Life takes form in a new Ion Theatre mural.

Ion Theatre artist Kate Schott paints a cool mural on a wall in Hillcrest.
Ion Theatre artist Kate Schott paints a cool mural on a wall in Hillcrest.

A mural is being painted on a wall next to the entrance of the Ion Theatre in Hillcrest. I first saw the new artwork a few days ago, so I snapped several photos. Today I swung by again after work to see what progress had been made.

By comparing photos, you can get a glimpse of the creative process. Kate Schott, the muralist, is a multi-talented Ion Theatre artist who is bringing this cool vision to life.

I hope to swing by on a later day to see the finished work! I’ll post photos!

A few days later, a human figure in the mural is coming to life. I look forward to seeing the finished work!
A few days later, a human figure in the mural is coming to life. I look forward to seeing the finished work!

UPDATE!

On June 7th I walked by the Ion Theatre again. More painting has been completed! The mural is gradually coming to life!

A second figure has been painted in the growing forest of green trees.
Detail has been added to the first figure. And a second figure has now been painted in the forest of green trees.
A third figure on the left side of the developing mural. Many colors outline the sitting figure of a woman.
A third figure on the left side of the developing mural. Many colors outline the form of a sitting woman.
I don't know what this is. We'll have to find out!
I don’t know what this is. We’ll have to wait a little longer and find out!
Finally, a face has emerged in the lower right corner of the Ion Theatre mural!
Finally, a singing face has emerged in the lower right corner of the new Ion Theatre mural!

ANOTHER UPDATE!

I took this photo on June 19:

The left side of the new Ion Theatre mural is taking form!
The left side of the new Ion Theatre mural is taking form!

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!

Photos behind the scenes at Copley Symphony Hall!

Old photograph in lobby of Symphony Towers shows the old downtown Fox Theatre, today's surprising home of the San Diego Symphony.
Photograph in lobby of Symphony Towers shows the old downtown Fox Theatre, today’s surprising home of the San Diego Symphony.

Today I enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of Copley Symphony Hall, home of the San Diego Symphony. The tour was part of the big OPEN HOUSE 2017 event that is being staged this weekend by the San Diego Architectural Foundation. An amazing 47 buildings featuring diverse architectural styles are being showcased around downtown, from Bankers Hill to Barrio Logan.

Copley Symphony Hall was originally built as the Fox Theatre in 1929, an excellent example of the famous chain of Fox movie palaces. Highly ornate Gothic Revival touches can be seen in the preserved lobby and inside the opulent theatre itself. Should you stand outside on the city street today, all you’d see is a tall skyscraper: Symphony Towers. The modern 34-story skyscraper was built literally over and around the historic Fox Theatre in 1989!

Stepping into Copley Symphony Hall is like being suddenly transported back in time. Take a look at some photos and read the captions for more info!

