Oil paintings of the iconic California Tower.

The California Tower in Balboa Park is probably the most iconic sight in all of San Diego. I’ve photographed it many, many times.

Built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the 198 feet tall bell tower, a combination of various architectural styles, rises from the similarly ornate California Building, which is presently home to the Museum of Man. The California Tower invites those who love beauty to come visit one of the most amazing public parks in the entire world.

I’ve taken so many photos of the California Tower over the years, from different angles and during different occasions, that I thought I might have a little fun. Using the GIMP graphic software’s Oilify filter, I’ve transformed some of my images into digital oil paintings!

Here they are!

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!

Exhibit illuminates intersection of art and science.

More, 2019, by Sheena Rae Dowling. Luminous sculpture in a darkened space depicts the scan of a healthy brain with normal rhythmic functions.
More, 2019, by Sheena Rae Dowling. Luminous sculpture in a darkened space depicts the scan of a healthy brain with normal rhythmic functions.

Art and science have much in common. Both explore deep mysteries and seek essential truths. Both often take paths that are complex. Both produce results that are often surprising.

A new exhibition at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park explores the intersection of art and science. Illumination, 21st Century Interactions With Art and Science and Technology features thought-provoking pieces by 26 artists, many of whom were inspired by personal interactions with local scientists and technologists. Themes explored include Global Health and Discovery, Climate Change and Sustainability, and Technology and the Touch Screen.

Many of the pieces concern biology and biotechnology. That isn’t surprising. San Diego is a world center of biotech research. Many of the scientists who’ve inspired this artwork are making breakthrough discoveries at local institutions, like UC San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

If you want to be stimulated, step through the door of the San Diego Art Institute. Bop about this exhibition like a particle undergoing Brownian motion or a dawning Artificial Intelligence. You’ll encounter illuminating artwork that really opens your eyes and mind.

Don’t be left in the dark! Illumination turns off after May 3, 2020.

Illumination, 21st Century Interactions With Art and Science and Technology, lights up the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park.
Illumination, 21st Century Interactions With Art and Science and Technology, lights up the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park.
Moving through a gallery full of strangeness. Complex mysteries and unseen realities surround and penetrate each of us.
Moving through a gallery full of strangeness. Complex mysteries and unseen realities surround and penetrate us all.
Nucleus 1, 2019, by Anne Mudge. Artistic wire representation of folded strands of DNA, which in reality are about 6.5 feet long and packed inside a cell's microscopic nucleus.
Nucleus 1, 2019, by Anne Mudge. Artistic wire representation of folded strands of DNA, which in reality are about 6.5 feet long and packed inside a cell’s microscopic nucleus.
Leap of Faith, 2019, by Becky Robbins. Art, like science, begins with an idea that leads to questions. Links between considered elements appear. Some connections are obvious, others are vague.
Leap of Faith, 2019, by Becky Robbins. Art, like science, begins with an idea that leads to questions. Links between considered elements appear. Some connections are obvious, others are vague.
building, 2019, by Beliz Iristay. Deaf adults without a linguistic foundation early in life have altered neural structure, with long-term effects on mastery of complex grammar.
building, 2019, by Beliz Iristay. Deaf adults without a linguistic foundation early in life have altered neural structure, with long-term effects on mastery of complex grammar.
Chromosome 22, 2020, by Cy Kuckenbaker. The artwork includes a book-like printout of some 10,000 pages of a data sequence in the smallest of 23 human chromosomes.
Chromosome 22, 2020, by Cy Kuckenbaker. The artwork includes a book-like printout of some 10,000 pages of a data sequence in the smallest of 23 human chromosomes.
Shining Palimpsest, by Young Joon Kwak. I, you, she, he, they, we, it--tangled, twisted, uncertain. Who we are and how we are viewed depends on perspective.
Shining Palimpsest, by Young Joon Kwak. I, you, she, he, they, we, it–words that are tangled, twisted, sometimes uncertain. Who we are and how we are viewed depends on perspective.

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!

Amazing chromatic ceramics dazzle the eye!

Check out the latest exhibition at Balboa Park’s always amazing Japanese Friendship Garden!

The Chromatic Ceramic Collection: John Conrad features unique ceramic creations whose shining colors dance and change depending on the angle from which they are viewed!

