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!

Baggage, a silvery orb, and contemporary art.

A large silvery orb is suspended from the ceiling of the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery, inside MCASD's historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
A large silvery orb is suspended from the ceiling of the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery, inside MCASD’s historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.

On Sunday I headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to enjoy a tour of their downtown Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building. This historic building was one of many fascinating sites that the public could explore during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO.

I arrived early and walked about the building’s spacious galleries, gazing up toward the high ceiling and around corners at intriguing artwork. The current exhibition is titled Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. Trevor Paglen, a MacArthur Award-winning artist who lived as a child on military bases, creates pieces that concern mass surveillance and individual privacy. According to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego website, he “blurs the lines between art, science, and investigative journalism to construct unfamiliar and at times unsettling ways to see and interpret the world around us . . . in Paglen’s photographs the infrastructure of surveillance is also apparent—a classified military installation, a spy satellite, a tapped communications cable, a drone, an artificial intelligence . . .”

When it was time for the architectural tour to begin, our small group gathered near the museum’s entrance and we learned a little about the very unique Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.

The building at first glance appears to be an extension of the Santa Fe Depot, San Diego’s downtown train station. In fact, what is now called the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building used to be the baggage building of the depot, and is separated from the train station’s passenger waiting room by an arched outdoor breezeway. The Santa Fe Depot, which is now a transit center that also serves Amtrak, was built in 1915 by Bakewell & Brown to accommodate travelers coming to San Diego for the Panama-California Exposition held in Balboa Park.

As decades passed, and travel by train waned, much less space was required at the station for baggage. Because of its historical importance, the huge old baggage building couldn’t be torn down or substantially altered.

The enormous interior space, large beautiful windows and high ceilings were perfect for a unique downtown art gallery. In 2007, the structure was converted by Gluckman Mayner Architects into an extraordinary downtown space for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

The downtown MCASD usually features more experimental art than their La Jolla location, so the unusually large galleries can be put to good use. I learned that past exhibitions have included some monumental artwork, even a full-size translucent polyester fabric and stainless steel “New York” apartment, complete with major appliances!

To explore art inside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is a remarkable experience. It’s like moving through a vast inner world where small dreams become large. Just as a museum should be!

Looking across Kettner Boulevard at the Santa Fe Depot. The old baggage building on the north side of the train station is now home to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Looking west across Kettner Boulevard at the Santa Fe Depot. The old baggage building on the north side of the train station is now used by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
At the north end of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is the modern three-story David C. Copley Building.
At the north end of the historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is the modern three-story David C. Copley Building.
The David C. Copley Building has featured additional gallery space, but now houses administrative offices for MCASD while their La Jolla location is renovated and enlarged.
In the past the David C. Copley Building has provided additional gallery space. It now houses administrative offices for MCASD while their La Jolla location is renovated and enlarged.
Sign in front of MCASD's entrance entices visitors to come in and gaze at the orb.
Sign in front of MCASD’s entrance invites passersby to come in and gaze at the orb.
Looking from inside the museum across Kettner Boulevard toward the America Plaza trolley station. The building seen to the right is MCASD's original downtown location, now used by the museum for educational programs.
Looking from inside the museum across Kettner Boulevard toward the America Plaza trolley station. The two-story building seen to the right is MCASD’s original downtown location, now used by the museum for educational programs.
As visitors enter the museum, artwork inside the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery immediately catch the eye.
As visitors enter the museum, massive artwork inside the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery immediately catches the eye.
Looking west out glass doors at the Figi Family Concourse and trolley and train platforms at Santa Fe Depot.
Looking west out glass doors at the Figi Family Concourse, and trolley and train platforms at downtown’s Santa Fe Depot.
One of several large cubes outside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building, by artist Richard Serra, 2005
One of several large steel cubes outside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building, by artist Richard Serra, 2005.
Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite, by artist Trevor Paglen.
Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite, by contemporary artist Trevor Paglen.
More artwork by the large arched windows of the old baggage building. This interior wall is part of MCASD's unique Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery.
More artwork by the large arching windows of the old baggage building. This interior wall is part of MCASD’s unique Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery.
Visitors to the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego enjoy photographs and other pieces by Trevor Paglen.
Visitors to the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego view photographs and other pieces by Trevor Paglen.
Sign at MCASD explains the current exhibition Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. (click to enlarge)
Sign at MCASD explains the current exhibition Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. (Click photo to enlarge for easy reading.)
Autonomy Cube, 2015, Trevor Paglen. Working hardware that allows users to connect anonymously to the internet, by routing Wi-Fi traffic through the Tor network.
Autonomy Cube, 2015, Trevor Paglen. Working hardware that allows users to connect anonymously to the internet, by routing Wi-Fi traffic through the Tor network.
True Art ... (CIA Special Activities Staff), 2016, Trevor Paglen. High temp epoxy.
True Art … (CIA Special Activities Staff), 2016, Trevor Paglen. High temp epoxy.
A look into a spacious art gallery inside MCASD's Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
A look into a spacious gallery inside MCASD’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
"Fanon" (Even the Dead Are Not Safe) Eigenface, 2017, Trevor Paglen. Dye sublimation print.
“Fanon” (Even the Dead Are Not Safe) Eigenface, 2017, Trevor Paglen. Dye sublimation print.
Amazing sights await eyes at downtown's Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego!
Astonishing sights await curious eyes at downtown’s Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego!

