Contemporary art sculptures at UTC mall.

I stopped by the UTC mall in University City last Saturday on my way from downtown San Diego to North County.

Laugh if you want, but it’s probably thirty or forty years since I last took a leisurely stroll around what used to be called University Towne Center. (When I was a young man, a friend and I would visit the arcade above the ice skating rink and play pinball, Defender, Galaga, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede…)

Over the past ten years, Westfield UTC has been renovated and enlarged. Today it’s not just a popular outdoor mall, but a major entertainment destination. (And before long the Mid-Coast Trolley extension, the construction of which appears to be making great progress, will terminate at the UTC Transit Center.)

As I wandered randomly about the mall last weekend, I noticed a number of very interesting sculptures along a stretch of its perimeter. Out came my camera. I read on some plaques that the three Beverly Pepper sculptures belong to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

After I got home and did a little research, I found out I’d missed other sculptures scattered throughout the mall. Perhaps I’ll have to make another visit in the future!

Here’s what I saw:

Three Graces (Madam in Bloom, Madam Elegance, Madam Beauty), Yuriy Akopov, 2016/2017…

Octo, Anthony Howe, 2015…

The First Amphitheater, Beverly Pepper, 1965…

West Coast School, Laddie John Dill, 2017…

Severio Column, Beverly Pepper, 1978…

Zeus Triad, Beverly Pepper, 1997-1999…

Radix, Joshua Koffman, 2017…

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The famously “dumped” $200,000 sculpture!

The organic sculpture you see above seems to have been “dumped” in more ways than one!

In 1988, a sculpture titled Okeanos, commissioned for $200,000, was placed in front of La Jolla’s Scripps Green Hospital. World-famous British modernist sculptor William G. Tucker intended the thing to resemble an ocean wave. Art critics considered it a great, masterful work. People arriving at the medical facility thought it resembled something else.

So Okeanos, which was popularly called the Scripps turd, at the cost of another $40,000, was moved to the less-seen corner of John Jay Hopkins Drive and General Atomics Court, which happens to be near the middle of one the world’s most important biotechnology hubs.

Which seems appropriate. The dumping of this organic thing marked the end of a human push to expel it.

Okay, in all seriousness, Okeanos, when seen up close, is actually pretty interesting. It does make the surface of an ocean’s foaming wave appear like a complex, surging, living thing. I’m glad I checked it out!

I took these pics today during a long walk though UC San Diego and along North Torrey Pines Road, and half a dozen more blog posts concerning my adventure are forthcoming!

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!

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Commonplace Abstractions displayed at America Plaza.

Untitled (Yardstick), Eric Snell, 1990.
Untitled (Yardstick), Eric Snell, 1990.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is now displaying some very unique abstract artwork inside the America Plaza office building. One America Plaza, the tallest building in San Diego, stands across Kettner Boulevard from the museum’s downtown location.

This small exhibition of art is titled Commonplace Abstractions. The pieces, on view behind glass, were selected from MCASD’s collection. Each work of art incorporates one or more ordinary objects from everyday human life.

Step into the front entrance of America Plaza, head down the corridor to the left that leads to the nearby trolley station, and you’ll see how contemporary artists can use creativity and ingenuity to rearrange elements in our familiar world, and make it even more mysterious, thought-provoking, and strangely wonderful!

My photos provide a few examples of what you’ll see.

Painting with Coat Hanger, John Armleder, 1984.
Painting with Coat Hanger, John Armleder, 1984.
Office Depot, Mónica Arreola, 2003.
Office Depot, Mónica Arreola, 2003.
Day by day is good day, Peter Dreher, 1990, 2007.
Day by day is good day, Peter Dreher, 1990, 2007.

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 mess of creativity at a beautiful museum.

The creative process is messy. Heaps of old ideas and the peculiar shapes of new ideas are scattered on the ground around a busy creator.

With saw and hammer the pieces are cut and pounded until segments fit together. It’s sort of like a construction site.

In an essay you write for school, in a new work of fiction, a speech, invention, sculpture or painting . . . there are steel beams and two-by-fours, boards of drywall, sharp nails.

I walked past the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s historic La Jolla location yesterday. The already beautiful building is in the process of being altered, enlarged.

Along the construction site fence are images of paintings in the museum’s collection. Beyond the fence, you can see the messy but semi-ordered heaps. It’s a moment in the creative process. Once all the elements of that mess are integrated with creative energy, the finished building will be spectacular.

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!

More art discovered while walking about La Jolla!

A beautiful, serene face painted on a utility box on Prospect Street in La Jolla.
A beautiful, serene face painted on a utility box on Prospect Street in La Jolla.

Here are additional art discoveries I made today while walking about the Village of La Jolla–the central, downtown part of La Jolla. I’ve enjoyed other meandering “street art walks” in the past, and you can see those photos here and here.

