Photos of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle!

Come with me. We’re about to enter Queen Califia’s Magical Circle.

We will step from our day-to-day routine into a mysterious maze of fractured white and black, turns and mirrors. We will suddenly emerge into a strange spiritual realm. A dreamlike surreal somewhere beneath our ordinary experience. A secret cosmos.

We will move through a fertile landscape teeming with faces and essential forms and wildly dancing colors and true symbols. Alive with infinitely circling snakes and joyfully soaring birds. We will find ourselves in Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, where our eyes will perceive our own existence more clearly.

Where life is triumphant.

These are the hands of those who assembled the magic.

That is the hand of sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle, who envisioned this magical circle and breathed into it her life.

(Click the photos of signs and they will enlarge for easier reading.)

You will learn:

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is the only American sculpture garden and the last major international project created by the renowned French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle.

Inspired by California’s mythic, historic and cultural roots, the garden consists of nine large-scale sculptures, a circular “snake wall” and maze entry way. The symbols and forms are freely drawn from Native American, Pre-Columbian and Mexican art as well as the artist’s own fantastic imagery.

Queen Califia and the Eagle Throne measures 24 x 22 x 20 feet. It is built of polystyrene encased in urethane skin with applied fiberglass coating over a steel armature.

Working from original clay maquettes, the eight totems were made in similar fashion. They are: Cathead Totem, Birdhead Totem, Yelling Man Totem, Bullhead Totem, Untitled Totem (Bird on a Square), Kingfisher Totem, Step Totem and Snake Totem.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle uses a greater diversity of mosaic materials than seen in any of Niki de Saint Phalle’s other large-scale projects. For the first time she used polished and tumbled stones such as agates, quartzes and turquoise. The results are magical and ever changing.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is nestled in a natural landscape within Escondido’s Kit Carson Park.

Niki’s original inspiration for the garden came while she was reading Assembling California by geologist John McPhee. There he discusses the legend of Queen Califia, a beautiful and powerful black Amazon queen who ruled over the island of California, a paradise of gold and riches.

The information sign includes an article concerning the opening of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in 2003. “The garden promises to become an instantaneous cultural landmark for the San Diego region–a place where visitors can roam at will, play, touch, dream…”

…a shimmering, virtuoso display of mosaic art…

A short biography of Niki de Saint Phalle. She was born in France in 1930 and raised in New York. She first came to international prominence in 1961 as part of the influential “New Realists,” a group that also included Christo, Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely (whom she married in 1971). In 1994 she moved to La Jolla, where she lived until her death in 2002.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle was completed one year after her death.

Other works of Niki de Saint Phalle can be enjoyed around San Diego. (You can find photos of them by searching this blog.)

Life raises new life.

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!

The gigantic bronze leaves of Kit Carson Park.

Five enormous eucalyptus leaves seem to have fallen beside a walking path in Escondido’s lush, beautiful Kit Carson Park. You can find them near the adult softball fields, just above Tree Lake.

The huge leaves are cast in bronze. One is gently curved to form a bench. Two stand on their stems to form a graceful arch. One edgewise on the grass seems to be blowing in the wind. The end of one seems to have become pressed into the walking path by passing feet.

These five timeless leaves were created by artist Christine Oatman in 1991. Together they are titled Eucalyptus Leaf Court.

Late this morning I sat on the leaf bench and time stopped. I was very small. As if in a dream, the trees around me were gigantic.

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!

Beautiful complexity at La Jolla’s Athenaeum.

Some amazing art is currently on display at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla.

My favorite pieces in the Athenaeum’s 2018 San Diego Art Prize exhibition are by nationally renowned local sculptor Anne Mudge. Her stainless steel wire mobiles radiate a strangely organic quality that captivates the eye. As the pieces slowly rotate, casting mysterious shadows on the gallery walls, the complex, silvery structures dance through space and time.

I took some close photos, hoping to capture a fraction of the beautiful complexity.

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!

More cool art seen during a National City walk!

My walking adventure in South Bay on Saturday included a stretch through National City. I was excited to discover an abundance of art along 8th Street, between National City Boulevard and D Avenue.

I paused for a moment to admire public art on the pedestrian bridge that connects the Integrity Charter School building to the Bayview Tower Condominiums. As I continued my walk, I spied colorful street art on several electrical boxes, super vibrant murals on one fantastic building, and some unusual symbol-like sculptures jutting from the sidewalk.

Very cool!

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!

Art and history around the Chula Vista Library.

Photo from 4th Avenue beside the Chula Vista Public Library Civic Center Branch.
Photo from 4th Avenue beside the Chula Vista Public Library Civic Center Branch.

