Mysterious art at Caltrans Otay Station.

Here’s another San Diego mystery to solve! I can find nothing whatsoever about this very unique public art when I search the internet.

A flock of white sculpted seagulls rises at one corner of the parking lot at the Caltrans Otay Landscape Maintenance Station. (A sign at the facility entrance reads Caltrans Otay City Landscape Station.)

This prominent artwork has three different sides and can be observed when driving along Beyer Boulevard near Dairy Mart Road, or when exiting California State Route 905 onto Beyer Boulevard. The flying gulls appear to be individually attached to canvas, plastic or some other flexible stretched material of light blue color.

What is it?

Who created it?

When was it created?

Does the art conceal an antenna (my assumption) or have some other special purpose?

If you happen to know anything that would shed light on this mystery, please leave a comment!

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 forgotten public art of a famous artist.

I received a comment this weekend on a past blog post that concerns public art at San Ysidro Park. The Tree of Life is a tile mosaic planter and bench near the center San Ysidro Park, created by internationally renowned artist Victor Ochoa (with the help of some kids, I believe). I posted photos here, where you can also read the comment.

I was informed that a second Tree of Life by Victor Ochoa can be found at Howard Lane Park off Dairy Mart Road, and that the City of San Diego lists neither works on its civic art collection website here.

The reader commented the tree planted in this second Tree of Life planter is dead. Which is quite sad, seeing how Victor Ochoa is an artist who is celebrated around the world, particularly for his murals in historic Chicano Park.

Today I decided to go down to Howard Lane Neighborhood Park in the northwest corner of San Ysidro to check it out.

This is what I discovered…

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Trail to Literacy benches in San Ysidro.

One of two Trail to Literacy benches in San Ysidro Park.
One of two Trail to Literacy benches in San Ysidro Park.

If you notice two colorful benches in San Ysidro Park, go take a closer look. On both you’ll discover a Trail to Literacy.

The benches are decorated with tiles painted by children. You’ll see small works of art that celebrate books and stories that young people love.

This wonderful community project promotes reading. After looking at the tiles, I think I want to visit a library and check out some children’s books. What better way to activate imagination? And relearn wisdom.

The benches stand not far from renowned artist Victor Ochoa’s beautiful Tree of Life, which I photographed while walking around the park last weekend. See those photos here.

Trail to Literacy painted tile bench near a water fountain.
Trail to Literacy painted tile bench near a water fountain.

The Paperboy.
The Paperboy.

Dogzilla.
Dogzilla.

Froggy Gets Dressed.
Froggy Gets Dressed.

The Cat in the Hat.
The Cat in the Hat.

The Gingerbread Man.
The Gingerbread Man.

Flipper and Where the Wild Things Are.
Flipper and Where the Wild Things Are.

Quetzalcoatl on the side of one bench.
Quetzalcoatl on the side of one bench.

A second Trail to Literacy bench at San Ysidro Park.
A second Trail to Literacy bench at San Ysidro Park.

Mulan.
Mulan.

Corduroy.
Corduroy.

La Hermana de Froggy.
La Hermana de Froggy.

Mouse Mess.
Mouse Mess.

Viva Piñata!
Viva Piñata!

Just Imagine with Barney.
Just Imagine with Barney.

El Arbol Generoso.
El Arbol Generoso.

More colorful, imaginative tiles painted by youth.
More colorful tiles painted by creative youth.

Reading activates imagination, teaches knowledge and wisdom, and makes life much more rewarding.
Reading sparks imagination, teaches knowledge and wisdom, and makes life much more rewarding.

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!

Murals behind San Ysidro’s The Front gallery!

An astonishing abstract face painted on the rear of The FRONT art gallery in San Ysidro!
An astonishing abstract face painted on the rear of The FRONT art gallery in San Ysidro!

As you saw in my last blog post, yesterday I enjoyed a tour of the “Walls – Cross Border Urban Art/Muros – Arte Urbano Interfronterizo” outdoor mural exhibition in San Ysidro.

After Francisco Morales, Gallery Director of The FRONT Arte Cultura, provided a walking tour of the exhibition’s public murals, we took a short walk through The FRONT gallery building itself. When we stepped out back, where there’s a small parking area, my eyes opened wide. More amazing murals!

The dazzling abstract face, which appears to me like a joining of the technological and the spiritual, was painted in 2013 by two popular, well-known artists.