During this most recent walk, I photographed a few more of the ever-changing Murals of La Jolla, plus some fun trashcan art I hadn’t noticed in years past. Plus a few other cool finds!

Enjoy!

Two of five colorful sculptures, on a patio in front of 1261 Prospect Street.
Two of five colorful abstract sculptures, on the patio in front of 1261 Prospect Street.
A third fun sculpture!
A third fun sculpture!
A flowery head in the window at Robina Apparel and Accessories.
A flowery head in the window at Robina Apparel and Accessories.
A cute dog peers from trashcan street art in La Jolla.
A cute dog peers from a trashcan in La Jolla.
Another trashcan down the sidewalk has been painted with flowers.
Another trashcan down the sidewalk has been painted with flowers.
Once Upon a Time in the West, 2017, by artist Kota Ezawa. Louis Kahn, master architect who designed La Jolla's Salk Institute, is thinking.
Once Upon a Time in the West, 2017, by artist Kota Ezawa. Louis Kahn, master architect who designed La Jolla’s Salk Institute, appears to be deep in thought.
An ornate bench in the courtyard outside the rotunda of the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library. A small plaque on the bench reads In Memory of Genevieve Ferguson from Friends.
An ornate bench in the courtyard outside the rotunda of the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library. A small plaque on the bench reads In Memory of Genevieve Ferguson from Friends.
One scene on the metal bench seems to depict a villager working in a field.
One scene on the metal bench seems to depict a villager working in a field.
More trashcan street art. This painting is wildly colorful.
More trashcan street art. This abstract painting is wildly colorful.
I walked down the outdoor corridor of the Arcade Building and found two pieces of beautiful metalwork. This one is alive with turtles and a fish.
I walked down the outdoor corridor of the Arcade Building and found two pieces of beautiful metalwork. This one is alive with turtles and a fish.
One of three similarly painted electrical boxes in a row. An artist's folksy rendition of La Jolla shops.
One of three similarly painted electrical boxes which stand in a row on a sidewalk. An artist’s folksy rendition of Village of La Jolla shops.
Stylish, jazzy posters on a building advertise the Manhattan of La Jolla restaurant.
Stylish, jazzy posters on a building invite guests to enter the Manhattan of La Jolla restaurant.
Is All That it Proves, 2015, by artist Marcos Ramirez ERRE. Thomas Paine's famous quote as an eye exam chart, asserting opinion is simply opinion.
Is All That it Proves, 2015, by artist Marcos Ramirez ERRE. Thomas Paine’s famous quote as an eye exam chart, reminding us opinion is simply opinion.
Small mural on the outdoor patio of Bernini's Bistro shows pizzas being prepared.
Small mural on the outdoor patio of Bernini’s Bistro shows pizzas being prepared.
Close-up photo of one of the Murals of La Jolla. Bill 2, 2019, by artist Alex Katz. A celebration of modern dance choreographer Bill T. Jones.
Close-up photo of one of the Murals of La Jolla. Bill 2, 2019, by artist Alex Katz. The subtle facial expressions of modern dance choreographer Bill T. Jones.

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!

Prints by Rufino Tamayo at America Plaza.

It seems few people realize the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has a small “gallery” inside One America Plaza, the tall building that stands across Kettner Boulevard from the museum’s downtown location. Works of art are often displayed behind several windows in a passage connected to the office building’s lobby.

The artwork now on display is titled Sun: Prints by Rufino Tamayo from MCASD’s Collection.

According to a sign in one window: “Rufino Tamayo was a prolific artist working in many media, from oil painting and watercolor to printmaking and even sculpture. Tamayo was also a prominent muralist, and completed projects for museums, universities, and libraries throughout the world. Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Tamayo emerged as one of the leading artists in his country and is recognized internationally as one of the most significant artists of the 20th century.”

This morning I enjoyed a look at the eleven pieces that are on display. To me they all possess a primitive, even elemental quality that seems mysteriously symbolic. These are representations of life that are both strange and intimately understood. They are visions that you might see in your dreams.

If you happen to be in downtown San Diego, or simply love the art of Rufino Tamayo, head into the main entrance of One America Plaza, then turn left to find this small treasure trove of fantastic art!

For the sun is in all his pictures, whether we see it or not; night itself for Tamayo is simply the sun carbonized. --Octavio Paz
For the sun is in all his pictures, whether we see it or not; night itself for Tamayo is simply the sun carbonized. –Octavio Paz

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!

Silent faces and Constructed Mythologies.

Emotionally powerful images by internationally known Guatemalan photographer Luis González Palma can now be viewed at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. The title of the exhibition is Constructed Mythologies.

Walk through the gallery and you’ll pass many faces whose expressions convey complex, often painful emotion. Some eyes stare through geometric shapes or fragile threads. Some of the images use sepia tints; some are presented as mosaics or unusual collages; photographs are often layered or cut into shattered pieces and made abstract, as if to depict a series of memories, or moments of living that pass like a dream.