Visitors check out historical photos of the Fox Theatre movie palace on a wall near the San Diego Symphony box office.
Visitors check out historical photos of the Fox Theatre movie palace on a wall near the San Diego Symphony box office.
Guide from the San Diego Symphony provides some background before a behind-the-scenes tour of Copley Symphony Hall.
Guide from the San Diego Symphony provides some background before a behind-the-scenes tour of Copley Symphony Hall.
How the Fox Theatre appeared almost a century ago. A modern 34-story skyscraper, Symphony Towers, was built around it in 1989. The building's parking levels are directly above the theatre!
How the Fox Theatre appeared almost a century ago. A modern 34-story skyscraper, Symphony Towers, was built around it in 1989. The new building’s parking levels were constructed directly above the old theatre!
The Fox Theatre was the most elegant place to enjoy culture in San Diego for decades. Countless concerts, shows and movies have been enjoyed here by many generations.
The Fox Theatre was the most elegant place to enjoy culture in San Diego for decades. Countless concerts, shows and movies have been enjoyed here by many generations.
Our tour group has entered the theatre's elegant main lobby. Movie executive William Fox created a chain of opulent theaters in the 1920s. They featured many styles of dazzling ornamentation. At one time this was a working fountain!
Our tour group has entered the theatre’s main lobby. Movie executive William Fox developed a popular chain of theaters in the 1920s. They featured many styles of dazzling ornamentation. At one time this was a working fountain!
I learned the central face above the old fountain represents William Fox himself. Fox was born in Hungary and his parents emigrated to America. He eventually created a vast entertainment empire.
I learned the central face above the old fountain represents William Fox himself. Fox was born in Hungary and his parents emigrated to America. He eventually created a vast entertainment empire.
A look at one amazing corner of the dramatic ceiling.
A look at one amazing corner of the lobby’s dramatic ceiling.
The elegant main lobby of Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego.
The elegant main lobby of Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego.
A bust at one end of the main lobby is of the beloved German composer Beethoven.
A bust at one end of the main lobby is of the beloved German composer Beethoven.
We step into Symphony Hall to see what few see. We will file down through the empty theatre and through a door that connects to backstage.
We step through a door to see what few see. We will file down through the empty theatre and through another door that connects to backstage.
Heading toward backstage. I believe those stairs lead up to the rear stage door on Eighth Avenue.
Heading toward backstage. I believe those stairs lead up to the rear stage door on Eighth Avenue.
Behind the scenes! All sorts of interesting equipment could be glimpsed in the darkness behind the stage.
Behind the scenes! All sorts of interesting equipment could be glimpsed in the darkness behind the stage.
I believe I see a xylophone tucked in this closet-like space!
I believe I see a xylophone tucked in this closet-like space!
Through that rather ordinary-looking door is the San Diego Symphony's elegant stage! Beautiful music requires hard work done by those who toil unseen.
Through that rather unimpressive door is the San Diego Symphony’s elegant stage! Beautiful music requires hard work done by those who toil unseen.
This is part of a comfortable rest area behind the stage for the San Diego Symphony musicians. Visiting entertainers also enjoy the peace and moments of relaxation.
This is part of a comfortable rest area behind the stage for San Diego Symphony musicians. Visiting entertainers also enjoy an opportunity for relaxation.
We've left backstage and are heading up some stairs to Copley Symphony Hall's upper level, whose entrance is on hilly Seventh Avenue.
We’ve left backstage and are heading up some stairs to Copley Symphony Hall’s upper level, whose entrance is on hilly Seventh Avenue.
Some rather fancy decorative artwork can be seen above the doorway that leads to Aisle 5.
Some rather fancy decorative artwork can be seen above the doorway that leads to Aisle 5.
The interior of the theatre was too dark for my old camera to capture many good photographs. After listening to a brief organ concert, our tour group prepares to exit Copley Symphony Hall's upper seating level.
The interior of the theatre was too dark for my old camera to capture many good photos. After listening to a brief organ concert, our tour group prepares to exit Copley Symphony Hall’s upper seating level.
One of several smaller chandeliers in the spectacular ceiling.
One of several smaller chandeliers in the spectacular ceiling.
The huge, resplendent central chandelier and those around it can be lowered on cables. This is helpful when about a thousand light bulbs need replacement! In the olden days, dancing girls performed for the audience from atop this chandelier!
The huge, resplendent central chandelier and those around it can be lowered on cables. This is helpful when a thousand light bulbs need replacement! In the olden days, dancing girls performed for the audience from atop this chandelier!
One last glimpse. Some fun detail near the ceiling of the historic Fox Theatre, now home to the San Diego Symphony.
One last glimpse. Some fun detail near the ceiling of the historic Fox Theatre, now home to the world-class San Diego Symphony.

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One voice in support of saving the Starlight Bowl.

You can help save Balboa Park's beloved Starlight Bowl!
You can help save Balboa Park’s beloved Starlight Bowl!

I’m no expert on this matter. Take whatever I say with a grain of salt. I’m just an ordinary guy who has lived in San Diego for a good chunk of my life.

