Nature’s beauty and Hubbell art at Briercrest Park.

One of San Diego’s most beautiful community parks is located in La Mesa. It’s called Briercrest Park.

I toured Briercrest Park yesterday during the 2022 San Diego Architectural Foundation’s annual Open House event.

The winding paths I walked along were shiny wet from a recent rain. The grass was green. The air was fresh, the sun peeking out from behind clouds. Surrounding nature smelled so good. I felt at peace.

I soon learned that feeling was by design.

Our tour group gathered by an amazing mosaic labyrinth created by renowned local artist James Hubbell. His architect son, Drew, was on hand to tell us about the Hubbell created public art around the park. Glen of Schmidt Design Group, the landscape architect who designed the park some 20 years ago, was also there.

Well, you can see in my upcoming photos what an extraordinary place this is.

I’ll let my photo captions explain some of what I learned.

Walking into the park by one pathway from Wakarusa Street.

The above map near one entrance contains information about Briercrest Park, which was designed to emphasize the “healing and restorative values of green park space in an urban environment.”

The site, originally a reservoir, features a central wetland where water runoff collects. Turf mounds radiate outward from the watery center, like expanding ripples. Gentle bridges add a scenic touch. Native drought tolerant plants and trees are lush, providing refuge for the spirit.

Kids are encouraged to meander about, explore the fun playground, art and nature. Who knows what they might discover?

This butterfly glass mosaic was assembled by Emilie Ledieu, one of the artists in residence at James Hubbell’s Ilan-Lael Foundation, located near Santa Ysabel, California, in the mountains east of San Diego.
One plaque on a park bench. Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often…
Many benches in the park were designed to accommodate people in wheelchairs.
An herb garden, maintained by a local gardening club, provides a sensory experience. I smelled sage.
The playground has numerous fun elements, including these critters.
Path by the central wetlands, with lots of greenery and boulders and stone benches for meditation.
An area of open grass. The unique restrooms are in the distance.
Hubbell mosaics can be found on three sides of the beautiful structure, said to be the only park restrooms in San Diego with stained glass!
Organic mosaic above and around drinking fountains appear a bit like a watery landscape.
Mosaic on one side. The vertical blue lines are like cascading water.
The other side. The flowing mosaic almost seems to have the shape of a heron.
Stained glass window seen from inside the men’s restroom, made with durable resin.
Tiles around another small garden space created by local school children.
The very beautiful Hubbell labyrinth. One begins at water, passes through space, and arrives at the bright flaming center.
Tables set up for the Open House tour visitors. That’s Emilie the artist in red. People could help build two small mosaics!
One of the small example mosaics in progress.
A smile!
This looks like a very cool book concerning the history of this neighborhood. La Mesa’s Severin Grossmont Hills and Vicinity.
We have gathered near the labyrinth for a talk at the beginning of the tour. Look at that sunlight in trees.
That’s Glen Schmidt on the left and Drew Hubbell on the right, standing near a small climbing structure.
Glen, the friendly landscape architect, explains concepts behind Briercrest Park’s creation.
We look at one concept image board. Emphasized are accessibility, the senses, nature, serenity, and even music! I didn’t photograph it, but one area is equipped with outdoor chimes and other musical instruments to freely play.
Drew Hubbell leads the way.
We stroll through a very beautiful park.

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A park designed for healing in La Mesa.

Briercrest Park in La Mesa was designed for healing.

The tranquil, beautiful park is located adjacent to the Herrick Community Health Library, and near many medical office buildings in La Mesa, not to mention Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Briercrest Park, at 9001 Wakarusa Street, was purposely designed to be wheelchair friendly. Paths winding beneath shady sycamores and oaks lead to benches that accommodate those in wheelchairs. A special stone alcove, which you can see in my photographs, was specially constructed for this purpose.

It has been demonstrated that being outside in nature promotes healing. I know that, for me, fresh air and sunshine produces a greater sense of well-being.

Nature was an important element in the design of this park. There are flowers, gentle bridges over still water, and ample opportunity for easy exploration or quiet meditation. There is also stunning public artwork at every turn.

A mosaic butterfly at one entrance symbolizes transformation and renewal. It’s placement on the pathway was intentional. The butterfly along with other park mosaics (including a gorgeous labyrinth) were designed by renowned artist James Hubbell, along with his award-winning architect son, Drew.

I learned all of this today as I toured the park during the 2022 San Diego Architectural Foundation’s annual Open House event. My next blog post will detail what I learned about the amazing mosaics, plus other unique aspects of Briercrest Park.

If I lived nearby, I would walk through this park often. To help soothe my small day-to-day hurts. To feel whole.

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!

Healthy food, art and books in National City!

Healthy food, art and books are easily accessible to residents in National City’s Old Town neighborhood. Take a look!

