Sculptures beautify Paradise Creek Gathering Place.

On the south side of National City’s Kimball Park, near 16th Street, a footbridge crosses Paradise Creek. Look up near the bridge and you’ll spy beautiful small sculptures mounted atop high posts.

These shining metal sculptures at the Paradise Creek Gathering Place were created by San Diego artist Vicki Leon, in collaboration with high school students at A Reason To Survive (ARTS), an organization in National City that uplifts local youth using the power of creativity.

The Paradise Creek Gathering Place sculptures together are titled Migratory Flight. They resemble silvery birds taking wing. Solar-powered lights illuminate bits of colored glass in clear tubes beneath each sculpture.

The environmental sculptures, symbolizing wildlife that depends on Paradise Creek, were installed in 2018. Many in the community came out to help build and beautify the Paradise Creek Gathering Place, including the Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center’s Kitchenistas and students from San Diego City College and San Diego State University. You can read more about the project here and here.

Lead artist Vicki Leon has also helped to beautify her own City Heights Azalea Park neighborhood. You can see photos of more amazing public artwork that I took during a special visit to Azalea Park here and here and here.

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Public musical instruments in North Park!

Want to make some music? Head to North Park’s newly opened mini park located south of University Avenue behind the Observatory Theater!

The North Park Mini Park had its grand opening last weekend. It was all over the San Diego news. I hadn’t walked around that neighborhood in a long while, so yesterday morning I decided to check things out.

Look what I found!

The North Park Mini Park is not only a fine new community gathering place, but it’s full of musical instruments that people can freely play!

I saw xylophones and chimes and drums and a sign explaining the many health benefits of playing percussion instruments. (Perhaps it’s just plain fun, too.)

Young and old alike can reach out their hands at any time to create music.

How cool is this?

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Bright, colorful butterflies fill National City parks!

Giant butterflies take flight in the blue sky above three National City parks!

Should you visit Butterfly Park, Kimball Park or Las Palmas Park, you’re certain to spot many large butterfly wings! The colorful sculptures were created in 2015 by families throughout the National City community.

Every butterfly is composed of two pieces of cut aluminum, and the separate sides of each butterfly are uniquely decorated with different colors of reflective vinyl tape. I’ve been told that car headlights shining on the butterflies at night reveal bright bursts of life!

The project, led by local artist Roberto Salas, is called Butterfly Path. Its creation was made possible through a commission from the San Diego Museum of Art’s “Open Spaces” program, supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.

The first time I spotted some of these butterflies–last year at Kimball Park–I didn’t know a thing about them. Comments made by readers provided great information. Revisit that old blog post here.

Since then I’ve seen more of the beautiful sculptures, and have learned more about them, particularly during an amazing tour of Butterfly Park, which you can read about by clicking here.

These artistic butterflies symbolize an ongoing metamorphosis in National City. The transformation is to an even more proud, healthy and environmentally friendly community that shines with greater and greater beauty.

Here are just some of the butterflies you might encounter, in no particular order…

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!

John Denver honored on Encinitas plaque.

Head west through Encinitas along J Street. When you reach the end, climb the stairs to the J Street Viewpoint.

You’ll discover beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, unexpected works of public art . . . and a small plaque.

John Denver

December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997

John Denver, songwriter, singer, actor, humanitarian and an activist for world peace and the environment was a founder of The Hunger Project and Plant-It 2000 which sponsored tree plantings in Encinitas.

“Though the singer is silent, there still is the truth of the song.”

Your friends will always remember you.

“If peace is our vision, let us begin.”

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 beautiful transformation in National City!

A beautiful transformation began in National City in 2013. Hundreds of community members came together to make a positive, permanent change. Butterfly Park, a blighted strip of land near the corner of 20th Street and Palm Avenue, became more like its namesake!

I first learned about this wonderful transformation on Sunday, during an incredible tour provided by Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center’s super nice Cooking for Salud Coordinator, Patty Corona.

We walked through the park and were greeted by colorful butterflies everywhere we turned!

I learned how, during the course of several days, families from throughout the neighborhood, school students, the Kitchenistas of Olivewood Gardens, and even the mayor of the time worked in the park installing butterfly beauty: mosaics on benches, a table and a trashcan, beautiful metalwork on posts, and an outdoor stage shaped like a butterfly wing! Vegetation that attracts butterflies was planted, too!

According to this article, “The project was led by Pomegranate CenterOlivewood Gardens and Learning Center…pitched the idea for a community gathering space in November 2012.

(The Pomegranate Center was also instrumental in creating the Manzanita Gathering Place in City Heights. See those photos here.)

As we walked through the park, I learned the wavy metal sculptures on posts were created by Sweetwater High School welding students, and the log benches were the work of former National City Mayor Ron Morrison.

In 2015 the very colorful aluminum butterfly sculptures you see in my photos were decorated by community members using reflective vinyl, under the leadership of local artist Roberto Salas. This “Butterfly Path” can also be found in two other National City Parks: Kimball Park and Las Palmas Park.

I’ll be posting more photos of them in an upcoming blog post!

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!

Water is Life mosaic in National City!

