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!

How do you share you care?

I make it a priority to visit and talk with people.
I make it a priority to visit and talk with people.

How do you share you care?

People have written down inspiring answers. Their words can be read in several windows of downtown’s Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

What would you write?

Having compassion and giving time and effort.
Having compassion and giving time and effort.
Acknowledgement - every one deserves to feel seen and heard and cared for and respected.
Acknowledgement – every one deserves to feel seen and heard and cared for and respected.
I teach Middle School.
I teach Middle School.
Seeing all people as human beings just trying to get through in the world.
Seeing all people as human beings just trying to get through in the world.
By sharing your time and helping a homeless person or child.
By sharing your time and helping a homeless person or child.
Teach, help people grow themselves.
Teach, help people grow themselves.
Spreading joy and color as far as I can reach.
Spreading joy and color as far as I can reach.

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!

JOY appears on the Broadway Pier!

This afternoon I noted that JOY has magically appeared on the Broadway Pier!

Looks like the Port of San Diego is in the holiday 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!