A Perfect Day (and other stories) in Oceanside!

What does a Perfect Day look like in Oceanside? To find out, you should visit the Oceanside Museum of Art!

In one museum gallery, the exhibited art of James E. Watts not only includes the above Perfect Day Blocks, but numerous other visual stories!

Here’s how the story of one Perfect Day begins…

…and how that Perfect Day ends.

Here’s the story of Frankenstein and his monster creation…

…and the story of Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and two small horses…

…and the story of a female Prometheus…

…and the story of Quasimodo, Esmeralda and a goat.

Do these stories appear familiar? Perhaps you’ve already seen them “written” in James Watts’ little-known downtown San Diego studio: here and here and here.

If that’s the case, you might also recognize a few of these storytelling pieces in the Oceanside Museum of Art’s gift shop…

Art enthusiasts, take note! James Watts is a creative genius and an absolute, 100% original. He’s also a cool guy!

You need to visit the Oceanside Museum of Art to jump into his rich stories firsthand. Do so by July 17, 2022, when JAMES E. WATTS: STORYTELLER turns its last page.

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!

Open House tour of San Diego’s Waterfront Park.

Last Sunday I enjoyed a fascinating tour of Waterfront Park in San Diego. The special public tour was part of the 2022 San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Open House event.

Our small group was guided by Glen and Jeff of Schmidt Design Group, landscape architects who worked on the Waterfront Park project almost ten years ago. The park opened to the public in 2014. (I was there for the big grand opening! You can see many photographs taken during that historic day by clicking here!)

As we walked around the beautiful park, where two large parking lots originally existed, we learned so many facts I failed to jot many down!

I did note that the two stretches of fountains on either side of the County Administration Building together are 830 feet long. The fountain design was tricky, because the water in the basin where children jump and play could be only one inch deep, due to safety concerns. The fountains utilize an 80,000 gallon water tank, and the 31 jets spray water 12 to 14 feet high.

The fountains were to be set in marble, but to save tens of millions of dollars, specially applied concrete made to look like marble was utilized instead.

The parking garage under the south end of Waterfront Park is below the water table (San Diego Bay is a block to the west), and consequently various innovative measures were taken to keep water from seeping in. I was surprised that, like the nearby County Administration Building, piles were driven 100 feet deep into bedrock to support and stabilize the structure!

The “hill” with a slide in the wonderful, very popular playground was built up with high density foams blocks. (The same hill referred to as Tony Gwynn’s opposing “pitching mound” when the park’s sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle debuted back in 2015. See those fun photos here!)

One bit of information really surprised me. There had initially been plans to install Dr. Seuss sculptures around the playground! The Grinch and his dog Max were to stand atop the hill. The Cat in the Hat would welcome kids near the fountain area. Our group didn’t hear why that plan fell through.

We did learn how, during Waterfront Park’s construction, large old palm trees and the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial were moved. We saw the bits of shining, sparkling mica that were placed in the concrete around the memorial.

We learned how the large garden at the north end of the park was designed to be a beautiful, contemplative area. And, indeed, it is.

The garden is divided into three sections. The north “grass” or “meadow” garden with 15 varieties of grass; the middle Mediterranean garden with sages, rosemary, lavender and Torrey pines; and the south “tropical” or “diversity” garden, with plumeria, bird of paradise and many other lush plants.

Irrigation for the park requires 8 million gallons per year! But this free, very popular “water park” serves hundreds of thousands of San Diego residents every year, many arriving by trolley from less affluent neighborhoods.

Lastly, we learned how the County of San Diego will soon be removing the garden, and replacing it with a dog park, basketball and pickleball courts, and other recreational amenities. I suppose the change is both sad and exciting. As they say, there are two sides to every coin.

I’ll be watching the progress of that project and will probably be taking photos in the future!

This is where the proposed Cat in the Hat sculpture would have stood!
Donal Hord’s iconic Guardian of Water sculpture stands in the background. Learn a little more about it here.
The present location of the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial.
Part of the Waterfront Park garden. The large garden will be removed to make way for sports facilities.

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!

Beautiful renovation at MCASD La Jolla!

The major renovation and expansion of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla is approaching completion! And it’s looking amazing!

