Butterflies, art and inspiration in National City!

Yesterday, as I waited for the Memorial Day ceremony to begin in National City, I wandered a short distance down 12th Street from the Veteran’s Wall of Honor. I was surprised to encounter colorful butterflies along the median, and lots of art at a bright building on the north side of Kimball Park. The building, I learned, is home to ARTS, which stands for A Reason To Survive.

ARTS is a special community center where youth are inspired to live positive, hopeful, creative lives free from destructive influences and the violence that might attract their peers.

According to their website, the mission of ARTS is “to heal, inspire, and empower youth facing life challenges through therapeutic arts, formal arts education, and college and career preparation…In 2012, ARTS moved to National City and opened a 20,000-sq. ft. ARTS Center in one of San Diego County’s most health-challenged and economically depressed communities…”

I urge you to visit the above link and read about how the ARTS program has gained national fame, and how you might personally contribute, volunteer or become involved.

Here come photographs of murals and other artwork I happened to see outside the building. Painted words encourage non-violence and provide A Reason To Survive.

The nearby butterflies at intervals along 12th Street represent a transformation into something beautiful.

Each butterfly is unique.

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!

Art explodes in James Watts’ studio window!

Three years ago I enjoyed an amazing tour of artist James Watts’ studio in downtown San Diego. See those photos here.

The small creative space (home of what he calls on his Instagram page The James E Watts Institute of Artistic Behavior) is one of the most fantastic and inspiring places you’ll ever visit. Every inch is crammed with inexhaustible imagination and obvious love of life.

Whenever I walk down Seventh Avenue past the James E. Watts Studio, I peer into the front windows to see what works he has chosen to display.

This morning I was delighted by an explosion of art…

Choose happy.

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!

Closed school’s last students create mosaic wall!

Want to see something extraordinary and inspirational?

I had arrived yesterday at the 19th century schoolhouse now utilized by the Encinitas Historical Society, when I noticed a colorful tile mosaic mural wrapped around their dumpster enclosure wall.

When I asked about it, I learned the mosaics had been created by students from nearby Pacific View Elementary in 2003–the year that modern public school shut down. The final class of students produced this amazing artwork!

By looking carefully one can see the initials of students and simple images that record the experiences and desires of youth. You can see a love for art, friends, kindness, the ocean, sunshine, Encinitas and their Pacific View Elementary.

What a fine, enduring way to record important things in life.

Like the historic old schoolhouse that stands near this wall, the work of optimistic people in the past will continue to brighten our future.

If you’re curious about the old schoolhouse, which is headquarters of the Encinitas Historical Society, I’ll be posting lots of photos in the next day or two.

The historic 1883 schoolhouse, now home of the Encinitas Historical Society, can be seen just beyond that dumpster lid. The now closed Pacific View Elementary School can be glimpsed in the distance beyond the umbrellas.

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!

Wisdom speaks from a Mountain View mural.

A mural in San Diego’s Mountain View community speaks to the viewer with many words of wisdom.

Quotes from civil rights leaders and by thoughtful people who never achieved fame have been painted along a low wall. Those who drive or walk by are reminded that peace, freedom and kindness toward all are among our highest aspirations.

We are reminded to remain hopeful and to lead full lives.

The artwork, titled Inspiration Wall, was painted by Rik Erickson of Murals Fantastic. It was commissioned by the City of San Diego Graffiti Division. (Rik Erickson also created the large, very cool Imagine mural in North Park that features the face of John Lennon. It’s a bit hidden in a very narrow alley, but you can see it here.)

The colorful Inspiration Wall is located at the intersection of Ocean View Boulevard and 35th Street, across from the on-ramp to northbound Interstate 15.

I took these photos for you to enjoy…

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!

Chicano Federation and San Diego Loyal paint mural!

Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.

Last Wednesday, international soccer superstar Landon Donovan and the San Diego Loyal Soccer Club participated in very cool project at the Delta Apartments in Shelltown. A colorful mural was painted in celebration of Cesar Chavez Day!

Volunteers came together to paint this community mural, which was designed by artist Yessenia Hulsey. The artwork depicts children having fun playing soccer. The mural adds life, beauty and inspiration to this affordable housing complex operated by the Chicano Federation.

I couldn’t be present that day, but photographs of the event were sent my way!