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!

Utopian and dystopian Futures Past and Present.

Right half of MMCXVIII/MDCCC, 2018, Emma Laraby. Digital painting.
Right half of MMCXVIII/MDCCC, 2018, Emma Laraby. Digital painting.

A fascinating exhibition opened yesterday at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. It’s titled Futures Past and Present.

San Diego State University students and faculty from the School of Art + Design have creatively addressed human society and the passage of time. Unique works of art reflect how the future has been forecast in the past, and how our present informs what is yet to come.

Visions that are presented range from the utopian to the dystopian, and many aspects of human experience and its possibilities are mixed into the artwork. Technology, the environment, urban growth, cultural transformation, and philosophical points of view are some of the themes contained in four sections: Alternate Realities, Building the Future, Inventing the Future, and Personal Prophecies.

Curious minds will enjoy this exhibition. Those who love science fiction, art or futurism should definitely head downtown to check it out!

Futures Past and Present is an exhibition now showing at the SDSU Downtown Gallery in San Diego.
Futures Past and Present is a very cool exhibition now showing at the SDSU Downtown Gallery in San Diego.
Pulp magazines in a display case recall early visions from science fiction. As human life and technology evolve, the genre also evolves.
Pulp magazines in a display case recall early visions from science fiction. As human life and technology evolve, the genre also evolves.
CareLink: transmitting internal data, 2017, Kelly Temple. Archival digital print and other materials.
CareLink: transmitting internal data, 2017, Kelly Temple. Archival digital print and other materials.
K-bots (10 robots), 2019, Andrew Blackwell. Beech, brass, plastic.
K-bots (10 robots), 2019, Andrew Blackwell. Beech, brass, plastic.
BLDNG #6 two views 2008 (In and Out), 2018, David Fobes. Archival inkjet print.
BLDNG #6 two views 2008 (In and Out), 2018, David Fobes. Archival inkjet print.
Time Capsules Project. SDSU art students created small time capsules and messages that speak to the future.
Time Capsules Project. SDSU art students created small time capsules and messages that speak to the future.
Occupying one corner of the gallery are tools of the past and present. HARD_COPY - Unforgetting Futures Past - a temporary reading room and bindery.
Occupying one corner of the gallery are tools of the past and present. HARD_COPY – Unforgetting Futures Past – a temporary reading room and bindery.
Bubble, 2018, Brandie Maddalena. Copper, felt, paracord, steel, human interaction.
Bubble, 2018, Brandie Maddalena. Copper, felt, paracord, steel, human interaction.
Washington Marbles, 2018, Tyler Young. Oil paint, acrylic paint, cardboard, dirt and plaster on canvas.
Washington Marbles, 2018, Tyler Young. Oil paint, acrylic paint, cardboard, dirt and plaster on canvas.
The Same, 2018, Tamayo Muto. Archival digital print.
The Same, 2018, Tamayo Muto. Archival digital print.
The Drain, 2016, Vincent Cordelle. Cast bronze, steel, insulated pipe.
The Drain, 2016, Vincent Cordelle. Cast bronze, steel, insulated pipe.
Untitled (Potential 40 Units), 2018, Eleanor Greer. Oil and charcoal on canvas.
Untitled (Potential 40 Units), 2018, Eleanor Greer. Oil and charcoal on canvas.
Extravehicular Activity Kit #5, 2018, Zac Keane. Birch ply, hickory, steel, duct tape, nylon.
Extravehicular Activity Kit #5, 2018, Zac Keane. Birch ply, hickory, steel, duct tape, nylon.
Little Miss Sunshine, 2018, Melissa Salgado. Acrylic and oil on canvas.
Little Miss Sunshine, 2018, Melissa Salgado. Acrylic and oil 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!