These refractive pieces, which include patterned discs and vases in different shapes, have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. As you move about the garden’s Exhibit Hall, you seem to the find the end of many rainbows.

According to the Japanese Friendship Garden’s website: “Culminating over 60 years of research and experiments, artist John Conrad developed the spectacular finish that is seen on the Chromatic Collection…The chromatic finish is a combination of metallic flake and silica, which is then adhered onto porcelain using modern plasma technology…”

I was struck during my visit on Sunday how these brilliant ceramics resemble in many respects the holographic paintings of Tom Liguori, another local innovator whose work can be seen here.

I’ve included photographs of a few radiant discs to provide an idea of what you’ll experience. The vases, if anything, are even more beautiful.

Visionary artists continue to find new ways to express and combine form, light and color. It seems the potential for beauty is infinite.

The Chromatic Ceramic Collection: John Conrad can be viewed through April 26, 2020 at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

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!

Behind the scenes look at the City Archives!

Old books contain important records in the cold vault of the San Diego City Clerk's Archives Center.
Stacks of old books contain important records in the cold vault of the San Diego City Clerk’s Archives Center.

Yesterday I stepped into City Hall to enjoy an educational event open to the public during the City Clerk’s 3rd Annual Archives Month. When I entered the Archives Center in the basement of the San Diego City Administration Building, I didn’t really know what I might experience.

I saw and learned more from this behind the scenes tour than I expected!

I and a few others were led into a small lecture room and introduced to City of San Diego Archivist Jerry Handfield. He’s an energetic historian and professional archivist who in the past has served as State Archivist for both Indiana and Washington.

Jerry Handfield presented an overview of his job and explained the critical importance of maintaining genuine, reliable, trustworthy public records.

We learned that good governance depends on maintaining accurate records. Trustworthy public records protect the rights of citizens and promotes public trust in government. A healthy democracy relies on trust in its institutions.

Archives play such an important role that in 1850, when San Diego was a tiny town with very limited resources, the city’s newly created common council directed that a very expensive iron safe be appropriated to the clerk for the safekeeping of city records.

As an archivist, Jerry Handfield provided a list of reasons why records matter: they protect life (medical records), protect the public from disasters (maps and floor plans), protect property rights (deeds), and include all sorts of other critical information. He mentioned insurance and bank records, marriage licenses, work licenses and business records.

We learned that for an archivist preservation is a constant war. It’s a war against time, negligence, disasters like floods and mold, decay caused by acids in paper, and other often unpredictable factors. Some media that store records, such as floppy disks and magnetic tape, degrade over time, become corrupted or technologically obsolete.

Some of the City Archive’s older paper documents are given a special chemical treatment to help preserve them. Many are placed in acid-free sleeves or boxes and placed in a temperature and humidity controlled cold vault.

The City Clerk Archives is continuously working to digitize its many hard copy records–to preserve them for all time and make them readily available to the public via the internet. But there remain thousands upon thousands of documents and photos to be scanned and classified.

After the lecture we stepped into the cold vault and saw shelves stacked high with archival material. Then we stepped into a room where photos and negatives are scanned and digitized.

Ranged all around the main room of the Archives Center are additional interesting displays. I saw many Mayoral Artifacts that were presented as gifts to the city from all over the globe. Among these are an assortment of beautiful decorative plates.

Enough of my inadequate written description. Let’s look at a few photos and you’ll get a better idea of what I experienced!

