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.

San Diego African American fine art exhibition.

Green Tea. Kadir Nelson, giclée on canvas.
Green Tea. Kadir Nelson, giclée on canvas.

If you love fine art, there’s something you really need to see. Legacy in Black is an exhibition featuring the work of local African American artists who enjoy national and international acclaim. You can enjoy this exhibition for free by visiting the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

A number of outstanding pieces represent the work of eight artists who’ve made significant contributions to our city’s cultural life. Many of the artists have produced public art around San Diego and California. Faith Ringgold has had works exhibited in places like The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Museum of American Art, and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Ernest Eugene Barnes Jr. was the official artist of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Kadir Nelson was the lead conceptual artist for Steven Spielberg’s film Amistad, and his work is often featured on the cover of The New Yorker magazine. All eight artists featured in this exhibition are exceptional.

Legacy in Black is a collaboration between the San Diego History Center and the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art. Head on over to Balboa Park before the exhibition closes on March 28, 2018!

Sandlot Football. Ernie Barnes, acrylic on canvas.
Sandlot Football. Ernie Barnes, acrylic on canvas.
Legacy in Black, an exhibition of work by local African American artists, is now on display at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
Legacy in Black, an exhibition of work by local African American artists, is now on display at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
I'll Fly Away. Manuelita Brown, bronze with painted wood base, 2003.
I’ll Fly Away. Manuelita Brown, bronze with painted wood base, 2003.
Coming to Jones Road Part II #5, Precious, Barn Door and Baby Freedom. Faith Ringgold, acrylic on canvas with fabric border, 2010.
Coming to Jones Road Part II #5, Precious, Barn Door and Baby Freedom. Faith Ringgold, acrylic on canvas with fabric border, 2010.
The Valley. Jean Cornwell Wheat, acrylic on canvas, 2014.
The Valley. Jean Cornwell Wheat, acrylic on canvas, 2014.
Gridiron Hero. Ernie Barnes, acrylic on board.
Gridiron Hero. Ernie Barnes, acrylic on board.

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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.

Cool street art sightings on North Park Way.

Street art spotted during a walk along North Park Way. This masked face looks a bit like a cosmic ice cream cone.
Street art spotted during a walk along North Park Way. This masked face looks a bit like a cosmic ice cream cone.

I really don’t know what the correct definition of street art is. All I can say for certain is that I was walking along a short stretch of North Park Way last weekend when I spotted these creative works. All were in the vicinity of Ray Street and 30th Street.

A cool street art face in North Park.
A cool street art face in North Park.
Love More Than Ever stenciled on a wall.
Love More Than Ever stenciled on a wall.
Two silvery reindeer on the sidewalk, near a mailbox that receives Letters to Santa. You'll find these in December outside Pacific Drapery.
Two silvery reindeer sculptures on the sidewalk, near a mailbox that receives Letters to Santa. You’ll find these in December outside Pacific Drapery.
Three somewhat sickly smileys on a Have a Nice Day sticker.
Three somewhat sickly smileys on a Have a Nice Day sticker.
A very colorful You Are Radiant. Yes. You.
A colorfully painted You Are Radiant. Yes. You.

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!

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.

A day full of dreaming by the water.

Dreaming together by the sparkling water.
Dreaming together by the sparkling water.

A slow, lazy day. One last November day of unseasonably warm weather. Like many, I had the day off from work.

A quiet stroll along San Diego Bay.

A day for dreaming by the water.

Reflected light is all we see. A dream of light flows from the hand of painter Paul Strahm.
Sitting in sunshine above the water. A dream of light flows from the hand of the always friendly painter Paul Strahm.
The undefinable essence of dreams.
The undefinable essence of dreams.
A vision beyond the reach of a pier.
A vision beyond the reach of a pier.
Light on water invites meditation.
A firm foundation and quiet moment. Light on water invites meditation.
More quiet time by the water.
Time vanishes near the water.
Ripples in a strange reality.
Ripples in a strange reality.
Moving together past a burst of beauty.
Moving together in the walk of life, past a burst of beauty.
Almost like a dream within a dream.
Almost like a dream within a dream.
Enjoying this magic, wonderful life together.
Enjoying this magic, wonderful life together.
Reading words by the tranquil water. Sensing deeper truths.
Reading words by tranquil water. Perhaps sensing deeper truths.
Another day of dreaming by the water.
Another day of dreaming by the shining water.

Today two ideas for short stories came to me like a dream. As I sat on a bench by beautiful San Diego Bay, I penned a few passing words.

I believe the titles will be The Failed Heart and A Dangerous Noise. When these stories feel finished–if that feeling ever comes–I’ll publish them on my writing blog Short Stories by Richard.

Amazing new murals at San Diego Automotive Museum.

Visitors to the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park walk under four large temporary murals recently installed above the California State Building's entrance.
Visitors to the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park walk under four large temporary murals recently installed above the 1935 California State Building’s entrance.

The 1935 California State Building in Balboa Park, home to the San Diego Automotive Museum, is slowly being restored to its former glory. Four temporary murals were installed above the entrance several weeks ago. They are based on murals that decorated the building during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.

Much of the California State Building’s original ornamentation no longer exists, including the four original murals. They were created for the exposition by Hollywood set designer Juan Larrinaga. Painted on fiberboard to appear like tilework, they depicted California’s commerce, scenic beauty, agriculture and industry.

Balboa Park’s Committee of 100 will be raising funds to recreate the historic murals with beautiful ceramic tiles. Meanwhile, these four amazing temporary murals will welcome visitors to Balboa Park’s San Diego Automotive Museum.

To learn more about this project, and other work being undertaken by the Committee of 100 to restore and enhance Balboa Park, including the Palisades area where the 1935 California State Building is located, visit their website here.

A depiction of California's commerce originally created for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
A depiction of California’s commerce originally created for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
California's abundant natural beauty is depicted.
California’s abundant natural beauty is depicted.
A depiction of California's agriculture, which feeds many around the world.
A depiction of California’s agriculture, which feeds many around the world.
The fourth mural from 1935 depicts California's industrial activity.
The fourth mural from 1935 depicts California’s industrial activity.

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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