The left half was created by Gibran Isaias Lopez, commonly known as Isaias Crow. His work appears in several places on Cool San Diego Sights. A few weeks ago I posted photos of his incredible mural at Pacific Beach Elementary School here!

The right half of the mural is the creation of Jari “Werc” Alvarez, who was born in Cd. Juárez, Mexico and raised in El Paso, Texas. He spends a lot of time working in New York City. You might have seen a past mural he painted at San Diego International Airport. I took a photo of it four years ago here.

A second, very wonderful mural beside The FRONT’s rear parking area depicts colorful, smiling sea creatures. I learned it was painted years ago by lots of happy kids.

The FRONT Arte Cultura is a very cool gallery operated by the San Ysidro community organization Casa Familiar. The gallery hosts a variety of exhibitions, educational programs and community events.

Check out The FRONT’s website here. If you’re a lover of art, music and culture, you should listen to their series of podcasts!

The FRONT Arte Cultura is an art gallery in San Ysidro operated by the community organization Casa Familiar.
The FRONT Arte Cultura is an art gallery in San Ysidro operated by the community organization Casa Familiar.

This extraordinary mural, created in 2013, can be found behind The FRONT art gallery, beside a parking area. The left side was painted by Isaias Crow, the right side by Werc Alvarez.
This extraordinary mural, created in 2013, can be found behind The FRONT art gallery, beside a parking area. The left side was spray painted by Isaias Crow, the right side by Werc Alvarez.

Francisco Morales, Gallery Director of The FRONT, smiles for a photo by this very cool mural.
Francisco Morales, Gallery Director of The FRONT, smiles for a photo by this very cool mural.

Another fun mural beside the parking area was painted years ago by happy kids. I've never seen so many smiling sea creatures!
Another fun mural beside the parking area was painted years ago by happy kids. I’ve never seen so many smiling sea creatures!

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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Amazing murals in cross-border art exhibition!

An international cross-border exhibition of urban art can now be enjoyed in both San Diego and Tijuana. Nine amazing, newly painted outdoor murals, created by regional artists in Southern California and Mexico, are part of this binational exhibition, which is titled Walls – Cross Border Urban Art/Muros – Arte Urbano Interfronterizo. The event is a collaboration between the San Ysidro community development organization Casa Familiar and the Municipal Institute of Art and Culture of Tijuana.

Yesterday I was given a tour of some of the murals that were created north of the border. My guide was Francisco Morales, Gallery Director of The FRONT, Casa Familiar’s art gallery at 147 W. San Ysidro Boulevard. The FRONT Arte Cultura is a cool community gathering place for exhibitions, concerts, education, and other cultural and artistic engagement.

The FRONT Arte Cultura is an art gallery in San Ysidro operated by the community organization Casa Familiar.
The FRONT Arte Cultura is a gallery in San Ysidro operated by the community organization Casa Familiar.

We began by looking at the following indoor mural, which was spray painted just inside The FRONT gallery by artist Juan Carlos Galindo, who is known as GRVR. His urban art is like graffiti with a surreal pop art quality, full of the color, zest and dynamism of life near the border. I was told that at night the brightly lit mural attracts attention through the gallery’s front window, luring the eyes of those walking or driving by.

We then crossed San Ysidro Boulevard to take a look at the three nearest outdoor murals.

The following amazing artwork by Mary Jhun, an artist representing the Filipino community, is a work in progress. It will be a permanent addition to what used to be an old hotel called La Nola, an historic building that will be renovated and repurposed along with several other nearby buildings.

Next is a colorful mural by Jorge Mendoza, whose very cool Nest Murals in Barrio Logan I once photographed here.

The third mural across the street from The FRONT gallery is by Stephanie “Fifi” Martinez, who is a very talented cartoonist and student at San Diego City College. Her themes often concern emotional turmoil and inspiration, as you can see in this really great mural she painted.

We then walked a short distance down San Ysidro Boulevard to the El Rincon Restaurant, whose outdoor wall was painted by Michelle Ruby, who is also known as Mrbbaby. Her pinata character Chucho is riding with a doll atop a colorful Quetzalcoatl, who appears to be in love with the moon! (I must admit this was my favorite.)

A variety of older murals in the neighborhood are also included in the Walls – Cross Border Urban Art exhibition. You can see a Google map of all the mural locations that are in San Ysidro by clicking here. I happened to photograph two older murals by Sand One and Victor Ochoa on a previous walk. You can see those two great murals by clicking here!

