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.

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A better look at one very cool mural!

After my walk through Balboa Park today, I headed to City Heights where several new murals have been painted.

When I arrived at the corner of University Avenue and Swift Avenue, my searching eyes spied a very cool mural that I’d photographed a couple years ago. But this time a car wasn’t obscuring part of it!

I like this colorful mural so much I took advantage of the situation and got some good unobstructed photos.

The mural’s title is Journey Within Through the Sea of Soul, and it was painted by Celeste Byers and Aaron Glasson. It’s on the side of the Teros Gallery. The mural depicts the gallery owner riding a Chihuahua ship on a distant planet upstream into herself!

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!

Apart but still together.

This afternoon I saw some street art that seems appropriate for the time we now live in. It was painted at the corner of Market Street and 2nd Avenue in downtown San Diego.

During the coronavirus pandemic, strangers, friends and neighbors are careful to stay physically separated from each other to minimize the spread of the deadly virus. But strangely, in spiritual ways, the crisis has brought many closer together. Like one human family.

I believe this simple but powerful street art was created last summer by @sarahstieber and @arielletonkin before the coronavirus made it’s first appearance. Two people are separated, but reach around a terrible hard corner toward one another.

We are apart but still together.

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!

Outer space and UFOs seen in El Cajon!

This world is full of wonders.

Approach the corner of South Magnolia Avenue and West Douglas Avenue near the center of El Cajon. Move your eyes about. You’ll find bright stars and see far into outer space.

And if your eyes are really sharp, you might observe a flying saucer entering Earth’s atmosphere!

All this spacey street art happens to be around the Unarius Academy of Science.

What’s that?

According to their website: “In 1954, Cosmic Visionaries Ernest L. and Ruth E. Norman established the Unarius Educational Foundation to provide a higher spiritual understanding of life for the betterment of humankind.”

A sign beside the theater-like UFO mural, which can be found on the Unarius building’s north side, indicates its title is Opening the Cosmic Window.

The sign also explains: “The wall mural depicts the Earth’s future when we will be joined, once again, with the Interplanetary Confederation–32 worlds that live in peace and harmony–and share cultural and scientific knowledge for the betterment of all people…”

Stand at the nearby street corner on a starry night. Maybe–just maybe–a flying saucer will spin down from the mysterious cosmos, which is vast seemingly beyond human comprehension.

Who knows?

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!

A tiny story, or poem, about a stone garden.

Forgive me for mentioning my writing website Short Stories by Richard again.

Today I sat for several minutes at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park gazing out at the Karesansui, or Dry Stone Garden. I must’ve entered a meditative state of mind, because as I viewed the ruggedly beautiful stones and perfectly raked gravel a vision came to me.

In the past I learned the significance of the elements in a Japanese rock garden, so this tiny three sentence story, or poem, which I titled Across the Stone Garden, might not be entirely original or surprising.

But I think it’s a bit magical, and you might like it anyway.

To read it, click here.

The art of Lomaland at San Diego History Center.

The Bard, Reginald Willoughby Machell, c. 1895. Oil on canvas. One of the Theosophical Society artist's allegorical works.
The Bard, Reginald Willoughby Machell, c. 1895. Oil on canvas. One of the Theosophical Society artist’s allegorical works concerning spirituality.

Until yesterday, I didn’t know very much about Lomaland. I knew it was a Theosophical community in Point Loma with several exotic buildings that were located where Point Loma Nazarene University stands today, but that’s about all.

After viewing the San Diego History Center’s current exhibition The Path of the Mystic: Art & Theosophy at Lomaland, and doing a little online research, I now know more about this unique utopian community that made important cultural contributions to San Diego in the first half of the 20th century.

Lomaland was established by Katherine Tingley in 1897. The home of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society, the community became a haven for learning, culture and social reform. Artists and like-minded individuals from around the world came to Lomaland to lead spiritual, contemplative, idealistic lives.

According to the San Diego History Center website: “Tingley’s progressive Theosophical vision, which placed strong emphasis on cultural pursuits including music, dance, drama, literature and visual art, attracted artists from the United States and abroad. As the community developed, many artists came to live and work at Lomaland, including Marguerite Lemke Barton, Grace “Gay” Betts, Maurice Braun, Benjamin Gordon, Leonard Lester, Marian Plummer Lester, Reginald Willoughby Machell, and Edith White.”

I learned from Wikipedia: “Led by Katherine Tingley, the group came to Point Loma to establish a community that would model the philosophical and humanitarian goals of Theosophy. The “White City” envisioned by Tingley was to be located on the extreme western edge of the North American continent but oriented toward India, the spiritual center of Theosophical beliefs. The blend of new world confidence, Victorian morality, a love of antiquity, and Indian spirituality created a unique community …”

The buildings of Lomaland were completed in 1900, and the Theosophical community flourished in Point Loma until 1942, when it relocated to Covina. The main building and Temple of Peace, which often appear in Theosophical Society artwork, had domes of aquamarine and amethyst colored glass. They could be seen far out to sea, and as far east as Mt. Cuyamaca. They were destroyed by fire in 1952. The Spaulding house today serves as the administration building at Point Loma Nazarene University.

I took a few photos of the exhibition in subdued lighting, but my poor old camera doesn’t capture the full detail and beauty of this artwork.

Many more paintings, historical photographs and other works of unique art in The Path of the Mystic: Art & Theosophy at Lomaland will be on display through April 19, 2020 at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

Katherine Tingley, founder of Lomaland, in her office.
Katherine Tingley, founder of Lomaland, in her office.

