Community sculptures appear in City Heights!

An outdoor sculpture gallery is now springing up in the heart of City Heights!

Today I paused near the intersection of University Avenue and Interstate 15 to feast my eyes on all the colorful artwork!

This very cool outdoor sculpture garden is sponsored by the City Heights Community Development Corporation, the City Heights Business Association and Synergy Arts Foundation. The character sculptures, which might represent a person that is real or imagined, are all created by members of the community, under the curation of local artist Jim Bliesner.

The sculptures have personalities that are funny, or sad, or hopeful, or simply whimsical–and all are super creative! I noticed some refer to the difficult COVID-19 pandemic we are all experiencing.

You can view this unique installation in the vacant lot north of University Avenue just east of Interstate 15. The mixed media sculptures stand behind a fence that is already decorated with hand painted murals that I blogged about here.

The sculptures will be on display in the lot for a year and a variety of community events will be held among them.

I’ll return at a later time to photograph additional sculptures. Stay tuned for an update!

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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Wheel sculptures at Old Town’s Caltrans building.

If you driven down Taylor Street past Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, you’ve probably seen the big Caltrans building across the street. And you might have observed five sculpted wheels mounted atop a low wall by the sidewalk.

The five wheels together are titled Rodoviaria, and they made their first public appearance in 2006 when the new District 11 Caltrans Office Complex (also known as the Wadie P. Deddeh State Office Building) was dedicated.

Rodoviaria was created by two highly accomplished artists who are brothers: Einar and Jamex De La Torre. Their website describes this public art as: 2005. Rodoviaria, five 50” cantera stone wheels with sand cast glass inclusions, Caltrans District 11 New Campus Facility, San Diego, CA.

Look closely at the glass inclusions and you’ll see not only tiny cars, but all sorts of interesting imagery mixed in. I believe I see beetles, pre-Columbian motifs, masks, hands, abstract human figures…

A plaque on the wall beneath one of the wheels reads:

Einar and Jamex de la Torre
Rodoviaria, 2006

Transportation provides the mobility that enables cultural exchanges that in turn lead to the creations of new and dynamic cultural hybrids, most evident in California’s border towns and immigrant communities.

The first wave of sustained migration into California was made possible by the wagon wheel. Since then, many wheels have made the mobility and progress possible coupled with an ever changing and richly diverse culture.

Several years ago I posted photos of another example of inventive public art by these Mexican-born brothers. You might recall that big fun robot on Commercial Street. See it again here!

They also created the playful “dioramas” you see as you ride the main glass elevator at the San Diego Central Library. I hope to take photos of that one day, too!

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 at 70th Street trolley station.

Riders of the San Diego Trolley might not notice any public art at the 70th Street station at first glance. This Green Line station in La Mesa, which opened in 2005, has a simple, practical appearance, with the usual benches and a nearby parking lot.

Curious eyes, however, will see a number of sculpted markers in the vegetation, and quotes written on the bases of 36 light poles on either side of the trolley tracks.

The cast metal markers relate the historical importance of native San Diego plants, and indeed these very plants can be found nearby–or at least it was that way originally. Most of the markers explain the importance of each plant to the Native American Kumeyaay people, who inhabited this land for thousands of years before the arrival of Spanish explorers.

This very unique public art was created by Nina Karavasiles. You can see more of her work here and here and here. She also helped design the Rosa Parks Memorial at a San Diego Mesa College bus stop, which I recently blogged about here.

Artwork at the 70th Street trolley station also includes bits of recycled colored glass embedded in the platform. Cobblestones from nearby Alvarado Creek that were obtained during the station’s construction were used to create planters and the bases of benches.

Girls tied redbud blossoms to their shoulders and waists for the spring ceremonial dance of womanhood.
Deer grass. The principal foundation material for coiled baskets.
This plant used as a diuretic medicine gets its astringency from tannic acid. Bear berry.
Before going hunting the Diegueños rubbed white sage on their bodies to eliminate odor.
Early miners used it to deter fleas. Coastal sagebrush.
Fresh elderberry leaves produce a light yellow dye for baskets.
Arroyo willow. Kumeyaay use shredded bark to pad cradle boards in which women carried their babies.
The sycamore was an indicator to California natives that underground water or a stream was nearby.
The oak can live for 250 years. It takes 8 months for the acorns to mature. A family of 4 would gather 500 pounds for the next year. They would travel here and set up temporary camp to harvest the acorns, collecting them in conical baskets. Acorns are 20% fat, 6% protein, 68% carbohydrates.