During my long walk yesterday, I photographed the front of the museum and its new outdoor Art Park, which will be open to the public once the construction fence comes down.

To read more about MCASD La Jolla’s major reconstruction project and what visitors can expect when the museum finally reopens this spring, click here.

Meanwhile, enjoy these photos!

The clean, elegant exterior, to me, has been very tastefully handled. Ellen Browning Scripps, newspaper chain founder and philanthropist, commissioned renowned modernist architect Irving Gill to design her La Jolla home. Today it is home of the museum. With some significant changes!

Almost four years ago, I took the following photograph of a rendering that visualized the finished museum. You can revisit that old blog post, which includes images of pieces in the museum’s collection, here!

The upcoming photographs were taken while walking along Prospect Street from the south end of the greatly expanded museum to its new outdoor Art Park.

The limestone egg-like sculpture near the museum’s sleek new entrance is part of Three Cairns. This “West Coast” Cairn is by artist Andy Goldsworthy. The other cairns are in Iowa and New York.

In the Art Park, the motorized black sculpture with wrapping still on its feet is titled Hammering Man at 3,110,527, by artist Jonathan Borofsky.

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!

Sculptures beautify Paradise Creek Gathering Place.

On the south side of National City’s Kimball Park, near 16th Street, a footbridge crosses Paradise Creek. Look up near the bridge and you’ll spy beautiful small sculptures mounted atop high posts.

These shining metal sculptures at the Paradise Creek Gathering Place were created by San Diego artist Vicki Leon, in collaboration with high school students at A Reason To Survive (ARTS), an organization in National City that uplifts local youth using the power of creativity.

The Paradise Creek Gathering Place sculptures together are titled Migratory Flight. They resemble silvery birds taking wing. Solar-powered lights illuminate bits of colored glass in clear tubes beneath each sculpture.

The environmental sculptures, symbolizing wildlife that depends on Paradise Creek, were installed in 2018. Many in the community came out to help build and beautify the Paradise Creek Gathering Place, including the Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center’s Kitchenistas and students from San Diego City College and San Diego State University. You can read more about the project here and here.

Lead artist Vicki Leon has also helped to beautify her own City Heights Azalea Park neighborhood. You can see photos of more amazing public artwork that I took during a special visit to Azalea Park here and here and 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!

Bright, colorful butterflies fill National City parks!

Giant butterflies take flight in the blue sky above three National City parks!

Should you visit Butterfly Park, Kimball Park or Las Palmas Park, you’re certain to spot many large butterfly wings! The colorful sculptures were created in 2015 by families throughout the National City community.

Every butterfly is composed of two pieces of cut aluminum, and the separate sides of each butterfly are uniquely decorated with different colors of reflective vinyl tape. I’ve been told that car headlights shining on the butterflies at night reveal bright bursts of life!

The project, led by local artist Roberto Salas, is called Butterfly Path. Its creation was made possible through a commission from the San Diego Museum of Art’s “Open Spaces” program, supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.

The first time I spotted some of these butterflies–last year at Kimball Park–I didn’t know a thing about them. Comments made by readers provided great information. Revisit that old blog post here.

Since then I’ve seen more of the beautiful sculptures, and have learned more about them, particularly during an amazing tour of Butterfly Park, which you can read about by clicking here.

These artistic butterflies symbolize an ongoing metamorphosis in National City. The transformation is to an even more proud, healthy and environmentally friendly community that shines with greater and greater beauty.

Here are just some of the butterflies you might encounter, in no particular order…

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!

Glass artists exhibition in Spanish Village!

Many pieces of amazing glass art can be enjoyed this weekend in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village Art Center. The public is invited to view the Art Glass Association of Southern California’s 40th Annual Members’ Exhibition in Gallery 21. Unfortunately it ends much too soon on Monday.

I’ve always had a love for lustrous, luminous glass art. Pieces often appear like liquified light, caught for an instant in time. Like carefully hand-crafted jewels, their appearance changes depending on one’s angle of view. One extraordinary piece, as you’ll see, cleverly uses prism refraction to produce many different bright colors.

I noticed that most of the exhibited pieces are for sale. If I had a million dollars, I’d grab them all.

