Celebrities, giant chickens, and history in Carlsbad!

Did you know the historic 1914 Twin Inns restaurant in Carlsbad hosted a variety of celebrities over the years? (Including Groucho Marx, who took the occasion to promote his latest movie Duck Soup.)

Did you know the restaurant’s big plaster chickens along Highway 101 were featured in National Geographic Magazine?

Did you know the first Carlsbad City Council meeting took place underneath the restaurant where a teen hot rod club met?

Did you know the Twin Inns provided take out chicken dinners that were packed inside a hollow loaf of bread?

I learned all this and more during a visit to the Carlsbad Historical Society‘s museum, which occupies the old Shipley-Magee House at 258 Beech Avenue.

Walking through rooms filled with fascinating exhibits, I discovered several displays that celebrate and remember Carlsbad’s famous Victorian restaurant.

Should you visit the museum, you’ll find a glass display case that contains an elegant Twin Inns guest register. And examples of the Blue Willow pattern china that diners might remember. And you’ll see old photos of the architecturally amazing building and some very beautiful artwork.

Photographs I’ve taken of Carlsbad’s landmark Twin Inns building can be found 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!

Copper printing blocks form storytelling art.

These copper Batik Printing Blocks, combined like words on a page, seem to tell a beautiful story. A complex story about life.

You can find this huge “panel” of Indonesian tjaps at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. The artwork has been installed on the second floor, near one of the doors that leads to the outdoor terrace overlooking the Plaza de Panama.

The copper blocks were used for wax resist textile printing. Each block, whose intricate design would be repeated on fabric, is combined with about 200 other unique blocks.

The cumulative effect is like a pile of golden Autumn leaves. Or shining memories collected like precious coins, spread on a table before one’s hands. Or a page ready set for a printing press.

It’s the story of a culture, created by many hands.

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

The shining new Timken Museum of Art!

Oh my goodness! I stepped into the newly renovated Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park today and my mouth dropped open. The first thing I noticed: all that brightly shining brass!

Had I stepped into a golden palace?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Timken was closed to the public, not only was a new high tech air filtration added to the museum, but works of art were rearranged, gallery walls painted a pleasant slightly bluish off white (which works perfectly with the many painted masterpieces in gold frames), and all of the building’s brasswork was polished. I’m talking lots and lots of ornate brass, both inside the museum and out!

The building is now more light-filled and elegant than ever, but also less stodgy, more inviting. And it’s still free to view some of the very finest paintings on display in San Diego, including our city’s only Rembrandt.

I learned those two tapestries that used to hang in the central lobby were removed to preserve them, and that the Mercury sculpture has been moved into the outside garden. It’s visible in one my photographs.

The museum’s huge windows not only invite in ample light, beauty and life from the outside world, but the collection now extends itself into that outer world, as well!

I noticed two pieces recently added to the Timken’s world-class collection are now on display, including the fantastic Salomé, considered the most famous painting of artist Ella Ferris Pell.

You might enjoy reading something I posted four years ago, after an architectural tour of the Timken’s remarkable building. The sleek building is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of mid-century Southern California Modernism and the International Style in the nation. You can find that blog and see those photos 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!

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!

Encountering life up close at MOPA.

An extremely powerful exhibition of portrait photography is now on view at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

Encounter: Photographs by Jed Fielding features numerous street portraits that make you feel the strangers you see have somehow become your friends. Because that’s the very personal way Jed Fielding approaches his subjects.

The photographs are full of life, smiles, eye contact, playfulness, emotion, sincerity, vulnerability, pride, sadness, freedom. Kids at play in Naples, Italy are pleased to stop for a moment and shyly grin. A mixture of more subtle emotions appear openly in the faces of those who’ve grown older.

I was particularly moved by photos Jed Fielding took of blind children in Mexico City. As his camera shutter clicked, small hands were doing their own seeing. In one photograph fingers reached up to feel the lens.

In those portraits of blind children, more than the others, not a soul wears a mask. Every expression is unaffected, absolutely genuine.

It’s an authentic connection between people that makes these photos so powerful. So alive.

Encounter: Photographs by Jed Fielding is on display at MOPA through September 25, 2022.

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!

Repairing the historic Old Adobe Chapel.

I recently learned that the historic Old Adobe Chapel in Old Town is being repaired and restored by the City of San Diego. I was told the roof leaks and a long, very serious crack was discovered along one wall. (I believe you can see it in one upcoming photo.)