I would like to raise my voice in support of saving the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park. I’m not affiliated with Save Starlight. They have no clue who I am. But I’m attached to their cause. A chain of fond memories is my bond.

Years ago I enjoyed watching a variety of theatrical productions with my family in this beloved outdoor amphitheater. Some of those productions I experienced as a child and young adult, and they made a lasting impression. They helped me to develop my particular love for the written (and spoken) word, and for the great outdoors. My small world expanded as I sat beneath a universe of twinkling stars and absorbed great plays–those undying expressions of human longing, emotion and imagination. And it was simply exciting–like going to an outdoor concert!

I’m sure thousands–if not millions–of people have similar memories of the Starlight Bowl: memories of fine drama and pleasure under those twinkling stars, of laughs, tears and smiles, out in the fresh San Diego air, a short walk from the many other wonderful institutions in Balboa Park.

The Starlight Bowl has languished far too long. What a shame. When I walk past it during my strolls around Balboa Park, I can’t help but envision it once again filled with humanity, playing a unique role in our ever-growing city. Save Starlight is working to bring the large, functional amphitheater back to life. According to an email I received, they are now working with the city, and they intend to fill the Starlight Bowl with concerts, musicals, dance recitals, circus acts, magic shows, multicultural festivals, graduations, and much more. A few more ideas have also popped into my head: corporate events, lectures, a meeting place for large community organizations . . .

Many of my blog’s followers either live in or have a personal attachment to San Diego. Would you like to help with this effort? You know, social media sites like Facebook can have a surprisingly big impact if people post and share information and opinions. So why not make your support known? Or perhaps just tell your friends about what’s going on.

Save Starlight is making a presentation to the City of San Diego within a week, and a handwritten letter of support would be extremely powerful. Ideas for a letter might include your personal connection with Starlight, practical reasons why you would like to see the Starlight Bowl reopened, or even how you would like to become involved. Perhaps you’d like to volunteer, donate, use the venue for staging an event, have your product carried in the concessions, etc. If you plan to write, do it soon!

Letters should be sent to:

Stephen Stopper, President
Save Starlight, Inc.
9590 Chesapeake Drive
San Diego, CA 92123

The Starlight Bowl might once again be filled with humanity and magic. Your voice is important.
After languishing for many years, the Starlight Bowl might once again be filled with humanity and life. You can help make it happen.  Your voice is important.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Costumes from Shakespeare’s plays at Old Globe Theatre!

Costumes used in the production of Shakespearean plays are displayed at the First Folio exhibit in the San Diego Central Library art gallery. To the right is a costume worn by Othello.
Costumes used in the production of Shakespearean plays are displayed at the First Folio exhibit in the San Diego Central Library art gallery. To the right is a costume worn by Othello.

Here are some truly amazing costumes! They’re on display in the ninth floor art gallery at San Diego’s downtown Central Library. But not for much longer! The blockbuster First Folio exhibition, of which they are part, comes to a conclusion on July 7.

This blog post focuses on the world famous Old Globe Theatre’s contribution to this museum quality exhibit. The Old Globe has been a beloved destination in San Diego’s Balboa Park for just over 80 years, and has become one of the leading regional Shakespeare theatres in the United States.

Should you enjoy a visit to the gallery, after looking in person at these Shakespearean costumes, stage props, programs, scripts, artwork, historical photos and other fascinating material, go take a close look at one of 233 First Folios that are known to exist in the world! It’s one of the most important literary works (some would argue THE most important literary achievement) ever produced, containing 36 of Shakespeare’s immortal plays. You might not ever get this chance again!

You can see photos of the actual First Folio and much more from the rest of the exhibit here.