The following photographs show just a few of the quotes inscribed on the light pole bases. Most have an environmental theme, and of these, most concern the importance of water.

All the stones here have been gathered from the original Alvarado Creek.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. Ralph Waldo Emerson
The average annual rainfall in La Mesa is 13 3/4 inches (2004). The average American uses 150 gallons of water a day.
Many of the world’s people must walk 3 hours to fetch water.

Ready for some fun? Part of the answer to the cryptic Alvarado trolley station riddle (which you can see and solve here) can be found in one of the above quotes!

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!

Fantastic exterior of Tango Del Rey!

If you’ve ever driven south on Interstate 5 east of Pacific Beach, a short distance past the Balboa/Garnet Avenue offramp, you’ve probably glimpsed dancers on the side of a building. That building is the home of Tango Del Rey.

I walked around the building the other day and took photos of its fantastic exterior!

Decorating the building are sculpted Spanish dancers, bullfighters, Don Quixote…even medallions that commemorate San Diego’s settlement by the Spanish centuries ago that resemble artwork found in Balboa Park!

This web page concerning Tango Del Rey explains “this stunning venue was built by Don Francisco Ballardo in 1984 and was originally known as Tablao Flamenco. Don Ballardo was an eccentric supporter of the Arts who gave San Diego a landmark that is unique, not for just our city, but the whole country and maybe the world…”

In their photo gallery you can see photos of the large, eye-popping interior hall, which resembles a Moorish castle! It’s available for rental.

I’m afraid I can’t dance, but if I wanted to learn the tango, it appears their Tango Academy is the place to go!

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Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

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Beach Castles protect lifeguard station!

A row of Beach Castles protects the South Mission Beach Lifeguard Tower from surging water and other Pacific Ocean invaders!

This public artwork, which is indeed titled Beach Castles, was created out of concrete by San Diego artist Roman de Salvo in 2019. The “sandcastles” resemble Mission Beach’s long line of beachfront homes and condos, which I assume was the humorous intention.

Sadly, as you can see in some photographs, this playful art outside the lifeguard station has been defaced by graffiti.

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!

Bronze wildlife sculptures at Viejas outlet mall.

Many realistic bronze sculptures representing regional wildlife can be found all around the Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine, California. This unique shopping mall, filled with beautiful artwork inspired by Native American Kumeyaay life and culture, is operated by the Viejas Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians of the Viejas Reservation.

The wildlife sculptures are found throughout the mall, among trees, on pedestrian walkways, even lurking atop artificial rocks and waterfalls. Families turning corners might encounter a bear, mule deer, mountain lions, a rattlesnake, coyote, river otter, Canada geese, and even desert bighorn sheep. Adult animals are often accompanied by their young. The bronze sculptures depict the animals interacting with each other naturally in their small realistic settings.

The wildlife sculptures were created by award-winning El Cajon artist Robert G. Berry, who began as a taxidermist before turning animal sculptor. His work can also be enjoyed at the San Diego Zoo, Cypress Gardens in Tampa, Florida, and at the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor and Interpretive Center, which is also in San Diego. To see a few examples of his half dozen bronze sculptures at Mission Trails, click here!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Huge wire insects swarm on park fence!

Dozens of very large insects have swarmed onto the chain link fence at Adams Community Park in Normal Heights! They seem to be attracted to the nearby Adams Recreation Center!

The insects, made of twisted metal wire, include butterflies, beetles, praying mantises, flies, ants, spiders, damselflies, ladybugs, moths, ticks, bees, dragonflies…and bug-eyed species that seem to defy classification!

Does anyone know who created this very cool wire artwork? Was it a project of school kids? Were these fashioned at the recreation center? Please leave a comment if you know anything!

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!

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!

Sculptures by James Hubbell at Mission San Diego.

During my first visit to Mission San Diego de Alcalá over seven years ago, I took a self-guided tour and snapped a variety of photographs, which you can see here. I also provided a very brief overview of the mission.