At Kimball Park in National City, a beautiful mosaic above a drinking fountain affirms that Water is Life!

This colorful public art provides an interesting contrast to the mosaic in my previous post: the fiery Firewall in front of the Solana Beach Fire Department.

Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I believe these two fantastic Water is Life panels were the work of A Reason To Survive (ARTS) and local youth. Like other mosaics in and around Kimball Park, it was conceived as part of ARTS’ Creating Vibrant Neighborhoods Initiative.

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Has the Earth moved at Fault Line Park?

Fault Line Park in downtown San Diego’s East Village neighborhood made its debut a little over six years ago.

Has the Earth moved since then?

More specifically, has the Earth on either side of the Rose Canyon Fault System rupture just under the park moved since then?

Very unique public art in this city park helps casual observers determine whether any such movement has occurred. I first blogged about Fault Line Park and its two giant spheres in September, 2015. Revisit that old post by clicking here.

Back then I took a photograph through one of the spheres. The twin stainless steel spheres stand on opposite sides of the shallow underground rupture. Should the ground on either side move over time, the targeting crosshairs inside the one sphere will shift in relation to the other sphere.

Here’s a photo I took over six years ago…

Compare it to the next photo that I took early this morning.

Something is now stuck inside the sphere’s hollow tube, but you can see how the crosshairs still roughly center on the opposite sphere:

I know this isn’t scientific, but if there has been any movement of the ground on either side of the fault line, it appears to be very slight!

I’ll have to take another photo a few years from now!

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Rabbit sculptures find a home in Civita Park.

Walk through beautiful Civita Park in Mission Valley and you’re likely to cross paths with numerous rabbits. Rabbit sculptures, that is!

The bronze bunnies, which are pleasing to children (and the young at heart), can be encountered in surprising places around the spacious public park, which opened in 2017.

The lifelike rabbits were created by Encinitas sculptors T.J. Dixon and James Nelson. Their fantastic work can be viewed all over San Diego. (Click here to see many more of their creations!)

The above photo of a rabbit standing guard by small baby bunnies is located right next to the Civita Park welcome sign. As you can see in the next two photographs, a bronze book containing a story about two rabbits finding their home is perched on another rock nearby.

Finding Home… Once upon a time there were two little bunnies named Franklin and Alta. They were looking for the magic stone that had once covered their little doorway for so long…

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Bird sightings along Tijuana Estuary boardwalk!

Walk down the recently improved Tijuana Estuary boardwalk in Imperial Beach and you’re certain to see birds. You’ll find many down at your feet!

The widened, beautified boardwalk along Imperial Beach Avenue, west of 3rd Street, now includes the names of many birds that make Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge their home.

Next to the bird names you’ll also find images of outstretched wings. The wings are to scale, providing an idea of how different species of birds compare.

During my last walking adventure in IB, about a month or so ago, I was surprised and delighted to find this improved boardwalk. There are new benches, and information signs at scenic Tijuana River estuary overlooks, and even a great bus stop shelter that I used.

It’s about time I shared these photos!

Great Blue Heron.
Red-Tailed Hawk.
Beautiful birds.
Sanderling.
Snowy Egret.
Nature everywhere. Imperial Beach is naturally wild.

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Imperial Beach plaques remember slough surfers.

Bronze plaques near the foot of the Imperial Beach Pier recall the legendary slough surfers who once trekked from far and wide to the Tijuana Sloughs, where the Tijuana River meets the Pacific Ocean, just north of the Mexican border.

During much of the 20th century, the Tijuana Sloughs was considered the preeminent big surf break in California. There’s a great article concerning the history and geology of the Sloughs here.

If you walk around Portwood Pier Plaza at the foot of the IB Pier, you’ll see a bunch of colorful surfboard benches where you can rest and gaze out across the beach. Look down and you’ll discover plaques next to each bench.

The plaques recall those who rode the big waves at the Tijuana Sloughs and honor bits of Imperial Beach surfing history.

Surfhenge public art welcomes people to the Imperial Beach Pier and Portwood Pier Plaza. The plaza is located next to the beach between Surfhenge and the lifeguard tower to the south.
Visiting slough surfers 1940’s.
Regular slough surfers 1940’s and 1950’s.
Most of California’s finest surfers were lifeguards at some stage in their careers…
Dean of the Sloughs. In 1937 the Sloughs were first surfed by the legendary waterman Dempsey Holder. Over the years surfers from all over California showed up at Dempsey’s lifeguard station at the end of Palm Avenue.
Visiting slough surfers 1950’s.
Father of the Modern Surfboard. In the 1940’s Bob Simmons applied the principles of hydrodynamics to surfboard design and forever changed the sport of surfing. In 1950 he moved to Imperial Beach.
…From 1930 to 1950 the total number of California surfers grew from under 70 to over 1500.
In the 1940’s surfers from all over Southern California made the journey to what is now Imperial Beach to surf the then-known biggest waves off the continental United States.
The Tijuana Sloughs became the testing ground for mainlanders going to Hawai’i. Before Malibu, San Onofre and Windansea groups surfed Makaha and the North Shore of O’ahu, they experienced the thrill and fear of big waves at the Sloughs.

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!