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 visit to the Air and Space Museum Annex!

Lots of cool sights await visitors to the free San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex!
Lots of cool sights await visitors to the free San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex!

One of the coolest free attractions in San Diego is located in East County at Gillespie Field. That’s where you’ll find the annex of Balboa Park’s famous Air and Space Museum!

Yesterday morning I ventured east to El Cajon to visit the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex for the very first time. I’d read that they have a collection of old aircraft, but I really didn’t know what to expect.

I was absolutely blown away!

The annex is a treasure trove of restored and unrestored aircraft, plus old exhibits once housed by the museum in Balboa Park. Volunteers at the Gillespie Field Annex are happy to show families around. Excited kids can sit inside commercial airline cockpits, and adults can marvel at the development of aviation technology over the years.

There are so many amazing displays in the hangar and outside, it’s hard to describe. So I offer you these photos with informative captions!

If you happen to be in San Diego, go check it out for yourself! While admission to the annex is free, they’d appreciate a few bucks in their donation box!

An imposing Atlas missile stands in one corner of the annex's parking lot!
An imposing Atlas missile stands in one corner of the annex’s parking lot!
Cockpit exhibits and aircraft in various stages of restoration stand outside the museum annex hangar.
Cockpit exhibits and aircraft in various stages of restoration stand outside the museum annex hangar.
Inside the hangar there's a ton of cool stuff, including many old exhibits from the main San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.
Inside the hangar there’s a ton of cool stuff, including many old exhibits from the main San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.
Replica of the Smithsonian's original Vin Fiz Flyer dangles from the ceiling. This one-of-a-kind Wright Brothers airplane was the first aircraft to fly coast-to-coast. The journey took almost three months!
Replica of the Smithsonian’s original Vin Fiz Flyer dangles from the ceiling. This one-of-a-kind Wright Brothers airplane was the first aircraft to fly coast-to-coast. The journey took almost three months!
Ryan X-13 experimental vertical take-off jet (VTOL) created by the Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego. This aircraft was test flown in 1955 at Edwards Air Force Base.
Ryan X-13 experimental vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) jet created by the Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego. This particular aircraft was test flown in 1955 at Edwards Air Force Base.
Looking past the Ryan X-13 Vertijet at other exhibits in the annex hangar, including a yellow Ryan Recruit military trainer.
Looking past the Ryan X-13 Vertijet at other exhibits in the annex hangar, including a yellow Ryan Recruit military trainer.
This particular Ryan X-13 was the result of a contract with the U.S. Air Force.
This particular Ryan X-13 was the result of a contract with the U.S. Air Force, as you can see by the markings.
Ryan ST-3KR (PT-22) Recruit, an aircraft used to train thousands of pilots during World War II.
Ryan ST-3KR (PT-22) Recruit, an aircraft used to train thousands of pilots during World War II.
In a glass display case nearby is a small model of a Ryan B-5 Brougham.
In a glass display case nearby is a small model of a Ryan B-5 Brougham. (You might recall that Charles Lindbergh’s famous Spirit of St. Louis, first plane to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo nonstop, was built in San Diego by Ryan.)
Numerous aircraft engines on display at the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex.
Numerous aircraft engines on display at the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex.
Wright R-3350-B Duplex-Cyclone 1939 aircraft power plant, at the time the most powerful radial engine in the world at 2000 HP.
Wright R-3350-B Duplex-Cyclone 1939 aircraft power plant, at the time the most powerful radial engine in the world at 2000 HP.
Pratt and Whitney 1830-17 Twin Wasp, used in several World War II aircraft.
Pratt and Whitney 1830-17 Twin Wasp, used in several World War II aircraft.
Wright J65 turbojet engine, 1954. This engine powered many military aircraft in the mid 20th century, including the very successful A-4 Skyhawk.
Wright J65 turbojet engine, 1954. This engine powered many military aircraft in the mid 20th century, including the very successful A-4 Skyhawk.
