Category Archives: Public art

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#4: Presidio of San Diego site, part 1

San Diego Historical Landmarks

San Diego Historical Landmark #4 is the site of the Presidio of San Diego.

Presidio of San Diego site

San Diego Presidio Site
Soldiers, sailors, Indians, and Franciscan missionaries from New Spain occupied the land at Presidio Hill on May 17, 1769 as a military outpost. Two months later, Fr. Junipero Serra established the first San Diego mission on Presidio Hill. Officially proclaimed a Spanish Presidio on January 1, 1774, the fortress was later occupied by a succession of Mexican forces. The Presidio was abandoned in 1837 after San Diego became a pueblo.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Only ruins of the Presidio remain, simple bumps in the ground:

Site of the Presidio of San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A walk around the surround grounds finds many items of interest, such as a statue of “The Indian” by Arthur Putnam (1873-1930)….

The Indian, by Arthur Puinam, in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

….a statue of “The Padre,” also by Arthur Putnam….

"The Padre" by Arthur Putnam in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

….and a hugemonstergiganticreallyreallybig cross made out of bricks:

The Cross in Presidio Park in San Diego California

The Cross in Presidio Park in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Wouldn’t it be neat if we discovered that the bricks are from an old building in the area? Sadly, I could find nothing about the cross other than what is told on a plaque at the base:

In this ancient Indian village of Cosoy
Discovered and named San Miguel by Cabrillo in 1549
Visited and christened San Diego de Alcala by Vizcaino in 1602
Here the first citizen
Fray Junipero Serra
Planted civilization in California
Here he first raised the cross. Here began the first mission.
Here founded the first town, San Diego, July 16, 1769
In memory of him and his works. The Order of Panama 1913.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Just across the street from the ruins of the Presidio is the Junípero Serra Museum, one of the most familiar landmarks in San Diego.

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Junípero Serra Museum is often mistaken for Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá—indeed, for many years, I counted myself among the mistaken.

The Serra Museum was built in 1928-1929 for the purpose of housing the collection of the San Diego Historical Society (now named the San Diego History Center), which was founded in 1928. William Templeton Johnson was the architect and used Spanish Revival architecture to resemble the early missions that once dominated the Southern California landscape.

Following are three pictures from the Museum’s collection of the Museum in 1929:

Architect’s elevation drawingElevation of the Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Project completedJunipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Dedication DayDedication day of the Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Prior to the Great Recession, the Museum was open seven days a week. Now, sadly, it is open only on weekends.

There are other markers from the past, and I’m sure I missed some because they are located in strange places, places which probably weren’t so strange many decades ago. An example is this tree, possibly as old as the ruins:

Presidio Hill in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

See the crooked gravestone-like marker at the right of the trunk? Obviously I had to go see what it said:

Presidio Hill in San Diego California

Dedicated in memory of
Father Francisco Palou
Biographer of Fr. Serra

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I also discovered a huge statue of a man on a horse:

Presidio Hill in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The plaque on the base is in Spanish:

DONADO A LA CIUDAD DE SAN DIEGO
POR EL SEÑOR LICENSIADO
GUSTAVO DIAZ ORDAZ
PRESIDENTE DE LA REPUBLICA MEXICANA
NOVIEMBRE DE 1970

Wikipedia tells me that Gustavo Diaz Ordaz (1911-1979) was president of Mexico from 1964 to 1970. That, however, doesn’t explain anything about this statue and why it is there. Research for another day….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As I said earlier, the Junípero Serra Museum is open only on Saturdays and Sundays. I went a couple of weeks ago, and in my next posting about San Diego Historical Landmarks, I’ll take you inside the Museum. It’s quite beautiful and should not be missed if you make a trip to Presidio Hill.

The San Diego Presidio Site is also California Registered Historic Landmark #59. Considering that this is where California was founded, what 58 sites could be more important?

Junipero Sera Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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I won’t walk on it

Picture of the Moment

As I continue to create works of Photographic Art, I find myself gaining a great appreciation of art of all kinds, even art that previously I didn’t particularly care for—Yoko Ono comes immediately to mind.

One thing I know, though, is that I could never walk on art, so when I find walkway art, I tend to walk around it and take pictures while everyone else is walking on it.

Such as these two pieces, found in the walkway at the Scripps Ranch branch of the San Diego Library:

Sidewalk snake art

Sidewalk lizard art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The work of Ricardo Breceda of Borrego Springs CA

Out & About

When I went to Palm Springs in mid-August, one of my goals was to see the statues of prehistoric wildlife in Borrego Springs (see A short visit to Galleta Meadows).

