Help build a new environmental field station!

Want to do something tangible to help the environment? Here’s an idea!

UC San Diego is working to fund a new Kendall-Frost Field Station on the north side of Mission Bay. They are raising funds for a much improved education, research and outreach center at the edge of the Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve.

I passed their old trailer today during my long walk through Pacific Beach, and I happened to see the following information on the fence. It includes a rendering of the proposed field station…

Join our fundraising campaign to build a new field research and education building to replace the 55-year-old trailer. The new building will feature a large multi-purpose classroom and community room, roll-up windows and a large deck, bird-watching overlook, and reception area.

Five years ago I visited the old trailer and the working area adjacent to it during Love Your Wetlands Day.

If you want to see the wetland restoration that is done here, and fun photos of that educational event, check out my past blog post.

If you want to help build the new field station, or learn more about this project, visit the UC San Diego web page here!

The trailer is covered with colorful art, but is getting very old.
The environmentally important Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve in Mission Bay.

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!

UC San Diego student art exhibited in Balboa Park.

This weekend I stepped into the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park to view their current exhibition, which is titled Measurements of Progress.

Graduating students (and a couple of professors) from UC San Diego’s 2021 Masters of Fine Arts program have contributed artwork that primarily concerns the ongoing human struggle to achieve certain ideals, particularly peace, liberty, and justice.

Given how the subject matter is largely political, it’s not surprising that some of the student art is ideological and simple. I was drawn to other more subtle, mysterious works that encourage the viewer to look open-eyed at a complex world and inward with questioning wonder.

A couple of pieces I really loved are sculptures made of fabric. Touched by soft light, they seem to hang in space like organic abstractions, sinuous, fragile, evocative, full of memory. One contains poetry.

Another strange, thought-provoking work is a series of prostheses that explores the “limited and flawed nature of human perceptions and the manner in which bodies experience the world…”

Another piece explores the cosmos in the artist’s own body. I’m not exactly sure what the 3-channel video depicts–possibly dyed slides under a microscope–but watching the movement of living cells in our immensely complex selves can make one less political, more philosophical.

Measurements of Progress is well worth checking out if you love endlessly fascinating productions of human creativity–particularly contemporary art.

The exhibition is free and will continue at the San Diego Art Institute through May 30, 2021.

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!

Trolley extension progress near UC San Diego.

If you’ve recently driven up Interstate 5 through University City, you’ve probably observed great progress has been made building the Mid-Coast Trolley extension.

Curving beside the freeway, crossing over it twice, in many places raised up high in the air, this new trolley line will connect Old Town with UC San Diego, the Westfield UTC mall, and a number of stations along the way. This northward trolley expansion is scheduled to open next year!

Most of the structures appear to be in place. I’ve noticed work crews are now stringing up electrical overhead lines. (An overhead wire is also called a catenary. This unusual word is an important clue that will help you solve the mysterious Alvarado trolley station riddle, which you can read here!)

This morning, at the end of a long walk through a quiet University City, I crossed over I-5 at Medical Center Drive and snapped photos of the Mid-Coast Trolley construction in both directions–south and north. My walk concluded at the Gilman Transit Center, a couple blocks farther west.

Looking south from the bridge you can see how the new trolley line curves past the VA Medical Center Hospital, where there will be a station. Another station beyond that, high above the freeway, will be located at Nobel Drive.

After I crossed the bridge, I turned my camera north to photograph the new Pepper Canyon at UCSD West trolley station. From there the line curves eastward, crosses the freeway at Voigt Drive, and will serve passengers boarding and disembarking at UCSD East near Scripps Memorial Hospital.

I’m looking forward to riding the Mid-Coast Trolley when it’s completed. Looks a little like a twisty amusement park ride. I bet the views will be great!

The following photos are looking south toward the Veterans Hospital…

The next three photos are looking northwest, into a small corner of UC 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!

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Photos of Chicano Legacy mural at UCSD.

During my weekend walk through UC San Diego, I headed to the east side of Peterson Hall to check out some fantastic public art: the Chicano Legacy 40 Años (Years) mosaic. The 17-by-54-foot mosaic was created in 2011 by world-renowned local muralist Mario Torero and UCSD students. Thousands of pieces of colored glass were used to create a permanent mural.