Marquardt RJ43-MA-9 ramjet engine used on Boeing CIM-10 Bomarc interceptor missiles during the 1960s. The ramjet produced speeds up to Mach 2.7, or about 1780 miles per hour.
Marquardt RJ43-MA-9 ramjet engine used on Boeing CIM-10 Bomarc interceptor missiles during the 1960s. The ramjet produced speeds up to Mach 2.7, or about 1780 miles per hour.
Rolls Royce Pegasus F402-RR-401 vectoring turbofan that powers the AV-8A Harrier short take-off and vertical landing aircraft.
Rolls Royce Pegasus F402-RR-401 vectoring turbofan that powers the AV-8A Harrier short take-off and vertical landing aircraft.
A long mural in the annex's hangar shows a variety of modern aircraft.
A long mural in the annex’s hangar shows a variety of modern aircraft.
Bleriot XI dangles from the ceiling. The revolutionary 1908 aircraft had a new Anzani engine that could run for one whole hour, allowing it to fly across the English Channel.
Bleriot XI dangles from the ceiling. The revolutionary 1908 aircraft had a new Anzani engine that could run for one whole hour, allowing it to fly across the English Channel.
Sopwith Pup Craftsmen of the San Diego Aerospace Museum, a volunteer aircraft building project back in 2000-2003.
Sopwith Pup Craftsmen of the San Diego Aerospace Museum, a volunteer aircraft building project back in 2000-2003.
Rearwin Cloudster 8135, once displayed on the museum floor in Balboa Park.
Rearwin Cloudster 8135, once displayed on the museum floor in Balboa Park.
One more look inside the hangar before I head outside to see lots more cool stuff.
One more look inside the hangar before I head outside to see lots more cool stuff.
The aircraft in the foreground is a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15. Mounted beyond it is a Ryan Model 147 Lightning Bug jet-powered reconnaissance drone.
The aircraft in the foreground is a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15. Mounted beyond it is a Ryan Model 147 Lightning Bug jet-powered reconnaissance drone.
Outside the hangar doors is the nose of an old Northwest Stratocruiser that once flew to Honolulu.
Outside the hangar doors is the nose of an old Northwest Stratocruiser that once flew to Honolulu.
Hundreds of switches and gauges inside the amazing cockpit of a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. One can sit in the pilot's seat and pretend to fly across the Pacific Ocean!
Hundreds of switches, dials and gauges inside the amazing cockpit of a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. One can sit in the pilot’s seat and pretend to fly across the Pacific Ocean!
Someone created this silly flying car named the Spirit of San Diego!
Someone created this silly flying car named the Spirit of San Diego! I kind of doubt they ever got this contraption off the ground.
Looking beyond a General Dynamics F-16N at a line of military aircraft displayed outside.
Looking beyond a General Dynamics F-16N at a line of military aircraft displayed outside.
North American F-86F Sabre from the Korean War period.
North American F-86F Sabre from the Korean War period.
Convair F-102A Delta Dagger built in San Diego 1956-1957.
Convair F-102A Delta Dagger built in San Diego 1956-1957.
An old Neptune Aviation Services P2V-7 aerial firefighting plane--Tanker 43.
An old Neptune Aviation Services P2V-7 aerial firefighting plane–Tanker 43.
I learned there are several restoration projects now underway at the museum annex at Gillespie Field. I believe this is an old Piasecki H-21 helicopter.
I learned there are several restoration projects now underway at the museum annex at Gillespie Field. I believe this is an old Piasecki H-21 helicopter. Looks like it needs some work.
Next to the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex parking lot stands a tall Atlas Missile 2-E! This missile was used for a static firing at Sycamore Test Facility.
Next to the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex parking lot stands a tall Atlas Missile 2-E! This missile was used for a static firing at Sycamore Canyon Test Facility east of MCAS Miramar. It used to stand at the entrance to Missile Park, beside the old General Dynamics complex in Kearny Mesa.
National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark Atlas Space Booster Family - San Diego, California - 1957. Developed by General Dynamics Convair and the U.S. Air Force.
National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark Atlas Space Booster Family – San Diego, California – 1957. Developed by General Dynamics Convair and the U.S. Air Force.
Visit the free San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex and you'll learn much about aviation history!
Visit the free San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex and you’ll learn a whole lot about aviation 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!

