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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

Amazing walk at Scripps Institution of Oceanography!

Scripps Coastal Meander Trailhead at La Jolla Shores Drive, just north of Biological Grade. A sign indicates Coastal Trail Access.
Scripps Coastal Meander Trailhead at La Jolla Shores Drive, just north of Biological Grade. A sign indicates Coastal Trail Access.

Please join me for a short but absolutely amazing walk.

We’re going to start at the Scripps Coastal Meander Trailhead on La Jolla Shores Drive and pass through part of the world-famous Scripps Institution of Oceanography. We’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and nearby coast. We’ll pause at a spot of historical importance. We’ll encounter some beautiful artwork.

Let’s go!

The Scripps Coastal Meander coincides with a short segment of the California Coastal Trail.
The Scripps Coastal Meander coincides with a short segment of the California Coastal Trail.
Starting down the trail.
Starting down the trail.
Moving through the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus. Someone reads a sign ahead.
Moving through the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus. Someone reads a sign ahead.
Starting along a raised wooden walkway with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
Starting along a raised wooden walkway with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
Sign describes the Scripps Coastal Meander, a publicly accessible walking route through the Scripps campus. It is part of the California Coastal Trail.
Sign describes the Scripps Coastal Meander, a publicly accessible walking route through the Scripps campus. It is part of the California Coastal Trail.
A map on the sign shows the California Coastal Trail in relation to the beach, the Scripps Coastal Reserve Biodiversity Trail, Scripps Pier and La Jolla Shores.
A map on the sign shows the California Coastal Trail in relation to the beach, the Scripps Coastal Reserve Biodiversity Trail, Scripps Pier and La Jolla Shores.
Heading down the wooden walkway with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Scripps Pier, and La Jolla Cove in the distance.
Heading down the wooden walkway with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Scripps Pier, and La Jolla Cove in the distance.
A paraglider from the Torrey Pines Gliderport floats in the sky above a campus building.
A paraglider from the Torrey Pines Gliderport floats in the sky above a campus building.
Soaring high above the beautiful coast.
Soaring high above the beautiful coast.
Looking down from the trail at native flora atop the cliffs above the beach. Dike Rock can be seen jutting through the breaking surf.
Looking down from the trail at native flora atop the cliffs above the beach. Dike Rock can be seen jutting through the breaking surf.
Walking along on a beautiful, sunny San Diego day.
Walking along on a beautiful, sunny San Diego day.
A bench waits ahead.
A bench waits ahead.
Bench overlooks the wide blue ocean.
Bench overlooks the wide blue ocean.
Opa's Bench is dedicated to Arnold Krause. His journey began in Germany and ended in San Diego.
Opa’s Bench is dedicated to Arnold Krause. His journey began in Germany and ended in San Diego.
Two small birds on a rope.
Two small birds on a rope.
Continuing on, I passed a student who attends world renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Continuing on, I passed a student who attends world renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Another sign ahead.
Another sign ahead.
Conserving California's Coastal Treasures. Sign describes Marine Protected Areas. Just offshore is the San Diego-Scripps Coastal SMCA.
Conserving California’s Coastal Treasures. Sign describes Marine Protected Areas. Just offshore is the San Diego-Scripps Coastal SMCA.
Continuing down the path, I see something interesting to the right.
Continuing down the path, I see something interesting to the right.
A marker stands at the oldest known archaeological site in Southern California, occupied by the La Jollan I Indians almost 8000 years ago.
A marker stands at what was the oldest known archaeological site in Southern California–radiocarbon dated in 1962–occupied by the La Jollan I Indians almost 8000 years ago.
Approaching a small grassy park with a sculpture.
Approaching a small grassy park with a sculpture.
The sculpture is Spring Stirring by world famous sculptor Donal Hord, 1948, a gift of Cecil and Ida Green in 1964.
The sculpture is Spring Stirring by world famous sculptor Donal Hord, 1948, a gift of Cecil and Ida Green in 1964.
Spring Stirring, by artist Donal Hord.
Spring Stirring, by artist Donal Hord.
Starting along a narrow walkway around the perimeter of the Judith and Walter Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics Munk Laboratory.
Starting along a narrow walkway around the perimeter of the Judith and Walter Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics Munk Laboratory.
Looking north up the coast toward Black's Beach and Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Looking north up the coast toward Black’s Beach and Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Looking southwest at Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, which is used for ocean research by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Looking southwest at Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, which is used for ocean research by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Beyond Scripps Pier and Scripps Beach is La Jolla Shores and the Village of La Jolla.
Beyond Scripps Pier and Scripps Beach is La Jolla Shores and the Village of La Jolla.

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Walking up the Snake Path at UCSD.

If you dare, walk with me up the Snake Path at UCSD. We will proceed from innocence to knowledge.

We’ll begin at a spot near the Jacobs School of Engineering, then head west up a hill toward the amazing Geisel Library. Our path is the winding 560-foot length of a scaly snake.

Snake Path, part of the UC San Diego Stuart Collection, was created by Alexis Smith in 1992. The scales of the snake are hexagonal pieces of colored slate.

We’ll pass a monumental granite book, none other than Milton’s Paradise Lost. On the cover is engraved: “And wilt thou not be loathe to leave this Paradise, but shalt possess a Paradise within thee, happier far.”

We’ll linger at a bench in a small Garden of Eden. Written on the bench are Thomas Gray’s words: “Yet ah why should they know their fate/When sorrow never comes too late/And happiness too swiftly flies/Thought would destroy their Paradise/No more, where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise.”

Toward innocence or knowledge. Which direction is best?

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 180 ton teddy bear made of boulders!

Here come a few astonishing photos!

Eight enormous boulders form a jaw-dropping 180 ton teddy bear in the Academic Courtyard at UC San Diego. It might look cute and cuddly, but try wrapping your arms around this public art!

Bear, part of UCSD’s fantastic Stuart Collection of art, was created by Tim Hawkinson in 2005. The immense stone sculpture seems to defy gravity as it sits limply on a patch of green grass between three buildings where engineering and technology are taught. According to one thing I read, the San Diego Supercomputer Center was used to design this incredible pile of rocks.

What is the good of science without imagination?

Perhaps an infant troll one day will stride onto campus to retrieve their lost toy. Or perhaps in the distant future, among the ruins of ancient buildings, perplexed scientists will discover Bear and conclude that a race of giants once inhabited our planet.

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!