Fine art at the San Diego History Center.

The San Diego History Center in Balboa Park has a fine art collection of more than 1700 works. They represent the visual culture of our region.
The San Diego History Center in Balboa Park has a fine art collection of more than 1700 works. They represent the visual culture of our region.

The San Diego History Center, originally the San Diego Historical Society, has been an important custodian of our region’s history since the organization’s founding in 1928 by civic leader George W. Marston. Their preserved documents, photographs and artifacts trace the development of San Diego from a small town in the desert-like wilderness to a modern, thriving Southern California metropolis.

Visitors to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park might be surprised when they enter one of the museum galleries to discover pieces from their Fine Art Collection. The current exhibition is titled Exquisite Views. Amazing canvases on three walls represent over 1700 pieces of fine art, many of which were donated by San Diego residents. Notable artists in the large collection include James Hubbell, Maurice Braun, Alfred Mitchell, Charles Fries, Belle Baranceanu, Charles Reiffel, Alice Klauber and Donal Hord.

There are two gigantic, amazing murals by Charles Reiffel on the walls of the museum nearby. And two more above stairs inside the Casa de Balboa. I posted photos of them here and here.

Like many cultural institutions who need support from the public, the San Diego History Center welcomes any contributions. Admission to their museum in the Casa de Balboa is free, but I’m always careful to leave a donation when I visit. Many of their fine art pieces are also up for “adoption” by art lovers. Contact them if you are interested.

The Family of Joseph W. Sefton, Sr., ca. 1890, oil on canvas, by artist Alden Finney Brooks.
The Family of Joseph W. Sefton, Sr., ca. 1890, oil on canvas, by artist Alden Finney Brooks.
By the Sea, 1940, oil on board, by artist Dan Dickey.
By the Sea, 1940, oil on board, by artist Dan Dickey.
La Cumbre Peak, Santa Barbara 1918-1920, oil on canvas, by artist Charles A. Fries.
La Cumbre Peak, Santa Barbara 1918-1920, oil on canvas, by artist Charles A. Fries.
Torrey Pines - Spring, 1997, watercolor on paper, by artist James Hubbell.
Torrey Pines – Spring, 1997, watercolor on paper, by artist James Hubbell.
Untitled Landscape (Mission Bay Causeway Bridge), ca. 1930, oil on canvas, by artist Alice Klauber.
Untitled Landscape (Mission Bay Causeway Bridge), ca. 1930, oil on canvas, by artist Alice Klauber.
Eileen, ca. 1939, oil on canvas, by artist Margaret (Margot) King Rocle.
Eileen, ca. 1939, oil on canvas, by artist Margaret (Margot) King Rocle.
Girl with a Fawn, 1935, charcoal and colored chalk, by artist Belle Baranceanu.
Girl with a Fawn, 1935, charcoal and colored chalk, by artist Belle Baranceanu.
1935 photograph from the Union-Tribune Collection shows Belle Baranceanu painting the mural Girl with a Fawn on the east side of the Fine Arts Gallery, today's San Diego Museum of Art.
This 1935 photograph from the Union-Tribune Collection shows Belle Baranceanu painting the mural Girl with a Fawn on the east side of the Fine Arts Gallery, today’s San Diego Museum of Art.
Ramona Morning, 2013, oil on linen, by artist Carol Lindemulder.
Ramona Morning, 2013, oil on linen, by artist Carol Lindemulder.
The San Diego History Center seeks to acquire new works. Their Art for the Next Century Initiative will expand their collection of historical artwork.
The San Diego History Center seeks to acquire new works. Their Art for the Next Century Initiative will expand their collection of historical artwork.
Sycamores at Springtime, 1937, oil on board, by artist Charles A. Reiffel.
Sycamores at Springtime, 1937, oil on board, by artist Charles A. Reiffel.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

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A visit inside the House of Scotland’s cottage.

People visit the House of Scotland's cottage in Balboa Park.
People visit the House of Scotland’s picturesque cottage in Balboa Park.

When I walk in Balboa Park, I usually pass through the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages. Inside these quaint cottages, the cultures of diverse nations are proudly on display, and world history comes to life. There is much for visitors to learn and discover.

At the International Cottages, “Houses” representing different nations all coexist peacefully. If only the world could be that way.