Polynesian canoe Hikianalia visits San Diego!

Traditional voyaging canoe Hikianalia docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the County Administration Building in the background.
Photo of traditional voyaging canoe Hikianalia docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, with the County Administration Building in the background.

Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego are in for a special treat this weekend!

I noticed during my evening walk along the Embarcadero that the traditional voyaging canoe Hikianalia is visiting from Hawaii. And the public is invited to come aboard for tours!

The Hikianalia, of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, has sailed over 2800 miles across the Pacific Ocean and down the California coast. Crew members are engaging in cultural exchanges and spreading a positive environmental message at every port they visit. The amazing Hikianalia uses sustainable, Earth-friendly technology, including electric motors that are powered by onboard photovoltaic panels.

I hadn’t realized the Hikianalia had arrived a couple days ago, and that Mayor Kevin Faulconer declared October 30, “Hikianalia Day” in San Diego! The canoe’s crew members were greeted by representatives of the Kumeyaay Nation and welcome chants and hula from San Diego’s Hawaiian community.

To see photos of the Hikianalia’s arrival in San Diego and the colorful welcoming ceremony, click here.

After public canoe tours this weekend at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the Hikianalia will prepare to return to Hawaii in mid-November.

Hikianalia is welcomed to San Diego during its California Voyage. The public can enjoy weekend tours of the canoe at the Maritime Museum.
Hikianalia is welcomed to San Diego during its California Voyage. The public can enjoy weekend tours of the technologically advanced Polynesian canoe at the Maritime Museum.
Hikianalia docked near several historic vessels of the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
Hikianalia docked on San Diego Bay near several historic vessels of the Maritime Museum.

UPDATE!

I stepped aboard the canoe on Sunday!

I learned from a crew member that the canoe primarily uses sail power, but will employ its solar-powered engines when coming into port.

Their ocean voyage has included some research and data collection, including analysis of the fish they catch. DNA is collected and each fish is checked to see whether it has eaten any plastic garbage.

The crew of Hikianalia has also transmitted their positive environmental message to students around the world, working with many schools.

Visitors check out the Hikianalia during its visit to San Diego.
Visitors check out the Hikianalia during its visit to San Diego.
This cool dude up on the passenger deck of the Berkeley was playing mellow island music.
This cool dude up on the passenger deck of the Berkeley was playing mellow island music.

IMG_5405z

As we waited in line, a crew member told us about their current voyage down the California coast, and explained this map of an earlier ocean journey. Their next voyage will be around the Pacific Rim, including a visit to Alaska.
As we waited in line, a crew member told us about their current voyage down the California coast, and explained this map of an earlier ocean journey. Their next voyage will be around the Pacific Rim, including a visit to Alaska.
Almost to the front of the line!
Almost to the front of the line!
Getting ready to board the Hikianalia.
Getting ready to board the Hikianalia.
Lots of curious visitors were walking about the wooden deck of the Polynesian canoe.
Lots of curious visitors were walking about the wooden deck of the Polynesian voyaging canoe.
Everyone had to check out the huge oar-like rudder.
Everyone had to check out the huge oar-like rudder.
Garlands of tropical flowers decorate the bow of Hikianalia.
Garlands of tropical flowers decorate the bow of Hikianalia.
These friendly crew members selling t-shirts smiled for my camera!
These friendly crew members selling t-shirts smiled for my camera!

IMG_5505z

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 dark, disturbing look at art Beyond Reason.

Close photo of bronze figures of Tim Shaw's Middle World.
Close photo of several bronze figures in Tim Shaw’s Middle World.

A very disturbing and powerfully thought-provoking exhibition has recently opened at the San Diego Museum of Art. Yesterday I walked through the dark galleries that contain Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason, and this morning my mind is still digesting the half dozen fantastic installations created by the celebrated artist.

Tim Shaw is a Northern Irish sculptor who, as a child in 1972, witnessed firsthand the bombing of a Belfast cafe during Bloody Friday. That exact, horrifying moment is recreated in a bloodless, abstract way in his installation Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous. Eerily spinning trays hover in the air above suddenly upset tables and chairs; the shadows of fleeing people stream across surrounding windows.

