Memory Traces: art inspired by La Jolla history.

There’s a fascinating exhibition now showing at the La Jolla Historical Society’s Wisteria Cottage Gallery. San Diego artists, after viewing artifacts in the La Jolla Historical Society’s archives, have created pieces that are inspired and informed by the past. The exhibition is titled Memory Traces: Artists Transform the Archive.

I visited the gallery inside the historic Wisteria Cottage yesterday. It’s free to the public and worth the time if you’re curious about local history or the creative process–or philosophy.

According to the La Jolla Historical Society’s description here: The exhibition draws its title from a 1925 essay by Sigmund Freud, in which he explored the way remembrance functions . . . The exhibition proposes that the archives’ contemporary value may, in fact, lie in its malleability . . . for critique, for expanding understandings of experience and of history, for transformation, and the creation of new narratives…

As I walked about looking at the pieces, I could see how this world we live in is a continuum, where past, present and future are entangled and inseparable, not unlike all the moments in our own lives.

I took photos of two examples of the artwork…

Historical photo of Spanish artist Eduardo Chillida’s sculpture Our Father’s House, installed in La Jolla Village in 1989 as part of an outdoor art exhibition. A study for a larger work later installed in Guernica, Spain, honoring lives lost during the Spanish Civil War.
their father’s house, by artist Joe Yorty, 2022. A wood replica with photos and newspaper clippings concerning the building, movement and destruction of local buildings. An homage to past lives, including the artist’s own father.
Cloth banner with words Matinee Today that was once used at La Jolla’s historic Granada Theatre.
Matinee Today, by artist Allison Wiese, 2021. Photos of material from the past being used in present life in many different ways. The past persists. Nothing ever truly goes away.

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!

Bright, colorful butterflies fill National City parks!

Giant butterflies take flight in the blue sky above three National City parks!

Should you visit Butterfly Park, Kimball Park or Las Palmas Park, you’re certain to spot many large butterfly wings! The colorful sculptures were created in 2015 by families throughout the National City community.

Every butterfly is composed of two pieces of cut aluminum, and the separate sides of each butterfly are uniquely decorated with different colors of reflective vinyl tape. I’ve been told that car headlights shining on the butterflies at night reveal bright bursts of life!

The project, led by local artist Roberto Salas, is called Butterfly Path. Its creation was made possible through a commission from the San Diego Museum of Art’s “Open Spaces” program, supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.

The first time I spotted some of these butterflies–last year at Kimball Park–I didn’t know a thing about them. Comments made by readers provided great information. Revisit that old blog post here.

Since then I’ve seen more of the beautiful sculptures, and have learned more about them, particularly during an amazing tour of Butterfly Park, which you can read about by clicking here.

These artistic butterflies symbolize an ongoing metamorphosis in National City. The transformation is to an even more proud, healthy and environmentally friendly community that shines with greater and greater beauty.

Here are just some of the butterflies you might encounter, in no particular order…

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 beautiful transformation in National City!

A beautiful transformation began in National City in 2013. Hundreds of community members came together to make a positive, permanent change. Butterfly Park, a blighted strip of land near the corner of 20th Street and Palm Avenue, became more like its namesake!

I first learned about this wonderful transformation on Sunday, during an incredible tour provided by Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center’s super nice Cooking for Salud Coordinator, Patty Corona.

We walked through the park and were greeted by colorful butterflies everywhere we turned!

I learned how, during the course of several days, families from throughout the neighborhood, school students, the Kitchenistas of Olivewood Gardens, and even the mayor of the time worked in the park installing butterfly beauty: mosaics on benches, a table and a trashcan, beautiful metalwork on posts, and an outdoor stage shaped like a butterfly wing! Vegetation that attracts butterflies was planted, too!

According to this article, “The project was led by Pomegranate CenterOlivewood Gardens and Learning Center…pitched the idea for a community gathering space in November 2012.

(The Pomegranate Center was also instrumental in creating the Manzanita Gathering Place in City Heights. See those photos here.)

As we walked through the park, I learned the wavy metal sculptures on posts were created by Sweetwater High School welding students, and the log benches were the work of former National City Mayor Ron Morrison.

In 2015 the very colorful aluminum butterfly sculptures you see in my photos were decorated by community members using reflective vinyl, under the leadership of local artist Roberto Salas. This “Butterfly Path” can also be found in two other National City Parks: Kimball Park and Las Palmas Park.

I’ll be posting more photos of them in an upcoming blog post!

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!

Help turn Balboa Park into a leading world treasure!

The House of Charm and California Tower in silhouette as day ends.
The House of Charm and California Tower in silhouette as day ends.

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you already love Balboa Park. You know what a truly incredible place it is.

