Rare exhibition of Modern Masters from Latin America.

Third Victoria, oil on canvas, 1959. Jorge Gonzalez Camarena, Mexican, 1908-1980.
Third Victoria, oil on canvas, 1959. Jorge Gonzalez Camarena, Mexican, 1908-1980.

The impressive, first-ever exhibition of Modern Masters from Latin America is now on display at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. On Christmas Eve I was given a special tour of this exhibition, and I must admit it’s fantastic! For a limited time, visitors have the rare privilege to experience one of the finest collections of modern art in the world.

Modern Masters from Latin America: The Pérez Simón Collection contains almost a hundred memorable paintings, by the likes of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Joaquín Torres-García, Fernando Botero, Alfredo Castañeda and Fernando de Szyszlo. Many nations, cultures, themes, moods and styles are represented. You’ll see impressionistic landscapes, lively scenes depicted through the lens of cubism, weirdly rendered surrealism, and mind-bending, eye-teasing abstraction. Many of the works reflect different Latin American national identities. Many contrast modernity with the culture and memory of indigenous people.

I was struck by the deep emotion that radiated from most of these works. I detected human pride and passion, childlike innocence and gnawing guilt, deep love and intense anger, inexpressible suffering and irrepressible joy. These emotions were often presented in confused contrast.

One masterful work by Frida Kahlo titled Girl from Tehuacán, Lucha María or Sun and Moon shows an innocent girl sitting between ancient symbols of night and day–the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan. She is seemingly lost in a barren desert, a model of a World War II bomber in her hands. Her quiet expression contains resignation and sadness.

My few photos here are a modest representation of the actual exhibition. To see the true colors, the touches of light and seeping darkness, the diverse textures and stunning vibrancy of these many paintings, head down to the museum while you can. You might not have a chance to see this amazing collection again.

Modern Masters from Latin America is on display at the San Diego Museum of Art through March 11. Among the fantastic works are two by Frida Kahlo, but to see those you must visit by January 14.

A visitor to the San Diego Museum of Art explores Modern Masters from Latin America, from the Perez Simon Collection.
A visitor to the San Diego Museum of Art explores Modern Masters from Latin America, from the Perez Simon Collection.
Aqueduct, oil on canvas, 1918. Diego Rivera, Mexican, 1886-1957.
Aqueduct, oil on canvas, 1918. Diego Rivera, Mexican, 1886-1957.
Ship Graveyard, oil on canvas, 1930. Benito Quinquela Martin, Argentinian, 1890-1977.
Ship Graveyard, oil on canvas, 1930. Benito Quinquela Martin, Argentinian, 1890-1977.
Crying Woman, pyroxylin on Masonite, 1944. David Alfaro Siqueiros, Mexican, 1896-1974.
Crying Woman, pyroxylin on Masonite, 1944. David Alfaro Siqueiros, Mexican, 1896-1974.
Death in Life or Black Christ, acrylic on plywood, 1963. David Alfaro Siqueiros, Mexican, 1896-1974.
Death in Life or Black Christ, acrylic on plywood, 1963. David Alfaro Siqueiros, Mexican, 1896-1974.
Young Girls with Shells, Duco on canvas, 1945. Mario Carreno, Cuban, 1913-1999.
Young Girls with Shells, Duco on canvas, 1945. Mario Carreno, Cuban, 1913-1999.
City of Quito, oil on canvas, ca. 1980. Oswaldo Guayasamin, Ecuadorian, 1919-1999.
City of Quito, oil on canvas, ca. 1980. Oswaldo Guayasamin, Ecuadorian, 1919-1999.
The Mexican or Young Woman with Rebozo, oil on canvas, 1935. Agustin Lazo, Mexican, 1896-1971.
The Mexican or Young Woman with Rebozo, oil on canvas, 1935. Agustin Lazo, Mexican, 1896-1971.
House Eight, oil on canvas, 1978. Fernando de Szyszlo, Peruvian, 1925-2017.
House Eight, oil on canvas, 1978. Fernando de Szyszlo, Peruvian, 1925-2017.
The Native, oil on canvas, ca. 1936. Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Mexican, 1871-1946.
The Native, oil on canvas, ca. 1936. Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Mexican, 1871-1946.
Girl from Tehuacán, Lucha María or Sun and Moon, oil on Masonite, 1942. Frida Kahlo, Mexican, 1907-1954.
Girl from Tehuacán, Lucha María or Sun and Moon, oil on Masonite, 1942. Frida Kahlo, Mexican, 1907-1954.
Constructive Composition in Planes and Figures, oil on canvas, 1931. Joaquin Torres-Garcia, Uruguayan, 1874-1949.
Constructive Composition in Planes and Figures, oil on canvas, 1931. Joaquin Torres-Garcia, Uruguayan, 1874-1949.
Concert, oil on canvas, 1941. Emilio Pettoruti, Argentinian, 1892-1971.
Concert, oil on canvas, 1941. Emilio Pettoruti, Argentinian, 1892-1971.
Peasant, Industrial, and Intellectual Work, oil on wood, 1956. Jorge Gonzalez Camarena, Mexican, 1908-1980.
Peasant, Industrial, and Intellectual Work, oil on wood, 1956. Jorge Gonzalez Camarena, Mexican, 1908-1980.
World's Highest Structure, oil on canvas, 1930. Jose Clemente Orozco, Mexican, 1883-1949.
World’s Highest Structure, oil on canvas, 1930. Jose Clemente Orozco, Mexican, 1883-1949.
Green Structures, oil on canvas, 1964. Gunther Gerzso, Mexican, 1915-2000.
Green Structures, oil on canvas, 1964. Gunther Gerzso, Mexican, 1915-2000.
Study for The March of Humanity, oil on recovered plywood, ca. 1968-69. David Alfaro Siqueiros, Mexican, 1896-1974.
Study for The March of Humanity, oil on recovered plywood, ca. 1968-69. David Alfaro Siqueiros, Mexican, 1896-1974.
Portrait of Maria Felix, oil on canvas, 1948. Diego Rivera, Mexican, 1886-1957.
Portrait of Maria Felix, oil on canvas, 1948. Diego Rivera, Mexican, 1886-1957.