The artwork honors Chicano culture. According to the UCSD website: “It depicts the struggles and dreams of underrepresented communities, pays tribute to social justice and brings a sense of warmth and hope to UC San Diego…”

Click the photo of the plaque and you can read an explanation of the different images contained in the mosaic. The two boldest, which immediately draw your attention, are the Corn Goddess near the center representing Mother Earth, and the large face of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.

The bright sunlight on glass and the dark shadows cast by nearby trees made taking good photographs a challenge. You really should see this vibrant mural in person.

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!

Standing woman sculpture at UC San Diego.

There’s an unusual sculpture at UC San Diego rising high in the air between the Medical Teaching Facility and the Basic Sciences Building. I say it’s unusual because it doesn’t feature a “usual” depiction of the human form and I’m not sure how it affects me.

The piece’s title is Standing, and its creator is artist Kiki Smith. The public art was added to UCSD’s Stuart Collection in 1998.

Gazing up at the small, vulnerable figure you’ll notice what appear to be nails sticking out from her upper body. It looks like an example of a surgical procedure in a medical textbook. It makes her look like a passive, punctured thing, not a vibrant human. The form appears tired, aged, fragile, resigned to her inescapable condition. It strikes me the sculpture depicts a confrontation with our human mortality. She stands atop a severed tree trunk. Her face seems to ask: Why me? When the fountain feature is on (it wasn’t when I walked by), water drips from her hands. I almost wonder if the dripping water makes one think of draining blood.

Yet, to me, the sculpture isn’t really that morbid. It’s simply seems a clear-eyed observation of the material human condition.

An interpretation from the website that describes the piece emphasizes certain dualities: “Cast from a live model, the female figure atop Standing calls forth thoughts of human strength and frailty, and both the power and the limits of medicine. Serene and ageless, she stands in a Madonna-like pose that is both vulnerable and generous. Ribbons of water – the source of life – flow from her hands into the rock-lined pond below, with a soothing, mellifluous sound.”

Perhaps my own interpretation is too bleak. It’s hard to see past those nails. They remind me of an earthworm dissection I performed using a square of cardboard and pins in high school. Perhaps if clear bright water was flowing from her hands my feelings would change.

If there is strength and generosity in this sculpture, it comes from within the form, from a place unseen–an organ those sharp painful nails cannot reach. And the water’s sound must be the gentle sound of present living. A sonorous whisper from a human standing.

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!

UCSD: a walk back in time, and into the future.

Carved likeness of a famous naturalist at UC San Diego's John Muir College. The college motto is Celebrating the Independent Spirit.
Carved likeness of a famous naturalist at UCSD’s John Muir College. The college motto is Celebrating the Independent Spirit.

I was a student at UC San Diego’s John Muir College in the early 1980’s. Every so often I’ll walk through the campus and try to recrystallize those memories. But the older I get, the hazier those memories become.

My walk through UCSD yesterday did make it clear how, after nearly four decades, everything about the university has changed. The explosion of growth is ongoing. New buildings are everywhere. Muir College–once one of UCSD’s most esteemed pillars along with the original Revelle College–is now just a small part of a sprawling university that’s considered one of the best in the entire world.

It’s summer. Almost nobody could be seen as I walked around. That is, until I reached the north edge of John Muir College. Construction workers were busy.

The two enormous parking lots that I remember between Muir and Marshall Colleges are being transformed into what’s called the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood. And I learned from a friendly worker that the two new dormitory buildings near North Torrey Pines Road will be finished in a couple of weeks! Other impressive buildings, which include new academic centers—one for Social Sciences and one for Arts and Humanities–will be completed in a month or two!

The new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood is to become the home of Sixth College.

Six colleges now?

Time marches on.

Campus sign details the legacy of famous naturalist, environmentalist, explorer, and nature writer John Muir, advocate for America's national park system and one of the founders of the Sierra Club.
Campus sign details the legacy of famous naturalist, environmentalist, explorer, and nature writer John Muir, advocate for America’s national park system and one of the founders of the Sierra Club.

A grove of tall eucalyptus trees near the center of John Muir College, where there's an emphasis on individual study.
A grove of tall eucalyptus trees near the center of John Muir College, where there’s an emphasis on individual study.

McGill Hall behind trees of an outdoor common area.
McGill Hall behind trees of an outdoor common area.

It's summer. School's out. And there's the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation, too.
It’s summer. School’s out. And there’s the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation, too.

