Funny eyes, elephants and an owl at Spanish Village.

Ceramic eye atop parking lot post at north end of Balboa Park's art-filled Spanish Village. Various faces and fun eyeballs decorate several nearby posts.
Ceramic eye atop parking lot post at north end of Balboa Park’s art-filled Spanish Village. Various faces and fun eyeballs decorate nearby posts.

Spanish Village is where you’ll find artists at work in San Diego’s incredibly beautiful Balboa Park. On any given day, one can watch artists painting, shaping pottery, blowing glass, or just relaxing beside artwork for sale, out in the colorful courtyard or inside their charming studios. But before you walk into Spanish Village, there’s a good chance you’ll be greeted by funny eyes, two huge elephants, or a happy owl. And possibly even a spider!

What am I talking about? Take a look at these fun photos! (Can you find the spider?)

A peek through an arch into Spanish Village from the small north parking lot.
A peek through an arch into Spanish Village from the small north parking lot.
The colorful courtyard of Spanish Village contains abundant beauty, both natural and artistic.
The colorful courtyard of Spanish Village contains abundant beauty, both natural and artistic.
One of many small artist studios in this very cool corner of San Diego's Balboa Park.
One of many small artist studios in this very cool corner of San Diego’s Balboa Park.
Here come more photos of funny ceramic eyes and faces decorating those plain steel parking lot posts.
Here come more photos of funny ceramic eyes and faces decorating those plain steel parking lot posts.
This is my favorite face of the bunch. I believe I used it in another blog post.
This is my favorite face of the bunch. I believe I used it in another blog post.
A single artistic eyeball painted pink, yellow, purple and blue. The ceramic post-toppers have forms that are very organic.
A single artistic eyeball painted pink, yellow, purple and blue. The ceramic post-toppers have forms that are very organic.
Check out this crazy, creative face! At least, I think it's a face...
Check out this crazy, creative face! At least, I think it’s a face…
A wonderfully alien weird fantasy eye stares right at you!
A wonderfully alien, weird fantasy eye stares right back at you!
Two huge shrub elephants guard a path at the west edge of Spanish Village. Walk north and you'll arrive at the world famous San Diego Zoo!
Two huge shrub elephants guard a path at the west edge of Spanish Village. Walk north and you’ll arrive at the world famous San Diego Zoo!
And this owl with spread wings is keeping an eye on the main entrance to Spanish Village, which is to the south.
And this owl with spread wings is keeping an eye on the main entrance to Spanish Village, which is to the south.

Follow this blog for more photos of cool stuff! Join me on Facebook or Twitter.

History of Spanish Village artists in Balboa Park.

Sign outside the Spanish Village history exhibit, which is open to the public in Gallery 21.
Sign outside the Spanish Village history exhibit, which is open to the public in Gallery 21.

Anyone in San Diego who loves art must visit Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park. Some of the region’s finest local artists occupy its 38 working studios. By strolling around the large, colorful courtyard and poking a nose here and there, the public can see (and purchase) finished artwork of every kind, watch the creative process, and talk to the friendly artists themselves.

While at Spanish Village–if you’re the curious sort–you might also check out a small but fascinating history exhibit. Just step into Gallery 21.

Earlier this summer I was graciously given a tour of the exhibit by one of the resident artists. Here are a few photos and captions describing what I saw. Of course, it’s much better to experience Spanish Village and these memories of its history firsthand. So I encourage everyone to head on over.

The exhibit reviews how, a century ago, Balboa Park (originally called City Park) was developed and transformed into a dreamlike landscape for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Many fantastic buildings were created, using a variety of influences from Spanish, Mexican, European Renaissance and Moorish origins. This unique mixture became what is known as Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.

Later, the successful California Pacific International Exposition of 1935 was promoted to boost San Diego during the Great Depression. It used existing buildings from the Panama-California Exposition and exhibits from the recent Chicago Century of Progress Expo. New construction designed by master architect Richard Smith Requa added a variety of buildings to Balboa Park, including those of Spanish Village. Spanish Village, as its name implied, originally recreated life in Spain, with “shops that sold art, curios, flowers, music and wine. It had a children’s theater, a Chinese Bazaar, a cocktail lounge called Cafe Granada and other restaurants. The Village was at the entrance to the Fun Zone which contained a Midway, a midget zoo, and an Indian Village.”