The subjects of Luis González Palma are the indigenous Mayas and the Mestizo people of Guatemala. Their faces speak of silent pride and suffering.

According to one sign that describes the artist: His work is informed by curiosity and reverence for the human condition, woven into evocative images that present an untethered relationship to time and place. Working with symbolism, meticulous staging, and a keen understanding of religious and cultural iconography, González Palma masterfully creates rich narrative influenced by his Guatemalan heritage and perspective as a Latin American artist.

If you like true things, come view these photographs.

The final page of Constructed Mythologies is turned on January 20, 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!

Baggage, a silvery orb, and contemporary art.

A large silvery orb is suspended from the ceiling of the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery, inside MCASD's historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
A large silvery orb is suspended from the ceiling of the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery, inside MCASD’s historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.

On Sunday I headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to enjoy a tour of their downtown Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building. This historic building was one of many fascinating sites that the public could explore during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO.

I arrived early and walked about the building’s spacious galleries, gazing up toward the high ceiling and around corners at intriguing artwork. The current exhibition is titled Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. Trevor Paglen, a MacArthur Award-winning artist who lived as a child on military bases, creates pieces that concern mass surveillance and individual privacy. According to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego website, he “blurs the lines between art, science, and investigative journalism to construct unfamiliar and at times unsettling ways to see and interpret the world around us . . . in Paglen’s photographs the infrastructure of surveillance is also apparent—a classified military installation, a spy satellite, a tapped communications cable, a drone, an artificial intelligence . . .”

When it was time for the architectural tour to begin, our small group gathered near the museum’s entrance and we learned a little about the very unique Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.

The building at first glance appears to be an extension of the Santa Fe Depot, San Diego’s downtown train station. In fact, what is now called the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building used to be the baggage building of the depot, and is separated from the train station’s passenger waiting room by an arched outdoor breezeway. The Santa Fe Depot, which is now a transit center that also serves Amtrak, was built in 1915 by Bakewell & Brown to accommodate travelers coming to San Diego for the Panama-California Exposition held in Balboa Park.

As decades passed, and travel by train waned, much less space was required at the station for baggage. Because of its historical importance, the huge old baggage building couldn’t be torn down or substantially altered.

The enormous interior space, large beautiful windows and high ceilings were perfect for a unique downtown art gallery. In 2007, the structure was converted by Gluckman Mayner Architects into an extraordinary downtown space for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

The downtown MCASD usually features more experimental art than their La Jolla location, so the unusually large galleries can be put to good use. I learned that past exhibitions have included some monumental artwork, even a full-size translucent polyester fabric and stainless steel “New York” apartment, complete with major appliances!

To explore art inside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is a remarkable experience. It’s like moving through a vast inner world where small dreams become large. Just as a museum should be!

Looking across Kettner Boulevard at the Santa Fe Depot. The old baggage building on the north side of the train station is now home to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Looking west across Kettner Boulevard at the Santa Fe Depot. The old baggage building on the north side of the train station is now used by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
At the north end of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is the modern three-story David C. Copley Building.
At the north end of the historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is the modern three-story David C. Copley Building.
The David C. Copley Building has featured additional gallery space, but now houses administrative offices for MCASD while their La Jolla location is renovated and enlarged.
In the past the David C. Copley Building has provided additional gallery space. It now houses administrative offices for MCASD while their La Jolla location is renovated and enlarged.
Sign in front of MCASD's entrance entices visitors to come in and gaze at the orb.
Sign in front of MCASD’s entrance invites passersby to come in and gaze at the orb.
Looking from inside the museum across Kettner Boulevard toward the America Plaza trolley station. The building seen to the right is MCASD's original downtown location, now used by the museum for educational programs.
Looking from inside the museum across Kettner Boulevard toward the America Plaza trolley station. The two-story building seen to the right is MCASD’s original downtown location, now used by the museum for educational programs.
As visitors enter the museum, artwork inside the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery immediately catch the eye.
As visitors enter the museum, massive artwork inside the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery immediately catches the eye.
Looking west out glass doors at the Figi Family Concourse and trolley and train platforms at Santa Fe Depot.
Looking west out glass doors at the Figi Family Concourse, and trolley and train platforms at downtown’s Santa Fe Depot.
One of several large cubes outside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building, by artist Richard Serra, 2005
One of several large steel cubes outside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building, by artist Richard Serra, 2005.
Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite, by artist Trevor Paglen.
Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite, by contemporary artist Trevor Paglen.
More artwork by the large arched windows of the old baggage building. This interior wall is part of MCASD's unique Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery.
More artwork by the large arching windows of the old baggage building. This interior wall is part of MCASD’s unique Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery.
Visitors to the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego enjoy photographs and other pieces by Trevor Paglen.
Visitors to the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego view photographs and other pieces by Trevor Paglen.
Sign at MCASD explains the current exhibition Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. (click to enlarge)
Sign at MCASD explains the current exhibition Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. (Click photo to enlarge for easy reading.)
Autonomy Cube, 2015, Trevor Paglen. Working hardware that allows users to connect anonymously to the internet, by routing Wi-Fi traffic through the Tor network.
Autonomy Cube, 2015, Trevor Paglen. Working hardware that allows users to connect anonymously to the internet, by routing Wi-Fi traffic through the Tor network.
True Art ... (CIA Special Activities Staff), 2016, Trevor Paglen. High temp epoxy.
True Art … (CIA Special Activities Staff), 2016, Trevor Paglen. High temp epoxy.
A look into a spacious art gallery inside MCASD's Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
A look into a spacious gallery inside MCASD’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
"Fanon" (Even the Dead Are Not Safe) Eigenface, 2017, Trevor Paglen. Dye sublimation print.
“Fanon” (Even the Dead Are Not Safe) Eigenface, 2017, Trevor Paglen. Dye sublimation print.
Amazing sights await eyes at downtown's Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego!
Astonishing sights await curious eyes at downtown’s Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego!

