Black life and civil rights in Southern California.

Barbershop, Los Angeles, 1956, Harry Adams. Photographer Harry Adams stands with a young woman in front of his barbershop.
Barbershop, Los Angeles, 1956, Harry Adams. Photographer Harry Adams stands with a young woman in front of his barbershop.

A powerful exhibition recently opened at the San Diego Museum of Art. Black Life: Images of Resistance and Resilience in Southern California features photographs of politicians, activists, athletes and entertainers from the African American community during the second half of the 20th century, a period of struggle to advance civil rights.

Photographers Harry Adams, Guy Crowder and Charles Williams, who worked primarily as freelancers for publications like the Los Angeles Sentinel, California Eagle and Los Angeles Times, recorded people and moments in a community that was rarely covered by the American media. Their photography is natural, emotional and absolutely authentic. As you will see, many of their images are iconic.

Black Life: Images of Resistance and Resilience in Southern California documents important history in the life of our region. The exhibition can be viewed in the San Diego Museum of Art’s free Gallery 14/15, which is located through an unlocked door beside the outdoor sculpture court and Panama 66.

What you see here is just a small fraction of the many photographs on display.

Child Holding Book, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Child Holding Book, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Muhammad Ali and Stokely Carmichael, Los Angeles, 1974, Guy Crowder. Carmichael is known for coining the term Black Power in 1966.
Muhammad Ali and Stokely Carmichael, Los Angeles, 1974, Guy Crowder. Carmichael is known for coining the term Black Power in 1966.
Marrie Burnett, Los Angeles, 1982, Guy Crowder.
Marrie Burnett, Los Angeles, 1982, Guy Crowder.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles, 1958, Harry Adams.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles, 1958, Harry Adams.
Baldwin School Integration, Los Angeles, 1962, Charles Williams. The NAACP campaigned to promote school integration.
Baldwin School Integration, Los Angeles, 1962, Charles Williams. The NAACP campaigned to promote school integration.
Protest Car, Los Angeles, 1962, Harry Adams.
Protest Car, Los Angeles, 1962, Harry Adams.
Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge, stars of Carmen Jones, 1954, Charles Williams.
Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge, stars of Carmen Jones, 1954, Charles Williams.
Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Los Angeles, 1969, Guy Crowder.
Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Los Angeles, 1969, Guy Crowder.
Dream Girls Cast, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Dream Girls Cast, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.

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!

Flamenco dancing at San Diego Museum of Art!

This evening the San Diego Museum of Art held a free public event titled On the Steps At SDMA: The Golden Age Of Spain. The small outdoor festival, which was held in Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama, celebrated the museum’s current exhibition, which features fine art produced in the Spanish Empire from about 1600 to 1750.

Local artists had booths near the museum’s front steps, as did Balboa Park’s House of Spain, but my favorite part of the event was the fantastic flamenco dancing.

I lingered for a good while and enjoyed performances by Flamenco Sur (Carlos Hernandez and Students), Olé Flamenco, and Luna Flamenca Dance Company.

Each dancer possessed fire, intensity, passion.

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!

Asian arts come to life on museum’s front steps!

A colorful Celebration of Asian Arts enlivens Balboa Park . . . On The Steps of the San Diego Museum of Art.
On the steps of the San Diego Museum of Art, a colorful celebration of Asian arts enlivens Balboa Park.

Every so often the San Diego Museum of Art hosts a fantastic, free outdoor event in Balboa Park. This evening I experienced On the Steps at SDMA: A Celebration of Asian Arts!

There were joyful performances of music and dance, and at several booths in front of the museum’s entrance a variety of arts from diverse Asian cultures were demonstrated.

This is what I saw!