San Diego City Archivist Jerry Handfield describes the importance of accurately recording and carefully preserving critical information.
San Diego City Archivist Jerry Handfield describes the importance of accurately recording and carefully preserving critical information.
Stacks of special boxes containing official records fill the temperature and humidity controlled cold vault at the City Archives.
Stacks of boxes containing official records fill the temperature and humidity controlled cold vault at the City Archives.
Archivist Jerry Handfield shows visitors shelves of old canvas and leather-bound books, including some that contain City Council Resolutions.
Archivist Jerry Handfield shows visitors shelves of old canvas and leather-bound books, including many that contain past City Council Resolutions.
In one room at the Archives Center, old photographs are scanned and categorized in order to be digitized for easy public access.
In one room at the Archives Center, old photographs are scanned and categorized by trained volunteers, in order to be digitized for easy public access.
Many cool historical photos of San Diego cover the walls!
Many cool historical photos of San Diego cover the walls of this room!
Man and Children in Halloween costumes, circa 1960.
Man and Children in Halloween costumes, circa 1960.
First Official Map of San Diego, June 1867.
First Official Map of San Diego, June 1867.
A treasure trove of San Diego history at one's fingertips!
A treasure trove of San Diego history at one’s fingertips!
Mayoral artifacts displayed at the San Diego City Clerk's Archives Center include many gifts from around the world.
Mayoral artifacts displayed in the main room of the San Diego City Clerk’s Archives Center include gifts from other cities and people around the world.
Armetale plate with Seal of City of San Diego.
Armetale plate with Seal of City of San Diego.
Paper mache oni mask from Mizusawa, Japan.
Paper mache oni mask from Mizusawa, Japan.
Filner Mayoral Artifact RF-4. Ballast Point Whaling Station, San Diego, California (1820's).
Filner Mayoral Artifact RF-4. Ballast Point Whaling Station, San Diego, California (1820’s).
While walking about the City Archives I spied the cover of an Official Views San Diego Panama-California Exposition souvenir book.
While walking about the main room of the City Archives I spied this cover of an Official Views San Diego Panama-California Exposition souvenir book.
Boxes upon boxes hold tons of paper records in the basement of City Hall!
Boxes upon boxes hold tons of paper records in the basement of City Hall!

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 might say this blog is a sort of digital archive. 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!

Architecture inspired by nature . . . and UFOs!

An exhibition of truly amazing architectural designs recently opened at the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

Radiant Architecture: The Visionary Work of Eugene Ray showcases the futuristic architectural concepts of an emeritus professor from San Diego State University, who taught Environmental Design from 1969 to 1996.

Those who have driven through La Jolla might have seen the fantastic house and studio he built at 1699 Nautilus Street. It’s commonly referred to as the Silver Ship. It was erected in 1978 with the help of Environmental Design students from SDSU.

It’s no surprise that many of Eugene Ray’s designs appear a bit like spaceships. His inspiration comes not only from simple, efficient, resilient forms found in nature, but from his life-changing sighting of a UFO in 1947 when he was a boy.

According to one sign I read, many of the innovative designs synthesized “Ray’s concepts of the synergy of color, light, and sound to create holistic, healing and energizing environments.” He also sought to create modular structures, which would be affordable and easily assembled.

I was told that his organic, biomorphic designs are so futuristic, unusual and brilliant that world-famous science fiction author Ray Bradbury at one time had plans to make a movie about Eugene Ray’s work.

Here are a few photos of the original drawings, prototypes, renderings and highly creative artwork currently on display. This very cool exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery runs through October 6, 2019.

James A. Perry Residence - New Orleans, Louisiana, 1968.
James A. Perry Residence – New Orleans, Louisiana, 1968.
Aerodyne Sports House - 1984.
Aerodyne Sports House – 1984.
Nautilus Street Residence aka The Silver Ship - La Jolla, California, 1978.
Nautilus Street Residence aka The Silver Ship – La Jolla, California, 1978.
Blueprint of The Silver Ship, designed by Eugene Ray, located at 1699 Nautilus Street in La Jolla, California.
Blueprint of The Silver Ship, designed by Eugene Ray, located in La Jolla, California.
Pavilion for Holy Cross High School - New Orleans, Louisiana, 1967.
Pavilion for Holy Cross High School – New Orleans, Louisiana, 1967.
Untitled, Eugene Ray, 1969 (restored 2019). Acrylic and aluminum on canvas.
Untitled, Eugene Ray, 1969 (restored 2019). Acrylic and aluminum on canvas.

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!

Snoopy soars with NASA on Moon Landing Anniversary!

Charlie Brown welcomes visitors to the Peanuts Pop-Up Shop in San Diego during 2019 Comic-Con, on the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.
Charlie Brown welcomes visitors to the Peanuts Pop-Up Shop in San Diego during 2019 Comic-Con, on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon. Half a century ago, Neil Armstrong, one of three astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission, stepped down onto the lunar surface and proclaimed: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

That first step by a man might not have happened without the help of a beloved cartoon dog.