I recently published an odd, moving short story about a world made of bones. You can read it here.

The fantastic art of Richard Deacon in San Diego!

Double Talk by artist Richard Deacon, winner of the Turner Prize. Laminated wood and imitation leather. 1987.
Double Talk by artist Richard Deacon, winner of the Turner Prize. Laminated wood and imitation leather. 1987.

Look at these photos! Enjoy a taste of some wonders that have materialized inside the San Diego Museum of Art!

My docent friend took me on a tour yesterday morning of the jaw-dropping exhibition Richard Deacon: What You See Is What You Get. The abstract artwork of this world-renowned British contemporary sculptor, winner of the Turner Prize, is being shown for the first time in a major American museum–right here at the San Diego Museum of Art!

I don’t know how to begin explaining the various pieces. I did plainly see that Richard Deacon takes joy in inventive creation, working diverse materials, seeing organic forms bubble and expand into life. Gazing at his often huge pieces, I felt myself tumbling through a space filled with living shapes, mythological symbols, dreamlike visions. His muscle-crafted marvels have been extracted from infinite possibility, bent into reality.

I don’t know what else to say. I’ve added a little more description in my photo captions. But words are insufficient. What you see is what you get!

It’s great news that this special exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art has been extended through Labor Day, September 04, 2017. Go feast your eyes!

Richard Deacon. What you see is what you get. To see it, head over to the San Diego Museum of Art!
Richard Deacon. What you see is what you get. To see it, head over to the San Diego Museum of Art!
Eyes are met with an astonishing work of abstract art. Dancing in Front of My Eyes, 2006. Wood, aluminum.
Eyes are met with an astonishing work of abstract art. Dancing in Front of My Eyes, 2006. Wood, aluminum.
In places the screws, glue, and the wood itself seem to be unfinished parts of a living whole. The fluid piece undulates from the hand of its inventive creator.
In places screws, glue, and the wood itself seem to be “unfinished” parts of a living whole. The fluid piece undulates from the hand of its inventive creator.
An intangible tangle of shadow on the floor seems to be an important part of the sculpture. The artist calls himself a fabricator.
An intangible tangle of shadow on the floor seems to be an important part of the sculpture. The artist calls himself a fabricator.
An amazing creation, that seems to me like active muscles or tendons in a living body. Dead Leg, 2007. Steamed oak, stainless steel.
An amazing creation, that seems to me like active muscles or tendons in a living body. Dead Leg, 2007. Steamed oak, stainless steel.
The wood is artistically bent using steam and heat. During this process, Richard Deacon has about two minutes to permanently alter the wood’s shape.
This looks to me like supple leather. A portion of Fish out of Water. Laminated hardboard, screws. 1986-87.
This looks to me like supple leather. A portion of Fish out of Water. Laminated hardboard, screws. 1986-87.
Richard Deacon creates astonishing art using many different materials. These huge pieces are ceramic. They seem to have bubbled up from the Earth, or the artist's mind.
Richard Deacon creates astonishing art using many different materials. These huge pieces are ceramic. They seem to have bubbled up from the Earth, or the artist’s mind.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow C. Glazed ceramic. 2000.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow C. Glazed ceramic. 2000.
Housing 10, 2012. Marbling on folded STPI handmade paper, constructed with magnet button.
Housing 10, 2012. Marbling on folded STPI handmade paper, constructed with magnet button.
Richard Deacon enjoys playful, suggestive language and has called this huge piece Double Talk. The viewer can decide what is meant.
Richard Deacon enjoys playful, suggestive language and has called this huge piece Double Talk. The viewer can decide what is meant.
The abstract sculpture stretches and curves in an inviting way. It is both natural and larger than life.
The abstract sculpture stretches and curves in an inviting way. It is both natural and larger than life.
Falling on Deaf Ears, No. 1. Galvanized steel, canvas. 1984. My docent friend explained this represents the ship of Odysseus, as he sailed by the treacherous Sirens.
Falling on Deaf Ears, No. 1. Galvanized steel, canvas. 1984. My docent friend explained this represents the ship of Odysseus, as he sailed past the treacherous Sirens.
Across this room soars Like a Bird. Laminated wood, 1984. Richard Deacon creates spacious wonders that tickle the mind and expand the spirit.
Across this room soars Like a Bird. Laminated wood, 1984. Richard Deacon creates spacious wonders that tickle the mind and expand the spirit.