A John Muir quote on a banner. How fiercely, devoutly wild is Nature in the midst of her beauty-loving tenderness.
A John Muir quote on a banner. How fiercely, devoutly wild is Nature in the midst of her beauty-loving tenderness.

To the north of John Muir College, multiple large buildings will be finished in the near future.
To the north of John Muir College, multiple large buildings will be finished in the near future.

Banner on fence shows rendering of the new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.
Banner on fence shows rendering of the new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.

Part of UCSD's large expansion near North Torrey Pines Road.
Part of UCSD’s large expansion near North Torrey Pines Road.

A student dorm building that will be finished in a matter of two weeks. Time marches forward.
A student dormitory building that will be finished in two weeks.

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!

The cool UC San Diego Solar Chill!

Here’s something cool that I discovered today during my walk through UC San Diego!

This tree-like, sculpture-like, raised solar panel thingy is called the UC San Diego Solar Chill. It stands next to Scholars Drive North directly across from the Rady School of Management building.

As you can see from the sign, Solar Chill was designed by UCSD students who call themselves Engineers for a Sustainable World. It’s an off-the-grid charging station that’s perfect for both stressed students and their electrical devices! Anyone can recharge while sitting on one of the nearby benches, and simply chill!

A great idea! Renewable solar energy, plus a sunny outdoor gathering place where students might set their phones and laptops down for a few minutes and perhaps talk eye to eye with each other!

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!

Stonehenge, stacked blocks, and a La Jolla Project.

Looks somehow familiar?

No, this work of art in UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection isn’t titled Stonehenge. But that’s what many students call it.

Environmental artist Richard Fleischner created this monumental public art, La Jolla Project, in 1984. His artwork explores how universal architectural forms might be integrated into a natural setting. For his La Jolla Project, he used stones quarried in New England and cut near Providence, Rhode Island, on the other side of the continent. A whole lot of human calculation and labor was required to create something that appears extremely simple.

To me, it looks like an enormous giant sat down on a green patch of grass and stacked some toy blocks. The blocks are scattered and assembled in several ways, often forming columns, benches and arches. These simple blocks remind the viewer that all architecture–all existing physical matter in fact–can be broken down into the most rudimentary shapes we learn in basic geometry.

As you walk around La Jolla Project, you feel you’ve entered a strange otherworld that is somehow different from ordinary space and time. It’s a place where abstract forms have materialized in a familiar, park-like landscape. Did they descend from the stars? From the hand of a gigantic, playful child? From the realm of pure ideas? (As I think about it, these vertical forms almost appear like words spelled out with an alien alphabet, including a punctuation mark here or there.)

Should you ever visit UC San Diego, wander through this mazy construction and perhaps arrive at your own conclusion.

But first you must find La Jolla Project on the Revelle College lawn south of Galbraith Hall, beside Scholars Drive South, north of the La Jolla Playhouse.

Bring a compass.

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!

Fascination, reflection, and a Recovered Stream.

I was getting ready to board a trolley this evening at America Plaza when activity in a window caught my eye.

A person inside the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego gallery was working above a small planet amid water-like artwork!

The title of the coming exhibition is Oscar Romo: Recovered Stream. According to the museum website: This fall and winter MCASD will present multiple talks by distinguished scientists who will share their knowledge about climate change in conjunction with the participatory exhibition Oscar Romo: Recovered Stream.

With some searching on the internet, I learned environmentalist Oscar Romo is a professor at UC San Diego. His area of expertise is coastal and marine ecosystem conservation, using a natural systems design perspective. He has a special interest in the San Diego-Tijuana border region.

The upcoming talks should be very interesting!

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 of Donal Hord’s sculpture Spring Stirring.

During my walk through the Scripps Institute of Oceanography on Saturday, I paused in the grassy area just north of the Judith and Walter Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics Munk Laboratory to admire an amazing sculpture by Donal Hord.

Spring Stirring, 1947-1948, was carved from black diorite and stands 46 inches tall. It was exhibited in 1949 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Third Sculpture International. In 1964, Spring Stirring was given to the University of California’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography by Cecil and Ida Green.

Donal Hord, who achieved worldwide fame for his fine sculptures, developed a deep love for San Diego. He lived most of his life here. Today some of his most important pieces endure as public art around San Diego.

To see the sculpture for yourself (and some fantastic coastal scenery in La Jolla) follow in my footsteps and take a short walk here.

You can find many photographs of Donal Hord’s public sculptures and reliefs by putting his name in the search box on this blog.

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!