That same feeling of malice and inescapable chaos seems to echo elsewhere in Tim Shaw’s work.

Walking through the dim galleries containing Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason feels inhumanly bleak. Little light, the low sound of a hollow, echoing, machine-like vibration all around, no human warmth. Like the corridors of a dark artificial video game world where there is no hope for actual daylight. Where synthetic horrors await around corners.

Themes explored by the six immersive installations range from the primal, unconscious complexity of human beings, to cynical exploitation in a materialistic society, to the uncertainties that rise in a technologically directed world.

I found the first installation that I encountered, Middle World, to be extraordinarily rich with symbolism. A massive sculpture, Middle World presents many small bronze figures that appear to have emerged from ancient mythology, Shakespeare, or the fleshy canvases of Hieronymus Bosch. The weird, expressive figures, some in masks, are arranged on a throne-like stage above what seem to be stalactites and beneath what seem to be Gothic columns and skeletons in catacombs. The sculpture incorporates the shapes of objects that are both modern and ancient, commonplace and supernatural. It’s a mixture of space and time and human passion and compulsion and perplexity. A melting, flowing work of sculpted substance like an unending dream.

Other more disturbing installations that compose the exhibition concern dehumanization and include subjects like the silencing of free speech, vigilantism, human exploitation and depravity.

Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be presents two rocking-chair-like figures that are in constant back-and-forth motion. Both are gagged, and the muffled voices that emerge from either are unintelligible. According to a nearby sign, the piece represents how voices are silenced with money, and how people are influenced by the proliferation of disinformation on the internet. (What it fails to mention is that billions of ordinary people now speak their thoughts more freely than ever because of the Information Age. As a blogger who pays close attention to such things, I can tell you that many ideas don’t go unheard because of stifling propaganda or censorship, but because the internet has become a complete babel of voices all desperately competing to be heard.)

Another unique installation concerns technology and our evolving understanding of what it is to be human. Aptly titled The Birth of Breakdown Clown, the interactive sculpture seems to have a great deal of potential. Visitors enter a small room and stand before a human-like robot that moves its head and limbs while engaging with the audience. A member of the audience is invited to stand before the robot and converse with it. Breakdown Clown is said to possess artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, during the performance that I witnessed, I couldn’t detect any sort of autonomous machine intelligence, or even working speech recognition. With an odd combination of humor, condescension and poetic rambling, the Genesis-quoting robot guided the entire conversation. Its often disconnected statements and responses were apparently composed by the artist.

Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason as a whole is a very forceful, challenging work of contemporary art that will strongly engage active minds. It presents unspeakable horror. It isn’t for the squeamish. It’s an examination of human darkness and potential inhuman darkness. It undertakes a quest for understanding. That which has come into existence tries to understand its own creation. An electronic clown tries to define the Mystery that underlies all things.

However, to my thinking, darkness should be contrasted with light. And clowns that are witty have a beating heart.

These photographs were taken by my poor old camera in very dim darkness, where no flash photography is permitted. The images are a bit blurry, but somehow that makes them more potent!

If you want to be intellectually challenged, and journey through galleries that are filled with warnings, uncertainty and darkness, check out Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason, which is now showing at the San Diego Museum of Art through February 24, 2019.

Middle World. Mixed media, 1989-Current, by artist Tim Shaw.
Middle World. Mixed media, 1989-Current, by artist Tim Shaw.
Ancient symbols and strange figures contained in Tim Shaw's Middle World.
Ancient symbols and strange figures contained in Tim Shaw’s Middle World.
Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous, Working Drawing I. Ink, charcoal, and collage, 2015, by artist Tim Shaw.
Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous, Working Drawing I. Ink, charcoal, and collage, 2015, by artist Tim Shaw.
Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Alternative Authority. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Alternative Authority. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
The Birth of Breakdown Clown, an artificially intelligent, interactive, speaking robot by Irish sculptor Tim Shaw.
The Birth of Breakdown Clown, an artificially intelligent, interactive, speaking robot by Irish sculptor Tim Shaw.

If you’d like to read a few philosophical works of fiction that I’ve written–stories about the complexity of life–about the mingling of darkness and light–please visit Short Stories by Richard.

Photos outside 2018 Maker Faire San Diego!

