San Diego’s drive-through art gallery expands!

The right half of one wall at University Avenue and Laverne Place has been painted by artist Matthew Perdoni.
The right half of one wall at University Avenue and Laverne Place has been painted by artist Matthew Perdoni.

On Sunday I enjoyed another walk through San Diego’s expanding “drive-through” art gallery in City Heights. And I spotted more murals!

The first time I checked out the murals of #theavenuemuralproject was four months ago. I was given a tour by members of Love City Heights, and learned about their ambitious plan to create an outdoor, drive-through art gallery along University Avenue from I-805 to I-15. To see those first murals and learn much more, you can read my original blog post here.

These murals provide proof that good people can make a huge positive difference in their community. Many wonderful artists, students and neighbors are coming together to make this amazing vision a reality!

The left half of the wall was painted by San Diego muralist Gloria Muriel.
The left half of the wall was painted by San Diego muralist Gloria Muriel.
Students from an Experimental Processes in Art class at SDSU painted a mural on the wall of 7-Eleven. The design was inspired by the nonprofit United Women of East Africa Support Team.
Students from an Experimental Processes in Art class at SDSU painted a mural on the wall of 7-Eleven. The design was inspired by the nonprofit United Women of East Africa Support Team.
Left half of the colorful mural depicts female members of the East African community in San Diego.
Left half of the colorful mural. which depicts female members of the East African community in San Diego.
The right half of the mural. Joyful art created by students at San Diego State University adds life to City Heights.
The right half of the mural. Joyful art created by students at San Diego State University adds life to City Heights.
Fun artwork on the wall of Fruteria Disfrutalas at University Avenue and Cherokee Street.
Fun artwork on the wall of Fruteria Disfrutalas at University Avenue and Cherokee Street.
More fun artwork on another side of Fruteria Disfrutalas.
More fun artwork on another side of Fruteria Disfrutalas.
All these happy images were created by Isaias Crow and his 14 year old apprentice Andrew, who designed the fun artwork.
All these happy images were created by Isaias Crow and his 14 year old apprentice Andrew, who designed the fun artwork.
Silly, creative public art produces smiles in City Heights!
Silly, creative public art produces smiles in City Heights!
A beautiful new graphic on the wall of Sunset Kava in City Heights.
A beautiful graphic on the wall of Sunset Kava in City Heights, by artist Zuzana Vass.
On the same Sunset Kava wall a very cool abstract design was painted by artist Mary Jhun.
On the same Sunset Kava wall a very cool abstract design was recently painted by artist Mary Jhun.

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An architectural landmark in University Heights.

Last weekend I enjoyed an easy walk through University Heights. My small adventure included a close look at an architectural landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Teacher Training School Building–San Diego State Normal School. Today the monumental old building, located inside the San Diego Unified School District’s Education Center Complex, is officially designated Teachers Training Annex 1.

The 1910 building, built by engineer Nathan Ellery and architect George Sellon, is in the Italian Renaissance Revival Style. According to the Save Our Heritage Organisation website: “It is the only structure remaining from the 1897 San Diego State Normal School’s University Heights campus, the forerunner to present day San Diego State University. Originally functioning as a living laboratory for student teachers, it was transferred to the City of San Diego Schools in 1931 and served as the original Alice Birney Elementary School until 1951.”

Many in the community hope to see the historic building renovated and transformed into a new University Heights library, replacing the small branch library on Park Boulevard a couple blocks to the south.

Here are some exterior photos…

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Cleverly designed furniture is surprising, playful art!

Artwork now on display in the SDSU Downtown Gallery includes extraordinary furniture!
Artwork now on display in the SDSU Downtown Gallery includes extraordinary furniture!

Some fantastic, highly innovative art is now on display at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Tom Loeser: Please Please Please is the title of the surprising exhibition.

Walk through the door of the SDSU Downtown Gallery and you might not be sure whether you’ve entered a bizarre furniture and hardware store or a dream-place where art conforms to your body. Those abstract paintings on the wall actually unfold into chairs! Those shovel handles in a row form the back of a beautifully crafted wooden bench! That colorful “luggage” tossed in a heap in one corner seems more appropriate for a comfortable living room than a cargo hold!

According to a sign in the gallery, Tom Loeser imagines new ways that the body, furniture and space can interact. He wonders: if the furniture we sit on were totally different, how might our lives be different too?