I arrived just in time to catch an amazing, super energetic drumming performance by Naruwan Taiko of San Diego.
I arrived just in time to catch an amazing, super energetic drumming performance by Naruwan Taiko of San Diego.
The San Diego Bonsai Club was demonstrating an ancient Asian art form.
The San Diego Bonsai Club was demonstrating an ancient Asian art form.
Like a small forest of tall, beautiful trees.
Like a small forest of tall, beautiful trees.
Ikebana flower arrangements added even more beauty to the event. The demonstration was hosted by Sharon Bristow at the Japanese booth.
Ikebana flower arrangements added even more beauty to the event. The demonstration was hosted by Sharon Bristow at the Japanese booth.
These amazing Korean ceramics were all created by Yonsoo Chung, representing the House of Korea in Balboa Park.
These amazing Korean ceramics were all created by Yonsoo Chung, representing the House of Korea in Balboa Park.
Korean artist Kim, Eun Jin shows youth how to make jewel-like teapots from colorful strips of paper!
Korean artist Kim, Eun Jin shows youth how to make jewel-like teapots from colorful strips of paper!
These tiny teapots are made with recycled paper by the Artreepaper community with the help of Kim, Eun Jin.
These tiny teapots are made with recycled paper by the Artreepaper community with the help of Kim, Eun Jin.
I was shown by an artist from the Confucius Institute as SDSU how the name Richard appears as a Chinese ink painting!
I was shown by an artist from SDSU’s Confucius Institute how the name Richard appears as a Chinese ink painting!
Even more art was being produced by lots of creative people at this table.
Even more cool art was being produced by lots of creative people at this table.
Kids representing the Confucius Institute perform kung fu fan moves in front of the Timken Museum of Art.
Kids representing the Confucius Institute perform kung fu fan moves in front of the Timken Museum of Art.
These performers from the San Diego Korean Pungmul Institute were hanging out in the Plaza de Panama as they awaited their turn in the spotlight!
These performers from the San Diego Korean Pungmul Institute were hanging out in the Plaza de Panama as they awaited their turn in the spotlight!

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 paradise of fine art in San Diego!

Jorge Luis Borges wrote: “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” As someone who loves to read and write, I agree.

But I also love to experience life, contemplate and be inspired in other ways. So paradise, to me, would also be like a museum full of extraordinary artwork.

Anyone who’d like to enter such a paradise in San Diego should visit the San Diego Museum of Art. Every time I go, I feel that I’ve ascended to a blissful place–an elevated place where I become fully alive.

My docent pal Catherine guided another great tour of the museum this weekend, and as I and other guests walked from gallery to gallery, my eyes couldn’t stop jumping from wonder to wonder. And I had to chuckle a couple of times, too. Catherine has been known to spontaneously inject bits of wry humor into her tours. With this simple blog post I would like to thank her for being so generous.

The San Diego Museum of Art never ceases to amaze me. I’m always discovering something new. It contains a truly world-class collection of fine art, including masterpieces by some of history’s most celebrated artists. The museum has also collected many pieces that have a special connection to San Diego.

I’ve always thought it would be amazing if one small gallery were permanently dedicated to San Diego–to San Diego’s most renowned artists, and to timeless works of art inspired by our beautiful and surprisingly diverse city. Just imagine!

Do you love art, too? If you ever find yourself in Balboa Park, please walk over to the San Diego Museum of Art.

Then step through the front door into Paradise.

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!

A dark, disturbing look at art Beyond Reason.

Close photo of bronze figures of Tim Shaw's Middle World.
Close photo of several bronze figures in Tim Shaw’s Middle World.

A very disturbing and powerfully thought-provoking exhibition has recently opened at the San Diego Museum of Art. Yesterday I walked through the dark galleries that contain Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason, and this morning my mind is still digesting the half dozen fantastic installations created by the celebrated artist.

Tim Shaw is a Northern Irish sculptor who, as a child in 1972, witnessed firsthand the bombing of a Belfast cafe during Bloody Friday. That exact, horrifying moment is recreated in a bloodless, abstract way in his installation Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous. Eerily spinning trays hover in the air above suddenly upset tables and chairs; the shadows of fleeing people stream across surrounding windows.

That same feeling of malice and inescapable chaos seems to echo elsewhere in Tim Shaw’s work.

Walking through the dim galleries containing Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason feels inhumanly bleak. Little light, the low sound of a hollow, echoing, machine-like vibration all around, no human warmth. Like the corridors of a dark artificial video game world where there is no hope for actual daylight. Where synthetic horrors await around corners.

Themes explored by the six immersive installations range from the primal, unconscious complexity of human beings, to cynical exploitation in a materialistic society, to the uncertainties that rise in a technologically directed world.

I found the first installation that I encountered, Middle World, to be extraordinarily rich with symbolism. A massive sculpture, Middle World presents many small bronze figures that appear to have emerged from ancient mythology, Shakespeare, or the fleshy canvases of Hieronymus Bosch. The weird, expressive figures, some in masks, are arranged on a throne-like stage above what seem to be stalactites and beneath what seem to be Gothic columns and skeletons in catacombs. The sculpture incorporates the shapes of objects that are both modern and ancient, commonplace and supernatural. It’s a mixture of space and time and human passion and compulsion and perplexity. A melting, flowing work of sculpted substance like an unending dream.

