Golden bust of Benito Juárez in Chicano Park.

If you walk to the northwest corner of Chicano Park and cross the intersection of Cesar E. Chavez Parkway and Logan Avenue, you’ll see what appears to be a statue on a checkerboard. Move closer and you’ll discover a golden sculpted head on a white pedestal. The bust is of Mexican national hero, Benito Juárez.

A plaque in Spanish at its base begins: “El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz,” which translates into English as: “Respect for the rights of others is peace.” The full quote by Juárez, who is remembered for modernizing Mexico with liberal reforms, is: “Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.”

According to the plaque, the bust was unveiled on June 25, 2005. It appears to have been placed here by Gran Logia Mexico, Americana San Diego California. I believe the organization is a local Mexican Freemasonry group. I can find nothing about this public artwork on the internet.

Another sculpture of Benito Juárez can be found in downtown San Diego’s Pantoja Park.

That less mysterious public art was a gift from Mexico. I once took a photograph of the fine bronze statue and posted it here.

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Día de los Muertos altar remembers COVID victims.

An altar at the County Administration Building in downtown San Diego was created for Día de los Muertos this year. It remembers loved ones from all around San Diego County who have died from COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has brought an abrupt end to so many lives.

Photographs represent just some of the family members, friends and loved ones. Every victim of this terrible pandemic is remembered.

The altar stands through today.

Tomorrow memories of smiles, laughter and love will live on.

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!

View a Día de los Muertos altar in Normal Heights.

(Photograph courtesy Melody De Los Cobos.)

A special altar for Día de los Muertos is now on display in Normal Heights.

The community altar is dedicated to loved ones who have passed from this world. Among those remembered is Albert Jurado, who was well known in the San Diego, South Bay and Tijuana music communities.

You are invited to contribute a photograph, candle or special object to the altar to remember your own loved one.

The beautiful altar is located at 4720 32nd Street. It will be on display through Monday, November 2nd, 2020.

(Photograph courtesy Melody De Los Cobos.)
(Photograph courtesy Melody De Los Cobos.)

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!

The colorful Catrinas of Old Town San Diego!

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is coming up on Sunday. This popular Mexican holiday is a special time to remember and pray for loved ones who’ve passed on from this world.

Día de los Muertos has many rich traditions that have evolved over time, and one is the Catrina. Elegantly dressed skeletons with sugar skulls symbolize death. In Mexico, Day of the Dead is a time for the celebration of past lives, not mourning.

This year, celebrations of Día de los Muertos will be limited because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In Old Town San Diego State Historic Park the annual procession and festival have been cancelled.

But I did notice during a walk through Old Town late this afternoon that many very colorful Catrinas are on display in the large outdoor courtyard of Fiesta de Reyes!

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The forgotten public art of a famous artist.

I received a comment this weekend on a past blog post that concerns public art at San Ysidro Park. The Tree of Life is a tile mosaic planter and bench near the center San Ysidro Park, created by internationally renowned artist Victor Ochoa (with the help of some kids, I believe). I posted photos here, where you can also read the comment.

I was informed that a second Tree of Life by Victor Ochoa can be found at Howard Lane Park off Dairy Mart Road, and that the City of San Diego lists neither works on its civic art collection website here.

The reader commented the tree planted in this second Tree of Life planter is dead. Which is quite sad, seeing how Victor Ochoa is an artist who is celebrated around the world, particularly for his murals in historic Chicano Park.

Today I decided to go down to Howard Lane Neighborhood Park in the northwest corner of San Ysidro to check it out.

This is what I discovered…

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Artists celebrate Frida Kahlo in new exhibition.

Welcoming Frida to My Imagination, by artist Lin Wei, 2018. Oil painting.
Welcoming Frida to My Imagination, by artist Lin Wei, 2018. Oil painting.

A fantastic exhibition has opened in Escondido that celebrates the life and work of legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Today I stepped into the Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido to experience The World of Frida. The juried exhibition recently arrived from the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, California.

Over one hundred highly creative pieces by artists who’ve been inspired by Frida Kahlo cover the walls of the Museum. Imaginative portraits of Frida Kahlo are plentiful, as are reimaginings of her works. Many different artistic styles delight the eye!

Like Frida’s paintings, most of these pieces employ lavish color and symbolism. Themes often reflect Frida’s own complex and sometimes mysterious personality.

In the artwork you will find pain and poise, vitality and frustration, sensitivity and anger, feminism and vulnerability, remoteness and love. It seemed to me that Frida’s emotional and intellectual complexity–the seeming ambiguity–provided many of these artists with a blank canvas upon which they could paint their own related ideas, feelings and experiences.

My photos are a small glimpse of this remarkable exhibition!

As you can see, another gallery at the Museum contains even more artwork, including a very cool car with a traditional Mexican altar in its trunk and a large Frido Kahlo Day of the Dead Altar. A third gallery features Frida-related artwork by local school students!

