Variations on a Gold Theme installed in Mingei courtyard!

A couple weeks ago I noticed a large mural was being installed on a wall of the courtyard at the newly transformed Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park.

Today I saw the work has been completed!

For many years, Variations on a Gold Theme, created by artists Ellamarie and Jackson Woolley in 1966, could be viewed in Escondido outside the museum’s satellite branch on Maple Street.

Originally this fantastic 12-by-36-foot enamel-on-copper mural made its home in downtown San Diego, at the First National Bank Building.

Now, as you can see in my photographs, the radiant, quite beautiful Variations on a Gold Theme inspires those who sit outside in the sunshine at the Mingei Museum’s new Lucille and Ron Neeley Courtyard!

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!

Exhibition of legendary Posada art in Escondido.

When one thinks of popular Mexican art, traditional images from Día de los Muertos quickly come to mind. The artist most responsible for this cultural identification, José Guadalupe Posada, was a printmaker in Mexico whose often used skeletons and skulls in his illustrations, to make satirical comments on society and the politics of his era.

Undoubtedly you recognize the image in the above photograph. It is Posada’s iconic La Calavera Catrina, a 1910–1913 zinc etching that was later popularized by Mexican painter Diego Rivera. Today La Calavera Catrina is a common sight during Day of the Dead.

According to this Wikipedia article, it’s estimated that during his long career, Posada produced 20,000 plus images for broadsheets, pamphlets and chapbooks… Examples of this material and a wide range of other artwork inspired by José Guadalupe Posada can be viewed at an exhibition now on display in Escondido.

The gallery walls in the Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido are covered with Posada’s bones. There are political figures, and military scenes, and scenes from ordinary life printed in Mexico City by his partner, publisher Antonio Vanegas Arroyo.

I visited the museum this weekend and could plainly see how influential Posada has been in the art world, Mexican culture and world history. I also learned how Posada died a pauper and was buried in an unmarked grave.

The exhibition, José Guadalupe Posada: Legendary Printmaker of Mexico, continues at the Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido through November 21, 2021.

Photograph of Posada’s Workshop, with Posada on the right.
Museum visitor views works of political art inspired by Posada.

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!

Death and Monsters in Escondido!

Fearless people (and art lovers) have the rare opportunity to view Death and Monsters in Escondido!

Muerte y Monstruos (Death and Monsters) is an exhibition currently on view in the museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. The collection of traditional Mexican artwork, created by the Linares family of Mexico City, includes many papier-mâché sculptures depicting skeletons and skulls, or calaveras, engaged in living and death.

And there are fantastic monsters, or alebrijes, too! Pedro Linares is credited with inventing that form of very colorful folk art.

It’s fortunate many of the fragile pieces on display have survived. Their purpose was to be burned or broken during holiday festivals in Mexico. The sculptures in Death and Monsters were preserved by San Diego art collector Larry Kent.

Much of this art was inspired by legendary Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada. His iconic work is being concurrently displayed in the main gallery of the museum!

Would you enjoy a unique experience during the upcoming season of Día de los Muertos? The exhibition continues through November 21, 2021.

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!

Cool photo memories from October 2016.

Many cool events could be experienced in San Diego five years ago!

Looking back at photographs I took in October 2016, I see an amazing Maker Faire was held in Balboa Park, and a Festa with lots of chalk art was held in Little Italy.

Five year ago I also enjoyed two very unique museum exhibits, took a walk through beautiful Los Peñasquitos Canyon, and had my mind blown during a special tour aboard an oceanographic research vessel!

If you’d like to see lots of colorful photos, click the links that are coming up!

Click the following links to revisit fun old blog posts!

Cool photos of creativity at Maker Faire San Diego!

Beautiful chalk faces created on a Little Italy street!

Photos of chalk art at 2016 Festa in Little Italy!

Culture and history celebrated at Festa in San Diego!

History of firefighting at San Diego Firehouse Museum.

Joan Embery’s My Animal World at Bonita Museum.

Nature and history on a walk in Los Peñasquitos Canyon.

Photos aboard new Scripps research vessel Sally Ride!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Kids free at San Diego museums in October!

It’s October! You know what that means? It means kids get free admission to many museums and other family friendly attractions all around San Diego!

The month-long event is called Kids Free San Diego!

Want to learn more? Click here!

Oh, and by the way, see my photograph above? Yes! Nikigator has made its long-awaited return!