To me every one is magic.

Sunburst, Diana Griffin.
Abundance, Kathleen Mitchell.
Bellora, Michelle Bohannan Sherer.
Gen Z Redhead, Marti Blair.
Drop Vessel, Krista Heron.
Baby Blue Monk, Tom Marosz.

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!

Five public sculptures debut in Del Mar!

Five eye-catching works of public art recently debuted in Del Mar! They are part of a City of Del Mar Temporary Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit.

These new pieces join a couple of other interesting sculptures along Camino Del Mar that I photographed previously here and here.

During a leisurely “art walk” through Del Mar Village yesterday I captured the following images…

Moonshadow, by artists Jeffery Laudenslager and Deanne Sabeck. Stainless steel, titanium and dichroic glass mosaic. At Camino Del Mar and 9th Street.
Terpsichore, by artist David Beck Brown. Monochrome steel, paint. At Camino Del Mar and 12th Street.
Bird’s Eye View of Torrey Pines Beach, by artists Robert Petrello and Drew Graham. Fused glass, copper and raw metal with rubbed bronze finish. At Camino Del Mar and 14th Street.
Hanging Out #3, by artist Maidy Morhous. Bronze on stainless steel pedestal. At 15th Street and Stratford Court.
Pasaje a lo Infinito, by artist Hugo Heredia. Fused glass, fabricated stainless steel and fabricated steel. Just west of Camino Del Mar on 15th Street.

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!

Three painted Breeders’ Cup horses in Del Mar!

The 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships was held yesterday and today at the Del Mar Racetrack. So I decided to enjoy a walk through Del Mar Village on this beautiful, sunny Saturday!

What did I see?

I spotted three colorfully painted horse sculptures that were created in 2017 when the Breeders’ Cup was last held in Del Mar! That past public art project was called Art of the Horse.

The three horses now on display stand near the intersection of Camino Del Mar and 15th Street.

Two of the three life-size horses I hadn’t seen previously. To view past photographs of several more painted horses, you can click here and here and here!

(Thank you to two friendly members of the Rotary Club of Del Mar for their kindness in helping me solve a mystery. They were stationed by the sidewalk at Del Mar Plaza, offering information to out-of-towners visiting Del Mar during the Breeders’ Cup.)

Sea Horse. Created by artist Wyland.
Hang On To Your Hats! Created by artist Daphne Gaylord.
Triton’s Steed. Created by artist Chase Martin.

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!

Presidio Hill sculptures moved to History Center.

Two remarkable and historically important sculptures were moved recently from Presidio Hill to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

When I visited the History Center today I was surprised to see the two large Arthur Putnam works, because I’d observed them several times in the past during walks through Presidio Park.

An explanation on the gallery wall explains that The Indian (1904) and The Padre (1908) were moved to protect them from the outdoor elements and vandalism. I learned they will be gallery centerpieces as this section of the San Diego History Center receives additional material. Critical context will be provided for these bronze statues.

If you’d like to see photos of the two sculptures when they stood on Presidio Hill, check out past blog posts here and here.

The first link will take you on a walk from Old Town up to the Serra Museum–a walk I made years ago when Cool San Diego Sights was just getting started.

The second link concerns an Arthur Putnam exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art. You’ll learn that he was internationally renowned, particularly for his sculptures depicting animals. And he also had an interesting San Diego connection!

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!

Rabbit sculptures find a home in Civita Park.

Walk through beautiful Civita Park in Mission Valley and you’re likely to cross paths with numerous rabbits. Rabbit sculptures, that is!

The bronze bunnies, which are pleasing to children (and the young at heart), can be encountered in surprising places around the spacious public park, which opened in 2017.

The lifelike rabbits were created by Encinitas sculptors T.J. Dixon and James Nelson. Their fantastic work can be viewed all over San Diego. (Click here to see many more of their creations!)

The above photo of a rabbit standing guard by small baby bunnies is located right next to the Civita Park welcome sign. As you can see in the next two photographs, a bronze book containing a story about two rabbits finding their home is perched on another rock nearby.

Finding Home… Once upon a time there were two little bunnies named Franklin and Alta. They were looking for the magic stone that had once covered their little doorway for so long…

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!