After viewing the above Mrbbaby mural, we walked north up Cypress Drive. I was told by Francisco that this walkable stretch that connects The FRONT gallery to the San Ysidro Branch Library is called the Cultural Corridor.

Near an open park-like space where the annual Día de San Ysidro/San Ysidro Day event is held we paused to admire two more murals on a low wall. The fun swirly one was painted by Luisa Martinez and David Pena during the 2019 community festival; the other was created more recently by Hector Villegas to encourage participation in the 2020 Census.

As you can see, the murals that are included in this binational exhibition are rather amazing. I’m told the murals in Tijuana are equally superb! Unfortunately, as I write this, the border is closed to all but essential workers due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

If you’d like to learn more about the Walls – Cross Border Urban Art/Muros – Arte Urbano Interfronterizo exhibition, or visit Casa Familiar’s very cool The FRONT Arte Cultura gallery in San Ysidro, make sure to go to this web page for much more detailed information!

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!

Girl Scouts work to make a better community!

Believe.
Believe.

Today I enjoyed a tour of a fantastic outdoor mural exhibition in San Ysidro. It was the highlight of my day. I’ll blog about that shortly.

Earlier in the afternoon, I walked a little around the neighborhood and found myself looking at some creative artwork on a fence at the San Ysidro Community Center. I’d stumbled upon the Gold Award project of two local Girl Scouts!

According to a sign on the fence, in 2018 Orian Martinez restored the community center’s outdoor playground, and Sofia Perez-Valles created the Utopia Mural on the surrounding fence, embellishing it with positive messages.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has closed the San Ysidro Community Center and its outdoor area for many months now, so if things look a bit weathered and ragged, you can understand why. But the positive efforts and messages endure.

The actions and leadership of these two Girl Scouts have indeed made the world (and their community) a better place!

Utopia Mural.
Utopia Mural.

Butterflies decorate a gate to an outdoor playground and gathering place.
Butterflies decorate a gate to an outdoor playground and gathering place.

Sign near entrance to San Ysidro Community Center.
Sign near entrance to San Ysidro Community Center.

Two Girl Scouts achieved the Gold Award for a 2018 project at the San Ysidro Community Center.
Two Girl Scouts achieved the Gold Award for a 2018 project at the San Ysidro Community Center.

Recycled materials turned to art on the chain link fence.
Recycled materials turned to art on the chain link fence.

Courage.
Courage.

More colorful butterflies.
More colorful butterflies.

Action Changes Things.
Action Changes Things.

The future has many names...
The future has many names. For the fearful, the unknown. For the weak, the unreachable. For the brave, an opportunity.

Action is the foundational...
Action is the foundational…

...skill to all success.
…skill to all success.

Fall seven times and get up eight.
Fall seven times and get up eight.

If you do what you've always done, you'll get where you've always gone.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll arrive where you’ve always gone.

Changes bring opportunity.
Changes bring opportunity.

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!

Victor Ochoa’s Tree of Life in San Ysidro!

Victor Ochoa is a world-famous muralist, activist and pioneer of the Chicano art movement whose work can be found throughout San Diego, particularly in Chicano Park. You can learn more about him here.

Should you stroll through San Ysidro Park, between West and East Park Avenue, just north of the San Ysidro Civic Center, you’ll probably see what appears to be a raised square platform in the middle of the grass. As you move closer this colorful public art, titled Arbol de la Vida (Tree of Life), comes into focus. It’s a tile mosaic planter and bench that surrounds a tree!

I can find almost nothing about this public art when I search the internet. Written on the tiles is the following:

Arbol de la Vida by Victor Ochoa, 1995. Commissioned for the community of San Ysidro and the citizens of San Diego through the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. Tree of Life.

It appears the overall design was created by Victor Ochoa and the tiles were painted by local children.

Do you know more about his wonderful public artwork? If you do, leave a comment!

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!

Photos of original, historic San Ysidro Library.

Front of the original San Ysidro Library, built in 1924.
Front of the original San Ysidro Library, built in 1924.

The first public library in San Ysidro was built in 1924. It still stands on San Ysidro Boulevard, between West and East Park Avenue.

I happened to walk by it last weekend.