At the time, I didn’t realize many of sculptures inside and outside of San Diego’s historic Spanish mission were created (beginning in 1974) by renowned local artist James T. Hubbell, whose beautiful work can be seen all over the city. (If you’d like to see more photos of his public sculptures, click here to check out several old blog posts.)

During a recent walk along San Diego Mission Road, I decided to head up the short mission driveway to take a closer look at some of the outdoor sculptures. James Hubbell produced a total of twenty sculptures for the mission, and I photographed the following ten.

The first nine sculptures stand in niches along the front portico of Mission San Diego de Alcalá. They represent the nine Spanish missions that were founded in California by Franciscan friar Junípero Serra.

I then photographed the sculpture of Saint Junípero Serra that stands beside a large cross in front of the mission’s iconic facade.

Should you visit the mission yourself, make sure to obtain a handout in the gift shop concerning the James Hubbell Collection at Mission San Diego de Alcalá. You can read a more detailed description of each piece. The literature refers to spirituality in art, and states that the earthy clay figures are meant to convey each Saint’s humanity.

Along the front portico of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, sculptures in niches represent the nine Spanish missions in California founded by Junípero Serra.
Along the front portico of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, sculptures in niches represent the nine Spanish missions in California founded by Junípero Serra.
Plaque near the portico sculptures: In memory of W. George Hubbard, Sr. A builder of conviction who made every day a better day.
Plaque in the wall near the portico sculptures: In memory of W. George Hubbard, Sr. A builder of conviction who made every day a better day.
San Buenaventura.
San Buenaventura.
Mission San Buenaventura 1782.
Mission San Buenaventura 1782.
Santa Clara de Asís.
Santa Clara de Asís.
Mission Santa Clara de Asís 1777.
Mission Santa Clara de Asís 1777.
San Juan Capistrano.
San Juan Capistrano.
Mission San Juan Capistrano 1776.
Mission San Juan Capistrano 1776.
San Francisco de Asís.
San Francisco de Asís.
Mission San Francisco de Asís 1776.
Mission San Francisco de Asís 1776.
San Luis Obispo.
San Luis Obispo.
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa 1772.
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa 1772.
San Gabriel Arcángel.
San Gabriel Arcángel.
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel 1771.
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel 1771.
San Antonio de Padua.
San Antonio de Padua.
Mission San Antonio de Padua 1771.
Mission San Antonio de Padua 1771.
San Carlos Borromeo.
San Carlos Borromeo.
Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo 1770.
Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo 1770.
San Diego de Alcalá.
San Diego de Alcalá.
Mission San Diego de Alcalá 1769.
Mission San Diego de Alcalá 1769.
Sculpture of Fray Junípero Serra in front of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá facade.
Sculpture of Fray Junípero Serra in front of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá facade.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Contemporary art sculptures at UTC mall.

I stopped by the UTC mall in University City last Saturday on my way from downtown San Diego to North County.

Laugh if you want, but it’s probably thirty or forty years since I last took a leisurely stroll around what used to be called University Towne Center. (When I was a young man, a friend and I would visit the arcade above the ice skating rink and play pinball, Defender, Galaga, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede…)

Over the past ten years, Westfield UTC has been renovated and enlarged. Today it’s not just a popular outdoor mall, but a major entertainment destination. (And before long the Mid-Coast Trolley extension, the construction of which appears to be making great progress, will terminate at the UTC Transit Center.)

As I wandered randomly about the mall last weekend, I noticed a number of very interesting sculptures along a stretch of its perimeter. Out came my camera. I read on some plaques that the three Beverly Pepper sculptures belong to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

After I got home and did a little research, I found out I’d missed other sculptures scattered throughout the mall. Perhaps I’ll have to make another visit in the future!

Here’s what I saw:

Three Graces (Madam in Bloom, Madam Elegance, Madam Beauty), Yuriy Akopov, 2016/2017…

Octo, Anthony Howe, 2015…

The First Amphitheater, Beverly Pepper, 1965…

West Coast School, Laddie John Dill, 2017…

Severio Column, Beverly Pepper, 1978…

Zeus Triad, Beverly Pepper, 1997-1999…

Radix, Joshua Koffman, 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!

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!