Recently I poked my nose into the cottage operated by the House of Scotland. Scottish culture and history have always fascinated me.

I took a few photos…

A plaque by the cottage's flagpole reads: In Memory of L/CPL Kenneth J. Haywood U.S.M.C. 1943 - 1965 Member of The House of Scotland House of Pacific Relations
A plaque by the cottage’s flagpole reads: In Memory of L/CPL Kenneth J. Haywood U.S.M.C. 1943 – 1965 Member of The House of Scotland House of Pacific Relations.
Inside the House of Scotland cottage there are fascinating photographs, artifacts and cultural displays.
Inside the House of Scotland’s small cottage there are fascinating photographs, artifacts and cultural displays.
A doll wearing a Scottish kilt, and a certificate that commemorates the 2010 San Diego Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans. The annual event takes place in Vista.
A doll wearing a Scottish kilt, and a certificate that commemorates the 2010 San Diego Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans. The annual event takes place in Brengle Terrace Park in Vista.
Bagpipes and a badge worn by a drummer of the House of Scotland Junior Pipe Band.
Bagpipes and a badge worn by a drummer of the House of Scotland Junior Pipe Band. The House of Scotland Pipe Band is well known in San Diego and performs many rousing concerts.
Diagram shows the costume of the widely recognized Dewar’s Scotch Highlander, including bonnet, gold sash, kilt, plaid, drum major’s baton and sword.
Diagram shows the costume of the widely recognized Dewar’s Scotch Highlander, including bonnet, gold sash, kilt, plaid, drum major’s baton and sword.
All sorts of interesting items on display in the cottage provide a small taste of Scotland in San Diego.
All sorts of interesting items on display inside the cottage provide a small taste of Scotland.
Many famous verses by the national poet of Scotland Robert Burns.
Famous verses by the national poet of Scotland Robert Burns.
An article describes tossing the caber at Highland Games. The origins of this unusual event is unknown. A heavy pole is flipped, with the aim that it lands straight.
An article describes tossing the caber at Highland Games. The exact origin of this unusual event is uncertain. A heavy pole is flipped, with the aim that it lands straight.
The coat of arms of two different clans. Scotland comes to life inside one of the International Cottages in Balboa Park.
The coat of arms of two different clans. Scotland comes to life inside one of the International Cottages in Balboa Park.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Paintings in Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room.

Botanical Building, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Botanical Building, Leigh Cohn, 2014.

Last year I went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the House of Hospitality that included a look inside the Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room. There was a whole lot to see, and only a few minutes to snap photos.

I did manage to frame with my camera several paintings in the boardroom. They were painted by Leigh Cohn in 2014 for the Balboa Park Centennial. My quick photos provide an imperfect glimpse of the colorful artwork.

I’m not sure what the decorative object is on the small wooden table. I can find nothing about it on the internet. My hunch is it was used atop the old Balboa Park Community Christmas Tree, before the tree became too old and fragile to support ornaments. Just my guess–probably wrong! Please leave a comment if you know something!

If you ever have the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour through the House of Hospitality, I definitely recommend it! There are a variety of beautiful rooms in the building that are usually inaccessible to the public. For those interested in Balboa Park’s history, the tour is a must!

Visitors to Balboa Park enjoy a tour of the Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room in the House of Hospitality.
Visitors to Balboa Park enjoy a tour of the Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room in the House of Hospitality.
David Kinney, a Balboa Park Conservancy Board Member, provides a special tour of the board room, in the House of Hospitality.
David Kinney, a Balboa Park Conservancy Board Member, provides a special tour of their boardroom in the House of Hospitality.
Artwork in the Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room includes the fascinating piece on a small wooden table. Topped by a cross, rays of colored glass extend outward.
Artwork in the Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room includes a fascinating piece on a small wooden table.
Topped by a cross, rays of colored glass extend outward from what appears to be brasswork.
Topped by a cross, rays of colored glass extend outward from what appears to be weathered brasswork.
Before the Park Opens, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Before the Park Opens, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Tower, Globe and Fountain, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Tower, Globe and Fountain, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Lily Pond Facing South, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Lily Pond Facing South, Leigh Cohn, 2014.

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The faces of the Panama-California Sculpture Court.

