Tears water a blossom in San Diego.

Where the San Diego communities of Normal Heights and City Heights meet, the tears of Chucho water a small human blossom.

Perhaps you’ve seen the piñata character Chucho on El Cajon Boulevard just east of Felton Street, on the wall of U-Stor-It, facing a car sales lot.

Chucho is the creation of San Diego born Latina artist/muralist Michelle Ruby, aka Mr. B Baby. There’s a good chance you’ve observed the colorful character in other street murals around the city. You can find more photos of Chucho by clicking here.

The artist, describing her largest mural yet, says the imagery can be interpreted as your pain is what truly makes you blossom. There’s a description of her thinking and philosophy of life on her Instagram page here.

The beautiful mural was painted several months ago.

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 teddy bear and a broken heart.

I saw this on Sunday. Valentine’s Day.

I was walking past a bus stop in North Park when my attention was arrested by a large teddy bear. The bear was sitting alone at the end of the bench. I looked around. Absolutely nobody was nearby.

I had to pause to take in this strange sight. Then it occurred to me: either this cute, very loveable teddy bear had been accidentally left behind, or it had been left there intentionally.

Either scenario meant heartbreak.

It’s one small story in the city that you and I will never know.

What made my discovery really weird–almost eerie–is that for weeks I had been working on a short story concerning a similar teddy bear on the streets of a city.

Even though the story is very short, it had persistently troubled me. I knew it had potential. But I couldn’t seem to get it right.

Seeing that mysterious bear inspired me to work on the story with renewed purpose.

I published The Teddy Bear yesterday. Since then I’ve made a number of changes. But I think it might be finished. It remains painful. Like many of my little stories it has a surprise ending.

If you’d like, you can read it here.

Letters Home: A fallen soldier and a memorial.

I’ve photographed many monuments that remember those who’ve fallen in war.

At the Veterans Memorial in Vista, California, the powerful monument to one particular soldier can easily bring you to tears.

Please look at the following images, read the two random letters that I photographed leading to the sculpture, then the plaque that describes the life and death of a young person who simply wanted to serve. Click those photos and they will enlarge for easier reading.

Veterans Memorial Park was created by the Pinamonti family to honor Ernie, son and brother, who was killed in the Vietnam War.

Sculpture at Veterans Memorial, by artist Rip Caswell, 2016.
Sculpture at Veterans Memorial, by artist Rip Caswell, 2016.

Dear Family, Today we are starting our first day of training...Mail call is the best part of the day and I really look forward to it...I miss everyone a great deal and I read the letters over and over. Sincerely, Ernie
Dear Family, Today we are starting our first day of training…Mail call is the best part of the day and I really look forward to it…I miss everyone a great deal and I read the letters over and over. Sincerely, Ernie

Dear Ernie...If there is anything you need, just ask and we will send it to you...Remember to write every couple days so I don't worry about you. Be good and take care of yourself. I miss you. Love, Mother
Dear Ernie…If there is anything you need, just ask and we will send it to you…Remember to write every couple days so I don’t worry about you. Be good and take care of yourself. I miss you. Love, Mother

Flag flies above Veterans Memorial Park in Vista, California.
Flag flies above Veterans Memorial Park in Vista, California.

On May 15, 1969, our family was forever changed by the knock on the front door that brought news that our 19 year old brother, Ernie, had died of wounds received while assisting a fellow soldier...
On May 15, 1969, our family was forever changed by the knock on the front door that brought news that our 19 year old brother, Ernie, had died of wounds received while assisting a fellow soldier…

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 photographs.

A short story about gratitude and humility.

I finally finished writing another short story.

This one was very difficult, and I’m still not sure it’s exactly right.

We live in a dark moment of history, when many people are suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic. And pain is an essential part of this story.

But the story, titled The Pier, contains happiness, too. It’s ultimately about human gratitude and humility.

You can read it here.

If you’re bored sitting at home while the pandemic rages, and you like to read, you might enjoy checking out dozens of thought-provoking short stories here.

As always, thank you for coming along on my small adventures.

Richard

Silent faces and Constructed Mythologies.

Emotionally powerful images by internationally known Guatemalan photographer Luis González Palma can now be viewed at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. The title of the exhibition is Constructed Mythologies.

Walk through the gallery and you’ll pass many faces whose expressions convey complex, often painful emotion. Some eyes stare through geometric shapes or fragile threads. Some of the images use sepia tints; some are presented as mosaics or unusual collages; photographs are often layered or cut into shattered pieces and made abstract, as if to depict a series of memories, or moments of living that pass like a dream.

The subjects of Luis González Palma are the indigenous Mayas and the Mestizo people of Guatemala. Their faces speak of silent pride and suffering.

According to one sign that describes the artist: His work is informed by curiosity and reverence for the human condition, woven into evocative images that present an untethered relationship to time and place. Working with symbolism, meticulous staging, and a keen understanding of religious and cultural iconography, González Palma masterfully creates rich narrative influenced by his Guatemalan heritage and perspective as a Latin American artist.

If you like true things, come view these photographs.

The final page of Constructed Mythologies is turned on January 20, 2020.