Visitor to First Folio special exhibit examines photos from the history of the Old Globe, one of the leading Shakespeare theatres in the United States. The cloak is from a production of Henry IV, Part 1.
Visitor to First Folio special exhibit examines photos from the history of the Old Globe, one of the leading Shakespeare theatres in the United States. The cloak is from a production of Henry IV, Part 1.
The Old Globe has grown to become the sixth largest regional theatre in the United States. It opened in Balboa Park in 1935 during the California Pacific International Exposition.
The Old Globe has grown to become the sixth largest regional theatre in the United States. It opened in Balboa Park in 1935 during the California Pacific International Exposition. (Click image to enlarge.)
Craig Noel, Founding Director, helped the Old Globe grow from a small community organization into one of America's great regional theatres.
Craig Noel, Founding Director, helped the Old Globe grow from a small community organization into one of America’s great regional theatres.
Props used in Old Globe production of Richard III include a simple crown, scepter and wooden throne.
Props used in Old Globe production of Richard III include a simple crown, scepter and wooden throne.
Newspaper articles cover how the Old Globe Theatre burned down in 1978 due to arson, then was rebuilt. Pages from a script of Hamlet were recovered from the fire.
Newspaper articles recall how the Old Globe Theatre burned down in 1978 due to arson, then was rebuilt. Pages from a script of Hamlet were recovered from the fire.
Bust of William Shakespeare. This Carrier-Belleuse sculpture was rescued from the Old Globe Theatre in 1978 as it was burning. It became a symbol of the Old Globe's survival.
Bust of William Shakespeare. This Carrier-Belleuse sculpture was rescued from the Old Globe Theatre in 1978 as it was burning. It became a symbol of the Old Globe’s survival.
One display case at the First Folio exhibit contains assorted Old Globe programs and publications from 1935 to today.
One display case at the First Folio exhibit contains assorted Old Globe programs and publications from 1935 to today.
Costume designed by Robert Morgan of character Moth, a Faerie, in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Costume designed by Robert Morgan for character Moth, a Faerie, in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Headpiece and photos from Old Globe production of The Winter's Tale.
Headpiece and photos from Old Globe production of The Winter’s Tale.
Costume of Hermione, Queen of Sicilia, in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale.
Costume for Hermione, Queen of Sicilia, in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.
Fun costume designed by Lewis Brown for court jester Touchstone, in Shakespeare's As You Like It.
Fun costume designed by Lewis Brown for court jester Touchstone, in Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
Artwork depicts Touchstone, court jester in Shakespeare's As You Like It. (To me he appears both ridiculous . . . and unsettling.)
Artwork depicts Touchstone, court jester in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. (To me he appears both ridiculous . . . and unsettling.)
Costume designed by David Israel Reynoso for Viola, in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
Costume designed by David Israel Reynoso for Viola, in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
One display case contains an assortment of cool props from past Old Globe productions.
One display case contains an assortment of cool props from past Old Globe productions.
Yorick's skull, with pages from a Hamlet script and photo of Lucas Hall in the title role.
Yorick’s skull, with pages from a Hamlet script and photo of Lucas Hall in the title role.
Costume from 2007 Old Globe production of Hamlet worn by the title character.
Costume from 2007 Old Globe production of Hamlet worn by the title character.
Costumes for Claudius and Gertrude, used in Shakespeare's famous tragedy Hamlet.
Costumes for Claudius and Gertrude, used in Shakespeare’s immortal tragedy Hamlet.

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Photos of Shakespeare’s First Folio exhibit in San Diego.

Visitors in the San Diego Library's art gallery crowd around a First Folio by William Shakespeare. Nearby costumes were used though the years for productions by the Old Globe Theatre.
Visitors in the San Diego Library’s art gallery crowd around a First Folio by William Shakespeare. Nearby costumes were used though the years for productions by the Old Globe Theatre.

Yesterday I enjoyed the blockbuster First Folio exhibit at the San Diego Central Library. One of 233 known existing Shakespeare First Folio’s is on display in the ninth floor art gallery, along with other amazing displays, including costumes, props, photos and artwork used over the years by San Diego’s world famous Old Globe Theatre. I will blog about the Old Globe Theatre part of the exhibit later. Right now I will focus on The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare: the First Folio.