Today, this exhibit’s historical photographs, newspaper articles and ephemera relating to Spanish Village help visitors understand and appreciate the cultural contributions over many decades of hundreds of participating artists.

Doorway inside Gallery 21 leads to an unexpected treasure trove of Balboa Park and San Diego history.
Doorway inside Gallery 21 leads to an unexpected treasure trove of Balboa Park and San Diego history.
Beautifully painted mural in the small exhibit room pleases the eyes of curious visitors.
Beautifully painted mural in the small museum pleases the eyes of art-loving visitors.
The walls, like a scrapbook, contain images and articles chronicling the history of Spanish Village and its many fine artists.
The walls, like a scrapbook, feature a mosaic of images and articles chronicling the history of Spanish Village.
Old photographs show Spanish Village buildings, which were erected for the 1935 California Pacific Exposition in Balboa Park. They housed shops and restaurants during the expo.
Old photographs show Spanish Village buildings, which were erected for the 1935 California Pacific Exposition in Balboa Park. They housed shops and restaurants during the expo.
The California Pacific Exposition closed September 9, 1936, and the idea for Spanish Village Art Center was soon realized. Artists completed their studios and had a public opening on April 7th.
The California Pacific Exposition closed September 9, 1936, and the idea for Spanish Village Art Center was soon realized. Artists completed their studios and had a public opening on April 7th.
Display details Spanish Village's artist founders, including newspaper clipping's Officers of Culture Project--Sherman Trease, Mina Schultz Pulsifer, and Henry Long.
Display lists Spanish Village’s artist founders.  Newspaper clipping’s “Officers of Culture Project” included Sherman Trease, Mina Schultz Pulsifer, and Henry Long.
Old San Diego Union newspaper announces first Art Fiesta, a festival held September 3-6, 1937. Spanish Village hosted all forms of visual art, plus theater groups, writers and musicians.
Old San Diego Union newspaper announces first Art Fiesta, a festival held September 3-6, 1937. Spanish Village hosted all forms of visual art, plus theater groups, writers and musicians.
Visitor to the Spanish Village history exhibit learns about the rich heritage of this very unique and wonderful place.
Visitor to the Spanish Village history exhibit learns about the rich heritage of this very unique and wonderful place.
Another display tells of the coming of World War II, and how the Army took over Spanish Village. Many departing artists would serve in the military. Some later returned to renew their art.
Another display tells of the coming of World War II, and how the Army took over Spanish Village. Many departing artists would serve in the military. Some later returned to renew their art.
After the Army left, a financial dispute with the City of San Diego was resolved. Artists would pay affordable rent for each studio. A jury would decide on qualified renters.
After the Army left, a financial dispute with the City of San Diego was resolved. Artists would pay affordable rent for each studio. A jury would decide on qualified renters.
Samples of past Spanish Village publications, including a quarterly. Today the artists promote their work online using websites, e-newsletters and social media.
Samples of past Spanish Village publications, including a quarterly. Today the artists promote their work online using websites, e-newsletters and social media.
Do you have a memory or story about Spanish Village Art Center Experiences are being collected and added to this show. Thanks for the community spirit!
Do you have a memory or story about Spanish Village Art Center? Experiences are being collected and added to this show. Thanks for the community spirit!
Spanish Village in amazing, historic Balboa Park. Art grows here.
Spanish Village is located in amazing, historic Balboa Park. Art grows here.

Follow this blog for more photos of cool stuff! Join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Painting the 1915 Centennial Mural in Balboa Park.

Local artists put the finishing touches on the 20 foot long 1915 Centennial Mural in Balboa Park.
Local artists put the finishing touches on the 20 foot long 1915 Centennial Mural in Balboa Park.