I can tell you resting on these pieces (and you’re allowed to actually sit on a few of his tumblers) would put me in a very creative and happy state of mind.

As I sat I might gaze at Tom Loeser’s artwork on the gallery’s walls, which includes fantastic blue cyanotypes and strangely elemental pyrography. Transformed by the artist’s genius, ordinary objects seem to radiate a weird spiritual essence. The images, like his furniture, seem to present a vision of unexpected potentialities in our practical, solidly physical world.

If you love really clever art, check out the SDSU Downtown Gallery before this exhibition ends on October 28, 2018!

The art exhibition Tom Loeser: Please Please Please is now showing in downtown San Diego.
The art exhibition Tom Loeser: Please Please Please is now showing in downtown San Diego.
Two works of art by Tom Loeser. Not a Dozen Even, 2014, cyanotype. Double Dig, 2016, white oak and shovel handles.
Two works of art by Tom Loeser. Not a Dozen Even, 2014, cyanotype. Double Dig, 2016, white oak and shovel handles.
S/M/L, 2014, cyanotype by artist Tom Loeser.
S/M/L, 2014, cyanotype by artist Tom Loeser.
A room full of practical objects made dreamlike.
A room full of practical objects made dreamlike.
Dig for Three, 2015, walnut and shovel handles by artist Tom Loeser.
Dig for Three, 2015, walnut and shovel handles by artist Tom Loeser.
LA/Chicago/New York, 2016, plywood, wood, felt, paint by artist Tom Loeser.
LA/Chicago/New York, 2016, plywood, wood, felt, paint by artist Tom Loeser.
A colorful tumbler that can be sat upon comfortably any which way.
A colorful tumbler that can be sat upon comfortably any which way.
Folding Chair, 1987, painted plywood, maple, stainless steel by artist Tom Loeser.
Folding Chair, 1987, painted plywood, maple, stainless steel by artist Tom Loeser.
Scythe by Scythe, 2016, maple, hickory, scythe handles by artist Tom Loeser.
Scythe by Scythe, 2016, maple, hickory, scythe handles by artist Tom Loeser.

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!

Cool poster designs at SDSU Downtown Gallery!

Some of the coolest posters you’re likely to ever see are now on display at the SDSU Downtown Gallery! Take a look at a few examples!

The exhibition is titled Give-and-Take: Poster Design by Nancy Skolos and Thomas Wedell. Thirty-four awesome posters by the husband and wife team leap out from the walls and make the viewer feel they’ve entered dazzling, conceptually complex three-dimensional puzzles.

In their posters the two artists have created a unique fusion of analog and digital technology. Skolos is a graphic designer and Wedell is a photographer. Many of the posters were brainstormed and carefully worked out by collaging bits of colored paper and images cut from magazines. The posters in the gallery were produced between 1980 (many years before the advent of high quality digital design) and 2017.

Skolos-Wedell posters have been collected by the likes of the Smithsonian Design Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.

This very special exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery runs through July 22, 2018. Admission is free!

Give-and-Take: Poster Design by Nancy Skolds and Thomas Wedell.
Give-and-Take: Poster Design by Nancy Skolds and Thomas Wedell.
The SDSU Downtown Gallery now has a very cool exhibition concerning poster design.
The SDSU Downtown Gallery now has a very cool exhibition concerning poster design.

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Art captures memories of San Quentin inmates.

Spaces from Yesterday is a collaborative exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery featuring the art projects of three San Quentin inmates.
Spaces from Yesterday is a collaborative exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery featuring the art projects of three San Quentin inmates. (Click image to enlarge for easier reading.)

There’s a fascinating exhibition right now at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. It’s titled Spaces from Yesterday and features the artwork of three San Quentin inmates.

The artwork was created in collaboration with San Quentin State Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho, who also has a few related pieces in the exhibition. But the work that I found most interesting came directly from the hands of the inmates.

All three of the artists summon happy memories from their childhood. These images are warm, but also hard-edged and unpeopled. One work, The Hallway by Dennis Crookes, almost looks like a long, harsh, narrow prison hallway that finally leads to a home’s light-filled kitchen.

I could find no explanation why these three were incarcerated in the San Quentin correctional complex, which contains California’s only death row for male inmates. That would seem to be an essential part of the story, and might explain certain qualities of the art. But the anecdotes that are written do reveal a common yearning for a past life that is fondly remembered.

