Sunday Morning in Watts

This weekend Puja and I went to visit her brother AP to celebrate his birthday in Pasadena, so we didn’t get to do our weekly hike in San Diego. This worked out fine for us because the temperature was roughly one hundred degrees even in the cooler parts of Southern California.

AP went scuba diving in Laguna Sunday morning, so this left us with a few hours to go explore Watts. I recently got re-interested in going to see the Watts Towers when I saw this video on Pinterest.

I was expecting it to be difficult to photograph, and it certainly was. I knew about the fence. What I didn’t know is that it is open to the public at certain restricted hours, I would love to go back sometime when we can go inside and look around.

Here is one I would really like to reshoot. It was difficult because I had to reach through the fence to do this montage.

This work of sculture was deeply impressive to see in person. You can see the immense effort it took Sobato Rodia to put together. It was made entirely out of found scraps of metal. You could also see his training as a mason really shine through when you look at the tile and sculptural work at the base of the structure.

Part of me kept thinking of a miniature golf course looking at it. That might sound condescending, but that is the nature of this style of art, called American naive art. It has a naive, childlike appearance. Yet there is a clear sense of mastery behind it.Read More

Chicano Park: My Favorite Site of San Diego

I’m not sure Chicano Park would rank on most people’s lists of most beautiful places in San Diego, but it’s at the top of mine. When people think of history in San Diego, they inevitably think of Old Town, a place of pristine fixed-up old buildings, a lawn strewn court yard and Mexican Margarita restaurants. Chicano Park to me represents a real history.

When Coronado Bridge was built, it divided the neighborhood of Barrio Logan, which was at one time the second largest hispanic community in California. Residents fought for a park that would help reunite their community, and were promised a park under the bridge. After several years, bulldozers came in not to build the park but to build a CHP station where the park had been promised. This infuriated residents who felt betrayed. They demonstrated, and fought for this park. One of the residents, the artist Salvador Torres, conceived of a large public art project to be a feature of the park, making use of the Coronado Bridge pillars. The result was Chicano Park.

Coincidentally, Puja and I went to check it out on the same day we went around the city to view a street art project the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego had commissioned. It turned out to be an appropriate interlude between viewing the street art exhibit that was displayed publicly throughout the city. (This was all back in January 2011)

There is a website for the park, explaining its history and there are pictures of some more of the murals.