I happened to be walking through Old Town yesterday when I remembered being told this. So I walked to 3963 Conde Street to see for myself.

The Adobe Chapel (also known as the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception) is designated California Historical Landmark No. 49. It was originally built in 1850. Initially the structure served as a home, then in 1858 it was turned into a church that would become a center for activity in early San Diego.

The old chapel has a rich history. It was said to be the wedding place of the character Ramona in Helen Hunt Jackson’s wildly popular 1884 novel of the same name. The Adobe Chapel would later be bulldozed and rebuilt in the 1930’s. To learn more about its history, visit the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) website here and here. To enjoy a fascinating gallery of images, click here.

The Adobe Chapel is presently operated by SOHO. It is both a museum and special event venue. According to their website, it should be reopening, after repairs, sometime in 2022.

I see a long crack!
Photo of historical plaques and sign taken from a nearby parking lot.

ADOBE CHAPEL OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

ORIGINALLY BUILT AS THE HOME OF SAN DIEGO’S JOHN BROWN IN 1850, THE HOUSE WAS CONVERTED TO A CHURCH BY DON JOSE AGUIRRE IN 1858. FATHER ANTONIO D. UBACH, FORMERLY A MISSIONARY AMONG THE INDIANS, WAS PARISH PRIEST HERE FROM 1866 TO 1907. IT IS SAID THAT HE WAS THE MODEL FOR “FATHER GASPARA” IN HELEN HUNT JACKSON’S RAMONA. IN 1937 THE WPA REBUILT THE ADOBE CHAPEL CLOSE TO ITS ORIGINAL SITE.

Old Adobe Chapel

BUILT IN 1850 AS A PRIVATE RESIDENCE. DEDICATED A PARISH CHURCH NOVEMBER 21, 1858 by FATHER JOHN MOLINER.

IN 1866, FATHER ANTONIO UBACH, THE PARISH PRIEST, WAS “FATHER GASPARA” OF HELEN HUNT JACKSON’S FAMOUS NOVEL “Ramona”

REBUILT BY UNITED STATES WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION 1937

A view of the Old Adobe Chapel from Conde Street in Old Town 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!

Tour of the Marston House Museum in Balboa Park.

An extraordinary house is located at the northwest corner of Balboa Park. It is one of the most architecturally and historically important structures in San Diego.

The George Marston House Museum and Gardens preserves the home that was built by San Diego civic leader George Marston in 1905. The 8,500 square foot house is one of the finest examples of Arts and Crafts style architecture in California, designed by internationally famous architects William Sterling Hebbard and Irving Gill.

Guided tours of the house are offered by the Save Our Heritage Organization. Learn more here. You can purchase tickets in the fine museum gift shop, which occupies the nearby carriage house. If you simply want to stroll about the beautiful garden, or walk around the perimeter of the house, that’s free.

I went on the tour recently and took a few photos, where the indoor lighting permitted.

The George Marston house is the sort of place that feels like a true home. The rooms are warm and functional and contain many windows, some of which were enlarged during the history of the house to bring in even more outdoor light. Book shelves and storage nooks are built into the walls, allowing an active family ample room to move about and entertain guests. Although the layout of the house is entirely practical, every room and hallway is tastefully designed and furnished.

George Marston, a very successful businessman of his day, employed numerous servants. During the tour, we saw various devices that would summon them, including a wooden box mounted on a wall with a bell and mechanical pointers, and a concealed button under the dining room rug that the family could touch without their guests noticing.

The tour explores nearly all of the historic home. At the tour’s end visitors can peer into glass display cases filled with artifacts and ephemera from George Marston’s famous department store, which was located in downtown San Diego.

I highly recommend going on this tour!

Because the Marston House Museum and Gardens is not located in the central, most popular part of Balboa Park, it’s likely your tour group will be small and relaxed, and you’ll be able to ask many questions.

View of the distinctive Marston House from its rose-filled formal garden, a popular wedding venue.
Photo from the Marston House driveway near the front entrance.
Sign describes George Marston. San Diego’s Renaissance Man. He was a successful merchant, civic leader, parks and neighborhoods builder, museum and institutions founder, historic preservationist and conservationist, a city statesman, creator of great schools, and an activist for arts, culture and social issues…

You can learn more about George White Marston here.

