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.

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Legacy of Traditional Calligraphy in Balboa Park.

A new exhibition opened a week ago at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. It’s titled The Legacy of Traditional Calligraphy.

The works on display are curated by Befu Osawa, a Master Calligrapher based in San Diego. The history of Chinese and Japanese scripts is shown, along with Kanji letters that are very seldom seen.

The exquisite art of calligraphy has always fascinated me. Particularly when it’s applied to logograms that visually represent words. With careful applications of ink, the meanings of words and written stories are made visible, and imbued with additional dimension.

As a writer whose alphabetical pen strokes are careless scratches, that skillfully added depth makes me jealous!

If you love calligraphy, head over to the Exhibit Hall at the beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden. This exhibition continues through July 23, 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!

Minding your p’s and q’s in the Old Town print shop!

Upper case and lower case.

Mind your p’s and q’s.

The wrong sort.

Out of sorts.

I learned yesterday during a visit to the San Diego Union Building in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park that these expressions are believed to come from days long past.

There was a period in history when printing was a tedious operation requiring a hand operated press. To print pages, small cast metal blocks that imprint individual characters were manually assembled into words and sentences. These physical types were set into printable forms by the skilled, quick fingers of print shop compositors.

See all those drawers in the above photo? Each drawer is a type case containing sorts, the particular letters and other characters that are “sorted” into the forms.

Somewhere along the line, capital letters were arranged in an upper drawer: the upper case. Compositors rushing to print a newspaper would sometimes confuse the similar appearing p’s and q’s. Or accidentally choose the wrong sort. Or become disconcerted when they ran out of sorts.

And that how these peculiar expressions are said to have originated!

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

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!

Quarantine dreams and COVID-19 war posters.

Quarantine Dreams mural in La Jolla. When quarantined due to coronavirus, you can't travel, dine, date, surf, play sports, or even play outside with the dog. Hang in there!
Quarantine Dreams mural in La Jolla. When quarantined due to the novel coronavirus, you can’t travel, dine, date, surf, play sports, or even play catch outside with the dog. Hang in there!

The coronavirus pandemic is no laughing matter. But I cracked a smile when I discovered a gently humorous mural and amusing “war posters” pertaining to COVID-19 in La Jolla.

I spied the mural, titled Quarantine Dreams, at the entrance to an alley off Pearl Street. The artwork speaks for itself!

The posters, some of which were done in the distinctive World War II style, are on display in the windows of Copy Cove on Pearl Street. The posters offer helpful advice for fighting the invisible enemy, COVID-19. (I believe you can purchase the posters at this shop.)

Enjoy!

Don't hoard rolls! Eat less chili. Flatten the curve! Support our healthcare heroes. Don't be a burden. Don't do stupid sh*t.
Don’t hoard rolls! Eat less chili. Flatten the curve! Support our healthcare heroes. Don’t be a burden. Don’t do stupid sh*t.

Buy takeout. Touch your face, lose the race. The enemy win when you touch your face.
Buy takeout. Touch your face, lose the race. The enemy win when you touch your face.

A dirty phone is a danger zone! Damnit! Wash your hands. Victory at home starts with a good scrub!
A dirty phone is a danger zone! Damnit! Wash your hands. Victory at home starts with a good scrub!

Good fellows use elbows. Keep the nation fighting fit! Stay back, Jack! Use air fist bumps.
Good fellows use elbows. Keep the nation fighting fit! Stay back, Jack! Use air fist bumps.

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 art of Chicano/a/x printmaking, activism.

A collection of bold contemporary art can now be viewed at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. The exhibition is titled: Chicano/a/x Printmaking: Making Prints and Making History – 50 Years of Art Activism.

The many colorful pieces on display include woodblock prints, serigraphs and lithographs. Most of the artwork was created to provide a voice for Mexican-American communities and promote social change. The images urge Chicano/a/x activism, and include themes such as political struggle, racism, poverty and immigration.

According to the SDSU Downtown Gallery website: “Featuring important historical and contemporary examples of printed works on paper, the exhibition highlights printmaking as one of the oldest, most enduring, and widely used processes for Chicano/a/x artists working from the 1940s to today . . . Artists and groups in the exhibition include Yreina Cervantes, Rupert Garcia, Diane Gamboa, Ester Hernandez, Malaquías Montoya, Victor Ochoa, Self Help Graphics & Art, and Salvador Roberto Torres, among others.”