This particular First Folio is on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library. The rare book contains 36 plays by William Shakespeare–almost all of his work. It was published in 1623, seven years after the famous playwright’s death. The First Folio in the library’s gallery lies safely beneath glass and is open to Hamlet and the page that contains the famous line “To be or not to be…”

Visitors are engaged in a variety of ways, and are encouraged to visit an incredible Shakespeare art and book exhibit in the Hervey Family Rare Book Room, just steps from the gallery. In addition, other Shakespeare-related displays can be found throughout the downtown library, as you will see in my photographs. If you have a chance to go, do so soon. The awesome event ends July 7.

First Folio! is on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. I was informed they own about one third of the 233 known existing rare books.
First Folio! is on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. I was informed they own about one third of the 233 known existing rare books.
The San Diego Central Library's gift shop is participating in the big event, of course!
The San Diego Central Library’s gift shop is participating in the big event, of course!
One of several displays found on various floors of the downtown public library. This one pays homage to Big Willy and his wide cultural influence.
One of several displays found on various floors of the downtown public library. This one pays homage to Big Willy and his wide cultural influence.
Library patrons are encouraged to take a pic with The Bard and share their personal Shakespeare story on social media.
Library patrons are encouraged to take a pic with The Bard and share their personal Shakespeare story on social media.
Several displays in the Hervey Family Rare Book Room include Imagining Shakespeare, drawings by the Cal State Long Beach Art Department Faculty.
Several displays in the Hervey Family Rare Book Room include Imagining Shakespeare, drawings by the Cal State Long Beach Art Department Faculty.
Othello and Desdemona, by John Lincoln. Graphite.
Othello and Desdemona, by John Lincoln. Graphite.
Rare book illustrations are included in the fine museum quality exhibit.
Rare book illustrations are included in the fine museum quality exhibit.
Visitors entering and leaving the library's art gallery are asked to share how, or in what ways, Shakespeare is or isn't relevant.
Visitors entering and leaving the library’s art gallery are asked to share how, or in what ways, Shakespeare is or isn’t relevant.
Shakespeare teaches us to look honestly at ourselves and motives.
Shakespeare teaches us to look honestly at ourselves and motives.
Shakespeare is awesome! Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.
Shakespeare is awesome! Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.
He says what's in my heart but that my brain doesn't know how to articulate.
He says what’s in my heart but that my brain doesn’t know how to articulate.
Shakespeare shows us the core of human passion and love is unchanging even as centuries pass by.
Shakespeare shows us the core of human passion and love is unchanging even as centuries pass by.
Our modern language and pop culture landscapes would be barren.
Our modern language and pop culture landscapes would be barren.
On either side of the displayed First Folio are several signs. The first one pictured introduces Shakespeare. His words are your words.
On either side of the displayed First Folio are several signs. The first one pictured introduces Shakespeare. His words are your words. (Click image to enlarge.)
After his death, two of Shakespeare's friends from his acting company put together this history-making book. The First Folio contains 36 of his plays.
After his death, two of Shakespeare’s friends from his acting company put together this history-making book. The First Folio contains 36 of his plays. (Click image to enlarge.)
There are 233 known First Folios of approximately 750 that were originally printed. The Folgers built up a vast collection of Shakespeare art, manuscripts and other books.
There are 233 known First Folios of approximately 750 that were originally printed. The Folgers built up a vast collection of Shakespeare art, manuscripts and other books. (Click image to enlarge.)
Why we turn to Shakespeare. For most people, his appeal has something to do with his brilliant use of language to express subtle, powerful ideas and feelings.
Why we turn to Shakespeare. For most people, his appeal has something to do with his brilliant use of language to express subtle, powerful ideas and feelings. (Click image to enlarge.)
Visitor to art gallery at the downtown San Diego Library looks at a rare Shakespeare First Folio, open to Hamlet. The nearby wall features a mural of 17th century London and the original Globe Theatre.
Visitor to art gallery at the downtown San Diego Library looks at a rare Shakespeare First Folio, open to Hamlet. The nearby wall features a mural of 17th century London and the original Globe Theatre.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

I’m no Shakespeare, but I’ve written some short stories that people seem to enjoy. Many are emotionally powerful. If you’d like to read them, click Short Stories by Richard.