I learned this huge robotic praying mantis that shoots flames from its legs is named Zap!
I learned this huge robotic praying mantis that shoots flames from its legs is named Zap!

Another October! Time for another Maker Faire San Diego in Balboa Park!

Today, after checking out Trolley Dances at Hazard Center, I headed into Balboa Park to simply walk around and absorb the creativity. It’s amazing what human intelligence and imagination can produce! The potential is limitless! Marvelous new inventions keep on coming!

2018 Maker Faire San Diego continues through Sunday. Check it out!

Visitors to Balboa Park look at a map showing the many exhibitors and demonstrations at 2018 Maker Faire San Diego.
Visitors to Balboa Park look at a map showing the many exhibitors and demonstrations at 2018 Maker Faire San Diego.
A big crowd surrounds 30-foot-tall, flame throwing Robot Resurrection during 2018 Maker Faire San Diego in Balboa Park.
A big crowd surrounds 30-foot-tall, flame throwing Robot Resurrection during 2018 Maker Faire San Diego in Balboa Park.
These students invented a contraption that can fire multiple Frisbees in rapid succession.
These students invented a contraption that can fire multiple Frisbees in rapid succession.
Russell the Electric Giraffe is back for another Maker Faire San Diego!
Russell the Electric Giraffe is back for another Maker Faire San Diego!
Exploring the sensors and capabilities of a cool robotic giraffe!
Exploring the sensors and capabilities of a cool robotic giraffe!
Kids were riding cupcake cars around the Plaza de Balboa during the annual maker event.
Kids were riding cupcake cars around the Plaza de Balboa during the annual maker event.
Other kids have fun controlling robots that move blocks.
Other kids have fun controlling robots that move blocks.
Karen, of the Southwestern Artists' Association in Spanish Village, was painting stones out on the patio!
Karen, of the Southwestern Artists’ Association in Spanish Village, was painting stones out on the patio!
Karen's Rescue Rocks are fun and colorful!
Karen’s Rescue Rocks are fun and colorful!
Artistic kids were using lapidary equipment inside the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society Museum.
Artistic kids were using lapidary equipment inside the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society Museum.
This guy on the Spanish Village patio was creating small works of art from onyx.
This guy on the Spanish Village patio was creating small works of art from onyx.
People were testing out virtual reality at the Japanese Friendship Garden during Maker Faire San Diego.
People were testing out virtual reality at the Japanese Friendship Garden during Maker Faire San Diego.
Nearby, others were piecing together stuff that was 3D printed.
Nearby, others were piecing together stuff that was 3D printed.
The potted Rootbound Players would play music when their leaves were touched by a finger!
The potted Rootbound Players would play music when their leaves were touched by a finger!
People make Kokedama, Japanese traditional moss art! The roots of small plants are bound in living moss!
People make Kokedama, Japanese traditional moss art! The roots of small plants are bound in living moss!
This guy had created some small but very cool working submarines.
This guy had created some small but very cool working submarines.
UCSD students created an unmanned aerial vehicle for an academic competition.
UCSD students had created an unmanned aerial vehicle for an academic competition.
Creative kids were cutting out words and piecing together their stories with Words To Go!
Creative kids were cutting out words and piecing together their stories with Words To Go!
This guy was melting glass and forming a beautiful jewelry pendant.
This guy was melting glass and forming a beautiful jewelry pendant.
Ladies were making crafts inside the House of Sweden at the International Cottages. Perhaps they should have been a part of Maker Faire San Diego!
Ladies were making crafts inside the House of Sweden at the International Cottages. Perhaps they should have been a part of Maker Faire San Diego!
Do You Trust is a sculpture that enfolds visitors and plays an audio recording of poetry concerning trust.
Do You Trust is a sculpture that enfolds visitors and plays an audio recording of poetry concerning trust.
This cool minibike is made of odd objects, like a vegetable strainer, radio tuner, cereal bowl and umbrella. It's called the Time Machine.
This cool minibike is made of odd objects, like a vegetable strainer, radio tuner, cereal bowl and umbrella. It’s called the Time Machine.
Alastair, The Great Fairy Tinkerer hangs out in front of the future Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park.
Alastair, The Great Fairy Tinkerer hangs out in front of the future Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park.
A small human meets friendly Know Mann - Giant Robot Puppet!
A small human meets friendly Know Mann – Giant Robot Puppet!

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