Honorary Tom Hom Avenue in downtown San Diego.

At the intersection of Market Street and Third Avenue in downtown San Diego, you might spot an unusual street sign.

Third Avenue where it runs through the Asian Pacific Historic District is now also called Honorary Tom Hom Avenue.

I noticed the sign the other day while driving down Market Street, so I walked through the neighborhood this evening in order to take a few photographs.

I’ve learned the street sign made its first appearance this February during a public ceremony with many dignitaries.

Tom Hom was a civic leader who worked hard to achieve his successes. In 1963, he was the first person of color to be elected to the San Diego City Council. He later would be elected the city’s deputy mayor, and then only the second Asian American elected to the California State Legislature!

As a politician, Tom Hom used his influence to help get San Diego Stadium built. He also supported the gentrification of the run-down but historic Gaslamp Quarter.

This Wikipedia article details his rich life, including how his family came to California in 1909 on the steam liner SS Manchuria, and how his father named him after Thomas Edison!

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!

Vandalized landscapes at San Diego Museum of Art.

Two galleries at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park feature slashed, defaced and vandalized landscape photographs. The title of the exhibition is Disestablishment.

Galleries 14 and 15, freely accessible to the public from the May S. Marcy Sculpture Court (home of Panama 66), are filled with this disquieting artwork.

San Diego artist John Raymond Mireles took photographs of natural beauty at areas once part of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments in Southern Utah, then invited people to hammer upon, cut, scratch and pen graffiti on each piece. This intentional damage is said to represent how the land can now be exploited for oil drilling and coal mining.

Like much contemporary art with a political message, these not-so-subtle pieces aim to shock the viewer. Learn more about Disestablishment, on view until January 30, 2022, at the SDMA website here.

Here are a couple more examples…

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 stately Leroy Wright House in Golden Hill.

During the late 19th century, Golden Hill was an affluent neighborhood at the east edge of downtown San Diego. Wander its streets today and you’ll encounter countless old Victorian homes and mansions, some a bit decayed, others gloriously restored.

I was walking up B Street recently when my eyes were arrested by one stately building fronted with impressive, two story tall Greek columns. I’d discovered the Leroy Wright House.

The Leroy Wright House was built in 1898. It was designed for California State Senator Leroy Wright by the Quayle Brothers, prominent architects at the time. Its unmistakeable architectural style is Classical Revival.

If you’d like to see more San Diego buildings that were designed by the Quayle Brothers, who are probably most remembered for historic, now vanished Balboa Stadium, you can click 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!

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!

A Poetic of Living in San Ysidro.

I was walking through San Ysidro today when I noticed The FRONT Arte Cultura gallery was open. So I walked in!

Francisco Morales, Gallery Director of The FRONT Arte Cultura, showed me the above artwork, which remains from the recently closed And We Will Sing in the Tall Grass Again exhibition. The powerful piece is titled A Poetic of Living and was created by artist Larissa Rogers.

As I gazed down at human forms made of crumbling soil, with flowers cropping up, I could see the theme had something to do with decay and regeneration. Death and birth.

The artwork, according to a long description I read, also concerns human trauma, amnesia, confrontation and persistence. “Soil holds trauma, displacement, memory, and history but is also a place of regeneration, possibility…The viewer is prompted to walk over the soil. In this action, they no longer become a spectator without agency, but rather, have to confront the soil to continue…”

It seems to me this art reminds us of one unifying truth. A truth many would rather forget or deny. That we are all made of the same earth…and that we are mortal.

It also shows that seeds planted in life continue.

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 purchased by the city from artists during COVID-19.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, local artists were supported through a special initiative undertaken by the City of San Diego. The city purchased almost 100 works of art for the Civic Art Collection. The initiative was funded by a generous art lover and philanthropist.

An exhibition of this acquired artwork, titled SD PRACTICE, can now be viewed at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park, and at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights.

I visited the San Diego Art Institute on Sunday to view their pieces. I noticed some of the artists are widely known, including Hugo Crosthwaite and Mario Torero.

Contemporary art is often provocative: subversive, angry, skeptical, iconoclastic. But many of the pieces I saw conveyed mostly a feeling of loneliness. Which I suppose isn’t surprising. They were created during a pandemic–a time of forced social isolation.

One canvas shows an elderly woman alone at a table set with dinner and cold smartphones. Other works–often with political messages–show people trapped alone behind borders or squares or lattices of drawn lines, or wearing masks, or concealed beneath sheets, or in shadow.

One artist’s tintypes were created with random people on the street. The artist and strangers pose together as if they are family. But the tintypes are very dim like faded dreams. And the momentary “families” weren’t real.

In one piece, an isolating smartphone has been dropped to one side, and two people lean into each other for simple human warmth.

As I walked through the gallery, one plastic chair made to appear gleaming and precious seemed inviting. But it was only one chair.

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!

Two colorful murals on 43rd Street.

I spotted these two very colorful murals while walking down 43rd Street in southeast San Diego. Both contain symbolic elements.

The first, combining Aztec imagery with humor, I saw at 43rd Wash & Wax…

The second mural I discovered at the corner of 43rd Street and Boston Avenue. It includes an image of President Obama paired with what I believe is the Egyptian god Horus as a royal falcon…

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!

Golden bust of Benito Juárez in Chicano Park.

If you walk to the northwest corner of Chicano Park and cross the intersection of Cesar E. Chavez Parkway and Logan Avenue, you’ll see what appears to be a statue on a checkerboard. Move closer and you’ll discover a golden sculpted head on a white pedestal. The bust is of Mexican national hero, Benito Juárez.

A plaque in Spanish at its base begins: “El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz,” which translates into English as: “Respect for the rights of others is peace.” The full quote by Juárez, who is remembered for modernizing Mexico with liberal reforms, is: “Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.”

According to the plaque, the bust was unveiled on June 25, 2005. It appears to have been placed here by Gran Logia Mexico, Americana San Diego California. I believe the organization is a local Mexican Freemasonry group. I can find nothing about this public artwork on the internet.

Another sculpture of Benito Juárez can be found in downtown San Diego’s Pantoja Park.

That less mysterious public art was a gift from Mexico. I once took a photograph of the fine bronze statue and posted it 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!

Businesses board up before Election Day.

This is not a cool sight. Not for those who want to live in a representative democracy. Free to vote for their candidate or party of choice, no matter which side. Free to live without political violence or the threat of violence.

I noticed while walking through downtown San Diego that some businesses are boarding up doors and windows anticipating the possibility of destruction and looting.

No matter the outcome of this year’s election, no matter who is disappointed or who is elated, whether power over others is increased or diminished, may a shared sense of our common humanity prevail.

Birds gather election ballots on a city wall!

On Saturday morning I walked through downtown San Diego’s East Village.

As I headed along Market Street and approached Tenth Avenue, I noticed something interesting on a wall next to the Grocery Outlet parking lot. I had discovered a flock of birds gathering ballots!

The graphic pasted to the wall, which promotes voting in the upcoming general election, was created by Ramzy Masri, a New York based graphic designer, photographer and artist. Click the photograph below and you can more easily read what is written. In a nutshell, the mural is “part of a series inspired by the idea that ‘voting is voice.’ It’s one of five designs for fifty murals currently on view in ten cities across the country…”

The mural is sponsored by the non-partisan Voting Information Center on Facebook, which is 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!