The following photos show a description of each piece, followed by the actual artwork.

Spaces from Yesterday will be on display through January 28, 2018. Those interested in art, creativity, and often hidden aspects of human life should check it out. Admission to the SDSU Downtown Gallery is free.

Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho and Dennis Crookes began planning The Hallway collaboration while Crookes was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.
Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho and Dennis Crookes began planning The Hallway collaboration while Crookes was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.
The Hallway, Dennis Crookes, acrylic on canvas, 2016.
The Hallway, Dennis Crookes, acrylic on canvas, 2016.
The Garage, a collaboration with inmate Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., contains warm memories from a playful childhood.
The Garage, a collaboration with inmate Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., contains warm memories from a playful childhood.
The Garage, Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., mixed media on cardboard, 2016.
The Garage, Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., mixed media on cardboard, 2016.
Chanthon Bun painted memories from a childhood that included a play fort in an abandoned lot, comic books, baseball cards and a fish pond he created with his siblings and young relatives.
Chanthon Bun painted memories from a childhood that included a play fort in an abandoned lot, comic books, baseball cards and a fish pond he created with his siblings and young relatives.
The Last Summer, Chanthon Bun, acrylic on canvas, 2017.
The Last Summer, Chanthon Bun, acrylic on canvas, 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!

To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua in Balboa Park!

Legendary musician Oscar Amezcua performs on stage with his sons during a Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park.
Legendary musician Oscar Amezcua performs on stage with his sons during a Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park.

What a treat! This evening I got to listen to legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua perform in a special Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park!

Along with stirring performances by the City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble, Jarabe Mexicano and the really outstanding SDSU Jazz Ensemble, Oscar Amezcua wowed the crowd with his passionate voice and irrepressible personality! Two standing ovations were well-earned!

The 87-year-old musical legend has performed for American presidents, dignitaries and countless adoring fans. It’s no mystery why he is loved by so many. Life sparkles in his eyes. His timeless voice comes directly from the heart.

A free concert in Balboa Park at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Cinco de Mayo featured beloved, world-famous Mariachi Leader Don Oscar Amezcua.
A free concert in Balboa Park at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Cinco de Mayo featured beloved, world-famous Mariachi Leader Don Oscar Amezcua.
Donation box for the Kiwanis Club of San Diego, who along with the SDSU School of Music and Dance presented the special Cinco de Mayo Concert in the Park. Kiwanis has provided many scholarships for SDSU students.
Donation box for the Kiwanis Club of San Diego, who along with the SDSU School of Music and Dance presented the special Cinco de Mayo Concert in the Park. Over the years Kiwanis has provided many generous scholarships for SDSU students.
Event emcee Carlos Amezcua, son of Oscar Amezcua, and his KUSI Good Morning San Diego co-host Lisa Remillard get the program started with a few words.
Event emcee Carlos Amezcua, son of Oscar Amezcua, and his KUSI Good Morning San Diego co-host Lisa Remillard get the program started with a few words.
Kevin Lomes sings Granada, with a powerful voice that deeply moved the audience.
Kevin Lomes sings Granada with a powerful voice that deeply moved the audience.
Art Stillwell of the San Diego Kiwanis Club remembers benefactor Bill Gibbs by ringing a Tibetan singing bowl.
Art Stillwell of the San Diego Kiwanis Club remembers benefactor Bill Gibbs by ringing a Tibetan singing bowl.
The City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble plays for the large crowd.
The City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble plays for the large crowd.
Oscar Amezcua comes onto the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion, introduced by his popular journalist son Carlos.
Oscar Amezcua comes onto the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion, introduced by his popular journalist son Carlos.
Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua was born in Jalisco, Mexico. He immigrated to San Diego in 1945 and proceeded to make musical history.
Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua was born in Jalisco, Mexico. He immigrated to San Diego in 1945 and proceeded to make music history.
The ageless Oscar Amezcua sings. The mariachi music full of vigor and joy.
The ageless Oscar Amezcua sings. Mariachi music is full of vigor, passion and joy.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer presents a plaque. May 5, 2017 is officially Oscar Amezcua Day.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer presents a plaque. May 5, 2017 is officially Oscar Amezcua Day.
Oscar, his three sons and daughter perform together while his wife watched from the audience. I saw some tears. A moment in history.
Oscar, his three sons and daughter on stage together. I saw some tears. A moment in history.
People can't help dancing.
People can’t help dancing.
Love of life. Pure and simple.
Love of life. Pure and simple.