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Amazing youth exhibition at San Diego Museum of Art!

Senna Osawa, Tamayo Watermelon, mixed media, Second Grade, Kumeyaay Elementary.
Senna Osawa, Tamayo Watermelon, mixed media, Second Grade, Kumeyaay Elementary.

Look what I discovered!

The San Diego Museum of Art has a free exhibition of art that was created by local school students. It’s called Young Art 2017: Beyond the Ordinary. You can find it in Gallery 15, which leads from the museum’s outdoor sculpture court to the restrooms that are often used by diners at Panama 66.

Every two years, a new exhibition of Young Art is presented by the museum. All I can say is once you step through the door your jaw will drop! Dozens of outstanding, truly amazing works of art line the walls and fill a few display cases.

Inspired students from Kindergarten to Twelfth Grade, from schools throughout San Diego County, have created all sorts of fantastic still life artwork, including paintings, drawings, mixed media, photography and ceramic sculptures. Some of the students have written a sentence or two explaining their thoughts and creative process.

My quick photos of these few examples barely scratch the surface. I just chose some of the art that I personally like. Funny–perhaps my favorite piece was created by a talented young artist in Kindergarten!

If you visit Balboa Park, you must take a look!

Beyond the Ordinary. Young Art 2017. Amazing, inspired artwork in a free exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park!
Beyond the Ordinary. Young Art 2017. Amazing, inspired artwork in a free exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park!
Catherine Zhao, Message in a Bottle, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
Catherine Zhao, Message in a Bottle, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
The Great Fruit Bowl, a drawing by many Christ Church Day School Second Grade student artists.
The Great Fruit Bowl, a drawing by many Christ Church Day School Second Grade student artists.
Fizzah Arshad, Tea, drawing, Ninth Grade, Otay Ranch High School.
Fizzah Arshad, Tea, drawing, Ninth Grade, Otay Ranch High School.
Arissa Diaz-Lelevier, Multi-media Still Life, mixed media, Eighth Grade, Stella Maris Academy.
Arissa Diaz-Lelevier, Multi-media Still Life, mixed media, Eighth Grade, Stella Maris Academy.
Mirabella Komniey, Pitcher, mixed media, Fifth Grade, Vista Grande Elementary.
Mirabella Komniey, Pitcher, mixed media, Fifth Grade, Vista Grande Elementary.
Emma Cecil, Enticement, painting, Twelfth Grade, Torrey Pines High School.
Emma Cecil, Enticement, painting, Twelfth Grade, Torrey Pines High School.
Camryn Melendez, Apricot Sunrise, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Camryn Melendez, Apricot Sunrise, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Eric Pak, Flora and Skull, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
Eric Pak, Flora and Skull, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
Karina Spinazzola, Lemons and Lilies, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Karina Spinazzola, Lemons and Lilies, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Anh Huynh, Distilled, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
Anh Huynh, Distilled, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
Caden Glazner, Time for Tea, painting, Third Grade, Del Sur Elementary.
Caden Glazner, Time for Tea, painting, Third Grade, Del Sur Elementary.
Joy Zou, Tea Time, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Joy Zou, Tea Time, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Bella Anderson and Cate Hunsberger, Medieval Lunch, painting, Seventh Grade, Coronado Middle School.
Bella Anderson and Cate Hunsberger, Medieval Lunch, painting, Seventh Grade, Coronado Middle School.
Skylar Britt, O'Keeffe Flower, mixed media, Kindergarten, Kumeyaay Elementary.
Skylar Britt, O’Keeffe Flower, mixed media, Kindergarten, Kumeyaay Elementary.
Jenna Vo, Magritte Floating Still Life, mixed media, Fourth Grade, Kumeyaay Elementary.
Jenna Vo, Magritte Floating Still Life, mixed media, Fourth Grade, Kumeyaay Elementary.

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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Salk Institute architect Louis Kahn: an amazing exhibit!

Photo of exterior of The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla. The famous building was designed by renowned modernist architect Louis Kahn.
Photo of exterior of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla. The famous building was designed by renowned modernist architect Louis Kahn.

One of the world’s most famous works of modern architecture is located in San Diego.  I’m referring to the Salk Institute building in La Jolla. Its designer was Louis Kahn, considered to have been one of the most important, innovative architects of the 20th century.

An exhibition now running at the San Diego Museum of Art takes a thorough look at the remarkable life, work and genius of Louis Kahn.

Last weekend I was given a personal tour of the amazing exhibit and found myself completely blown away by its scope. The photos, films, sketches, notes and architectural models, including a life-size portion of an extraordinary house–even works of art produced by Louis Kahn himself– were too much for my mind to absorb in one visit.

Kahn was undoubtedly a genius. His unique modern structures seem like ancient timeless monuments, made beautifully functional. They are simultaneously complex and simple. They are geometric, symmetric, modular, clean. They seem solid but light-filled. They contain unusual surprises of line, curve and angle. They are iconic.