Little did I know then that the guy who created the statues, Ricardo Breceda, lives in Borrego Springs and sells much smaller statues to common people like me.

Following are some of the smaller statues that I found exhibited on properties throughout the area, and some for sale at a business.

Longhorn cow Mountain lion Desert buffalo Desert bighorn sheep Porker grill

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Breceda’s work celebrates the history and culture of Southern California, the desert environment, and pure fantasy.

Breceda originally is from Durango, Mexico. One day he made a dinosaur statue for his daughter, and the rest, as they say, is history. Breceda eventually met Dennis Avery, owner of Galleta Meadows Estates in Borrego Springs.  Avery had the vision of using his land as an enormous outdoor art gallery, and it became home to Breceda’s artwork featuring prehistoric and fantasy creatures.

I now know that there are over 150 of the larger statues scattered throughout the Anza-Borrego desert. I only saw 27 of them. I am trying to find a complete list, and a map of their locations, and when I do…………. ROAD TRIP!

The chase

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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I’m on my way right now!

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat and I are going to stay with the larger-than-life theme that we seem to have going right now.

After I graduated from Texas A&M University, I spent a lot of time representing my fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity. One of the chapters that I represented was at Texas Lutheran College; it is located in Seguin, home of the world’s largest pecan.

World's largest pecan

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That was the largest edible roadside attraction I had ever seen until I got to San Diego. Just south of where I live in La Mesa is the city of Lemon Grove, where they claim to have the best climate on Earth.

Lemon Grove, California, welcome sign

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m thinking “No.” as to the best climate on Earth, but it’s something one cannot prove one way or another. After all, some people think International Falls, Minnesota, has the best climate on Earth….

Lemon Grove was settled in 1869 but didn’t incorporate as a city until 1977. The 2010 census found a population of 25,320, in a city of just 3.88 miles, making Lemon Grove a densely populated city of 6,500 people per square mile (ppsm)! Not quite New York City with its 27,778 ppsm, but higher than San Diego with 4,003 ppsm.

From the early part of the 20th Century to the late ’70s or so, Lemon Grove was a city of lemon groves…. Hence the name. Oranges and avocados also were popular, but lemons were the cash crop. Sadly, there’s not a single lemon grove left in Lemon Grove due to the continued overpopulation of the Earth and the need for houses, restaurants, stores, and gas stations…………

Lemon Grove is, however, where you can find the world’s largest lemon:

The world's largest lemon

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Located at 3361 Main Street, adjacent to the tracks for the Orange Line of the San Diego Trolley, the world’s largest lemon is about ten feet wide and six feet tall. There are a dozen lemon trees planted behind the lemon but they never appear very healthy, probably due to that intersection being one of the busiest in East San Diego County. Imagine trying to produce lemons in the midst of car exhaust fumes, tire rubber, brake dust, oil fumes, gas fumes, cigarette butts….

When I was researching the lemon, I found a tourist site providing address, directions, and hours. Under hours, it said “Always visible (Call to verify).” Under what conditions might something not be visible when it is ten feet long and six feet high. No phone number was listed so who do you call to verify visibility? I can imagine the phone call:

“Hello! This is the City of Lemon Grove. How may I help you?”

“This is Russel Ray. I’m a tourist. I’d like to come see the world’s largest lemon. Is it visible right now?”

“Oh, I’m sorry sir. For that information you’ll need to speak with the Lemon Grove Tourist Bureau. I’ll connect you.”

“Thank you.”

“City of Lemon Grove Tourist Bureau. How may I help you?”

“I’m a tourist in town from La Mesa. I’d like to come see the world’s largest lemon. My tourist book says to call to verify that it is visible. So is it?”

“Well, sir. The world’s largest lemon is ten feet wide and six feet tall. Since Lemon Grove has the best climate on Earth, even better than La Mesa, I suspect that it is visible all the time.
I have lived and worked in Lemon Grove for 21 years and we have not experienced any phenomena that have prevented visibility. Well, except at night when the street light at that corner is not working.
So I would have to say, ‘Yes, it is visible right now, and probably still will be visible when you get here…. Unless we get the big one or the second coming of Christ, and then all bets are off as to whether the world’s largest lemon will even still be here, much less visible.’ ”

“Thank you! You’ve been very helpful! I’m on my way right now!”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Meet Mr. Cowboy from North Shore, California

Picture of the Moment

Along with seeing Southern California’s Abominable Snowman recently, I discovered a larger than life figure that I did not know about: Mr. Cowboy (I named him). Looks like this:

Norrth Shore Cowboy

In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Cowboy was in front of a dilapidated country store and next to a huge dumpster. Wasn’t a pretty picture. The whole north and east side of the Salton Sea was really depressing because of all the abandoned real estate and such.