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Art and history at the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

People walk along Broadway near the entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
People walk along Broadway near the entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

One of the sites that I visited this weekend during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017 was the SDSU Downtown Gallery. I’d never stepped into the small art gallery before. Rotating exhibits feature the work of faculty and students at SDSU.

The building in which the gallery is housed, located at the corner of Kettner Boulevard and Broadway, served as the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway. The historic railway, which served a large area of early San Diego, was established by John D. Spreckels.

According to a short tour and handout I was given, a circa 1900 building at this location served as an earlier San Diego Electric Railway power house, railcar barn and paint shop. Some enormous doors still exist in the building today where train cars would enter and exit. I also learned the extravagant 1897 Los Banos bathhouse stood at the building’s northwest corner–but there remains no trace of that historic old structure.

In 1921, San Diego Consolidated Gas and Electric Company purchased Station B, and two additions to the building were subsequently made. The additions were designed by famed architect William Templeton Johnson.

Today the original Station B power plant contains powerful works of art, and forms a section of the base of the skyscraping Electra Building, a modern residential development built in 2008.

Please enjoy some photos of the gallery and the historic building.

If you love art and find yourself downtown while the gallery is open, swing on by!

I took this photo at another time. Now part of the high-rise Electra Building, this used to be the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway.
Now part of the high-rise Electra Building, this originally was the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway.
Historical ornamentation above the front entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
Historical ornamentation above the front entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
Walk through these beads to enjoy a small but dynamic art gallery in downtown San Diego.
Walk through these beads to enjoy a small but dynamic art gallery in downtown San Diego.
Works on the gallery walls were produced by faculty and students at San Diego State University. Exhibits change every few months.
Works on the gallery walls were produced by faculty and students at San Diego State University. Exhibits change every few months.
Description of current gallery exhibit by faculty and students of San Diego State University. Every Which Way investigates artistic experience and human movement.
Description of current gallery exhibit by faculty and students of San Diego State University. Every Which Way investigates artistic experience and human movement.
Visitor to the gallery checks out thought-provoking artwork.
Visitor to the gallery checks out thought-provoking artwork.
Fear/Less, 2016, by Troy Guard.
Fear/Less, 2016, by Troy Guard.
Works of human imagination along one wall.
Works of human imagination along one wall.
The serigraphs on this wall were made by students in the SDSU Graphic Design program. Imagery depicts ocean and desert ecosystems as migratory environments.
The serigraphs on this wall were made by students in the SDSU Graphic Design program. Imagery depicts ocean and desert ecosystems as migratory environments.
More eye-catching works of art.
More eye-catching works of art.
Some of the pieces are quite unusual and creative.
Some of the pieces are quite unusual and creative.
A short talk begins in the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Just one fascinating tour during the San Diego Architectural Foundation's OPEN HOUSE 2017.
A short tour begins in the SDSU Downtown Gallery–Just one fascinating tour during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017.
We are shown various photos, including Station B behind Santa Fe Depot in the 1960s. The smokestacks were removed in the 1980s.
We are shown various photos, including Station B behind Santa Fe Depot in the 1960s. The smokestacks were removed in the 1980s.
Old photo of Los Banos, a bathhouse which was located just south of Santa Fe Depot. The neo-Moorish structure designed by William S. Hebbard and Irving J. Gill opened in 1897.
Old photo of Los Banos, a bathhouse which was located just south of Santa Fe Depot. The neo-Moorish structure designed by William S. Hebbard and Irving J. Gill opened in 1897.
One of the enormous, heavy doors is opened from inside the historic building. I was told these were used for a railcar barn. Was coal for the power plant unloaded here? I don't know.
One of the enormous, heavy doors is opened from inside the historic building. I was told these were used for a railcar barn.
Our tour walks along Broadway side of the SDSU Downtown Gallery building.
Our small tour group walks down the sidewalk along the Broadway side of the SDSU Downtown Gallery building.
Now we are at the southeast corner of the large Electra Building, which rises above the historic San Diego Gas and Electric building.
Now we are at the southeast corner of the large Electra Building, which rises above the historic San Diego Gas and Electric building.
A symbolic painting inside the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Waves Inside, 2016, by Alison Zuniga.
A symbolic painting inside the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Waves Inside, 2016, by Alison Zuniga.

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