A beautiful transformation in National City!

A beautiful transformation began in National City in 2013. Hundreds of community members came together to make a positive, permanent change. Butterfly Park, a blighted strip of land near the corner of 20th Street and Palm Avenue, became more like its namesake!

I first learned about this wonderful transformation on Sunday, during an incredible tour provided by Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center’s super nice Cooking for Salud Coordinator, Patty Corona.

We walked through the park and were greeted by colorful butterflies everywhere we turned!

I learned how, during the course of several days, families from throughout the neighborhood, school students, the Kitchenistas of Olivewood Gardens, and even the mayor of the time worked in the park installing butterfly beauty: mosaics on benches, a table and a trashcan, beautiful metalwork on posts, and an outdoor stage shaped like a butterfly wing! Vegetation that attracts butterflies was planted, too!

According to this article, “The project was led by Pomegranate CenterOlivewood Gardens and Learning Center…pitched the idea for a community gathering space in November 2012.

(The Pomegranate Center was also instrumental in creating the Manzanita Gathering Place in City Heights. See those photos here.)

As we walked through the park, I learned the wavy metal sculptures on posts were created by Sweetwater High School welding students, and the log benches were the work of former National City Mayor Ron Morrison.

In 2015 the very colorful aluminum butterfly sculptures you see in my photos were decorated by community members using reflective vinyl, under the leadership of local artist Roberto Salas. This “Butterfly Path” can also be found in two other National City Parks: Kimball Park and Las Palmas Park.

I’ll be posting more photos of them in an upcoming blog post!

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!

Water is Life mosaic in National City!

At Kimball Park in National City, a beautiful mosaic above a drinking fountain affirms that Water is Life!

This colorful public art provides an interesting contrast to the mosaic in my previous post: the fiery Firewall in front of the Solana Beach Fire Department.

Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I believe these two fantastic Water is Life panels were the work of A Reason To Survive (ARTS) and local youth. Like other mosaics in and around Kimball Park, it was conceived as part of ARTS’ Creating Vibrant Neighborhoods Initiative.

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!

Firewall at the Solana Beach Fire Department.

Every night, fire appears in front of the Solana Beach Fire Department. The mysterious wall of glowing embers near the fire station might surprise motorists driving down Lomas Santa Fe Drive.

I walked past Firewall during the day and took these photos.

The simulated wall of embers, that lights up after dark, is a very unique piece of public art that debuted in 2019. It’s by artist Betsy Schulz.

In addition to the red, yellow and orange glass embers, there are beautiful fused-glass mosaic panels facing the sidewalk and street.

Amazing mosaics created by Betsy Schulz appear all over San Diego County. During my walks I’ve photographed many.

This public art sculpture and its small surrounding garden were created with the help of Van Dyke Landscape Architects, and the Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society and Garden Club.

I added contrast to some of these photos to bring out color in the mosaics.

Take a look!

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Mural at Escondido Boys and Girls Clubs building.

Does anybody know the history of this old mural in Escondido? It decorates the east side of the Conrad Prebys Escondido Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego.

During a walk through Escondido last weekend, I photographed this colorful mural from the distant sidewalk. It appears to be a mosaic made of small tiles. Youth are depicted reading, playing basketball, and engaged in other activity. The artwork is dated 1976. Tiles spell out two clear signatures: A. Dluhos and T. Pardue.

After some internet searching, I believe the first artist is Andre Dluhos, and the second is Terry Pardue. I’m pretty sure about the second name, because I read this article.

Andre Dluhos was born in 1940 in eastern Czechoslovakia and moved to the United States in 1969.

If anyone out there knows anything about this nearly half century old mural, please leave a comment.

It would be fascinating to learn more about it, and the artists, too!

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 awesome Library Mosaic Mural in Solana Beach!

If you’d like to fill your eyes with extraordinary public artwork, head to the Solana Beach Library. That’s where you’ll find the Solana Beach Library Mosaic Mural.

This awesome, absolutely gorgeous mosaic consists of ten panels. According to a descriptive plaque, each panel represents a category of information found in the Dewey Decimal System, which is used to sort books on library shelves.

The Library Mosaic Mural was designed and created by Solana Beach artist Christie Beniston in 2010, based on illustrations by Rafael Lopez.

The ten main Dewey Decimal classes, in numerical order, are: computer science, information and general works; philosophy and psychology; religion; social sciences; language; pure science; technology; arts and recreation; literature; and history and geography.

As a young man I worked as a page at another North County library, pushing a small cart through peaceful rooms filing away returned books. Libraries will always be special to me.

This artwork is so vivid and alive I had to gaze at it a long while. I wanted to venture inside the library, but it was closed at the moment.

Then my restless feet urged me forward. I continued my walk through a world filled with innumerable wonders. A world like an infinite pile of books waiting to be shelved.

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!

The amazing mosaic wall on A Avenue at Kimball Park!

Have you seen the amazing 300-foot mosaic wall along A Avenue at National City’s Kimball Park? If you haven’t, you really need to!