Anglo-Saxon Queen, 1914. Staff plaster original statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Anglo-Saxon Queen, 1914. Staff plaster original statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.

Visitors walking through the Panama-California Sculpture Court in the Casa del Prado are greeted by many unexpected faces–faces that peer out of San Diego’s past.

The sculptures in the building’s courtyard were used in various ways to decorate the facades of buildings in Balboa Park during its colorful history. Most of the pieces are made of staff, which is a type of plaster reinforced with fibers. The artwork in the Panama-California Sculpture Court was rescued in 1975, found abandoned in a corner of the Casa de Balboa.

Please read the photo captions for information about each piece.

One of several fantastic pieces of rescued art in the Panama-California Sculpture Court at the Casa del Prado.
One of several fantastic pieces of rescued art in the Panama-California Sculpture Court at the Casa del Prado.
Religion, 1914. Original staff plaster statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Religion, 1914. Original staff plaster statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Mission Indian Head Pilaster, 1914. Staff plaster original from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Mission Indian Head Pilaster, 1914. Staff plaster original from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Spanish Conquistador, 1914. Staff plaster original vignette from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Spanish Conquistador, 1914. Staff plaster original vignette from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Grotesque Mask, 1914. Original staff plaster statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Grotesque Mask, 1914. Original staff plaster statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Angel Head Pilaster, 1914. Staff plaster original ornamentation from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Angel Head Pilaster, 1914. Staff plaster original ornamentation from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Junipero Serra Memorial, 1914. Staff plaster original ornamentation from the Food Products Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Junipero Serra Memorial, 1914. Staff plaster original ornamentation from the Food Products Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Angel Head Finial, 1971. Unused cast concrete replica of 1914 original, for the reconstruction of the building now known as the Casa del Prado. Christian Mueller, Jr., modeler.
Angel Head Finial, 1971. Unused cast concrete replica of 1914 original, for the reconstruction of the building now known as the Casa del Prado. Christian Mueller, Jr., modeler.
Velazquez, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Velazquez, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Murillo, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Murillo, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Zurbaran, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Zurbaran, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Dance and culture by the House of Spain.

Flamenco dancing during the House of Spain lawn program in Balboa Park.
Flamenco dancing during the House of Spain’s lawn program in Balboa Park.

Today the House of Spain in Balboa Park hosted the lawn program at the International Cottages. The cultural event featured music, folk dancing, tasty food and many welcoming smiles. Flamenco dancers strutted and whirled on the stage, adding life to an already wonderful day in the park.

Here are some photos…

Getting a big pan of tasty paella ready. I had some and it was really good.
A big pan of tasty paella. I had some and it was really good.
Many flowers and interesting exhibits can be seen inside the House of Spain's cottage.
Many flowers and interesting exhibits can be seen inside the House of Spain’s cottage.
A model of a Spanish galleon, very much like the one Cabrillo sailed in when he discovered San Diego Bay in 1542.
A model of a Spanish galleon, much like the one Cabrillo sailed in when he discovered San Diego Bay in 1542.
Art on the wall shows a bird's-eye view of Fort Guijarros. The old Spanish fort was built in 1797 on Ballast Point where it guarded San Diego Bay.
Art on the wall shows a bird’s-eye view of Fort Guijarros. The old Spanish fort was built in 1797 on Ballast Point where it guarded San Diego Bay.
Beautiful ceramic artwork on display inside the House of Spain's cottage in Balboa Park.
Beautiful ceramic artwork on display inside the House of Spain’s cottage in Balboa Park.
The featured entertainment during the cultural event was Spanish folk dancing.
The featured entertainment during the cultural event was Spanish folk dancing.
A dance of fuego--fire. This powerful, very expressive dance mesmerized those watching in the audience.
A dance of fuego–fire. This powerful, very expressive dance mesmerized those watching in the audience.
Fluidity and passion.
Fluidity and passion.
A colorful whirl of life.
A colorful whirl of life.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

First Responders at San Diego Automotive Museum.

1972 Harley-Davidson police Servi-Car, a unique vehicle once used by law enforcement, exhibited at the San Diego Automotive Museum.
1972 Harley-Davidson police Servi-Car, a unique vehicle once used by law enforcement, exhibited at the San Diego Automotive Museum.