Yesterday I walked around the Chula Vista Library’s big Civic Center Branch. I took a look at a beautiful sculpture outside, saw an El Camino Real bell and bronze bust in nearby Friendship Park, then entered the building’s front entrance to check out more art and local history. I particularly enjoyed looking about the library’s unique Chula Vista Heritage Museum.

Come along with me and please read these photo captions…

Pleasant Tree, 2003, by artist Jorge Blanco. An abstract sculpture stands near the Chula Vista Library.
Pleasant Tree, 2003, by artist Jorge Blanco. An abstract sculpture stands near the Chula Vista Library.
Art should always be available to us, to surround us and uplift us.
Art should always be available to us, to surround us and uplift us.
Pleasant Tree from another angle, with eucalyptus and palm trees behind.
Pleasant Tree from another angle, with eucalyptus and palm trees behind.
North of the library, at the west edge of Friendship Park stands an El Camino Real bell, donated by the City of Chula Vista, County of San Diego, and California Federation of Women's Clubs.
North of the library, at the west edge of Friendship Park stands an El Camino Real bell, donated by the City of Chula Vista, County of San Diego, and California Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Green grass and shady trees fill the Will T. Hyde Friendship Park, north of the Chula Vista Library.
Green grass and shady trees fill the Will T. Hyde Friendship Park, north of the Chula Vista Library.
A bronze bust near the center of Chula Vista Friendship Park.
A bronze bust near the center of Chula Vista Friendship Park.
The bronze likeness of Will T. Hyde, who helped create Friendship Park. By sculptors T.J. Dixon and James Nelson.
The bronze likeness of Will T. Hyde, who helped create Friendship Park. By sculptors T.J. Dixon and James Nelson.
Plaque shows that Will T. Hyde was Mayor of Chula Vista from 1977 to 1981.
Plaque shows that Will T. Hyde was Mayor of Chula Vista from 1977 to 1981.
Will T. Hyde seems to gaze across the beautiful park.
Will T. Hyde seems to gaze across the beautiful park.
The front of the Chula Vista Public Library, seen from the parking lot entrance.
The front of the Chula Vista Public Library, seen from the parking lot entrance.
A large wall inside the front entrance of the Chula Vista Library contains many historical photos of the community.
A large wall inside the front entrance of the Chula Vista Library contains many historical photos of the community.
A photo mosaic on the library's entrance wall shows Chula Vista Heritage.
A photo mosaic on the library’s entrance wall shows Chula Vista Heritage.
In one corner of the quiet library the public can visit the Chula Vista Heritage Museum.
In one corner of the quiet library the public can freely visit the Chula Vista Heritage Museum.
A photographic timeline wall around the perimeter of the museum's space shows notable events from Chula Vista history.
A photographic timeline wall around the perimeter of the museum’s space shows notable events from Chula Vista history.
Chula Vista history in the 2000s includes Park View Little League becoming World Champions in 2009.
Chula Vista history in the 2000s includes Park View Little League becoming World Champions in 2009.
Historical artifacts fill display cases. This plastic replica was cast from a Chula Vista walrus - Valenictus chulavistensis. The fossil was found in 1989 at Otay Ranch Village.
Historical artifacts fill display cases. This plastic replica was cast from a Chula Vista walrus – Valenictus chulavistensis. The fossil was found in 1989 at Otay Ranch Village.
The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge includes 1068 acres of diked salt evaporation ponds. Migratory birds are carefully protected.
The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge includes 1068 acres of diked salt evaporation ponds. Migratory birds are carefully protected.
Historical 1919 letter from Hercules Powder Company, which produced potash and acetone from harvested ocean kelp at Gunpowder Point. They supplied the British with munitions during World War I.
Historical 1919 letter from Hercules Powder Company, which produced potash and acetone from harvested ocean kelp at Gunpowder Point. They helped to supply the British with munitions during World War I.
Photos of an osprey and feeding white pelicans in the museum's current exhibition, Natural History and the Indigenous People of the South Bay.
Photos of an osprey and feeding white pelicans in the museum’s current exhibition: Natural History and the Indigenous People of the South Bay.
Large sculpted medallion in a wall near the entrance to the Chula Vista Public Library. Scenes depicted include Rohr Aircraft Company, the San Diego Country Club, home of golf legend Billy Casper.
Large sculpted medallion in a wall near the entrance to the Chula Vista Public Library. Scenes depicted include the original Rohr Aircraft Company, and the San Diego Country Club, home of golf legend Billy Casper.

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

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A fun walk along Shelter Island Drive.

Fun shark street art on a utility box at the corner of Shelter Island Drive and Rosecrans Street.
Shark street art on a utility box at the corner of Shelter Island Drive and Rosecrans Street.