Nikigator stands once again outside the front entrance of the recently reopened, beautifully renovated Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. Wouldn’t it be fun to sit on that!

While I’m mentioning the Mingei, families should definitely head inside. The ground floor is now free to everyone, whatever your age. And one big display case holds all sorts of craft toys from around the world! Another contains carousel horses!

And one more thing. If your kids haven’t been to the San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park, they are missing out on some of the most incredible, spectacular toy train layouts anywhere in the world! And it’s free in October for kids, too!

Click here for all the museums and attractions that are participating this month in Kids Free San Diego!

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

Help turn Balboa Park into a leading world treasure!

The House of Charm and California Tower in silhouette as day ends.
The House of Charm and California Tower in silhouette as day ends.

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you already love Balboa Park. You know what a truly incredible place it is.

Well, Forever Balboa Park wants to take San Diego’s crown jewel to a whole new level. They want the park to be recognized as one of the premier urban parks in the entire world.

We’ve seen how Balboa Park has undergone numerous amazing enhancements during the past couple years: a reimagined Mingei International Museum, new International Cottages, a new Pan American Plaza with ongoing beautification of buildings in the Palisades area, an upcoming very popular Comic-Con Museum, a new viewing platform for the historic Moreton Bay Fig, and much more!

Now there’s a search for a leader who will transform our amazing park in the eyes of the world.

Forever Balboa Park is searching for a world-class leader. According to the job description: The President and CEO must be equally a visionary, diplomat, fundraiser, conservationist, and community leader who is influential beyond the confines of the park. Forever Balboa Park’s first CEO will unify the community around a shared, inclusive vision to transform this urban gem into one of the world’s premier urban parks.

Do you know a passionate, talented someone who can help to accomplish all this? Spread the word! Learn more 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!

Comic-Con Museum’s historic Federal Building restored!

The exterior of the historic Federal Building in Balboa Park, future home of the Comic-Con Museum, is currently being restored!

During my walk today I noticed the unique building, built in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition, is being patched up and painted to match several principal buildings in the Palisades area of the Balboa Park.

The Federal Building was designed by architect Richard Requa, who gave this and other nearby buildings a pre-Columbian appearance. According to this article, the ornamental detailing on the main entrance was unquestionably derived from the Palace of the Governor in Uxmal, Yucatan.

In one photograph you can see how the Federal Building was once home of the San Diego Hall of Champions.

The Comic-Con Museum will be opening this Thanksgiving weekend, in conjunction with the 2021 Comic-Con Special Edition to be held at the San Diego Convention Center.

After taking these photos I peered through the front windows, and I could see some preliminary construction going on inside.

The Comic-Con Museum already has 15,000 members. And I’m one.

I can’t wait for it to open!

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!

Stepping into the Art Alley on Cedros!

In Solana Beach, at 320 Cedros Avenue, there’s a surprising art museum . . . outdoors! I just happened to discover the Art Alley on Cedros during my recent walk through the very hip Cedros Avenue Design District.

Anybody can freely wander off the street and into the alley to experience a motley collection of colorful (and groovy) artwork!

I walked the length of the alley and discovered a variety of painted “canvases” including car hoods, skateboards and surfboards, beautiful photographs, unique objects and sculptures, a watery blue mosaic along one alley wall, and many fun, nostalgic pieces that celebrate popular music from the past.

It looks like the Art Alley on Cedros has a Facebook page.

This is some of what I observed…

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!

Visiting the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway.

Once a month, every third Saturday, the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway opens to the public.

Today I enjoyed a tour of the archaeological site and its educational visitor center. I was surprised to find so much history preserved in this small island of natural beauty just off Poway Road.

Poway is derived from the Native American Kumeyaay word Pauwai, which means the shape of an arrowhead or the merging of two creeks. A short distance to the south is Poway Creek.

As you will see in the following photographs, a small Kumeyaay village of approximately 20 families once lived on the hill that I and my docent tour guide, Heidi, explored.

The Kumeyaay people have lived in this region for at least 10,000 years. These first people had their lives severely disrupted with the arrival of Europeans in 1769. Today, descendants of those who lived in Pauwai are members of the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians.

Please enjoy the following photos to get a taste of what you might discover when you visit. Read the captions for a few of the things I learned.

Are you a local history or anthropology enthusiast? Or a community-minded person who loves the outdoors? The Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center is always looking for volunteers!

Check out their Facebook page and learn about the special days and hours when you can visit here.