Louis Kahn had a long, prolific career.  His work can be found throughout the world, and includes the enormous, citadel-like National Assembly Building of Bangladesh. Some of his more famous creations in the United States include the Kimball Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, the library at Philips Exeter Academy, the Norman Fisher House in Philadelphia, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, and, of course, San Diego’s own remarkable Salk Institute.

There is so much to see in this impressive exhibit–there were so many amazing designs produced by Kahn during his productive lifetime–that I can’t begin to cover it all in this blog. So I must direct you to the San Diego Museum of Art’s website. To get a small hint of what you will discover at the museum, you might want to check out the Wikipedia article on Louis Kahn.

This weekend I headed up to La Jolla to see if I could snap some good photos of Louis Kahn’s very famous Salk Institute building. Walking around, I managed to photograph the exterior, but I was unable to access the interior courtyard. So I’ve included one photo from Wikimedia Commons, just to provide a quick idea. Peering through a fence, I did glimpse some scaffolding in the interior area, so I suppose that would have nullified my photographic attempts, anyway.

The Salk Institute building’s walls are made of smooth exposed concrete. While this material might appear stark, the monumental appearance, the intriguing shapes and architectural symmetry are absolutely impressive. There is a mathematical, complex interaction between shadow and light that is difficult to describe–and quite beautiful.

Want to see more of Kahn’s brilliant work? Head over to the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park before this special exhibition closes on January 31, 2017.

Louis Kahn The Power of Architecture is a special exhibit showing at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park through January 31, 2017.
Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture is a special exhibit showing at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park through January 31, 2017.
Salk Institute in La Jolla from the interior courtyard. (A cropped public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.)
Salk Institute in La Jolla from the interior courtyard. (A cropped public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.)
Interior section of the Salk Institute just beyond the main entrance.
Interior section of the Salk Institute just beyond the main entrance.
Kahn's design seems both simple and futuristic. The interior space utilized by medical research scientists is said to be uniquely inspiring and functional.
Kahn’s design seems both simple and futuristic. The interior space utilized by medical research scientists is said to be intellectually inspiring and uniquely functional.
Another photo of the Salk Institute building's fascinating exterior.
Another photo of the Salk Institute building’s fascinating exterior.
A monumental building made of smooth exposed concrete with simple, clean lines, between green grass and blue San Diego sky.
A monumental building made of smooth exposed concrete with simple, clean lines, between green grass and blue San Diego sky.
A small but interesting portion of the Salk Institute building.
A small but interesting portion of the Salk Institute building.
The surface of the Salk Institute building is stark but surprisingly beautiful. Time has made the concrete appear more earthen and natural. Almost like marble.
The surface of the Salk Institute building is stark but surprisingly beautiful. Time has made the concrete appear more earthen and natural. Almost like marble.
Laboratory visible through one window. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine. Salk Institute today is a world leader in medical research.
Laboratory visible through one window. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine. Salk Institute today is a world leader in medical research.
It's a sunny day in La Jolla as someone walks toward a brilliant creation of the human mind--a building designed by famed modernist architect Louis Kahn.
It’s a sunny day in La Jolla as someone walks toward a brilliant creation of the human mind: a building designed by famed modernist architect Louis Kahn.

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Early American quilts: amazing color and patterns!

Carpenter's Wheel quilt, Mennonite, about 1890. Made by Mrs. Miller in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Carpenter’s Wheel quilt, Mennonite, about 1890. Made by Mrs. Miller in Easton, Pennsylvania.

My eyes opened wide with amazement last weekend, when my docent friend provided another special tour at the San Diego Museum of Art. This time we had a good look at a surprising exhibition of early American quilts from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

These quilts, which date mostly from the 19th century, created in many instances by lone Amish and Mennonite quiltmakers, are so dazzling with brilliant colors and inventive, abstract designs that they seem thoroughly modern, like hung works of art by the greatest 20th century Abstract Expressionists.

I know relatively little about quiltmaking.  All I know is that when I gazed at these vibrant works of art, I felt that I was peering into the inner life of a spiritual people, where joy, memories and dreams are represented with magically combined bits of color. These delights for the eye were created to be a warming family treasure, meant to last for generations.

In this blog post you can see just a few photos of the nearly 50 quilts on display. The craftmanship is intricate. I can’t imagine the many hours of persistent dedication, patience and love a quiltmaker required to create just one of these examples. They lived in a very different time and place. In their world living was more simple, and beauty was quietly formed from single threads.

All of these old quilts were discovered over several decades by collectors Gerald Roy and Paul Pilgrim, who also played an important role in the creation of the The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. Many of these quilts were collected solely for their aesthetic appeal. Paul Pilgrim, now deceased, was also an innovative quiltmaker.

Head to Balboa Park to visit the San Diego Museum of Art and you’ll be astounded by many of these quilts. If you do plan to visit, do so by September 5, 2016, when this very unique exhibition comes to an end.