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 story about stars, dust and memory.

Stars.

Very early this morning I woke from an unsettling dream. Parts of it coalesced into a short story that I finished writing a few minutes ago.

The title of the story is Vacuuming the Dust. This one might be difficult to read. It’s about denial. It’s about stars, dust and memory.

I think the story is done, but I might change a few words when I read it again.

If you’d like to read about life and time’s passage, click here.

Mysterious visions underfoot.

Blue face of a dog, afire with red nightmares, with eyes that are haunting.
A dog’s face–a small work of haunting chalk art.

As I journey through the city I often see mysterious visions underfoot, produced by unknown hands. They are the dreams of wandering souls, made visible.

Dreams of the searchers . . . the restless . . .

Wherever you happen to walk, countless others have walked.

Free Yourself, with a heart.
Free yourself, with a heart.

Grace, on a step among leaves.
Grace, one step up from fallen leaves.

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!

Art captures memories of San Quentin inmates.

Spaces from Yesterday is a collaborative exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery featuring the art projects of three San Quentin inmates.
Spaces from Yesterday is a collaborative exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery featuring the art projects of three San Quentin inmates. (Click image to enlarge for easier reading.)

There’s a fascinating exhibition right now at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. It’s titled Spaces from Yesterday and features the artwork of three San Quentin inmates.

The artwork was created in collaboration with San Quentin State Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho, who also has a few related pieces in the exhibition. But the work that I found most interesting came directly from the hands of the inmates.

All three of the artists summon happy memories from their childhood. These images are warm, but also hard-edged and unpeopled. One work, The Hallway by Dennis Crookes, almost looks like a long, harsh, narrow prison hallway that finally leads to a home’s light-filled kitchen.

I could find no explanation why these three were incarcerated in the San Quentin correctional complex, which contains California’s only death row for male inmates. That would seem to be an essential part of the story, and might explain certain qualities of the art. But the anecdotes that are written do reveal a common yearning for a past life that is fondly remembered.

The following photos show a description of each piece, followed by the actual artwork.

Spaces from Yesterday will be on display through January 28, 2018. Those interested in art, creativity, and often hidden aspects of human life should check it out. Admission to the SDSU Downtown Gallery is free.

Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho and Dennis Crookes began planning The Hallway collaboration while Crookes was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.
Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho and Dennis Crookes began planning The Hallway collaboration while Crookes was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.

The Hallway, Dennis Crookes, acrylic on canvas, 2016.
The Hallway, Dennis Crookes, acrylic on canvas, 2016.

The Garage, a collaboration with inmate Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., contains warm memories from a playful childhood.
The Garage, a collaboration with inmate Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., contains warm memories from a playful childhood.

The Garage, Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., mixed media on cardboard, 2016.
The Garage, Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., mixed media on cardboard, 2016.

Chanthon Bun painted memories from a childhood that included a play fort in an abandoned lot, comic books, baseball cards and a fish pond he created with his siblings and young relatives.
Chanthon Bun painted memories from a childhood that included a play fort in an abandoned lot, comic books, baseball cards and a fish pond he created with his siblings and young relatives.

The Last Summer, Chanthon Bun, acrylic on canvas, 2017.
The Last Summer, Chanthon Bun, acrylic on canvas, 2017.

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!

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

Public art painted from dark, painful experience.

Smears of red, a flag, two faces.
Smears of red, a flag, two faces.

There are three new works of art on display in the breezeway between the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the Santa Fe Depot. These pieces concern disturbing emotions felt by combat veterans, and the ongoing battle of many with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I believe–but I’m not certain–that the art you see in these photos was produced by military personnel who participate in the museum’s ArtOASIS program. ArtOASIS was created for PTSD patients in conjunction with Combat Arts, a local organization that provides opportunities for combat troops to express themselves.

These images are raw and painful. They are brutally honest. To paint these dark, secret things requires great personal courage.

Someone walks through the breezeway between MCASD and Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego.
Someone walks through the breezeway between MCASD and Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego.

PTSD. What happens when you get home and realize you will never be this awesome again. Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to the Light.
PTSD. What happens when you get home and realize you will never be this awesome again. Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to the light.

A lone figure lies against the wall of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
A lone figure lies against the wall of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

REAL TALK. Life.
REAL TALK. Life.

I live in downtown San Diego, and walk through the city with my camera. You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter.

Three short stories about creativity and freedom.

I’ve recently written three short stories that touch upon human creativity and freedom. And the unending struggle . . . and the infinite mystery . . . and slow, bitter anguish . . . and sudden inspiration . . . and that joy a creator experiences when they’ve assembled a thing that seems powerful and true. In other words, that wonderful but turbulent journey undertaken by every passionate artist.

These three new works of fiction can be found on my writing blog Short Stories by Richard. How it has grown! Please enjoy the following links:

A Secret Junkyard is an odd, funny story that concerns black despair and creative rebirth.

A Long, Deep Drink suggests that satisfaction can be found by turning to gaze in a different direction.

The Pistachio Rocket is about launching upward, ignoring rules.

I hope you enjoy reading these! You might be surprised!