Free exhibit of contemporary Chinese art in Balboa Park.

Gallery 15 at the San Diego Museum of Art is free to the public.
Gallery 15 at the San Diego Museum of Art is free to the public.

Through April 25, 2016, you have a chance to see some fantastic contemporary Chinese art in beautiful Balboa Park. And this small exhibition is free!

You’ll see six contemporary Chinese paintings by the acclaimed Beijing-based artist Pan Gongkai. President of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Pan fuses Western influence with the Chinese brush-and-ink tradition.

One work, over 45 feet long, titled Noble Virtues, is a feast for the eyes. It depicts the “four gentlemen”. These are the plum blossom, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum, plants that represent the four seasons. You have to see this artwork in person to fully appreciate the symbolism and the bold, dynamic beauty.

The other work, on the opposite wall, is called Lotus Pond. This series of five paintings reveals aspects of human life.  The lotus represents the soul’s resilience and purity.

Where can you find this art? Next time you’re in Balboa Park, walk through Panama 66 in the San Diego Museum of Art’s May S. Marcy Sculpture Court, and look for the sign to the restrooms. That door leads into Gallery 15, an area of the museum that is free to the public!

Free exhibition. Pan Gongkai. New Paintings for the San Diego Museum of Art.
Free exhibition. Pan Gongkai. New Paintings for the San Diego Museum of Art.
The Beijing-based artist Pan Gongkai is deeply invested in the study and practice of traditional Chinese art. The artists has used spontaneous and expressive brushwork that borders on abstraction.
The Beijing-based artist Pan Gongkai is deeply invested in the study and practice of traditional Chinese art. The artist has used spontaneous and expressive brushwork that borders on abstraction. (Click to enlarge.)
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
Poems on Four Nobles. Plum, Orchid, Bamboo in Rain, and Chrysanthemum.
Poems on Four Nobles. Plum, Orchid, Bamboo in Rain, and Chrysanthemum. (Click to enlarge.)
Section of the painting Noble Virtues, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
Section of the painting Noble Virtues, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
Section of the painting Noble Virtues, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
Section of the painting Noble Virtues, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.

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Famous animal celebrities at the San Diego Zoo!

Balboa Park visitors walk down main hallway of Casa de Balboa, past posters featuring some animal celebrities of the world-famous San Diego Zoo!
Balboa Park visitors walk down main hallway of Casa de Balboa, past posters featuring some animal celebrities of the world-famous San Diego Zoo!

There’s a fun new exhibit at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park. It’s called The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo. Like beautiful Balboa Park itself, the world-famous San Diego Zoo originated in 1915. Last year was its centennial!

Along the main hallway inside the Casa de Balboa, near the entrance to the San Diego History Center, visitors can enjoy a series of posters that feature some of the zoo’s beloved animal celebrities. Here they are!

Banner on Casa de Balboa near entrance to San Diego History Center. The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo.
Banner on Casa de Balboa, home of several museums including the San Diego History Center. The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo.
Carol the Asian elephant appeared with San Diego Zoo goodwill ambassador Joan Embery on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Carol was also an illustrious painter!
Carol the Asian elephant.  She appeared with San Diego Zoo goodwill ambassador Joan Embery on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Carol was also an illustrious painter!
Hua Mei is a superstar giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo in 1999. Her name means China USA. She now lives in China.
Hua Mei is a superstar giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo in 1999. Her name means “China USA”. She now lives in China.
Diego the Galapagos tortoise, now 130 years old, half a century ago was one of very few surviving males of the critically endangered species. Over many years, he's had roughly 1,700 offspring!
Diego the Galapagos tortoise, now 130 years old, half a century ago was one of very few surviving males of the critically endangered species. Over the ensuing years, he’s produced roughly 1,700 offspring!
Arusha and Anna were a cheetah and dog pair at the San Diego Zoo. They were the best of friends.
Arusha and Anna were a cheetah and dog pair at the San Diego Zoo. They were the best of friends.
Taku was the first polar bear born at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, back in 1942.
Taku was the first polar bear born at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, back in 1942.
Alvila was first western lowland gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1965. This animal celebrity has been a favorite through the years.
Alvila was the first western lowland gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1965. This animal celebrity has been a big favorite through the years.
King Tut, a salmon-crested cockatoo, was the San Diego Zoo’s official greeter for forty years! He also appeared on television and in theatrical productions!
King Tut, a salmon-crested cockatoo, was the San Diego Zoo’s official greeter for forty years! He also appeared on television and in theatrical productions!
Puddles the river hippopotamus was a crowd favorite at the San Diego Zoo in the 1930s and 1940s.
Puddles the river hippopotamus was a crowd favorite at the San Diego Zoo in the 1930s and 1940s.

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Beautiful gems, minerals and jewelry in Balboa Park!