Quilts and Color from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This special exhibition can be enjoyed at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park.
Quilts and Color from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This special exhibition can be enjoyed at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park.
Amazing early American quilts on display at the San Diego Museum of Art feature beautifully contrasted colors and abstract designs.
Amazing early American quilts on display at the San Diego Museum of Art feature beautifully contrasted colors and fascinating abstract designs.
Spider Web quilt dazzles the eye. Many of the quilts feature unique visual effects or optical illusions.
Spider Web quilt dazzles the eye. Many of the quilts feature unique visual effects or optical illusions.
Fans quilt, Amish, 1900-1910. Made in Pennsylvania.
Fans quilt, Amish, 1900-1910. Made in Pennsylvania.
Field of Diamonds quilt, about 1860. The design is achieved by creatively combining hexagons.
Field of Diamonds quilt, about 1860. The design is achieved by creatively combining differently colored hexagons.
Close-up photograph of fantastic Sunburst quilt.
Close-up photograph of fantastic, radiant Sunburst quilt.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

To read a few thoughtful stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Amazing animal bronzes at San Diego Museum of Art!

Dog Gnawing Bone, Arthur Putnam, 1904. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
Dog Gnawing Bone, Arthur Putnam, 1904. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.

Wow! I enjoyed another awesome visit to the San Diego Museum of Art last weekend, courtesy of my docent friend Catherine! She provided a spellbinding tour of several exhibits!  The one I liked most–possibly because I love animals and because the artist has a San Diego connection–concerned the bronze sculptures of Arthur Putnam.

The exhibition, titled Ferocious Bronze, features artwork so utterly amazing that Arthur Putnam has been called the American Rodin. He was such a gifted sculptor that his pieces have sometimes been mistaken for those of Frederic Remington. Most of his bronzes depict animals in the wild:  hunting, in mortal combat, at play or at rest.

Arthur Putnam lived from 1873–1930 and was considered one of the greatest sculptors of his era. At the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco he won a coveted Gold Medal.  During his lifetime his work was exhibited in major cities, including New York, Chicago, Paris and Rome. Many of his monumental public sculptures still stand in San Francisco, Monterey and San Diego.

Check out these photos! They provide a small taste of what you’ll experience should you visit Ferocious Bronze. You can get an idea of Putnam’s tremendous artistry. The superb realism is partly due to the fact that he personally loved the outdoors, and spent many days observing animals in the wild and at zoos. A mostly self-taught artist, Putnam even worked for a brief time at a slaughterhouse. (Yuck!)

Did I mention Arthur Putnam’s unique San Diego connection? His very first commission was from newspaper magnate E. W. Scripps, which he received at the Scripps Ranch located in Miramar. In addition, two of Putnam’s monumental works stand today near the spot where San Diego was founded–the very place where European civilization took root in California.

(I’ve included my own photos of the two splendid sculptures that now grace San Diego’s Presidio Hill.  I wrote a blog several years ago that concerned a fun walk past these sculptures.)

Ferocious Bronze, curated by Dr. James Grebl, showcases 28 of Putnam’s amazing animal pieces.  They were selected from the over 100 pieces that the San Diego Museum of Art has in their collection. This special exhibit was inspired by another Balboa Park institution: the world famous San Diego Zoo! They are now celebrating their centennial year!

If you happen to be in San Diego, and if you love fine art or have a special place in your heart for wild animals, I recommend that you head over to see Ferocious Bronze at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park! This very cool exhibition runs through October 11, 2016.

Big Combat, Arthur Putnam, undated. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
Big Combat, Arthur Putnam, undated. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
Ambling Bear, Arthur Putnam, 1910. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
Ambling Bear, Arthur Putnam, 1910. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
Fighting Buffalo, Arthur Putnam, 1900. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
Fighting Buffalo, Arthur Putnam, 1900. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
Lynx Ready to Spring, Arthur Putnam, 1909. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
Lynx Ready to Spring, Arthur Putnam, 1909. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
The Indian, Arthur Putnam, 1905. This amazing sculpture stands today on San Diego's Presidio Hill beneath the Serra Museum.
The Indian, Arthur Putnam, 1905. This amazing sculpture stands on San Diego’s Presidio Hill beneath the Serra Museum.
The Padre, Arthur Putnam, 1908. This sculpture stands among some trees on San Diego's Presidio Hill beneath the Serra Museum.
The Padre, Arthur Putnam, 1908. This sculpture stands among some trees on San Diego’s Presidio Hill beneath the Serra Museum.
Wild Cat, Arthur Putnam, 1908. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
Wild Cat, Arthur Putnam, 1908. Photo courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! 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 fun photos for you to enjoy!

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Outdoor sculptures being installed in Balboa Park!

Many outdoor sculptures are being introduced into Balboa Park. The exhibit is titled Art of the Open Air. It is a unique project of the San Diego Museum of Art.
Many outdoor sculptures are being introduced into Balboa Park. The exhibit is titled Art of the Open Air. It’s a unique project of the San Diego Museum of Art.

During the past week, a number of sculptures in the San Diego Museum of Art’s collection have been carefully moved into the Plaza de Panama, a large outdoor gathering place in Balboa Park. For the next two years, anyone in San Diego will be able to freely enjoy the sculptures, and see them in changing light, beneath different skies. Moving such large pieces has taken a lot of work, but I noticed today that the installation, titled Art of the Open Air, is approaching completion.