The San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park has a great exhibition called First Responders that will be ending soon. Visitors to the museum can check out a range of vehicles, from fire engines to motorcycles, that have been used by San Diego’s first responders.

Car and motorcycle enthusiasts who’ve never been to the museum are really missing out. The San Diego Automotive Museum is jammed with beautiful, historic vehicles, including some that are literally one-of-a-kind.

In addition to their permanent collection, other exhibits now in the museum include a Harley-Davidson Collection, Evel Knievel’s motorcycle from Viva Knievel, Fonzie’s motorcycle and jacket from the television show Happy Days, and Louie Mattar’s Fabulous Car (which is arguably the most amazing car ever made).

First Responders will come to a close on May 29, 2017.

San Diego Lifeguard Service vehicle. One can also see these on the beach!
San Diego Lifeguard Service vehicle. One can also see these on the beach!
A variety of old photos show vehicles used by first responders in the past.
A variety of historical photos show vehicles used by first responders in the past.
An iconic 1926 Buick police paddy wagon.
An iconic 1926 Buick police paddy wagon.
Mannequins lie inside a M997 HMMWV Maxi-Ambulance used by the military.
Mannequins lie inside a M997 HMMWV Maxi-Ambulance used by the military.
Fire fighting vehicles on exhibit include a Brush Fire HMMWV and a 1966 Dodge D-500 fire truck.
Fire fighting vehicles on exhibit include a Brush Fire HMMWV and a 1966 Dodge D-500 fire truck.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Lamp and lantern exhibit at Model Railroad Museum!

Old photo and advertisement show an electric Sport-Lite lantern.
Old photo and advertisement show an electric Sport-Lite lantern.

Personally, I love the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. The massive train layouts and their realistic landscapes, tiny scale buildings, streets and fun details make me feel like a kid again.

During a recent visit, I was excited to see the museum had a fine exhibit concerning the history of railroad lamps and lanterns.

I took a few photos for you to enjoy and I added descriptive captions, but I suggest a visit in person. There’s so much to absorb, so much history and sheer fun!

You can see photos of the museum’s gigantic model train layouts here!

Exhibit inside the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, located near the N-Scale layout, shows old railroad lamps and lanterns, and recalls their history.
Exhibit inside the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, located near the N-Scale layout, shows old railroad lamps and lanterns and recalls their history.
Railroad lanterns were held by hand, and manual signals were used for night communication. Railroad lamps are mounted on train cars and railroad tracks.
Railroad lanterns were held by hand, and manual signals were used for night communication. Railroad lamps were mounted on train cars and railroad tracks.
Two examples of switch lamps. They were mounted to a railroad track switch and indicated the current position of the switch.
Two examples of switch lamps. They were mounted to a railroad track switch and indicated the current position of the switch.
Old diagram of an Adlake No. 1221 marker lamp.
Old diagram of an Adlake No. 1221 marker lamp.
Three models of old conductor's lanterns. Buck's Pattern, Daisy, and The Boss.
Three models of conductor’s lanterns: Buck’s Pattern, Daisy, and The Boss.
Three lantern hand signals: the train has departed, proceed, and apply the air brakes.
Three lantern hand signals: the train has departed, proceed, and apply the air brakes.
Three additional lantern hand signals: back up, stop, and release the air brakes.
Three additional lantern hand signals: back up, stop, and release the air brakes.
Over time signals and colors used for railroad communication became standardized. This sign describes what different color lights indicate.
Over the years signals and colors used for railroad communication became standardized. This sign describes what different colored lights indicate.
Fixed globe railroad lanterns began to be used in the 1840s. At night they allowed railroad workers to communicate.
Fixed globe railroad lanterns began to be used in the 1840s. At night they allowed railroad workers to communicate.
Marker lamps were hung on the train's caboose to identify the train and show where it ended.
Marker lamps were hung on the train’s caboose to identify the train and show where it ended.
A fascinating exhibit concerning the history of railroad lamps and lanterns is now on display in Balboa Park's unique San Diego Model Railroad Museum!
A fascinating exhibit concerning the history of railroad lamps and lanterns is now on display in Balboa Park’s amazing San Diego Model Railroad Museum!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!