The most magical circus in the world!

Today I was wowed by amazing, dazzling, stupefying performances at the most magical circus in the world!

I know for a fact that I experienced the most powerful magic. I saw it, heard it, smelled it, got goosebumps. I felt magic in my sudden laughter and in my soaring heart. I saw magic in the joyful smiles of each circus performer.

The Zoppé Family Circus is performing this weekend at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. They are a circus whose history goes back to 1842, when, according to their website:

“. . . a young French street performer named Napoline Zoppé wandered into a plaza in Budapest, Hungary, looking for work. There, his eyes glanced upon a beautiful equestrian ballerina named Ermenegilda, who captured the hearts and minds of the crowd with her grace and showmanship. More important, this talented beauty captured Napoline’s heart.

Unfortunately, Napoline was a clown, and Ermenegilda’s father saw him as beneath her and disapproved of their relationship. The two ran away to Venice, Italy, and founded the circus that still bears their name . . .”

Today, the Zoppé Family Circus is filling our world with the time-tested magic of an Old World traditional circus. As Giovanni Zoppé explained when he welcomed the audience to the show, an authentic circus is all about family, tradition and struggle, and happiness and heartbreak.

I could see that the performers are also motivated by passion and a very deep love for what they do.

I spoke to Giovanni briefly, and he was such a nice person. I mean really nice.

After I got home, I did some reading and learned: “Giovanni Zoppé, the director of the circus and a sixth-generation performer, says the show aims higher than what passes for circuses these days. ‘We try to touch every emotion during the show,’ he says. ‘They’ll laugh, they’ll cry, and they’ll feel for the characters. It’s more of an event than a show.’

His performance as Nino the clown was hilarious, winning and utterly human. It was perfect. It was masterful.

The entire spectacle was fantastic.

Under the big top, in the spotlight at the center of the ring, the magic of the Zoppé Family Circus never ceased. There was magic in the acrobats, trapeze act, jugglers and tightwire act. There was magic in the trick horse riding and the lady who shot an arrow with perfect accuracy using her feet while doing a handstand. There was magic in the mustachioed fellow who flew through the air absurdly with a rope tied to his hair. He spun like a top, circled high above the ring, soared like a bird. There was magic in the glittering costumes, and the smell of sawdust and buttery popcorn, and the excited chatter and laughter of children. There was magic when Nino couldn’t find his hat, then couldn’t reach it when it dangled from the top of a broomstick that he held.

There was magic in every single moment.

My camera failed to take good photos in the subdued light under the big top. But I got some photos in front of the tent during a humorous pre-show performance.

In my photos you can see a little bit of that magic. And much of the humanity.

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!

Remembering the music of Jared Jacobsen.

Notes of elegance and joy are missing from the world.

Today, during the Sunday organ concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, I learned that former San Diego Civic Organist Jared Jacobsen has passed away.

The news is sudden and painful.

I don’t believe I ever heard Jared play during his tenure as San Diego Civic Organist, which lasted from 1978 to 1984. But I have occasionally heard him playing the Spreckels Organ as a Sunday substitute, and have been dazzled by his artistry during past International Summer Organ Festivals.

The music that flowed through him was polished, elegant and above all joyful.

His notes uplifted every person who listened in the audience. He made thousands of lives more beautiful. He had a great smile and sense of humor, and uncommon poise, and a love for the organ, the King of Instruments. His passion came through during every performance.

I was told a memorial concert is being planned, to be held during an evening at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

I just want to say I miss him.

A place like heaven, and full of surprises.

Balboa Park to me is a place like heaven. A place overflowing with joy and sunshine and smiles and wonder. A carefree place that is full of surprises.

Today I enjoyed a few delightful surprises during my walk–as you’ll see.

The House of Peru hosted a lawn program today at Balboa Park's International Cottages.
A huge crowd had gathered at the International Cottages. The House of Peru hosted a colorful lawn program today.

Peruvian born Mario Torero, internationally famous muralist and activist, greets the audience before receiving an honor.
Peruvian born Mario Torero, internationally famous muralist and activist, greets the audience before receiving an honor.
The brass ring might appear any moment.
The brass ring might appear at any moment.

Balboa Park is one of the most wonderful places on Earth.

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!

Photos of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle!