Other more disturbing installations that compose the exhibition concern dehumanization and include subjects like the silencing of free speech, vigilantism, human exploitation and depravity.

Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be presents two rocking-chair-like figures that are in constant back-and-forth motion. Both are gagged, and the muffled voices that emerge from either are unintelligible. According to a nearby sign, the piece represents how voices are silenced with money, and how people are influenced by the proliferation of disinformation on the internet. (What it fails to mention is that billions of ordinary people now speak their thoughts more freely than ever because of the Information Age. As a blogger who pays close attention to such things, I can tell you that many ideas don’t go unheard because of stifling propaganda or censorship, but because the internet has become a complete babel of voices all desperately competing to be heard.)

Another unique installation concerns technology and our evolving understanding of what it is to be human. Aptly titled The Birth of Breakdown Clown, the interactive sculpture seems to have a great deal of potential. Visitors enter a small room and stand before a human-like robot that moves its head and limbs while engaging with the audience. A member of the audience is invited to stand before the robot and converse with it. Breakdown Clown is said to possess artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, during the performance that I witnessed, I couldn’t detect any sort of autonomous machine intelligence, or even working speech recognition. With an odd combination of humor, condescension and poetic rambling, the Genesis-quoting robot guided the entire conversation. Its often disconnected statements and responses were apparently composed by the artist.

Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason as a whole is a very forceful, challenging work of contemporary art that will strongly engage active minds. It presents unspeakable horror. It isn’t for the squeamish. It’s an examination of human darkness and potential inhuman darkness. It undertakes a quest for understanding. That which has come into existence tries to understand its own creation. An electronic clown tries to define the Mystery that underlies all things.

However, to my thinking, darkness should be contrasted with light. And clowns that are witty have a beating heart.

These photographs were taken by my poor old camera in very dim darkness, where no flash photography is permitted. The images are a bit blurry, but somehow that makes them more potent!

If you want to be intellectually challenged, and journey through galleries that are filled with warnings, uncertainty and darkness, check out Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason, which is now showing at the San Diego Museum of Art through February 24, 2019.

Middle World. Mixed media, 1989-Current, by artist Tim Shaw.
Middle World. Mixed media, 1989-Current, by artist Tim Shaw.
Ancient symbols and strange figures contained in Tim Shaw's Middle World.
Ancient symbols and strange figures contained in Tim Shaw’s Middle World.
Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous, Working Drawing I. Ink, charcoal, and collage, 2015, by artist Tim Shaw.
Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous, Working Drawing I. Ink, charcoal, and collage, 2015, by artist Tim Shaw.
Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Alternative Authority. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Alternative Authority. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
The Birth of Breakdown Clown, an artificially intelligent, interactive, speaking robot by Irish sculptor Tim Shaw.
The Birth of Breakdown Clown, an artificially intelligent, interactive, speaking robot by Irish sculptor Tim Shaw.

If you’d like to read a few philosophical works of fiction that I’ve written–stories about the complexity of life–about the mingling of darkness and light–please visit Short Stories by Richard.

Javier Marín and the human search for identity.

Visitors to the San Diego Museum of Art enter Gallery 15, where many human figures sculpted by Mexican artist Javier Marín stand horizontally upon a large wall.
Visitors to the San Diego Museum of Art enter Gallery 15, where many human figures sculpted by Mexican artist Javier Marín stand horizontally upon a large wall.

Yesterday, during my walk through Balboa Park, I stepped from the Panama 66 outdoor cafe into Gallery 15 of the San Diego Museum of Art . . . and look what I saw!

Upon one large wall stand numerous small sculptures of the human body, created by Victor Javier Marín Gutiérrez, a Mexican artist whose celebrated work has been exhibited internationally.

The organic sculptures stand on the wall in poses of naked expression, casting dynamic shadows that crisscross in every direction. There is anguish and joy and perplexity and care and simple, wonderful being. There is flesh and there is soul. There is that ongoing internal search for human identity.

According to the San Diego Museum of Art’s website: “Javier Marín’s work, above all, is about beauty, a particularly human beauty that reflects what the poet José Emilio Pacheco described as ‘the terrible miracle of being alive.’”