Sign at the end of Ipai Waaypuk Trail, south of Poway Road, where there is parking.
Kiosk welcomes visitors to an important historical site.
My tour guide Heidi starts up stairs that lead to short looping trails.
At the Replica Village in a clearing stand several recreated Kumeyaay ewaas. These are shelters made of sycamore or willow tree branches, covered with cattails or baccharis, and tied with yucca or agave fiber string. These replica ewaas are old and need to be refurbished. The Kumeyaay would refresh their watertight ewaas regularly. A grinding stone, or metate, lies nearby.
This nearest ewaa was recently reconstructed. Volunteers who’d like to maintain this special place are welcome!
Heading up to the top of the hill along a very short, moderately steep section of trail.
I’m shown Wild Cucumber. Like many native plants, it had various practical uses. Seeds ground into a powder by the Kumeyaay were added to pigments to create rock art. The crushed roots, when tossed into water, would paralyze fish!
In the distance we could see Mt. Woodson, Iron Mountain, and Cuyamaca Peak. Depending on the season, the Kumeyaay would migrate east to the mountains or west to the Pacific Ocean coast.
One of several outdoor ramadas built for visitors to the Interpretive Center. Historical ramadas erected by the Kumeyaay were shady places for village activities and ceremonies.
It was thought that rock art might be found on these monumental boulders crowning the hilltop, but a thorough study using modern technology detected no traces.
A wise Kumeyaay observer found in this rock formation a whale, a turtle, and the head of a dolphin. Do you see them?
A nearby fire pit once used by the Kumeyaay villagers.
Soot remains in this natural rocky oven. A crack in the rear conveniently served as a flue for smoke.
Cooking stones would be heated in the fire, then placed in baskets to prepare food.
Many small broken pottery sherds have been found near this primitive kitchen.
At the top of the hill are very deep grinding holes, or morteros, where acorns were ground for thousands of years. After being reduced to powder, the acorns would be leached of tannic acid and cooked into a mush called shawii.
A important cultural site representing thousands of years of indigenous history in Poway.
A Coast Live Oak beside the trail. One of several types of oak trees in the San Diego region. Acorns were a staple of the Kumeyaay diet.
As I and my tour guide walk back down the trail, another group heads up toward the hilltop.
A hollow Elderberry branch. Not surprisingly, these were used to make musical instruments such as flutes.
Some of the rugged natural beauty that we enjoyed.
At another ramada replica, we saw a series of genuine metates that Third Grade students can use during educational field trips! These metates were rescued during road construction many years ago and were donated to the Interpretive Center.
There is much to learn about Kumeyaay tools, food, basket weaving, pottery and more!
Third Grade students use these small stones to paint their own rock art!
We head into the building at the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center to learn even more!
Look at all the smiling docents!
Dorothy M. Tavui was a Kumeyaay friend who helped to establish the Interpretive Center in Poway.
Shelves full of artifacts that kids can explore and handle to learn about Kumeyaay life.
A willow basket full of acorns. The long conical acorns are from Coast Live Oaks. The big acorns are from Black Oaks in the Cuyamaca Mountains. They were the largest and tastiest! The abalone shells you also see were obtained from the coast and often used as trade items.
Old photo of a 6 foot tall willow basket! Acorns would be gathered in season to last the entire year.
Sandals made of natural plant fibers.
I learned this is a seed beater! It’s being demonstrated on dried blooms of sage.
A beautiful mural inside the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway shows what village life was like here for many thousands of years. By artist Brigitte Lopez, 2012.

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!

Amazing wave and surfing art in Balboa Park!

Whenever I walk through Balboa Park, I almost always spend some time at the Japanese Friendship Garden, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Today I noticed there’s new artwork on display in the Exhibit Hall. It concerns breaking ocean waves, and includes many images of surfers on surfboards. The art is so vivid and unique, it’s hard to describe.

The exhibition is titled Hokusai Waves. It showcases the work of San Diego photographer Kotaro Moromura, whose images are inspired by Japanese Ukiyo-e painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai.

Powerfully curling water and flying droplets, captured with a high camera shutter speed, seem to leap right out of the display cases. The images are not unlike the impressively crashing waves created by artist Katsushika Hokusai.

As you can see from a couple of my photos, the wave images that include surfers are dynamic and definitely very cool!

Anyone visiting San Diego for the next several days for the international World Surf League Championship event up at Trestles might enjoy a peek at these!

Learn more about Hokusai Waves 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!