Come with me. We’re about to enter Queen Califia’s Magical Circle.

We will step from our day-to-day routine into a mysterious maze of fractured white and black, turns and mirrors. We will suddenly emerge into a strange spiritual realm. A dreamlike surreal somewhere beneath our ordinary experience. A secret cosmos.

We will move through a fertile landscape teeming with faces and essential forms and wildly dancing colors and true symbols. Alive with infinitely circling snakes and joyfully soaring birds. We will find ourselves in Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, where our eyes will perceive our own existence more clearly.

Where life is triumphant.

These are the hands of those who assembled the magic.

That is the hand of sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle, who envisioned this magical circle and breathed into it her life.

(Click the photos of signs and they will enlarge for easier reading.)

You will learn:

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is the only American sculpture garden and the last major international project created by the renowned French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle.

Inspired by California’s mythic, historic and cultural roots, the garden consists of nine large-scale sculptures, a circular “snake wall” and maze entry way. The symbols and forms are freely drawn from Native American, Pre-Columbian and Mexican art as well as the artist’s own fantastic imagery.

Queen Califia and the Eagle Throne measures 24 x 22 x 20 feet. It is built of polystyrene encased in urethane skin with applied fiberglass coating over a steel armature.

Working from original clay maquettes, the eight totems were made in similar fashion. They are: Cathead Totem, Birdhead Totem, Yelling Man Totem, Bullhead Totem, Untitled Totem (Bird on a Square), Kingfisher Totem, Step Totem and Snake Totem.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle uses a greater diversity of mosaic materials than seen in any of Niki de Saint Phalle’s other large-scale projects. For the first time she used polished and tumbled stones such as agates, quartzes and turquoise. The results are magical and ever changing.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is nestled in a natural landscape within Escondido’s Kit Carson Park.

Niki’s original inspiration for the garden came while she was reading Assembling California by geologist John McPhee. There he discusses the legend of Queen Califia, a beautiful and powerful black Amazon queen who ruled over the island of California, a paradise of gold and riches.

The information sign includes an article concerning the opening of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in 2003. “The garden promises to become an instantaneous cultural landmark for the San Diego region–a place where visitors can roam at will, play, touch, dream…”

…a shimmering, virtuoso display of mosaic art…

A short biography of Niki de Saint Phalle. She was born in France in 1930 and raised in New York. She first came to international prominence in 1961 as part of the influential “New Realists,” a group that also included Christo, Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely (whom she married in 1971). In 1994 she moved to La Jolla, where she lived until her death in 2002.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle was completed one year after her death.

Other works of Niki de Saint Phalle can be enjoyed around San Diego. (You can find photos of them by searching this blog.)

Life raises new life.

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!

Learning to dance on a ferry.

A restful day. I spent some time at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

I sat on the indescribably beautiful passenger deck of the steam ferry Berkeley, reading and writing.

For a while I watched as elegantly dressed folk moved upon the historic ferryboat’s wooden dance floor. In time with sprightly music, they danced on reflected, golden light. The dancers weaved, promenaded, whirled, and gracefully bowed to one another.

After the event had ended, I learned that the Maritime Museum Dancers had been joined by the San Diego Regency Dancers, who are members of the Jane Austen Society.

With great big smiles they were learning a few new steps.

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!

Photos of the colorful 2019 Mariachi Festival!

Ready for some super colorful photos?

In past years, the National City Chamber of Commerce’s amazing Annual International Mariachi Festival and Competition has been held in Pepper Park. You might remember my photographs in 2016 and 2017. For this year, 2019, the event was held in Chula Vista’s spacious Bayside Park!

I love the whirling colors of Mexican ballet folklórico dancing, and the soaring, unabashed joy of mariachi music, so today I had to go again!

I took photos of anything and everything!

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!

FOLLOWING THE WORDS of Quincy Troupe.

This morning I walked beside poetry. I followed a bright stream of playful words that were written in 2008 by Quincy Troupe.

FOLLOWING THE WORDS is poetry inscribed along the top of a low concrete wall. The wall stretches between The New Children’s Museum and their garden and playground.

To learn a little more about Quincy Troupe, and to see more photos of this small, joyful refuge in downtown San Diego, click here.