Head up to the California Center for the Arts, Escondido before November 15, 2020 when The World of Frida comes to a close.

Visitor to the Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido explores The World of Frida.
Visitor to the Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido explores The World of Frida.

Defiant Deer, by artist Jamie Burnside, 2018. Acrylic on canvas.
Defiant Deer, by artist Jamie Burnside, 2018. Acrylic on canvas.

Seed of Life, by artist Crystal Moody, 2017. Acrylic.
Seed of Life, by artist Crystal Moody, 2017. Acrylic.

Frida Kahlo Shrine Box Day of the Dead, by artist Monica Balmelli, 2016. Mixed media.
Frida Kahlo Shrine Box Day of the Dead, by artist Monica Balmelli, 2016. Mixed media.

Young Frida, by artist Kim Bagwill, 2018. Oil on panel.
Young Frida, by artist Kim Bagwill, 2018. Oil on panel.

Frida with Flower Crown, by artist Betsy Gorman, 2018. Mixed media collages.
Frida with Flower Crown, by artist Betsy Gorman, 2018. Mixed media collages.

Frida's Chair, by artist Marian De La Torre-Easthope, 2018. Oil on canvas.
Frida’s Chair, by artist Marian De La Torre-Easthope, 2018. Oil on canvas.

Frida #51, by Stikki Peaches, 2017. Mixed media on paper.
Frida #51, by Stikki Peaches, 2017. Mixed media on paper.

1954 Chevy Belair. Trunk altar honors family from Uruapan, Michoacan, and Mexico City, Mexico. Manuel Navarro Sr.
1954 Chevy Belair. Trunk altar honors family from Uruapan, Michoacan, and Mexico City, Mexico. Manuel Navarro Sr.

Frida Kahlo Día de los Muertos Altar by artist Daniel F. Martinez.
Frida Kahlo Día de los Muertos Altar by artist Daniel F. Martinez.

Celebrating Frida in the Afterlife, by Hayle V., San Pasqual Union School District Grade 7, 2020. Acrylic paint, markers.
Celebrating Frida in the Afterlife, by Hayle V., San Pasqual Union School District Grade 7, 2020. Acrylic paint, markers.

Corazon de Frida, by artist Juan Solis, 2018. Acrylic on canvas.
Corazon de Frida, by artist Juan Solis, 2018. Acrylic on canvas.

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!

Amazing murals in cross-border art exhibition!

An international cross-border exhibition of urban art can now be enjoyed in both San Diego and Tijuana. Nine amazing, newly painted outdoor murals, created by regional artists in Southern California and Mexico, are part of this binational exhibition, which is titled Walls – Cross Border Urban Art/Muros – Arte Urbano Interfronterizo. The event is a collaboration between the San Ysidro community development organization Casa Familiar and the Municipal Institute of Art and Culture of Tijuana.

Yesterday I was given a tour of some of the murals that were created north of the border. My guide was Francisco Morales, Gallery Director of The FRONT, Casa Familiar’s art gallery at 147 W. San Ysidro Boulevard. The FRONT Arte Cultura is a cool community gathering place for exhibitions, concerts, education, and other cultural and artistic engagement.

The FRONT Arte Cultura is an art gallery in San Ysidro operated by the community organization Casa Familiar.
The FRONT Arte Cultura is a gallery in San Ysidro operated by the community organization Casa Familiar.

We began by looking at the following indoor mural, which was spray painted just inside The FRONT gallery by artist Juan Carlos Galindo, who is known as GRVR. His urban art is like graffiti with a surreal pop art quality, full of the color, zest and dynamism of life near the border. I was told that at night the brightly lit mural attracts attention through the gallery’s front window, luring the eyes of those walking or driving by.

We then crossed San Ysidro Boulevard to take a look at the three nearest outdoor murals.

The following amazing artwork by Mary Jhun, an artist representing the Filipino community, is a work in progress. It will be a permanent addition to what used to be an old hotel called La Nola, an historic building that will be renovated and repurposed along with several other nearby buildings.

Next is a colorful mural by Jorge Mendoza, whose very cool Nest Murals in Barrio Logan I once photographed here.

The third mural across the street from The FRONT gallery is by Stephanie “Fifi” Martinez, who is a very talented cartoonist and student at San Diego City College. Her themes often concern emotional turmoil and inspiration, as you can see in this really great mural she painted.

We then walked a short distance down San Ysidro Boulevard to the El Rincon Restaurant, whose outdoor wall was painted by Michelle Ruby, who is also known as Mrbbaby. Her pinata character Chucho is riding with a doll atop a colorful Quetzalcoatl, who appears to be in love with the moon! (I must admit this was my favorite.)

A variety of older murals in the neighborhood are also included in the Walls – Cross Border Urban Art exhibition. You can see a Google map of all the mural locations that are in San Ysidro by clicking here. I happened to photograph two older murals by Sand One and Victor Ochoa on a previous walk. You can see those two great murals by clicking here!