Included in the unique outdoor exhibition are works by world-famous artists Joan Miró, Auguste Rodin and Tony Rosenthal. I wasn’t able to approach the artwork too closely–right now, while the sculptures are being readied, they’re still roped off. The same goes for a new piece in the museum’s May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden, which I also photographed from a bit of a distance. I put some identifying information in the photo captions.

Art of the Open Air is set to run from February 11, 2016 through February 13, 2018. I can already see that Balboa Park is going to be more lively and interesting than ever!

Alexander Calder. Spinal Column, 1968. Steel. A sculpture being installed in the San Diego Museum of Art's outdoor May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden.
Alexander Calder. Spinal Column, 1968. Steel. A sculpture being installed in the San Diego Museum of Art’s outdoor May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden.
Lynn Russell Chadwick. The Watchers, 1960. Bronze. Now stands in Balboa Park's beautiful Plaza de Panama, part of the Art of the Open Air exhibition.
Lynn Russell Chadwick. The Watchers, 1960. Bronze. Now stands in Balboa Park’s beautiful Plaza de Panama, part of the Art of the Open Air exhibition.
Auguste Rodin. The Prodigal Son, 1905. Bronze. Installed in the northwest corner of the Plaza de Panama, where the sculpture Youth Taming the Wild (Horse Trainer) used to stand.
Auguste Rodin. The Prodigal Son, 1905. Bronze. Installed in the northwest corner of the Plaza de Panama, where the sculpture Youth Taming the Wild (Horse Trainer) used to stand.
I can't find anything about this piece, but it seems somehow familiar. If you know what it is, leave a comment!
I can’t find anything about this piece, but it seems strangely familiar. If you know what it is, leave a comment!  UPDATE: I learned the bronze sculpture is called Mother and Daughter Seated, by Francisco Zuniga, 1971
Two very fine sculptures that will soon will be approachable in Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama.
Two very fine sculptures that will soon will be approachable in Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama.
Joan Miró. Solar Bird, 1966. Bronze. Standing guard near the entrance to the San Diego Museum of Art.
Joan Miró. Solar Bird, 1966. Bronze. Standing guard near the entrance to the San Diego Museum of Art.
Tony Rosenthal. Odyssey III, 1967. Aluminum.
Tony Rosenthal. Odyssey III, 1967. Aluminum.
Photo across front of the San Diego Museum of Art, the north end of Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama. Outdoor art is being installed.
Photo across front of the San Diego Museum of Art, the north end of Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama. Outdoor art is being installed.
Luis Jiménez. Border Crossing/Cruzando el Rio Bravo, 1989. Fiberglass with acrylic urethane finish. Stands outside the May S. Marcy Sculpture Court and Panama 66.
Luis Jiménez. Border Crossing/Cruzando el Rio Bravo, 1989. Fiberglass with acrylic urethane finish. Stands outside the May S. Marcy Sculpture Court and Panama 66.
Monumental totem-like sculpture depicts artist's immigrant grandfather carrying wife and son, crossing the Rio Bravo River.
Monumental totem-like sculpture depicts artist’s immigrant grandfather carrying wife and son, crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico.
A large sculpture seems to stride into the life-filled Plaza de Panama in San Diego's historic Balboa Park.
A large sculpture seems to stride into the life-filled Plaza de Panama in San Diego’s historic Balboa Park.

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Photos of sculpture: Experiments in distance, angle.

Altered photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, located in San Diego Museum of Art’s popular sculpture garden.
Altered photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, located in San Diego Museum of Art’s popular sculpture garden.

Oh, no! Here come some “artsy” photos!

Today I walked through Balboa Park’s beautiful May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden. The grassy space, which is free to the public, contains several pieces of artwork belonging to the San Diego Museum of Art’s collection.

The garden’s most recognized sculpture is probably Reclining Figure: Arch Leg, which was created in 1969 by renowned British Modernist artist Henry Moore.

As I walked around the curvaceous sculpture, it occurred to me that different interesting photos could be taken depending on the angle and perceived distance. So I engaged in a bit of experimentation!

(Fear not! I didn’t touch the sculpture or step on the flowers! But I did lean over like crazy–and minutely cropped some images– to get the “close-up” images.)