The building is small compared to the modern, much larger San Ysidro Library on Beyer Boulevard that opened a year ago. But the smaller scale of this original library provides much of it’s charm. The modest architecture with its graceful curves is also welcoming. Had this little library been open, I would’ve stepped right inside.

Instead, I walked around the outside and took a few photos.

THE PEOPLE OF SAN YSIDRO RECORD BY THIS TABLET THEIR APPRECIATION OF THE GIFT OF THIS LIBRARY BY BLANCHE H. AND FRANK B. BEYER - AUGUST 31, 1924
THE PEOPLE OF SAN YSIDRO RECORD BY THIS TABLET THEIR APPRECIATION OF THE GIFT OF THIS LIBRARY BY BLANCHE H. AND FRANK B. BEYER – AUGUST 31, 1924

An iconic El Camino Real Bell stands near the historic San Ysidro Library on San Ysidro Boulevard.
An iconic El Camino Real Bell stands near the historic San Ysidro Library on San Ysidro Boulevard.

Plaque at base of El CAMINO REAL BELL - Dedicated October 1, 2010.
Plaque at base of El CAMINO REAL BELL – Dedicated October 1, 2010.

View of east side of the original San Ysidro Library.
View of east side of the original San Ysidro Library.

The graceful, welcoming front of the first San Ysidro Library.
The graceful, welcoming front of the first San Ysidro Library.

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!

Street art at San Ysidro and Cottonwood.

Follow your heart.
Follow your heart.

Many electrical boxes have been painted with street art on San Ysidro Boulevard, just northwest of Cottonwood Road. It appeared during my Saturday walk that some of the boxes were painted long ago, and others this year.

I took photos. The art speaks for itself.

Mental health matters.
I am loved. Grow strong.

Aztec skull imagery.
Aztec skull imagery.

A people's spirit lives on.
A people’s spirit lives on.

Two doves.
Two doves.

You are better than unicorns and sparkles.
You are better than unicorns and sparkles.

Quédate en casa con un rico pan dulce y cafecito. (Stay home with a delicious sweet bread and coffee.)
Quédate en casa con un rico pan dulce y cafecito. (Stay home with a delicious sweet bread and coffee.)

Lady Liberty in a serape.
Lady Liberty in a serape.

Kindness matters, and fireworks or stars.
Kindness matters, and fireworks or stars.

Por tu salud. (For your health.) We love our community. Street art painted in San Ysidro during the coronavirus pandemic.
Por tu salud. (For your health.) We love our community. Street art painted in San Ysidro during the coronavirus pandemic.

Firefighters of Fire Station 29 in San Ysidro.
Firefighters of Fire Station 29 in San Ysidro.

A local firefighter at work.
A local firefighter at work.

Purple and lavender flowers.
Purple and lavender flowers.

Butterfly rises near a hot air balloon.
Butterfly rises near a hot air balloon.

Bicycle by a fruit tree, and a trolley in the background.
Bicycle by a fruit tree, and a trolley in the background.

Trolley windows full of passengers.
Trolley windows full of passengers.

Trolley driver emerges from a painted electrical box.
Trolley driver emerges from a painted electrical box.

A little land and a living. Un poco tierra y una vida.
A little land and a living. Un poco tierra y una vida.

Working the land.
Working the land.

A family on a sweeping, colorful landscape.
A family on a sweeping, colorful landscape.

Handfuls of good earth.
Handfuls of good earth.

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!

More street art on San Ysidro Boulevard!

Street art in San Ysidro by Gerardo Meza.
Street art in San Ysidro by Gerardo Meza.

I’ve photographed more great street art!

Last year in December I walked around San Ysidro and took photos of street art near the Mexican border. See those images by clicking here.

During a walk in the same area this morning I headed farther up San Ysidro Boulevard and found even more colorful art. All of the following photos were taken between Willow Road and Cottonwood Road.

Except for the very first photo above! That fun artwork was painted some time after my earlier walk. It’s beside the Burger King near the intersection of San Ysidro Boulevard and Camino de la Plaza.

These images capture the life and spirit of San Diego’s bustling border community!

Colorful artwork in San Ysidro by renowned muralist Victor Ochoa depicts the artist's family.
Colorful artwork in San Ysidro by renowned muralist Victor Ochoa, known for his work in Chicano Park. I’ve been told this small mural depicts the artist’s family.

Mural in San Ysidro by Los Angeles artist Sand One.
Mural in San Ysidro by Los Angeles artist Sand One.

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!