Roman Gate, entrance to Lomaland in Point Loma.
Roman Gate, entrance to Lomaland in Point Loma.

Marian Plummer Lester, Untitled drawing, c. 1908. Ink on paper. Small drawing of the Temple of Peace and Raja-Yoga Academy buildings at Lomaland when the artist was fifteen years old.
Marian Plummer Lester, Untitled, c. 1908. Ink on paper. Small drawing of the Temple of Peace and Raja-Yoga Academy buildings at Lomaland when the artist was fifteen years old.

Edith White, Landscape, 1917. Oil on canvas. Painting of foxglove from Lomaland's International Garden.
Edith White, Landscape, 1917. Oil on canvas. Painting of foxglove inspired by Lomaland’s International Garden.

Edith Whilte, Roses on a Fence, c. 1915. Oil on canvas. Close-up photo of a beautiful painting created in Lomaland.
Edith Whilte, Roses on a Fence, c. 1915. Oil on canvas. Close-up photo of a beautiful painting created in Lomaland.

The Prodigal or The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You, Reginald Willoughby Machell, c. 1895. Oil on canvas. Painted in England before artist moved to Point Loma in 1900.
The Prodigal or The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You, Reginald Willoughby Machell, c. 1895. Oil on canvas. Painted in England before artist moved to Point Loma in 1900.

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!

Niki de Saint Phalle’s Grande Step Totem.

One fantastic sculpture by renowned French-American sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle presently stands at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Those who pass by the cultural center on their way up North Escondido Boulevard can’t fail to miss it.

I stopped by to have a look at the monumental sculpture, which is titled Grande Step Totem.

A plaque near its base is weathered and cracked and is difficult to read now. I’ve tried to transcribe the English portion of it accurately:

Grande Step Totem

Based in Native American spirituality, Saint Phalle’s Totem is more solemn than much of her work. With a muted color palette and subject matter, this piece encourages introspection. The Totem returned to Escondido on December 19, 2012 after spending the summer on view with several other Saint Phalle pieces on Park Avenue in New York City.

NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE

2001

Polyurethane foam resin, steel armature, ceramic tiles, stained glass, tumbled stone.

As you can see, some construction work was being done around the base of the sculpture when I visited last weekend. Here are my photos…

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!

Radiant Spire proposed for Notre Dame.

Appearance of rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral with Radiant Spire, designed by architect Eugene Ray.
Appearance of rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral with Radiant Spire, designed by San Diego architect Eugene Ray.

I guess it’s too late now. Last month the French Parliament passed a law that states Notre Dame Cathedral must be restored to its exact condition before the recent, catastrophic fire.

But how might Paris have appeared if Notre Dame were crowned by a glowing spire?

The Radiant Spire is a fantastic concept created by architect Eugene Ray, who from 1969 to 1996 headed the Environmental Design program at San Diego State University. In 2019, with the help of architect Joe Cordelle, he designed a geodesic structure that unites a cone and sphere, and which radiates light.

I saw these images today while visiting the exhibition Radiant Architecture: The Visionary Work of Eugene Ray at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. As a proposal the Radiant Spire is inspiring and very beautiful.

But, alas, it will remain an idea.

Description of Radiant Spire for Notre Dame Cathedral. The elegant structure evokes an exuberant spirituality reaching skywards...
Description of Radiant Spire for rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral. The elegant structure evokes an exuberant spirituality reaching skywards…

Elevation view of proposed spire for Notre Dame.
Elevation view of proposed spire for Notre Dame.

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 Club of San Diego creates memory, dreams.

Several years ago I attended the Art Club of San Diego’s summer show in Balboa Park. You can revisit that memory here.

Today, as I walked through Balboa Park past the Casa del Prado, I noticed this group of local artists was having their 17th Annual Art Show.

I love Japanese art. It’s suggestive, dreamlike, and has a deep spiritual quality. Naturally I stepped inside.

I met a group of very nice people. The artists whose creative work was on display were Hiroko Szechinski, Kayo Beach, Kazue Knowlton, Joe Cross, Louise Rendich, Keiko Kitano, Teri Ashabraner and Naoko Ozaki. Their diverse artwork includes ceramics, calligraphy, ikebana (flower arrangement) and brush painting.

I was informed the Art Club of San Diego welcomes new members! If you want to learn more, or perhaps would like to purchase one of their pieces, you can find contact info at the bottom left corner of the following flyer. (Click the photo and it will enlarge for easy reading.)

I was glad my feet turned this way today. As I walked among these precious works of art, I felt I was walking through a beautiful memory, or a dream.

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!

A few short stories about light in one’s life.

To an ancient person, light is a life-sustaining gift from a distant bright god. To a modern person, light is electromagnetic radiation that can be detected by the eye’s retina. To an artist, light might be some of both . . . and much more.

When I write, I’m never certain what precise thing light represents. In many stories it seems to symbolize a life-sustaining hope, or a radiation of the spirit detected by the heart. It might signal a burning love, living with eyes wide open, or intangible rays from beyond that define life’s shape. A glimpse of ultimate truth. A bright gift that is magical, momentary, precious.

I don’t know. What is light to you?

Following are seven short works of fiction where light is an integral part of the story:

Light at the Edges

The Firefly

One Lone Candle

One Strange, Shimmering Dream

How to Paint Angels

A Dance in the Lightning

Walking on Light