Henry Moore's 1969 bronze sculpture Reclining Figure: Arch Leg, on the grass in the San Diego Museum of Art's May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden.
Henry Moore’s 1969 bronze sculpture Reclining Figure: Arch Leg, on the grass in the San Diego Museum of Art’s May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden.
Sunlit bronze sculpture photographed from a different angle. I adjusted contrast, brightness and sharpness, and cropped according to my eye.
Sunlit bronze sculpture photographed from a different angle. I adjusted contrast, brightness and sharpness, and cropped according to my eye.
Same sculpture, different frame, different paths of reflected light. The physical object is itself unchanged, but has become something new in the mind of the viewer.
Same sculpture, different frame, different paths of reflected light. The physical object is itself unchanged, but has become something new in the mind of the viewer.
The Modernist sculpture’s fluid curves and organic quality is suggestive of human form.
The Modernist sculpture’s fluid curves and organic quality is suggestive of human form.
Raw nature interacts with human art. A camera focuses on nearby details the casual eye might miss.
Raw nature interacts with human art. A camera focuses on nearby details the casual eye might miss.
The form of an abstract sculpture becomes more mysterious when the defining outer edges are eliminated with photo editing.
The form of an abstract sculpture becomes more mysterious when the defining outer edges are eliminated with photo editing.
A warmly glowing bronze surface, and a pair of eyes.
A warmly glowing bronze surface, and a pair of eyes.
The sculpture's red-tinged bronze skin reflects Southern California sunlight.
The sculpture’s red-tinged bronze skin reflects Southern California sunlight.
A closer view reveals craters and furrows. Small glimpses of beauty within a larger whole.
A closer view reveals craters and furrows. Small glimpses of beauty within a larger whole.
A strangely perfect, silvery surface.
A strangely perfect, silvery surface.
Looking up into the light. Both self-contained art and the outer world are composed of the same elements, and can evoke identical wonder.
Looking up into the light. Both self-contained art and the outer world are composed of the same elements, and can evoke identical wonder.

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The Art of Music lives in San Diego!

The Art of Music is a cool exhibition now playing at the San Diego Museum of Art. Depicted in this poster is Fernando Botero's painting Dancing in Columbia, 1980.
The Art of Music is a cool exhibition “now playing” at the San Diego Museum of Art. Depicted in this poster is Fernando Botero’s painting Dancing in Columbia, 1980.

Do you love beautiful music? Do you appreciate fine art?

Answer yes to both questions, and you have two compelling reasons to visit an exhibition “now playing” at the San Diego Museum of Art!

The Art of Music explores the intersection of art and music throughout world history, from ancient times to the present. Visitors to the San Diego Museum of Art will experience a large variety of paintings, posters, sculptures and film, depicting musicians, dancers and various aspects of life that are splashed with the colors of music. Visitors will also enjoy seeing many extraordinarily beautiful musical instruments, historical objects related to music, and encounter surprising sounds at every turn.

My museum docent friend Catherine recently provided another great tour! There was so much to absorb, so many cool sights and sounds, that I hardly know how to translate my feelings into words. I could’ve spent many hours just lingering. The experience was almost like standing on stage during a symphony orchestra’s performance, and turning slowly around with eyes and ears wide open.

I was absolutely floored by the impressive sweep of this exhibit, and the number of pieces by important artists. I noted works by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Salvador Dalí, William Hogarth, Toulouse-Lautrec, Jasper Johns and John Baldessari, a highly regarded artist who grew up in National City in San Diego’s South Bay.

The very first piece visitors encounter is Baldessari’s Beethoven’s Trumpet (with Ear) Opus #127, a fun sculpture which perfectly captures the essence of what is to come. Press your own ear against the ear trumpet and you’ll hear musical notes penned centuries ago by Beethoven, as if they’re emerging from the famous composer’s brain!

In other rooms, visitors can listen to a statuette of a satyr playing the pipes of Pan, a qin from China dating from the 19th century, or an absolutely gorgeous 18th century harpsichord that was converted to a piano.

One amazing room in the exhibit contains the Microtonal Wall, created by Tristan Perich in 2011. A large section of wall contains 1,500 small speakers, which are tuned individually to create a complex and interesting continuum of pitch. The interactive experience was so fascinating, I ended up walking with my ear close to the wall bobbing up and down like a mesmerized chicken!

Another dazzling room is filled to the brim with psychedelic concert posters from the 1960s! Aficionados of this type of artwork will find themselves in heaven!

The Art of Music features so much cool stuff, and such variety, I couldn’t possibly describe it all here. You really have to go see for yourself. I’m no expert when it comes to either art or music, but I found myself completely enthralled!

Here are a few samples of what you’ll experience…

People head up steps from Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama to visit the wonderful San Diego Museum of Art.
People head up steps from Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama to visit the wonderful San Diego Museum of Art.
Neck-Amphora with Apollo Playing the Cithara, and Hermes, Athena and Dionysus. Greece, Attica, circa 510 B.C. Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Neck-Amphora with Apollo Playing the Cithara, and Hermes, Athena and Dionysus. Greece, Attica, circa 510 B.C. Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Shiv Chand, Madhumadhavi Ragini of Bhairav, ca. 1690. The San Diego Museum of Art.
Shiv Chand, Madhumadhavi Ragini of Bhairav, ca. 1690. The San Diego Museum of Art.
Lyre Guitar, early 19th century. The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Lyre Guitar, early 19th century. The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Childe Hassam, The Sonata, 1893. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Childe Hassam, The Sonata, 1893. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's first poster, Moulin Rouge - La Goulue. Introduced into poster design a bold simplification of form, space and composition learned from Japanese woodblock prints.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s first poster, Moulin Rouge – La Goulue, which introduced into poster design a bold simplification of form, space and composition learned from Japanese woodblock prints.
Beauford Delaney, Marian Anderson, 1965. J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art. Renowned singer was first African American artist to perform at the White House, in 1936.
Beauford Delaney, Marian Anderson, 1965. J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art. Depicts renowned singer who was the first African American artist to perform at the White House, in 1936.
Hans Burkhardt, Sex Pistols, 1981. Courtesy Jack Rutberg Fine Arts Hans G. and Thordis W. Burkhardt Foundation.
Hans Burkhardt, Sex Pistols, 1981. Courtesy Jack Rutberg Fine Arts Hans G. and Thordis W. Burkhardt Foundation.
John Baldessari, Beethoven's Trumpet (with Ear) Opus #127, 2007. Beyer Projects.
John Baldessari, Beethoven’s Trumpet (with Ear) Opus #127, 2007. Beyer Projects.