The Chicano Federation manages nine apartment complexes in San Diego, providing affordable housing for families, seniors and people with disabilities. They also offer child development and nutrition programs, and a Women’s Small Business Development Program. To learn more about their important work, click here!

Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.

This is how the completed mural would appear!

Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.

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!

Mural painted by youth celebrates San Diego!

Have you seen that incredible mural that celebrates San Diego, painted on a wall where National Avenue turns into Logan Avenue, at South 43rd Street? It has become a very cool landmark where two southeast San Diego neighborhoods, Mountain View and Southcrest, meet!

The mural was painted a couple years ago by local youth! The project was organized by Concrete and Canvas, whose stated mission is “to mobilize the neighborhood to collaborate in creating community transformation through art, murals, and mentors.” Check out their website here.

This very colorful mural pays tribute to many of the places that make San Diego a special city. Looking at my photos, I recognize (among other things) the Hotel del Coronado, the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, the Padres, Mount Soledad, coastal cliffs and beaches (and sea lions), the Belmont Park roller coaster, downtown, the Unconditional Surrender “Kiss” statue, California golden poppies and bear, the Del Mar racetrack, the trolley, the Old Point Loma lighthouse, the Blue Angels, Balboa Park, the Coronado Bay Bridge, and the words: America’s Finest City.

I see two artist signatures: Irieanna Sesma (@SD_IRIE) and El Artista (@ILLUMIN8_SD).

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

A story about a strange, bright world.

You might remember a few photographs I took of buildings reflected in puddles. I posted those last month, after downtown San Diego had experienced a night of rain.

Looking into those silver puddles was almost like peering into a strange, bright world just beyond our own. To see those photos again, you can click here.

Well, during my walk among those magic puddles a seed was planted.

That seed germinated, grew, broke through, has blossomed.

If you’d like to read my newly completed short story, which I titled The Shining World, click here.

A teddy bear and a broken heart.

I saw this on Sunday. Valentine’s Day.

I was walking past a bus stop in North Park when my attention was arrested by a large teddy bear. The bear was sitting alone at the end of the bench. I looked around. Absolutely nobody was nearby.

I had to pause to take in this strange sight. Then it occurred to me: either this cute, very loveable teddy bear had been accidentally left behind, or it had been left there intentionally.

Either scenario meant heartbreak.

It’s one small story in the city that you and I will never know.

What made my discovery really weird–almost eerie–is that for weeks I had been working on a short story concerning a similar teddy bear on the streets of a city.

Even though the story is very short, it had persistently troubled me. I knew it had potential. But I couldn’t seem to get it right.

Seeing that mysterious bear inspired me to work on the story with renewed purpose.

I published The Teddy Bear yesterday. Since then I’ve made a number of changes. But I think it might be finished. It remains painful. Like many of my little stories it has a surprise ending.

If you’d like, you can read it here.

A poet, a didgeridoo, and Balboa Park.

I spent a couple hours today with my friend Mitchell. He plays didgeridoo in Balboa Park.

We went on a walk and got lunch at the Japanese Tea Pavilion. Then I listened for a while to his extraordinary pulsating music.

During the concert a traveling poet came by, watched and listened.

After I said goodbye to Mitchell and began down El Prado, I came upon the poet sitting at a small table before his manual typewriter.

His name is Ben Bernthal. He will write an original poem based on words passersby give him. I gave him the word “didgeridoo.”

What I received was an exceptional piece of poetry and a friendly chat.

After I headed off on my way, it occurred to me that Balboa Park is one enormous, colorful poem. In the way every life is a sort of poem.

Visit Ben Bernthal’s website and learn more about a really great writer by clicking here. You can request a poem online. He will type the poem on high quality paper and mail it to you!

Better yet, if you’re in San Diego, look for him sitting at his typewriter in Balboa Park . . . before life’s grand adventure turns him elsewhere.

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!

Making music one Sunday in Balboa Park.

As I walked about Balboa Park this Sunday afternoon, it seemed a lot of people were outdoors making music. Not just the usual street performers.

I heard a flute playing beyond some trees. I heard mysterious bagpipes somewhere in the distance.

When I arrived at the courtyard of the Casa del Prado, some socially distanced musicians were spread about engaged in what appeared to be a jam session. I don’t know. All I can say is their fine music lifted the spirits of those passing by.

Walking through the park today was a sort of living impromptu concert, performed by many musicians.

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!