This morning I headed to Point Loma to visit three sites participating in the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO. All three are located in a neighborhood at the foot of Shelter Island–an area once populated by many Portuguese fishermen. I think you might enjoy a look at Little Portugal’s history and some of its landmarks.

Before I sort through all those photographs, however, please enjoy others photos I took during a fun walk down Shelter Island Drive, from Rosecrans Streets to the recently improved Shelter Island boat ramp.

(To see additional street art I photographed along Shelter Island Drive a couple years ago, click here!)

The Union Bank on the same corner has a colorful mural depicting fishermen near its entrance.
The Union Bank on the corner of Shelter Island Drive and Rosecrans Street has a colorful mural near its entrance. Tuna fishermen with poles out on the Pacific Ocean.
Plaque describes the artwork. Sean Wells - Art Teacher. Mural completed Spring 2010 depicting historic scenes of the Point Loma region.
Plaque describes the above artwork. Sean Wells – Art Teacher. Mural completed Spring 2010 depicting historic scenes of the Point Loma region.
As I began walking along Shelter Island Drive, a gigantic yacht passed down the street!
As I began walking along Shelter Island Drive, a gigantic yacht passed down the street!
A few benches overlook a corner of the Shelter Island Yacht Basin. It's a nice place to sit and relax.
A few benches overlook a corner of the Shelter Island Yacht Basin. It’s a nice place to sit in the sun and relax.
I spotted this cool stained glass panel in a window of The Marlin Club.
I spotted this cool stained glass panel in a window of The Marlin Club.
I remember seeing some huge fish suspended here years ago, before I began taking photos for this blog.
I remember seeing several huge fish suspended here years ago, before I began taking photos for this blog.
Someone bikes past a huge boat lift at the Shelter Island Boatyard.
Someone bikes past a huge boat lift at the Shelter Island Boatyard.
Those yachts being repaired seem to be up in the sky!
Those yachts being repaired seem to be up in the sky!
People bicycle near the Ocean Song sculpture in front of Humphreys Half Moon Inn.
People bicycle near the Ocean Song sculpture in front of Humphreys Half Moon Inn. This cool public art was created by Alber De Matteis.
As I approach San Diego Bay, I see the Pacific Portal sculpture by local artist James T. Hubbell.
As I approach San Diego Bay, I see the Pacific Portal sculpture by local artist James T. Hubbell.
I've arrived at the recently improved and enlarged Shelter Island Launch Ramp. Many recreational watercraft enter San Diego Bay here.
I’ve arrived at the recently improved and enlarged Shelter Island Launch Ramp. Many recreational watercraft enter San Diego Bay here.
Looks like these guys backing their boat into the water intend to spend the day fishing.
Looks like these guys backing their boat into the water intend to spend the day fishing.
Someone hangs out nearby, sitting among beached dinghies.
Someone hangs out nearby, sitting among beached dinghies.
Looking across the boat launch basin, the San Diego downtown skyline in the distance.
Looking across the boat launch basin, the San Diego downtown skyline in the distance.
I see some sailboats racing in the distance, between here and Harbor Island.
I see some sailboats racing in the distance, between here and Harbor Island.
Here comes an amphibious SEAL tour boat. These cool boats head out toward the entrance to the San Diego Bay channel and turn about near the submarines at Naval Base Point Loma.
Here comes an amphibious SEAL tour boat. Tourists float out toward the entrance of San Diego Bay, then turn around near the submarines at Naval Base Point Loma.
These cool vessels drive right out of the water and up onto the boat ramp!
These cool vessels drive right out of the water and up onto the boat ramp!
After walking a bit, I'm nearer those small sailboats that were racing in the distance.
After walking a bit, I’m nearer those small sailboats that were racing in the distance.
Some people by the rocky shore watch even more distant sailboats with binoculars.
Some people by the rocky shore watch even more distant sailboats with binoculars.
My camera zooms and just manages to capture a nice image.
My small camera zooms and just manages to capture a nice image.
Look! Here comes San Salvador, the Maritime Museum of San Diego's amazing Spanish galleon replica!
Look! Here comes San Salvador, the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s amazing Spanish galleon replica!
Now that is one very cool sight!
Now that is one very cool sight!

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!

Fun mosaic sculptures at IB’s Peoples Park!

Peoples Park in Imperial Beach is now over two years old.

In 2016, residents of IB volunteered their skills, labor and love, and helped 4 Walls International create this fun, relaxed park on Seacoast Drive.

There are benches, planters and curving pathways, but the highlight of the park is a group of colorful, organic sculptures. Some appear to me like sea snails; others, as you can see, are turtles!

Decorating the surface of these mosaic sculptures are bits of broken tile and other small treasures, like beads and seashells.

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!