The Art of Music lives in San Diego!

Go check it out! The Art of Music, at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park, runs through February 7, 2016.

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Museum exhibit brings Coney Island to San Diego!

Grinning face of Tillie, symbol of Coney Island, on the back of a tour bus heading toward the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park.
Grinning face of Tillie, symbol of Coney Island, on the back of a tour bus heading toward the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park.

An extraordinary exhibit recently opened at the San Diego Museum of Art. It’s called Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008. Last Saturday, I enjoyed a very special tour, courtesy of my docent friend Catherine!

The exhibit features a collection of more than a hundred objects that depict 150 years of Coney Island’s amusement parks, boardwalk, beach and people. It includes paintings, photographs, videos, carnival posters, sideshow banners, carved wooden carousel horses, and a wide range of colorful, unique artifacts.

From its early days as a peaceful beach getaway for wealthy New Yorkers, to the rise and fall of amusement parks, years of decay, political wrangling, then modern renewal, Coney Island has been interpreted by artists through the years in a variety of surprising ways. Some artists portray an innocent playland for common people. Others, something more complex, and less innocent.

Most of the exhibit’s artwork centers on Coney Island’s legendary amusement parks. Many images resemble exuberant scenes from a carnival or circus. They’re full of energy, laughter, humanity, wonder–but often base, superficial, disturbing, despairing. Many painting are dark, almost gaudy with a crowded press of people seeking pleasure. A symbol adopted by Coney Island–the unnatural, exaggerated grin of Tillie–seems to be a taunting reminder that the purchased thrills are artificial. The grin is strangely maniacal and mindless, one part Joker, one part Cheshire Cat.

Fantastic imagery abounds in the exhibit, which is sure to delight many kids. They’ll see huge cyclops heads, videos of romping midgets, a banner promising a sideshow freak with inhuman tentacles. The adults will see images of lust, insatiability, scattered litter, dripping blood.

I suppose we humans like to be both excited and terrified.

One Impressionist painting by the important American artist William Merritt Chase shows a landscape of sunlight and natural, unspoiled beauty; the egg tempera painted canvases of Reginald Marsh are dark, crammed with unabated appetite, bold kinetic energy and human expression; photographs by Arthur Fellig (Weegee) show people crowded onto the beach like fleshy, happy sardines.

Personally, as I took my amazing tour, I saw life’s wonderful jumble and a sample of our world’s endless variety. All the emotions, the complexity–but mostly I recognized the sunlit memories of ordinary good-natured neighbors heading to the beach and boardwalk, and some exciting, brief amusements, on a sunny weekend day.

This isn’t a typical art museum exhibit. It’s more like taking an instant journey to a place you already know. A Coney Island in your mind. And your vivid experiences in the San Diego Museum of Art will make the journey seem very real.

Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008, has come to San Diego from the Wadsworth Athenium Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut. This special exhibition continues through October 13, 2015.

Here are just a few things that you’ll see…

Reginald Marsh, Wooden Horses, 1936, Tempera on board. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
Reginald Marsh, Wooden Horses, 1936, Tempera on board. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
Pip and Flip, Twins from Yucatan with World Circus Side Show, Coney Island, 1929, Photographic reproduction. Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia Collection.
Pip and Flip, Twins from Yucatan with World Circus Side Show, Coney Island, 1929, Photographic reproduction. Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia Collection.
Jeanie, Living Half Girl, 1940, Sideshow banner. Collection of Ken Harck.
Jeanie, Living Half Girl, 1940, Sideshow banner. Collection of Ken Harck.
Mort Künstler, Coney Island, 1953, Gouache on paper. Collection of the artist.
Mort Künstler, Coney Island, 1953, Gouache on paper. Collection of the artist.
Barnum & Bailey Circus Water Carnival poster, Coney Island.
Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, the Great Coney Island Water Carnival poster.  Thrilling and daring feats of every description!
Arnold Mesches, Anomie 1991: Winged Victory, 1991, Acrylic on canvas. San Diego Museum of Art.
Arnold Mesches, Anomie 1991: Winged Victory, 1991, Acrylic on canvas. San Diego Museum of Art.
Joseph Stella, Battle of Lights, Coney Island, Mardi Gras, 1913, Oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery.
Joseph Stella, Battle of Lights, Coney Island, Mardi Gras, 1913, Oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery.

The San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park is simply jammed with fantastic, provocative Coney Island art. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  So go see it!

Coney Island, Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008, at the San Diego Museum of Art.
Coney Island, Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008, at the San Diego Museum of Art.

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