As I journeyed along each gallery wall, I was struck by the emotional potency of the artwork. There are images that depict cultural pride and strength, and images that powerfully convey human suffering.

In addition to thought-provoking political messages, visitors to the gallery can observe the evolution of printmaking and see how ideas are effectively conveyed and magnified using simple posters. The eye-catching designs and the creativity of these prints should intrigue everyone who loves art.

The exhibition will continue at the SDSU Downtown Gallery through April 5, 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!

Vintage postcards remember old San Diego.

Vintage postcard shows Lindbergh's San Diego-built Ryan plane over San Diego; Air Capital of the West.
Original vintage postcard shows Lindbergh’s San Diego-built Ryan plane over San Diego; Air Capital of the West.

A very cool exhibition titled “Wish You Were Here” is about to officially open at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The colorful exhibit, which I experienced this evening aboard the 1898 steam ferryboat Berkeley, features vintage postcards of San Diego from a century ago.

A collection of authentic original postcards is displayed in glass cases; enlarged images from dozens of fascinating old postcards cover several walls.

Visitors to the exhibit will see depictions of popular destinations, famous attractions, Balboa Park, beaches, downtown, Coronado, La Jolla, and all sorts of unique places around San Diego County. Many of the hand-colored postcards show what life was like in our city in the early part of the 20th century.

The images for the wall displays were obtained from the Coronado Public Library, San Diego Air and Space Museum, San Diego History Center, and the archives of the Maritime Museum.

The official opening of “Wish You Were Here” will be on Saturday, November 16, 2019. On that special day representatives of the U.S. Postal Service will be at the museum from 11 am to 3 pm. Visitors will be able to get a collectible Maritime Museum of San Diego cancellation postmark on a special commemorative postcard!

The following photos provide a small taste of this amazing exhibit…

Many historical postcards are on display for the Wishing You Were Here exhibit at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
Many historical postcards are on display for the “Wish You Were Here” exhibit at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Ferry between Coronado and San Diego.
Original postcard shows Ferry between Coronado and San Diego.

Various postcards promote a visit to Star of India, the oldest iron sailing vessel afloat.
Various postcards images that promote a visit to Star of India, the oldest iron sailing vessel afloat.

Diverse themes in the postcard exhibit include beach fun and sailing.
Diverse themes in the postcard exhibit include beach fun and sailing.

Bathing in the surf in winter.
Bathing in the surf in winter.

U. S. Sailors Life 'Sport aboard Ship.'
U. S. Sailors Life “Sport aboard Ship.”

Lake at Lakeside, near San Diego.
Lake at Lakeside, near San Diego.

Carriso Gorge showing track skirting mountain side in the distance, on San Diego and Arizona Railway.
Carriso Gorge showing track skirting mountain side in the distance, on San Diego and Arizona Railway.

Ruins of San Diego Mission.
Ruins of San Diego Mission.

Ramona's Marriage Place (Casa de Estudillo in Old Town), and monument where American flag was first raised in Southern California.
Ramona’s Marriage Place (Casa de Estudillo in Old Town), and monument where American flag was first raised in Southern California.

International Panama-California Exposition, San Diego. Portion of the Pueblo Village.
International Panama-California Exposition, San Diego. Portion of the Pueblo Village.

International Boundary Line, Tijuana, Mexico.
International Boundary Line, Tijuana, Mexico.

Main Entrance of Wonderland Park, Ocean Beach.
Main Entrance of Wonderland Park, Ocean Beach.

Aquaplaning, San Diego Bay.
Aquaplaning, San Diego Bay.

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!

Wearable art at San Diego Pin and Patch Con!

Today I enjoyed walking through the San Diego Pin and Patch Con! This relatively new annual event–billed as the world’s first wearable art convention–was held in Montezuma Hall at San Diego State University.

I love visual art and its infinite potential. As I strolled about the convention floor, my eyes were intrigued by all sorts of cool designs–and I was pleased to find far more than pins and patches! I saw shirts and hats and stickers and greeting cards and bookmarks and colorful prints and much more . . . even crocheted voodoo dolls!

The theme of the 2019 San Diego Pin and Patch Con was cartoon classic Popeye. Much of the inspiration for these unique collectibles, created by entrepreneurial artists, is drawn from the popular culture.