Well, Forever Balboa Park wants to take San Diego’s crown jewel to a whole new level. They want the park to be recognized as one of the premier urban parks in the entire world.

We’ve seen how Balboa Park has undergone numerous amazing enhancements during the past couple years: a reimagined Mingei International Museum, new International Cottages, a new Pan American Plaza with ongoing beautification of buildings in the Palisades area, an upcoming very popular Comic-Con Museum, a new viewing platform for the historic Moreton Bay Fig, and much more!

Now there’s a search for a leader who will transform our amazing park in the eyes of the world.

Forever Balboa Park is searching for a world-class leader. According to the job description: The President and CEO must be equally a visionary, diplomat, fundraiser, conservationist, and community leader who is influential beyond the confines of the park. Forever Balboa Park’s first CEO will unify the community around a shared, inclusive vision to transform this urban gem into one of the world’s premier urban parks.

Do you know a passionate, talented someone who can help to accomplish all this? Spread the word! Learn more here!

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!

Famous painting by Bruegel turns to chalk!

This afternoon a famous painting displayed in the Timken Museum of Art was turned to chalk! I witnessed part of the transformation myself, right in front of the museum in Balboa Park!

The Timken Museum’s summer weekend Creation Station event continued today. Part of the fun was a chalk art recreation of the 1557 painting Parable of the Sower, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Anybody walking through the Plaza de Panama could watch the chalk artist at work. If you want to compare the chalk art I photographed with the actual oil painting, click here!

The outdoor Creation Station’s amazing chalk art flows from the talented hands of @sidewalk_chalk_dad.

Unfortunately, I didn’t walk by after the artwork was completed. Use your imagination!

You can see another chalk art recreation of a painting in the Timken’s fine art collection by clicking here!

That smiling guy covered with chalk? The artist, of course!

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!

Changing light at Tuna Harbor.

The following series of photos represents a span of time from about 45 minutes before sunset to about 10 minutes after sunset. I took these shots this evening.

I lifted my camera periodically as I sat on a bench beside Tuna Harbor, on San Diego’s beautiful Embarcadero.

It was interesting to watch how the light would subtly change.

Our world’s inexorable journey through space and time gradually transformed Tuna Harbor’s fishing boats, the water and the sky, and various downtown buildings.

I took these photos as I sat working on a new short story. I’m pretty sure it will be titled Light at the Edges.

I hope the story will be finished to my satisfaction in the near future. When the words feel right, I’ll publish them here.

Pages in the story of a city.

There are infinite pages in the story of any city.

Eyes briefly pass over the turning pages.

I lifted my camera to take a few photographs during my morning walk downtown…

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!

To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Windblown leaves on a November day.

A windy November day. Autumn between the USS Midway and Ruocco Park.

Leaves flutter on trees, release, tumble along the grass.

They return to the Earth.

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!

That moment you see inexplicable magic.

There are moments when this world seems suddenly, inexplicably transformed.

New light.

New perception.

New understanding.

A short story came to me yesterday while I sat in Balboa Park across from a splashing fountain. My eyes were resting on the broad scene.

So many people, engaged in every sort of activity. So much humanity. And at the center of it all, that everlasting fountain.

Shimmering and shining like magic.

I took out my pen and wrote down a few inspired words.

They might form a short story, or they might form a poem–I’ll let you decide. Read it here.

Do smartphones make people more shallow?

I probably shouldn’t post this blog. I share some of the guilt. After all, I’m a producer of internet content.

During my walk through Balboa Park today, I felt creeping despair.

Balboa Park is an amazing, wonderful, special place. Lifted eyes see a world that is infinitely interesting and beautiful.

About one third of the people I observed had their eyes absolutely fixed to the tiny screens of their smartphones. They were too obsessed to notice the vast world around them. Nor other people around them.

Of these, many were grown adults searching for a virtual Pokemon, a game fit for the simple mind of a child. At least these people looked up from time to time.

Yes, I know some people were busy communicating with friends, or perhaps looking up information, or a map of the park.

I also know that our lives are complex and so is human psychology. Everyone is different. I, too, have my silly, simple pleasures. It’s hard to draw firm conclusions. Technology changes. The culture changes. People change. Fads come and go.

But it does appear that humans are powerfully drawn to stimuli on isolated screens.

And, of course, the wonderful thing about smartphones is they can make life so much easier. Eye-to-eye politeness is no longer required. The potential for vulnerability in spontaneously spoken words is thankfully avoided. Problem solving is automatic. Critical thinking is less and less necessary. Simple and self-comforting ideas flood social media. Self absorption is made as easy as pie. Narcissism is rewarded.

I often wonder, as virtual reality becomes increasingly prevalent, whether people will permanently insert their entire selves into shallow, shrinking virtual worlds. The Matrix, of our own choosing.

If it feels good, why fight it?