WORDS WALK A PATHWAY
INTO OUR MINDS, THEY JUMP QUICK
BEHIND A HOPPING
FROG, GUIDING US LIKE A SCOUT
INTO THE LANGUAGE WE BOP,
WORDS POP BIG AS EYES
OF FROGS, WHO HOP AND PLOP, BOP
THROUGH WORDS ZIG-ZAGGING
THROUGH SENTENCES, HOT AND COOL
AS FLIP-FLOPS KIDS ARE WEARING,
THEY ARE COLORFUL,
THESE WORDS THAT BLIP, BLOP AND PLOP,
UP AND DOWN THEY GO,
LIKE OUR SCOUT, THE HOPPING TOAD,
THERE HE GOES, JUMPING LIKE WORDS,
SOME HE TOTES INSIDE
A SACK ON HIS BACK, BOUNCING,
BROWN-GREEN AS HIS SKIN,
THESE WORDS ARE HEAVY
LOADS FOR TOADS SAME THING AS FROGS
TO CARRY, THESE KNOTS, ZIG-ZAGGING, COOL, WORDS, BOPPING,
SKIPPING ALONG, SKEEDADLING
ALONG THIS PATHWAY,
WE FOLLOW WORDS AS THEY HOP
BEHIND OUR SCOUT-TOAD
OR FROG, IF YOU LIKE THAT WORD,
FOLLOW THEM TO WHERE THEY END
INSIDE THE MUSEUM,
WHERE WORDS BECOME FREEDOM, ART,
MUSIC AND KNOWLEDGE,
POETRY, DANCING, BIG FUN,
HIP AS FLIP-FLOPS KIDS HAVE ON

COOL RAP, FLIP-FLOPPING,
WORDS THAT RATTAMATAT, JAZZ
ZIG-ZAG THROUGH VOICES,
CARRY CHOICES THROUGH TALKING,
SENTENCES SKEEDADLING, WORDS,
BRIGHT INSIDE KID’S MINDS,
MADE NEWS, ABOVE THEIR FUTURE,
A NEW SUN RISING
EACH MORNING NEW, AND WE CAN
TOUCH IT WHEN WE SPREAD OUR WINGS
AND FLY LIKE A BIRD
THROUGH OUR OWN MINDS, THROUGH OUR OWN
SKIES, INSIDE OUR MINDS,
WE CAN TOUCH MAGIC INSIDE
OUR OWN IMAGINATIONS,
TOUCH IT, THE MAGIC,
WATCH YOUR MIND GO FLYING
LIKE A BIRD, NOW, HIGH
UP IN THE BLUE, WATCH YOURSELF,
YOUR MIND SOAR, SKEEDADLING, NOW

SKEEDADLING VOICES
SHIMMY SHIMMY SHANGLE, BOP,
SASHAY, SKEEZOOZOO
THROUGH, HIP WORDS THEY HOP, POP,
AS RAINBOW CHILDREN PLOP, SHINE
IT’S PLAYTIME, SPARKLING
WITH LAUGHTER, SKEEDADLING LIKE
OCEAN WAVES DRUMMING,
A CHOIR OF BIRDS, SHOWERING
RAIN, SOFT AS CHILDREN’S FOOTSTEPS
CHILDREN’S FACES BLOOM
LIKE FLOWERS IN JUNE, DAZZLING,
SPARKLE LIKE TINKLING
WATERFALLS, RINSING, PURE SOUNDS,
BRIGHT ROSE PETALS ON THE GROUND,
YOU ARE YOUR OWN SONG
SINGING SWEET MUSIC, COLORS,
NOTES INSIDE LAUGHTER,
FREEDOM IS TIME, NOW,
YOU ARE LIVING IN YOURSELF
WHEN YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE,
THEIR FACES AGAINST
WHITE WALLS, ARE FLOWER PETALS
POPPING INTO ROOMS
OUT IN GREEN BUSHES
FROGS SERENADE THE MOON, SKY
AS CATS CHASE SHADOWS
YOU CAN TOUCH IT, TOUCH
IT, NOW, THROUGH YOUR POET’S PEN,
YOUR PAINTER’S BRUSHSTROKE,
THE SUN INSIDE YOUR MIND, TOO,
REACH IN, TOUCH IT, TOUCH IT NOW

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!