I removed Mr. Cowboy from the original picture, placed him in a picture with a tall cactus to give him some height perspective, and then put some rocks and plants around his feet to mask the concrete and trash originally there.

Thus, that Photographic Art creation is actually a merging of three pictures. Ya just can’t trust me….

Mr Cowboy location

See location on Google maps

copy-image002.jpg

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San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 16

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 10
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 11
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 12
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 13
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 14
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 15

El Prado Area Designation

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The last place to visit on the north side of the El Prado on our easterly trek is the San Diego Natural History Museum:

San Diego Natural History MuseumPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego Natural History MuseumNatural history, of course, is just about anything that doesn’t involve humans, such as minerals and wildlife.

They often have exhibits specifically for schoolchildren, so it’s not unusual to see huge crowds of schoolchildren waiting to go in together. This fall they have “Weekly Science Sundays with Ms. Frizzle” and

I don’t go as often as I should, and I don’t really know why because I really enjoy natural history.

The museum has a huge collection of preserved reptiles:

Preserved reptile specimens

(I’d rather see living reptiles, and for that I go to the San Diego Zoo.)

My favorite exhibits are usually the traveling exhibits, such as the All That Glitters exhibit from a few years ago. Here are a few butterflies from All That Glitters:

butterfly (4)

butterfly (3)

butterfly (2)

butterfly (1)

The upper floors also feature artwork, of which this was my favorite when I was last there:

Dogs

The museum occasionally has somewhat whimsical art on exhibit, such as this man climbing a rope on the north side of the museum:

Man on a rope

No. It wasn’t a real man but it was garnering a lot of attention from passersby.

The upcoming exhibit that I want to see is The Discovery of King Tut, opening October 11, 2014. I missed King Tut when he toured the world a decade ago. Not this time. Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended.

The Museum is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except for being closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Admission is $17 for adults, $15 for those age 62 and over; $12 for military with ID, college students with ID, and youth age 13-17; $11 for children age 3-12; and free for children under the age of 3. There also are discounts for groups of ten or more, but reservations must be made in advance.

Visit online at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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A visit to La Jolla, California, jewel of the Southern California coast

Out & About

If you have been following along with my recent posts, you might have detected that I was in La Jolla recently, several times since Hillary Clinton was here signing books a month ago.

Let us stay with the La Jolla theme for one more post.

Following are Photographic Art based on pictures in and around La Jolla, mostly along the coast and in the central business district.

Let’s start at the coast first, the La Jolla cove, which is where you’ll find billions and billions and billions of brown pelicans, white-breasted cormorants, harbor seals, and sea lions.

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

Look back at the very first picture, the panorama, smack dab (smack dab?) top center, you can see a little platform. Here is what was happening on that platform the morning I was there:

La Jolla, California

The coastline is awesome, so you can find all sorts of art for sale. Of course, the best La Jolla art is in the La Jolla Gallery of Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America! (I might be slightly prejudiced.)

La Jolla, California

There are many art galleries in La Jolla, and some of them put their art outside for the enjoyment of all:

La Jolla, California

Along with murals on exterior building walls….

La Jolla, California

….you can find “trash can” art. Virtually every trash can and public utility box is painted on all four sides….

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

Native Indians (the Kumeyaay and the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians) enjoyed La Jolla before the white man (actually Spaniards) ever got there. One trashcan’s art features an American Indian, and the feathers spell out the names of several areas along the San Diego County coast:

La Jolla, California

I find it amazing that we have so many murals, trash can art, and utility box art here in San Diego yet California schools continue to dismantle K-12 art (and music) programs. Of course, sports programs live on…. Sad….

You can find wall art at restaurants and on the front walls of many homes:

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

Some restaurants and stores make art out of plants:

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

Because of the cool, coastal climate, as well as natural watering via night mist and dew, virtually any plant will grow in La Jolla, and they make some beautiful Photographic Art:

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

Of course, La Jolla would not be a seaside, (rich) beach community without common seagulls:

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

If you plan to visit San Diego County, be sure your plan includes a trip to La Jolla for awesome views of the coast and the amazing wildlife which choose to hang out there. You might even see me walking around with camera in hand!

La Jolla, California

Visit La Jolla on Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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