Visitors to the Peanuts Pop-Up shop in San Diego during 2019 Comic-Con have the opportunity to see fun displays that recall how Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, one of the world’s most popular comic strips, helped NASA to safely complete their missions to the moon.

This very special Comic-Con exhibition is titled To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA. The exhibit, which includes humorous comic strips, is on loan from the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California.

If a couple of my photos appear unusual, that’s because I converted them into cartoons!

To read the signs, click those photos and they will enlarge.

Astronaut Snoopy graphic on the outside of Bubbles Boutique in the Gaslamp Quarter, where the Peanuts Pop-Up Shop is located during Comic-Con.
Astronaut Snoopy graphic on the outside of Bubbles Boutique in the Gaslamp Quarter, where the Peanuts Pop-Up Shop is located during Comic-Con.
A look inside the Peanuts Pop-Up Shop at two walls of the exhibit. (My photo was blurry so I changed it into a fun cartoon!)
A look inside the Peanuts Pop-Up Shop at two walls of the exhibit.
One of two Peanuts comic strips on display. Snoopy won't need dinner now that he's heading to the moon.
One of two Peanuts comic strips on display. Snoopy won’t need dinner now that he’s heading to the moon.

Peanuts, NASA, and the 21st Century. NASA and Peanuts Worldwide have partnered to inspire generations of students to learn about space exploration.
Peanuts, NASA, and the 21st Century. NASA and Peanuts Worldwide have partnered to inspire generations of students to learn about space exploration.
Snoopy to the Rescue. Snoopy became NASA's safety mascot after the fire that killed three Apollo 1 astronauts.
Snoopy to the Rescue. Snoopy became NASA’s safety mascot after the fire that killed three Apollo 1 astronauts.

50th Anniversary of Apollo 10. The Apollo 10 crew chose the call sign for the lunar module during their mission: Snoopy.
50th Anniversary of Apollo 10. The Apollo 10 crew chose the call sign for the lunar module during their mission: Snoopy.

The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center has the world's largest collection of original Peanuts comic strips.
The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center has the world’s largest collection of original Peanuts comic strips.
Charles M. Schulz, 1922-2000. Many of his popular characters were named after art instructors he met.
Charles M. Schulz, 1922-2000. Many of his popular characters were named after art instructors he met.

The second of two Peanuts comic strips on display. Snoopy beat the neighbor's cat to the moon.
The second of two Peanuts comic strips on display. Snoopy beat the neighbor’s cat to the moon.
Photos from the Apollo missions, and how Snoopy was an important part of that history.
Photos from the Apollo missions, and how Snoopy was an important part of that history.

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!

Take a tour aboard a new Coast Guard cutter!

This weekend the general public has the rare opportunity to take a free tour aboard a brand new United States Coast Guard cutter! The USCGC Benjamin Bottoms, which is scheduled to be commissioned in San Diego this week, is presently docked on the Embarcadero just north of the Maritime Museum.

USCGC Benjamin Bottoms (WPC-1132) is a Sentinel-class or Fast Response cutter that has very advanced capabilities. The vessel will be based in San Pedro and will spend most of its time off the coast of Southern California engaging in maritime rescues, drug interdiction, and a variety of other missions.

I stepped aboard today and was greeted by smiling crew members, heroes who have saved the lives of many. I was permitted to take photos everywhere but inside the pilothouse, which contains the latest technology. I was told that almost everything on the cutter is computerized, with sensors and controls just about everywhere. This type of cutter is unique in that it is equipped with a bow thruster which allows for very nimble maneuvering.

After checking out the pilothouse, our tour headed to the rear of the cutter where a small Cutterboat – Over the Horizon inflatable boat can be quickly released into the ocean or pulled back aboard. With its jet drive, the cutterboat has the ability to pursue and overtake very fast vessels.

We then went inside the Benjamin Bottoms to see its galley, a central dining and meeting area, and some officer quarters.

When you take a tour of the vessel, a friendly crew member will also tell you how the ship got her name. To summarize, using the words of Wikipedia: “Benjamin Bottoms was a United States Coast Guard radio operator who died while attempting to rescue the crew of a USAAF bomber that had crashed-landed in Greenland in November 1942.”

Head down to the Embarcadero tomorrow between 9 am and 2 pm and enjoy a fascinating tour and say Thank You to some genuine heroes!

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!