During my incredible tour around National City last month, Patty Corona of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center showed me how positive changes have come to a community that has been historically underserved.

Many liquor stores in National City now offer fresh fruits and vegetables, thanks to students at San Diego State University who operate nonprofit BrightSide Produce Distribution. National City residents who rely on fast food restaurants, or who have difficulty traveling to distant supermarkets, are able to purchase fresh produce within several blocks of their home. The availability of fruits and vegetables at many corner liquor stores has made it easier for lower-income residents to find healthy, nutritious food.

In the case of Big B Market & Deli in National City’s Old Town neighborhood, not only are fresh veges available, but a whole lot of inspiring art has been installed around the building! Mosaics on planters and walls and a very colorful mural were all created with the help of A Reason To Survive (ARTS), an organization in National City that uplifts and inspires at-risk youth.

And there’s a cheerful little free library box outside the store that promotes literacy, too!

At the corner of 16th Street and Coolidge Avenue, many good things are in reach for body, mind and soul!

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!

Another colorful mosaic wall in National City!

Colorful mosaic art can be found all around Kimball Park in National City. I spotted this wall covered with cheerful mosaics during one of my recent adventures in the South Bay.

The low wall, on the north side of Kimball Park, is filled with bright, beautiful trees and houses and animals and musical notes. The designs are fashioned from tiles, bits of ceramic and glass. I believe it was another project of A Reason To Survive (ARTS) whose building rises just a few steps to the north.

The lighting wasn’t ideal with alternating bright sunlight and shadow, and the artwork appeared dulled by time and weather, so I’ve altered my photographs slightly, in an attempt to make the colors more vibrant.

You can check out several other amazing mosaics in the immediate area by clicking here or here or 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!

Building a mountain at Grand Canyons of La Jolla!

A second Mount Soledad is coming to La Jolla!

The small mountain will rise from The Map of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla, in a plaza filled with educational artwork at Kellogg Park.

I learned about this wonderful project on Saturday during my walk along the La Jolla Shores beach boardwalk.

The sculpture will depict canyons running from Mount Soledad down deep into the Pacific Ocean. Those visiting The Map of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla Educational Plaza will be able to visualize in three dimensions what is shown in two dimensions in the large, colorful mosaic at their feet.

The Grand Canyons of La Jolla project is the work of the Walter Munk Foundation For the Oceans, which is responsible for the The Map mosaic in the plaza, plus signs and another nearby sculpture.

The Map mosaic is the plaza’s extraordinary centerpiece. It beautifully represents the local shoreline and underwater canyons in the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve.

Lines drawn in The Map concern ocean wave dynamics, calculated by Walter Munk, a world-renowned scientist who worked and taught for many years at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Over a hundred sea creatures also appear in the mosaic.

Signs at one edge of The Map detail the birds, fish and other marine life one might see above or below the water off La Jolla. A second completed sculpture, near the place where the small Mount Soledad will appear, concerns the Kumeyaay in the coastal region. It also shows intertidal sea life, cast in bronze.

Should you walk down the boardwalk (honorary Walter Munk Way) at La Jolla Shores beach, make sure to visit The Map. And watch for the coming of a second small Mount Soledad!

Walter Munk developed ocean wave prediction theory.

To learn more about Walter Munk’s scientific contribution during World War II, his groundbreaking work at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, his worldwide recognition, and why surfers love him, click here.

To watch a Walter Munk Foundation video concerning The Map click here.

Read an article about the mosaic’s debut in 2020 (replacing an earlier “map” at this location) by clicking 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!

Shorelines mosaics at La Jolla Shores Lifeguard Station.

Perceptive people strolling down the boardwalk at La Jolla Shores beach might encounter something both unexpected and wonderful.

Decorating the north and south sides of the La Jolla Shores Lifeguard Station are colorful tile mosaic panels that depict the sun and sea. The public art is titled Shorelines.

Shorelines was installed in 2012, and was created by award-winning San Diego artist Mary Lynn Dominguez.

I really like this beachy artwork! It’s swirly and bubbly and captures the mood of the nearby beach. Looking at the panels is like glimpsing a bright, abstract world through horizonal windows.

You can learn more about Shorelines, which is part of San Diego’s Civic Art Collection, here!

At the front of the lifeguard station, facing the boardwalk, I also noticed a plaque. It remembers Ron Trenton.

The plaque is a bit corroded, as you can see in my photograph. It reads:

RON TRENTON

1945-1997

Gentleman, Scholar, Humorist, Friend, Lifeguard Extraordinare [sic]

“LOST AT SEA”

Now Comes the Lifeguard, Back to the Sea, Where He Found Action, Where He Found Peace, Where He Saved Others With Selfless Devotion and Where He Risked All With a Smile of Emotion

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!

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!

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!

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!