My Sunday walk around Balboa Park took me through the Spanish Village Art Center. Not only were local artists painting live Flamenco dancers, but they were completing a fantastic 20 foot mural celebrating Balboa Park’s centennial. (Today I was also introduced by a couple of super friendly people, including a resident artist, to the history of Spanish Village. I will blog about that shortly, after a little additional research…and when I have the time!)

I hope you enjoy my photographs of this awesome mural. Titled “1915 Balboa Park”, it’s an imaginative composite of historical images painted by eleven talented artists. Each image occupies a 2 by 6 foot panel, and depicts locations from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, and people in early 20th century dress.

Spanish Village is home to some of San Diego’s very finest artists. Wherever you turn, you’ll find painters, potters, sculptors, photographers, glassblowers, you name it! It’s fun to just stroll through the colorful courtyard and visit the charming studios. If you want to purchase fine artwork for yourself or as a gift, this is an excellent place to go!

This weekend the public could watch as artists painted a historical mural in Spanish Village.
This weekend the public could watch as artists painted a historical mural in Spanish Village.
Spanish Village is like San Diego sunlight passed through a prism, with rainbow splashes everywhere.
Spanish Village is like San Diego sunlight passed through a prism, with rainbow splashes everywhere.
Bios of artists Carol Foster, Joan Boyer, Joan Nies, Laurie Carlock, Don Knapp, Michelle Gonzalez, Sonia Rumzi, Linda Lepeirs, Lucy Wang, Edward Juarez, Dot Renshaw.
Bios of artists Carol Foster, Joan Boyer, Joan Nies, Laurie Carlock, Don Knapp, Michelle Gonzalez, Sonia Rumzi, Linda Lepeirs, Lucy Wang, Edward Juarez, Dot Renshaw.
Ladies in period dresses occupy the left part of the cool mural.
Ladies in period dresses occupy the left part of the cool mural.
Now we're working our photographic way to the right, along the base of the Cabrillo Bridge. A hundred years ago there was a lake beneath the historic bridge! (Where Highway 163 is today.)
Now we’re working our photographic way to the right, along the base of the Cabrillo Bridge. A hundred years ago there was an artificial lake beneath the bridge! (Where Highway 163 is today.)
Bright color and shades of gray are fused together to depict the California Building with its iconic bell tower.
Two different styles (one with bright colors, the other with shades of gray) are fused together to depict the California Building with its iconic bell tower.
There were many lush gardens around Balboa Park a hundred years ago, planted specifically for the Panama-California Exposition.
There were many lush gardens around Balboa Park a hundred years ago, planted specifically for the Panama-California Exposition.
Artist studies the right end of the 20 foot long mural. That golden tree looks like it could be transplanted right into Spanish Village!
An artist studies the right end of the 20 foot long mural. That golden tree looks like it could be transplanted right into Spanish Village!

Join me on Facebook or Twitter!

Artists paint live Flamenco dancing in Spanish Village!

Guitar music propels Flamenco dancers in Balboa Park's Spanish Village.
Guitar music propels Flamenco dancers in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village.

This afternoon I enjoyed watching some amazing Flamenco dancing. Balboa Park’s colorful Spanish Village, the home to many artist studios, hosted the special event. As beautifully dressed lady Flamenco dancers performed for the public, local artists at easels painted away!

Flamenco dancing is fiery, stately and proud. Each dance and dancer glowed with unabashed human emotion. The audience learned a little about the nature of this Spanish folk dance, but I was so mesmerized I failed to jot down many notes. I remember that one dance was said to represent defiant joy, another a representation of pure, carefree womanhood.