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!

Contemporary art program for students in San Diego.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has a special Extended School Partnership (ESP) program for local 6-12th-grade students. Teachers have the opportunity to expose their students to contemporary art in partnership with the museum.

Students are taught about art making, collaboration and, according to a new sign posted near MCASD’s downtown location, their own identity, solidarity and activism. (As someone who is passionate about writing, I hope there’s an emphasis on personal freedom, truth-seeking and authentic creativity–not politics or propaganda.)

Yesterday I took a photograph of this sign in the breezeway between downtown’s Santa Fe Depot and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. The two art panels were created by local students at Valhalla High School.

Read the sign if you’d like to learn more about this program.

(Click this photo to enlarge for easy reading.)
(Click this photo to enlarge for easy reading.)

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!

Art on construction fence at MCASD La Jolla.

Images from the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on a construction fence at the La Jolla campus.
Images from the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego decorate a construction fence at their La Jolla campus.

During my walk through La Jolla last weekend, I noticed some graphics on a construction fence in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. As I approached the fence, I read signs that provided an explanation.

This cool, temporary Inside-Out Gallery features images of works that are in the museum’s permanent collection. An expansion of the museum’s La Jolla campus is underway. Please read to the photo captions to learn about MCASD’s very bright future!

The Inside-Out Gallery features images from the museum's permanent collection. The La Jolla location is closed for construction. The gallery space is being greatly increased.
The Inside-Out Gallery features images from the museum’s permanent collection. The La Jolla location is closed for new construction. The gallery space is being greatly increased.
Red Blue Green, Ellsworth Kelly, 1963.
Red Blue Green, Ellsworth Kelly, 1963.
An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Collar of Thorns), Yasumasa Morimura, 2001.
An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Collar of Thorns), Yasumasa Morimura, 2001.
Terms Most Useful in Describing Creative Works of Art, John Baldessari, 1966-1968.
Terms Most Useful in Describing Creative Works of Art, John Baldessari, 1966-1968.
No Splash, Ramiro Gomez, 2013.
No Splash, Ramiro Gomez, 2013.
Bottles, Philip Guston, 1977.
Bottles, Philip Guston, 1977.
Sinjerli 1, Frank Stella, 1967.
Sinjerli 1, Frank Stella, 1967.
Under the Table 2, Nicole Eisenman, 2014.
Under the Table 2, Nicole Eisenman, 2014.
Pool Party, John Valadez, 1986.
Pool Party, John Valadez, 1986.
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is expanding its La Jolla campus. The gallery space will be quadrupled from 10,000 to 40,000 square feet.
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is expanding its La Jolla campus. The gallery space will be quadrupled from 10,000 to 40,000 square feet.
A rendering shows the future museum after expansion. The design by New York City-based Selldorf Architects will offer dramatic views of the nearby ocean and coast.
A rendering shows the future museum after expansion. The design by New York City-based Selldorf Architects will offer dramatic views of the nearby ocean and coast.
Another rendering depicts a front corner of the museum after expansion.
Another rendering depicts a front corner of the museum after its expansion.
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla is currently closed due to the construction.
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla is currently closed due to the construction.
A plaque near the museum's entrance. In Memory of Ellen Browning Scripps. The building was her former La Jolla home.
A plaque near the museum’s entrance is In Memory of Ellen Browning Scripps. The original building whose facade is still visible was designed by famed architect Irving J. Gill and considered one of his masterworks. The building was commissioned by Scripps and became her La Jolla home.
Flowers, Andy Warhol, 1967.
Flowers, Andy Warhol, 1967.

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!