As I walked about, I saw that convention attendees had the opportunity to trade pins with other collectors. I also enjoyed watching a group of Platt College digital media design students as they created their own original artwork.

If you love to collect pins or patches, or would like to join a legion of people who are passionate about creativity, make sure to attend the San Diego Pin and Patch Con next year!

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!

Learning one’s letters in Old Town San Diego.

In the one room Mason Street School in Old Town San Diego, younger and older children sat together before the teacher and learned their letters.
In the one room Mason Street School in Old Town San Diego, younger and older children sat together before the teacher and learned their letters.

A cool theme developed during my walk through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park yesterday. First I wandered into the 1868 San Diego Union Building and observed ladies in 19th century dress practicing calligraphy. A short time later, as my eyes scanned the walls of the one room 1865 Mason Street Schoolhouse, I noticed a sheet on the wall titled First Lessons in Penmanship.

Turns out it was a great day to relearn the alphabet!

A super nice gentleman in the old print shop provided all sorts of tidbits of information concerning printing, publishing and life in early San Diego. I learned the original Washington hand press that was used by the San Diego Union newspaper is now in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. And that setting up the tiny type for a single page of the newspaper took a keen-eyed person about 12 hours!

I posted photos of the old print shop and editor’s office four years ago. I also wrote a little about the San Diego Union’s history. You can revisit that blog post by clicking here.

You can see much more inside the old Mason Street School building and learn more about San Diego’s first school teacher, Mary Chase Walker, by clicking here!

Additional information that I learned yesterday is in my photo captions!

A sheet on the schoolhouse wall contains First Lessons in Penmanship. THE ALPHABET.
A sheet on the schoolhouse wall contains First Lessons in Penmanship. THE ALPHABET.

I'm given a small tour of the print shop inside the historic San Diego Union Building.
I’m given a small tour of the print shop inside the historic San Diego Union Building.

Like wet laundry, hundreds of newspaper sheets would be strung up all around the print shop so that the freshly impressed ink would dry!
Like wet laundry, hundreds of newspaper sheets would be strung up all around the print shop so that the freshly impressed ink would dry!

A demonstration of assembled type and the finished impression.
A demonstration of assembled type and a finished impression.

Part of a large plate in the Washington hand press. Today school students often visit the historic print shop to learn about publishing long before the digital age.
Part of a large plate in the massive Washington hand press. Today school students often visit the historic print shop to learn about publishing long before the digital age.

Those students can rearrange these letters to spell words like SUPER.
Those students can rearrange these letters to spell words like SUPER.

To proof newspaper sheets as type was assembled, this huge heavy roll would be used to make a quick impression.
To proof newspaper sheets as type was assembled, this huge heavy roll would be used to make a quick impression.

In the entrance of the San Diego Union Building, ladies sat at a desk practicing their penmanship.
In the entrance of the San Diego Union Building, ladies sat at a desk practicing their penmanship.

A sample of elegant Copperplate Calligraphy.
A sample of elegant Copperplate Calligraphy.

This beautifully penned text is from Lewis Carroll's humorous Lobster Quadrille in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
This beautifully penned text is from Lewis Carroll’s humorous Lobster Quadrille in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Showing how to write fancy letters with a quill and inkwell!
Showing how to write fancy letters with an old-fashioned pen and inkwell.

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!

Do you love to read?

You can find small, thought-provoking works of fiction at my website Short Stories by Richard.

Printing words about immigration at MCASD.

As I waited for a trolley at America Plaza early this afternoon, I thought I’d peer into a window of the Museum of Contemporary Arts San Diego. A gentleman inside saw and motioned for me to come on in!

I was welcomed by Max, a super nice Gallery Educator, who was applying ink to a silk screen. He was using screen printing to create bold messages in the Sanctuary Print Shop!

The project titled Sanctuary Print Shop is the brainchild of artists Sergio De La Torre and Chris Treggiari. The idea of this exhibition is to start conversations concerning the very topical and divisive issue of immigration. People are encouraged to write their thoughts about immigration, and messages are created to paper one wall.

Even though there’s a certain political bias to the exhibition, Max did agree that it’s a complex human issue. There are many different thoughts concerning it. And it’s an issue with many personal connections.

Human creativity and the written word fascinate me, so I enjoyed meeting Max, watching him at work, and reading what others have said!

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!