The public was invited to watch local artists painting a performance by the La Paloma Flamenco Dance Company.
The public was invited to watch local San Diego artists painting a performance by the La Paloma Flamenco Dance Company.
Crowd shouts and claps as the whirling ladies move their limbs and tap feet with graceful, fluid, precise abandon.
Crowd shouts and claps as the whirling ladies move their limbs and tap feet with graceful, fluid, joyful abandon.
The energetic Spanish folk dancing causes colorful fabric to fly and twirl like a gauzy dream.
The energetic Spanish folk dancing causes colorful fabric to fly and twirl like a gauzy dream.
A range of powerful human emotion is transmitted to the audience during each fantastic Flamenco dance.
A range of powerful human emotion is transmitted to the audience during each fantastic Flamenco dance.
A carefully watching artist has made a few sketches during the performance in Spanish Village.
A carefully watching artist has made a few sketches during the performance in Spanish Village.
I don't know how an artist can begin to capture the dynamism and detail of the colorful, kinetic dance!
I don’t know how an artist can begin to capture the dynamism and detail of the colorful, kinetic dance!
A local artist from Spanish Village in Balboa Park streaks color across a canvas. A skilled hand and eye produces the same bold living essence expressed by the dance.
A local artist from Spanish Village in Balboa Park streaks color across a canvas. A skilled hand and eye produces the same bold living essence expressed by the dance.

Join me on Facebook or Twitter!

Pics from Balboa Park Halloween Family Day.

Family fun and games filled El Prado the weekend before Halloween.
Family-friendly fun and games lined Balboa Park’s El Prado the weekend before Halloween.

So what happened today in Balboa Park? Here are some photos!

Sign explains Balboa Park Halloween Family Day.
Sign explains Balboa Park Halloween Family Day.
Crowds were huge and many imaginative costumes added to the color.
Crowds were huge and many imaginative costumes added to the color.
House of Pacific Relations had a booth with cool Halloween stuff.
House of Pacific Relations had a booth with cool Halloween stuff.
Street performer is a bronze version of Shakespeare, the Bard!
Street performer is a bronze version of Shakespeare, the Bard!
Masks and other crafts could be worked on by the creatively inclined.
Masks and other crafts could be worked on by the creatively inclined.
Of course, Halloween is all about kids having fun.
Of course, Halloween is all about kids having fun.
Boy emerges from a magical boo-box!
Boy emerges from a magical boo-box!
Guys creating origami courtesy of the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Guys creating origami courtesy of the Japanese Friendship Garden.
One pumpkin is devouring another in a festive nook in Balboa Park!
One pumpkin is devouring another in a festive nook in Balboa Park!
A studio in Spanish Village has skulls, spider and a skeleton hanging around.
A studio in Spanish Village has skulls, spider and a skeleton hanging around.
Fine glasswork in the form of pumpkins created by local artists.
Fine glass in the form of pumpkins created by local artists.
A puppet-dog prepares for the canine costume competition in Spanish Village.
A puppet-dog on strings prepares for the canine costume competition in Spanish Village.
Dog enjoying the festivities in wonderful Balboa Park.
Dog enjoying the festivities in wonderful, colorful Balboa Park.
Yum! Look at this basket of Halloween candy!
Yum! Look at this basket of Halloween candy!
SDSU School of Music and Dance kids perform before Spreckels Organ concert.
SDSU School of Music and Dance kids perform before the Sunday Spreckels Organ concert.
Fiona the Humane Society mastiff hangs out in Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Fiona the Humane Society butterfly mastiff hangs out in Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
The House of Scotland performed today at the International Cottages.
The House of Scotland performed with their booming drum at the International Cottages.
Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater is showing The Polka Dot Ghost.
Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater is showing The Polka Dot Ghost.
The San Diego Dachshund Club’s Hallo-Wiener Picnic was held in Balboa Park.
The San Diego Dachshund Club’s Hallo-Wiener Picnic was held in Balboa Park.
San Diego Air and Space Museum was the scene of the traditional pumpkin drop!
San Diego Air and Space Museum was the scene of the traditional pumpkin drop!
A crowd gathers to watch a pumpkin descend and explode into a million pieces!
A crowd gathers to watch a pumpkin descend and explode into a million pieces!
The pumpkin can't escape gravity. Will it reach terminal velocity.
The pumpkin can’t escape gravity. Will it reach terminal velocity?
Yeah. The pumpkin predictably busted apart to the great delight of kids.
Yeah. It got terminated.  The pumpkin predictably busted apart to the great delight of kids.

