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!

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!

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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!

Mingei’s lucky Japanese cats visit Friendship Garden.

The Mingei International Museum has a collection of over 150 maneki neko. Maneki neko are Japanese beckoning cats, made of clay, porcelain, metal, rock, wood or other material. They are talismans of good fortune in Japan.

Seventy examples of maneki neko in the Mingei’s collection are now on display in the Exhibit Hall at the Japanese Friendship Garden. Both the Mingei and JFG are located in Balboa Park, the cultural center of San Diego. Currently the Mingei’s building–the House of Charm–is closed to the public as it undergoes a major renovation.

This afternoon I visited the Japanese Friendship Garden and viewed this exhibition. It’s simply titled: Maneki Neko – Japan’s Beckoning Cats.

I must admit that until today I knew nothing about maneki neko. While admiring the many beckoning cats, I read some informative signs.

I learned that a maneki neko with a raised right paw indicates a wave of good fortune to a home, and a raised left paw brings luck to a business. The higher the paw, the greater the good fortune!

I learned maneki neko sometime wear colorful bibs, which represent an expression of gratitude for a wish realized. Also, the color of the cat is meaningful. Black symbolizes safety, gold symbolizes money, white symbolizes happiness, red symbolizes protection.

I learned about Hatsutatsu-san, a popular variety of beckoning cat that wears human clothing! (You can see an example in an upcoming photo.)

I also learned about a few of the different kilns in Japan that produce maneki neko, and how each kiln has its own distinctive style.

When you view this exhibition, you’ll probably learn a lot, too! And you’ll be charmed by the beauty and unique personality of every beckoning cat.

Planning a trip to Balboa Park? This wonderful exhibition can be enjoyed at the Japanese Friendship Garden through November 29, 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!

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!

Cool sights along Third Avenue in Chula Vista!

Colorful art painted high on a building that is for lease on Chula Vista's Third Avenue.
Colorful art painted high on a building on Chula Vista’s Third Avenue.

Two years ago I walked along Third Avenue in downtown Chula Vista during the annual Lemon Festival. At the time I took a few photos of murals and public art that I happened to notice. To see those photographs, click here.

Last weekend I walked along Third Avenue again and discovered all sorts of cool sights that are either new or that I hadn’t seen previously. (Or, in the case of the street clock and big landmark sign, that I hadn’t thought to photograph.)

As you can see, downtown Chula Vista has a very friendly vibe. And the village appears to be getting even more inviting. I noticed that improvements along Third Avenue’s median are underway.

Forgive me if I don’t know who created much of the artwork. All of it is very cool, however!

Inspiring mural painted by Jorge Mendoza in Chula Vista. This is a message of strength and love.
Inspiring mural painted by Jorge Mendoza in Chula Vista. This is a message of strength and love.

Cool sculpture that I spotted in front of an office occupied by attorneys.
Cool sculpture that I spotted in front of an office occupied by attorneys.

Chula Vista mural on Davidson Street with the names of local businesses and residents. I believe this was also created by Jorge Mendoza.
Chula Vista mural on Davidson Street with the names of local businesses and residents. I believe this was also created by Jorge Mendoza.

This tasteful little mural is at the entrance to Groundswell Brewing Co.
This tasteful little mural is at the entrance to Groundswell Brewing Co.

Abstract paintings by Rich Walker in the window of Art on Third.
Abstract paintings by Rich Walker in the window of Art on Third.

Beneath a window at Art on Third. I see a red door and I want to paint it black.
Beneath a window at Art on Third. I see a red door and I want to paint it black.

A large colorful mural at the Third and F office and retail complex.
A large colorful mural at the Third and F office and retail complex.

A street clock near the intersection of Third Avenue and F Street in Chula Vista.
A street clock near the intersection of Third Avenue and F Street in Chula Vista.

The street clock was dedicated on April 28, 1984.
The street clock was dedicated on April 28, 1984.

The arching Third Avenue landmark sign welcomes visitors to Chula Vista's historic downtown.
The arching Third Avenue landmark sign welcomes visitors to Chula Vista’s historic downtown.

According to a plaque on its base, downtown Chula Vista's Third Avenue landmark sign debuted on September 5, 2003.
According to a plaque on its base, downtown Chula Vista’s Third Avenue landmark sign debuted on September 5, 2003.

Fun graphic in the window of Teriyaki Grill.
Fun graphic in the window of Teriyaki Grill.

Check out the unique, attractive architecture of the El Primero Boutique Hotel!
Check out the unique, attractive architecture of the El Primero Boutique Hotel!

Old photo on AT&T building shows a scene from Chula Vista's early history.
Old photo on AT&T building shows a scene from Chula Vista’s early history.

I spotted this graffiti wall a block east of Third Avenue at Alvarado Street.
I spotted this graffiti wall a block east of Third Avenue at Alvarado Street.

Cool sculpture near intersection of Third Avenue and H Street in Chula Vista.
Cool sculpture near intersection of Third Avenue and H Street in Chula Vista.

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 from past US Sand Sculpting Challenges!

The annual US Sand Sculpting Challenge was cancelled this year due the COVID-19 pandemic. The world-class event takes place each Labor Day weekend and draws huge crowds to San Diego’s Embarcadero.

Having gone to this mind-blowing international competition for the past six years, I’ve accumulated lots of cool photos! The world’s top sand masters can produce absolutely astonishing works of art!

To recall past wonders from this event, I’ve linked to blog posts containing hundreds of photographs. Before you check those out, however, in no particular order, here are some of the sand sculptures I’ve particularly enjoyed!

The following links provide six years of photographs from the US Sand Sculpting Challenge…

2014

Photos of world-class sand sculptors at work!

2015

Photos of amazing, incredible sand sculptures!

2016

The most amazing sand sculptures in the world!

2017

World’s top sand sculptors create fantastic art!

2018

Masterpieces by World Master sand sculptors!

2019

Amazing art at U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge!

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!