This extraordinary public art was created in 2015 by local students, community volunteers and the nationally recognized local organization A Reason To Survive (also known as ARTS). It is part of ARTS’ Creating Vibrant Neighborhoods Initiative. Numerous public art projects have beautified National City and uplifted young lives.

The long A Avenue mosaic wall depicts water flowing through National City’s watershed to the ocean. Tiles, clay shapes and small objects represent blue water, fishes, birds, animals and meaningful bits of life from the community. The wall stretches along a row of parking spaces just east of City Hall.

A Reason To Survive has been working for years to beautify our small corner of the world, and perhaps more importantly, to provide hope and inspiration to at-risk South Bay youth. Their innovative art programs have transformed literally thousands of young lives. The ARTS Center is located on 12th Street a short distance east of this wall.

I believe another mosaic wall that I blogged about this year was also a Creating Vibrant Neighborhoods Initiative project. That wall is near the National City’s War Memorial and Veteran’s Wall of Honor, also located at Kimball Park. You can see those photographs here.

I’ve taken additional photos of other nearby ARTS mosaics, which I’ll be blogging about shortly!

(One more thing. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but A Reason To Survive also helped to create the Manzanita Gathering Place in City Heights. See those photos here.)

Okay! Now enjoy a look at this truly amazing A Avenue wall…

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!

Mosaic at God’s Extended Hand building.

There’s an elaborate, quite beautiful tile mosaic mural outside the old God’s Extended Hand building in San Diego’s East Village. You can see it at the corner of 16th Street and Island Avenue.

The colorful mural is overflowing with compassionate messages and religious imagery, including Christ as a shepherd carrying a lamb.

The God’s Extended Hand ministry endured for 96 years, feeding the homeless and hungry, until it closed down a few months ago. Father Joe’s Villages will be redeveloping the site, creating more affordable housing and support for the homeless downtown. I don’t know whether these mosaics will be preserved.

I walked past part of the artwork this morning and took these photos. I only photographed the wall along 16th Street. Some people camped on the sidewalk were by the other wall on Island Avenue.

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!

Mosaic art and a tractor at Civita Gardens.

A community garden at Civita in Mission Valley features beautiful mosaic art and an old tractor at its entrance.

I made this fun discovery during a recent walk through the sprawling Civita residential community.

The agriculture themed mosaics decorate the gated entrance to Civita Gardens. Given the names and dates on the colorful, shaped ceramics, they appear to have been created in 2016.

The nearby tractor has a small sign indicating it’s a 1956 108L Junior Porsche Tractor.

I’ll have more photos taken at Civita coming up shortly.

Enjoy these!

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!

Extraordinary new Old Town art honors Kumeyaay!

Extraordinary new public art has been unveiled in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park!

Two benches in the park’s recently opened outdoor expansion, which is called Land of the First People, feature beautiful mosaics that honor the Native American Kumeyaay and the world of nature.

Once you look at the following photographs, you’ll likely agree these ceramic mosaics are exceptional. They were created by local artist Betsy K. Schulz.

The two interpretive benches contain images of the Kumeyaay people in our region, fishing, collecting reeds, paddling boats and living by a river, among birds, fish and other native wildlife.

If you’d like to see more stunning public art around San Diego that was created by Betsy K. Schulz, click here.

These images were captured yesterday evening just before nightfall. I took additional photographs of this newly opened area of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and posted them here.

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!

Old Town State Park’s new Kumeyaay expansion opens!

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s major expansion has opened!

The beautiful new outdoor area, situated at the north end of the State Park, near the intersection of Taylor Street and Juan Street where an old Caltrans building used to stand, is called Land of the First People. It honors our region’s Native American Kumeyaay.

Pathways wind through native vegetation, beautiful public artwork, and interpretive displays on stones that describe the history and culture of the Kumeyaay, who lived here for many thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. A Kumeyaay village called Kosa’aay existed where Old Town is now, near the mouth of the San Diego River.

I arrived at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park this evening just before sunset and noticed the construction fence circling this new area had finally come down! So I had to investigate immediately!

Artwork I discovered includes numerous disks along the pathways, showing native animals and the Kumeyaay words for each; a circular plaza with a mosaic depicting stars and constellations recognized by the Kumeyaay; and two benches made extraordinary with mosaics by local artist Betsy K. Schulz. Her amazing mosaics can be found all around San Diego. I’ll provide more photographs of these two benches in my next blog post!

Before it became too dark as night fell, this is what my camera captured…

Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok — Land of the First People.
Ha silly hatekarr – sea otter
The Kumeyaay created pottery made of local clay for cooking and storage. A large askay or saakay kept water cool…
The traditional Kumeyaay diet was highly diverse, but shawii (acorn mush) was eaten daily…
The traditional Kumeyaay cosmology of Maay Uuyow (Sky Knowledge) is extensive and elaborate…
Hand tools like those shown here are used with the bowl-like hollows and other indentations in xepiicha (grinding stones) to process acorns, seeds, fibers…
This ancestral land is respectfully dedicated to the First People, the Kumeyaay.
The people of the Kumeyaay Nation have historically lived in and traveled through the Southern California and Northern Baja California region. This area extended from the Pacific Ocean to the desert…

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!