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

Kaleidoscope and a revolving bowl of flowers.

Interesting contraption in a nook at Spanish Village.
Interesting contraption in a nook at artsy Spanish Village.

In a nook of Balboa Park’s Spanish Village, right next to the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building, you’ll find this interesting contraption. Is it an antique device once used to navigate a ship? Is it a microscope? What is it?

It’s a kaleidoscope mounted above a revolving bowl of flowers! Instead of turning the kaleidoscope tube, you whirl the bowl of blooms and watch different colorful patterns form through the lens. Several mirrors in the tube create the complex symmetry.

Once I figured out what the contraption was, I tried putting my camera right up to the eyepiece. I got a bunch of interesting photos!

A kaleidoscope aimed at turning bowl of flowers.
A kaleidoscope aimed at turning bowl of flowers.
Mirrors of kaleidoscope turn flower blooms into art.
Mirrors of kaleidoscope turn flower blooms into art.
Revolving the bowl turns flowers and leaves into amazing patterns.
Revolving the bowl turns flowers and leaves into amazing patterns.
Infinite beauty created via the reflection of light.
Infinite beauty created via the reflection of light.

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

Joy and creativity thrive in Spanish Village.

Main entrance to Balboa Park's Spanish Village.
Main entrance to Balboa Park’s Spanish Village.

One of the most popular attractions in San Diego’s Balboa Park is Spanish Village. Here are a few pics of the colorful courtyard and the quaint studios of local artists that surround it…

Studio 29 in Balboa Park's Spanish Village.
Studio 29 in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village.
Peering at artwork in a studio window.
Peering at artwork in a studio window.
Lots of art can be bought from local San Diego artists.
Lots of art can be bought from local San Diego artists.
Live demonstrations by artists can be enjoyed by the public.
Live demonstrations by artists can be enjoyed by the public.
Artist at work outside one studio in Balboa Park's Spanish Village.
Artist at work outside one studio in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village.
Sculpture of dancers in central courtyard.
Sculpture of dancers in central courtyard.
Dogs from one artist's point of view.
Dogs from one artist’s point of view.
Couple explores folksy studios of Spanish Village.
Couple explores folksy studios of Spanish Village.
Art Glass Guild's room of shining color.
Art Glass Guild’s room of shining color.
People converge to see glassblowing in progress.
People converge to see glassblowing in progress.
Workshop inside San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building.
Workshop inside San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building.

The San Diego Mineral and Gem Society has a building in Spanish Village which showcases amazing rock and mineral collections. The lapidary workshop can only be glimpsed when one inside door is open.

Joyful works of art can be found everywhere.
Joyful works of art can be found everywhere.
Funny face greets those exiting toward San Diego Zoo.
Funny face greets those exiting toward San Diego Zoo.

Funky, folksy Studio 13 in Spanish Village.

funky art studio in spanish village

Take a look at the deliciously, crazily, wonderfully picturesque Studio 13 in Balboa Park’s always surprising and colorful Spanish Village! This quaint little studio is both funky and folksy, a wild mixture of creative artistry!

You know, I wouldn’t mind living in such a happy place. Perhaps in the middle of a green meadow with unicorns grazing nearby…

A peek inside Studio 13 in Spanish Village.
A peek inside Studio 13 in Spanish Village.
Looking around the side of Studio 13.
Looking around the side of Studio 13.
Looking behind funky Studio 13 in Spanish Village.
Looking behind funky Studio 13 in Spanish Village.

Sexy silver mermaid in Spanish Village!

sexy silver mermaid in spanish village

This morning I took a stroll through Spanish Village on the north end of Balboa Park.  Spanish Village is a wonderful, colorful place where many local artists have small studios. Not many people were about yet, just one older gentleman setting up some impressionist paintings in the courtyard. I snapped a number of pics of the motley, surprising studios, and this photograph is pretty striking.

The silvery, sexy mermaid sports a naval cap atop her long hair and stands ready to defend Studio 18!

A wider view of one corner of Spanish Village.
A wider view of one corner of Spanish Village.