Looking across at the wall containing many small sculpted human forms is like gazing down from above upon the mass of naked humanity. It’s like a Creator gazing down upon his living, breathing, dancing Creation.

This astonishing wall is an example of the Javier Marín sculpted work now on display in the San Diego Museum of Art’s free Galleries 14 and 15.

The exhibition will be officially kicked off with a special event on Thursday, September 27, 2018. Culture & Cocktails: Art of the Body includes a VIP pre-tour with the artist himself.

The exhibition will continue through March 3, 2019.

Javier Marín's fleshy sculpted forms include every sort of human expression.
Javier Marín’s fleshy sculpted forms depict every sort of human expression.
Gazing at representations of our mysterious selves.
Gazing at many representations of our mysterious selves.

UPDATE!

I saw even more amazing Javier Marín art during a later visit to the museum, and here are some photographs!

The first photo showing sculpted elements of the human body intermixed, is of a piece that can be viewed in Gallery 14.

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The next two photos, taken in the San Diego Museum of Art’s first floor rotunda, are of several large, truly stunning sculptures that are described: Untitled I, II, VI. Polyester resin and iron wire, 2004.

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IMG_4455z

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!

Moon Gold shines in San Diego Museum of Art!

Chrysanthemum Lacquer Box, Nancy Lorenz, 2017. Inspired by a lacquered wood box in the San Diego Museum of Art's collection.
Chrysanthemum Lacquer Box, Nancy Lorenz, 2017. Inspired by a lacquered wood box in the San Diego Museum of Art’s collection.

Have you ever dreamt of dipping a brush into bright molten silver or gold, to paint and swirl that precious shine all over a canvas? This vision comes to life at the San Diego Museum of Art in their current exhibition Nancy Lorenz: Moon Gold.

Nancy Lorenz uses silver and gold leaf, mother-of-pearl and lacquer on large canvases of board, cardboard and jute to achieve the effect I just described. She calls these gestural applications of water-gilded gesso Pours. Some of her abstract creations appear like gleaming treasure raining down from sun-glowing clouds, through and into strangely Earth-like places. Others appear to be swirled with bright, pure heavenly essence. Moonbeams seem to emanate from her dreamlike Silver Water Screen.

Other pieces, including several fantastic boxes, look like they’ve been frosted with pure, sumptuous, smoothly dripping gold!

The exquisite gilding and lacquer work of Nancy Lorenz, who lived in Tokyo for a span of years, is influenced by Japanese decorative arts. Every line and fine detail seems perfectly placed. The refined brilliance of her unique artwork is extraordinary.

Nancy Lorenz: Moon Gold is a treasure for greedy eyes. So go and see it at the San Diego Museum of Art before the exhibition ends on September 3, 2018.

Exquisitely beautiful art shines at the Nancy Lorenz-Moon Gold exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art.
Exquisitely beautiful art shines at the Nancy Lorenz: Moon Gold exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art.
Moon Gold Mountain, Nancy Lorenz, 2018. Moon gold leaf, clay, cardboard, on wood panel.
Moon Gold Mountain, Nancy Lorenz, 2018. Moon gold leaf, clay, cardboard, on wood panel.
Gold Flying Apsaras, Nancy Lorenz, 2017. Gold leaf, mother-of-pearl inlay, black lacquer, clay, gesso, on wood panel.
Gold Flying Apsaras, Nancy Lorenz, 2017. Gold leaf, mother-of-pearl inlay, black lacquer, clay, gesso, on wood panel.
Lemon Gold Sunlight with Rain, Nancy Lorenz, 2017. Lemon gold leaf, silver leaf, clay, cardboard, on wood panel.
Lemon Gold Sunlight with Rain, Nancy Lorenz, 2017. Lemon gold leaf, silver leaf, clay, cardboard, on wood panel.
A section of Rock Garden Room, Nancy Lorenz, 2004. Silver leaf, mother-of-pearl inlay, pigment, gesso, shellac, on 12 wood panels.
A section of Rock Garden Room, Nancy Lorenz, 2004. Silver leaf, mother-of-pearl inlay, pigment, gesso, shellac, on 12 wood panels.
Silver Sea and Sky, Nancy Lorenz, 2017. Silver leaf, mother-of-pearl inlay, lacquer, on wood panel.
Silver Sea and Sky, Nancy Lorenz, 2017. Silver leaf, mother-of-pearl inlay, lacquer, on wood panel.

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!