In the past I’ve photographed various things related to Marston, from his statue at Sefton Plaza in Balboa Park, to his gravestone at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Architectural drawing for the George W. Marston residence.
When first built in 1905, no landscaping could be seen around the George Marston house! Today the surrounding area is lush, with many nearby homes. Some neighboring houses were also designed by Irving Gill for Marston’s friends and extended family. SOHO offers a walking tour of the neighborhood.
Looking out at the formal garden from a second floor window.
George Marston’s stores in San Diego kept growing. Over the years, he operated at five different locations, and ended up building the large, famous 1912 department store on the north side of C Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets.
At the end of the tour we could look at artifacts and photographs recalling Marston’s elegant department store, where many fond memories were created.

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!

Brave men run in La Jolla!

Walk beside the ocean in La Jolla and you might observe the curious statement: BRAVE MEN RUN IN MY FAMILY.

The bold words appear in a large outdoor mural, on a wall of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego high above Coast Boulevard. The humorous wordplay is coupled with the silhouette of a tall ship under many sails running before the wind.

The title of the mural is Brave Men of La Jolla. It’s by Southern California pop artist Ed Ruscha. Created in 1995-1996, the image is acrylic on PVC coated fabric and measures a whopping 24.75 x 36 feet.

I took photographs of the mural from MCASD’s Edwards Sculpture Garden during my visit to the recently renovated museum a few weekends ago.

If the sly “brave men run in my family” quote seems familiar, it was originally spoken by Bob Hope’s cowardly dentist character “Painless” Peter Potter in the 1948 comedy The Paleface. He says these words when faced with danger, and then he promptly runs away!

Would the brave men of La Jolla do the same?

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!

Life, death, joy and pessimism in La Jolla.

Art is often a stir of moods and strange contradictions, like life itself.

I saw this complexity during a fun visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla. A major exhibit in the recently reopened, beautifully renovated museum concerns the often experimental artwork of world-renowned artist Niki de Saint Phalle, who spent her last years living in La Jolla. The exhibition is titled Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s. It will be on view through July 17, 2022.

As I walked around several spacious gallery spaces, observing the artist’s sensuous sculptures, and fantastic drawings, and paintings created by shooting guns, I saw joyful, fertile, exuberant life displayed side-by-side with bleak, shattered, debris-filled pessimism. It seemed that positivity was associated with female experience, negativity with modernity. As if the two are absolutely separate.

Niki de Saint Phalle’s female sculpture Nanas dance everywhere one turns, bursting with life. Her large Tirs, or performance art “shooting paintings,” looked to my eye like dead junkyards: rigid, punctured, streaked, drained.

As I gazed at the various artworks, whose elements often seem primordial or mythical, I wondered how seemingly opposed ideas could tangle in the mind of an artist–how paint and gunshots could so easily coexist. Oh, wait. Life and death is the prime subject of art.

Go visit this amazing exhibition of rampant creativity and form your own conclusions!

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!

Niki and Mingei and fantastic, exuberant creativity!

Are the above chairs awesome or what? I bet you’d like to sit in one!

When I visited the Mingei International Museum last weekend, I set my astonished eyes on this furniture. I then admired other fantastic furnishings, all designed by world-renowned French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle!

The many sculptures she created during her lifetime are widely known. But chairs and tables and vases and mirrors? Yes!

You’ll discover all sorts of crazily colorful objects when you visit the Niki and Mingei exhibition at the Mingei International Museum!

You’ll see an exuberant, irrepressible love of life.

Did I mention Niki became well known for her sculptures?

She has many around San Diego!

Should you walk outside the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, you’ll likely see two of her sculptures: Nikigator and Poet and Muse. And during your travels you might observe her sculptures at Waterfront Park, or UC San Diego, or by the San Diego Convention Center, or at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. If you haven’t stepped into Queen Califia’s Magical Circle at Kit Carson Park, you’re missing a mind-blowing, incredible experience.

Niki de Saint Phalle was closely connected with San Diego and the Mingei International Museum. She spent the later years of her life in La Jolla.

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!

Barona Indian Charter School student Heritage Project!

Students from the 8th Grade Culture Class at Barona Indian Charter School have created a Heritage Project concerning Kumeyaay culture and history. Their work will be displayed in an upcoming exhibition at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park!

The exhibition is titled Kum ‘Enyaawapch Ewuupch which is in the northern dialect of the Kumeyaay language. Translated to English, it means The Way We See It.

The exhibition has its big opening celebration on May 26, 2022. See all the details here!

I learned about this exhibition as I walked past the entrance of the Mingei International Museum last weekend. Photos of students filled one window, near an informative sign.

You can hear introductions by the participating students on the Barona Cultural Center & Museum website 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!