After viewing the above Mrbbaby mural, we walked north up Cypress Drive. I was told by Francisco that this walkable stretch that connects The FRONT gallery to the San Ysidro Branch Library is called the Cultural Corridor.

Near an open park-like space where the annual Día de San Ysidro/San Ysidro Day event is held we paused to admire two more murals on a low wall. The fun swirly one was painted by Luisa Martinez and David Pena during the 2019 community festival; the other was created more recently by Hector Villegas to encourage participation in the 2020 Census.

As you can see, the murals that are included in this binational exhibition are rather amazing. I’m told the murals in Tijuana are equally superb! Unfortunately, as I write this, the border is closed to all but essential workers due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

If you’d like to learn more about the Walls – Cross Border Urban Art/Muros – Arte Urbano Interfronterizo exhibition, or visit Casa Familiar’s very cool The FRONT Arte Cultura gallery in San Ysidro, make sure to go to this web page for much more detailed information!

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!

More street art on San Ysidro Boulevard!

Street art in San Ysidro by Gerardo Meza.
Street art in San Ysidro by Gerardo Meza.

I’ve photographed more great street art!

Last year in December I walked around San Ysidro and took photos of street art near the Mexican border. See those images by clicking here.

During a walk in the same area this morning I headed farther up San Ysidro Boulevard and found even more colorful art. All of the following photos were taken between Willow Road and Cottonwood Road.

Except for the very first photo above! That fun artwork was painted some time after my earlier walk. It’s beside the Burger King near the intersection of San Ysidro Boulevard and Camino de la Plaza.

These images capture the life and spirit of San Diego’s bustling border community!

Colorful artwork in San Ysidro by renowned muralist Victor Ochoa depicts the artist's family.
Colorful artwork in San Ysidro by renowned muralist Victor Ochoa, known for his work in Chicano Park. I’ve been told this small mural depicts the artist’s family.

Mural in San Ysidro by Los Angeles artist Sand One.
Mural in San Ysidro by Los Angeles artist Sand One.

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!

Amish in San Diego, postcards, and Mexico.

I learned something interesting yesterday.

I was downtown inside the Santa Fe Depot, waiting at the train station’s kiosk for my microwaved chicken burrito, when I noticed a stand containing postcards. I wondered, in this digital age of ubiquitous cell phone cameras, where anyone can instantly post photos to social media, who would buy postcards? I asked and received a surprising reply. Amish tourists love postcards!

Which makes sense. The Amish tend to live much more simple lives, remaining largely “in the past” and shunning many of the conveniences of modern technology. And it seems to me that in some respects this might be wise. Less distraction. More eye to eye human contact.

I’ve often wondered why I sometimes see Amish folk walking around downtown San Diego, gazing about in wonder at the tall buildings and hustle and bustle around them. It seems a very odd place for these people to be. One thinks of the Amish driving pony carts in the rural Midwest or Northeast, not walking about urban California in the extreme southwestern corner of the United States.

I was told by my friend at the kiosk that the Amish come to San Diego to seek medical treatments in Mexico. I did an internet search and found this page with some explanation.

I asked my friend what Amish “tourists” were like. He explained they tend to be very quiet, but if you initiate a conversation they are surprisingly friendly and open, and in many respects much like you or me.

Next time I see these plain-dressed folk walking about, I think I’ll smile and say hello.

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!

The art of Chicano/a/x printmaking, activism.

A collection of bold contemporary art can now be viewed at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. The exhibition is titled: Chicano/a/x Printmaking: Making Prints and Making History – 50 Years of Art Activism.

The many colorful pieces on display include woodblock prints, serigraphs and lithographs. Most of the artwork was created to provide a voice for Mexican-American communities and promote social change. The images urge Chicano/a/x activism, and include themes such as political struggle, racism, poverty and immigration.

According to the SDSU Downtown Gallery website: “Featuring important historical and contemporary examples of printed works on paper, the exhibition highlights printmaking as one of the oldest, most enduring, and widely used processes for Chicano/a/x artists working from the 1940s to today . . . Artists and groups in the exhibition include Yreina Cervantes, Rupert Garcia, Diane Gamboa, Ester Hernandez, Malaquías Montoya, Victor Ochoa, Self Help Graphics & Art, and Salvador Roberto Torres, among others.”

As I journeyed along each gallery wall, I was struck by the emotional potency of the artwork. There are images that depict cultural pride and strength, and images that powerfully convey human suffering.

In addition to thought-provoking political messages, visitors to the gallery can observe the evolution of printmaking and see how ideas are effectively conveyed and magnified using simple posters. The eye-catching designs and the creativity of these prints should intrigue everyone who loves art.

The exhibition will continue at the SDSU Downtown Gallery through April 5, 2020.

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!