Three magic benches in front of the Old Globe!

Three magic benches are visible in this photo. Can you spot them?
Three magic benches are visible in this photo. Can you spot them?

I discovered three magic benches during my walk through Balboa Park this afternoon! All three are situated in front of the Old Globe Theatre, one of San Diego’s great cultural treasures.

How do I know these benches are magic? It’s very easy to see! Just examine the following photos, and read the captions!

The first bench is dedicated to that magical playwright Shakespeare! As you might recall, the Bard is associated with the Globe Theatre, which was in London.
The first bench is dedicated to that magical playwright Shakespeare! As you might recall, the Bard is associated with the original Globe Theatre, which was in London.
The iconic face of William Shakespeare on the side of a fantastic public bench in Balboa Park's Old Globe Courtyard.
The iconic face of William Shakespeare on the side of a fantastic public bench in Balboa Park’s Old Globe Courtyard.  Sit here and be inspired!
A jolly character from the Shakespeare comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor.
A jolly character from the Shakespeare comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor.
A famous scene from Hamlet. Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy...
A famous scene from Hamlet. Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy…
The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego is where you want to see Shakespeare's famous tragedy Julius Caesar.
The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego is where you want to see Shakespeare’s famous plays, including the tragedy Julius Caesar.
Here's the second magic bench. Looks ordinary? Don't be deceived! Sit or lie here, and you might mysteriously be transported far away!
Here’s the second magic bench. Looks ordinary? Don’t be deceived! Sit or lie here, and you might mysteriously be transported far away!
And finally, the magic piano bench. Anybody can sit here and play through January, courtesy of the San Diego Symphony's PLAY ME: Pianos In Public Spaces event.
And finally, the magic piano bench. Anybody can sit here and play music through January, courtesy of the San Diego Symphony’s PLAY ME: Pianos In Public Spaces event!

To learn more about the ten public pianos that have been placed around San Diego, check out my previous blog post!

To experience some magic in wonderful Balboa Park, head over to the courtyard in front of the world famous Old Globe Theatre!
To experience magic in wonderful Balboa Park, head over to the courtyard in front of the world famous Old Globe Theatre!
The Old Globe Theatre has another great lineup for 2016. World-class entertainment in amazing Balboa Park!
The Old Globe has another great lineup for 2016. World-class entertainment in amazing Balboa Park!

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Do you like to read original, thought-provoking fiction? Visit my Short Stories by Richard writing blog!

Powerful genius at San Diego’s Ion Theatre.

The Aliens, a powerful award-winning play by Annie Baker, is now playing at the Ion Theatre in San Diego.
The Aliens, an award-winning play by Annie Baker, is now playing at the Ion Theatre in San Diego.

Yesterday evening I experienced something completely unexpected. Out of the blue I received a powerful jolt, as if struck to the core by a hammer.

What happened? I went to see The Aliens at the Ion Theatre. The Ion Theatre Company produces cutting edge live theater in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood. The Aliens is a very unusual and surprising play that won the 2010 Obie Award for Best New American Play. It was written by Annie Baker.

I wasn’t expecting such power.

The Aliens is well performed by three great actors: Brian Butler, Tyler Oakley and Reed Willard. The characters they portray are absolutely human–slightly absurd and terribly broken. They are troubled in ways that are disturbing, heart-wrenching. They are frustrated, uncertain, in pain, alienated, almost hopeless.

But they aren’t hopeless.

Each character possesses awkward warmth and connection. And humor.

Then, like a bolt from the blue, at the very end, the emotional hammer strikes. I won’t tell you what happens. You’ll have to find out for yourselves.

Here’s a hint. In everyone there is unique genius. And while some people might not go far in this world, that genius–that yearning outflow from each individual heart–never stops. Life’s path might be unexpectedly short, but genius does not die.

Thoughtful adults should see this play. Check out the Ion Theatre’s website. The Aliens runs through December 12.

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