Beautiful geodes, crystals, gems, minerals, agates, fossils and jewelry can be found in a very cool place in Balboa Park.
Beautiful geodes, crystals, gems, minerals, agates, fossils and jewelry can be found in a very cool place in Balboa Park.

Okay, I admit it. Possibly my very favorite place in Balboa Park is filled with rocks. Really beautiful rocks! And gems and fossils and jewelry and carvings . . .

Yes, I’m talking about the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society Museum, which is located at the north end of Spanish Village. Anyone who “digs” the beautiful natural productions of Mother Earth needs to drop on by. It’s free! And those who want to learn about the lapidary arts should seriously look into joining the society or taking classes. They’ve got a well-equipped lapidary workshop in one room where members facet and carve and polish . . . turning gems, metal and minerals into treasures fit for royalty.

An open door beckons near Balboa Park's Spanish Village. San Diego Mineral and Gem Society and Village Silversmith's Welcome You!
An open door beckons near Balboa Park’s Spanish Village. San Diego Mineral and Gem Society and Village Silversmith’s Welcome You!
Lots of handmade jewelry and polished or faceted gems and semi-precious stones can be found in the glass counter display. There's also lots of literature for rockhounds.
Lots of handmade jewelry, gems and semi-precious stones can be found in the glass counter display. There’s also lots of literature for rockhounds.
Any hobbyists interested in collecting rocks and minerals, or learning lapidary skills should swing on by.
Any hobbyists interested in collecting rocks and minerals, or learning lapidary skills should swing on by.
Balboa Park visitors examine some exquisite handcrafted jewelry for sale.
Balboa Park visitors examine some exquisite handcrafted jewelry for sale.
Throughout the amazing San Diego Mineral and Gem Societies' Museum you can see all sorts of beautiful geological specimens.
Throughout the amazing San Diego Mineral and Gem Societies’ Museum you can see all sorts of beautiful geological specimens.
Pieces in this diorama are made of carved Serpentine.
Pieces in this diorama are made of carved Serpentine.
Carefully made Quartz spheres dazzle with natural color. With a little added light they glow, appearing like magic crystal balls!
Carefully made Quartz spheres dazzle with natural color. With a little added light they glow, appearing like magic crystal balls!
A natural history-themed diorama made of agates and crystals. It was created in the late 19th century, and is a unique artifact in this cool museum.
A natural history-themed diorama made of agates and crystals. It was created in the late 19th century, and is a unique artifact in this cool museum.
Sign provides some info about the above Natural History Diorama. It was built by Mr. Fred W. Woodend I while he was operating a curio and mineral shop in Denver, Colorado.
Sign provides some info about the above Natural History Diorama. It was built by Mr. Fred W. Woodend I while he was operating a curio and mineral shop in Denver, Colorado.
This big display case against one wall has lots of colorful minerals, including Calcite, Hematite, Halite and Wulfenite.
This big display case against one wall has lots of colorful minerals, including Calcite, Hematite, Halite and Wulfenite.
Primitive Fossil Bird, Confuciusornis sanctus, Early Cretaceous, 120-125 million years old! These early birds retain many primitive dinosaurian features.
Primitive Fossil Bird, Confuciusornis sanctus, Early Cretaceous, 120-125 million years old! These early birds retain many primitive dinosaurian features.
Among a bunch of fossils is a fossilized pine cone!
Among a bunch of fossils is a fossilized pine cone!
A variety of cool sights on display, including a slab of petrified wood.
A variety of beautiful things on display, including a slab of petrified wood.
It's impossible for visitors to miss this portion of a fossilized skull. It's from a Right or Bowhead Whale, which lived in the Pliocene Epoch 1 to 11 million years ago!
It’s impossible for visitors to miss this portion of a fossilized skull. It’s from a Right or Bowhead Whale, which lived in the Pliocene Epoch 1 to 11 million years ago!
Amazing work by Johnny Johnson, a long time member of the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society, and member of the Gem Carvers Guild of America.
Amazing work by Johnny Johnson, a long time member of the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society, and member of the Gem Carvers Guild of America.
Examples of fantastic stone carving by society members.
Examples of fantastic stone carving by society members.
Chasing and Repousse on copper, a skill learned in advanced silversmithing classes.
Chasing and Repousse on copper, a skill learned in advanced silversmithing classes.
More small treasures in the museum upon which you can feast your eyes.
More small treasures in the museum upon which you can feast your eyes.
The San Diego Mineral and Gem Society has classes where you can learn cabochon cutting, faceting, silver fabrication, casting, enameling, bead stringing, rock carving, and sphere making.
The San Diego Mineral and Gem Society has classes where you can learn cabochon cutting, faceting, silver fabrication, casting, enameling, bead stringing, rock carving, and sphere making.

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