stony, amphitheater-like Zoro Garden, live poetry readings were underway. Everyone in the audience was invited up to the microphone to read poetry!

And wouldn’t you know it, I was fortunate to enjoy several readings by Chris Vannoy, who will soon be named the United States Beat Poet Laureate by the National Beat Poetry Foundation!

I’d heard Chris perform with The Mightier P. E. N. S. a couple years ago, and blogged about that event here.

His hard-hitting beat poetry is vivid and resonant. His words are like the many butterflies that flit through the garden–bright sparks in the sunlight–burning red hot for just a moment–each a revelation–a brief glimpse of something elemental. Delicate words, transient words, an incantation of power spoken briefly into the wind.

Congratulations to a local poet whose voice is now magnified! And whose smile appears to be indomitable!

The Garden Theatre Festival continues through Sunday August 19, 2018. Live performances are enjoyed free to the public in Balboa Park's Zoro Garden.
The Garden Theatre Festival continues through Sunday August 19, 2018. Live performances are enjoyed free to the public in Balboa Park’s Zoro Garden.
Chris Vannoy of the local poetry group The Mightier P.E.N.S. expresses thought and emotion with vigorous words as the audience listens and reacts.
Chris Vannoy of the San Diego poetry group The Mightier P.E.N.S. expresses complex thought and emotion with vigorous words as the audience listens and reacts.
Two in the audience listen to powerfully spoken truth.
Two in the audience listen to a poet’s powerfully spoken truth.
Someone in the audience signs up to read a poem. Anybody could participate during the event.
Someone in the audience signs up to read a poem. Anybody could participate during the event.
Chris Vannoy, who will be named US National Beat Poet Laureate in September, finishes and earns enthusiastic applause.
Chris Vannoy, who will be named US National Beat Poet Laureate in September, finishes his reading and earns enthusiastic applause.

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 skeleton in plain sight.

Sometimes I lie awake in the middle of the night, thoughts tumbling through the darkness. Sometimes an uninvited notion enters my skull.

You, too, might share this uncomfortable realization.

I recently published a short story. It’s titled Skeleton Forgiveness.

You can read my very short work of fiction by clicking here.