A look at the El Cid statue in Balboa Park.

El Cid sculpture in Balboa Park, by artist Anna Hyatt Huntington.
El Cid sculpture in Balboa Park, by artist Anna Hyatt Huntington.

Near the center of Balboa Park, between the San Diego Museum of Art and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, you’ll find a 23-foot high bronze statue of El Cid. The legendary hero of Spain is mounted on his horse and proudly holding a spear and shield.

The striking sculpture is formally called El Cid Campeador and was created in 1927 by Anna Hyatt Huntington, a famous American sculptor who during her life won numerous awards and commissions. Most known for her lifelike animal sculptures, she is remembered for being the first woman to create a public monument in New York City. Her Joan of Arc was also New York City’s first monument dedicated to a female historical figure.

Anna Hyatt Huntington was married to Archer Milton Huntington, a wealthy philanthropist and art enthusiast, who founded The Hispanic Society of America. He made the very first contribution to the nearby San Diego Museum of Art, in the form of the painting María at La Granja, by famed Spanish post-impressionist painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida.

The El Cid in Balboa Park is one of several identical statues. The original stands in front of the Hispanic Society in New York City. Other copies stand in Seville, San Francisco, and Buenos Aires.

It seems that when the statue was installed in Balboa Park in 1930, there was a good deal of public comment about the horse’s unsightly posterior, and a debate over the direction it should face! To the relief of many, the horse’s rear end faces away from the central square and nearby buildings!

A much smaller horse sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington can be enjoyed a short distance to the north of El Cid, right next to the San Diego Museum of Art. It’s called Youth Taming the Wild.

El Cid Campeador, presented by the Hispanic Society of America in 1930.
El Cid Campeador, presented by the Hispanic Society of America in 1930.
El Cid, with Balboa Park's House of Hospitality in the background.
El Cid, with Balboa Park’s House of Hospitality in the background.
East side of El Cid. Mingei Museum in background.
East side of El Cid. The Mingei Museum is in background.
I created this unique image with high contrast and grayscale.
I created this unique image with high contrast and grayscale.

Truth rendered with small touches of light.

Sorolla and America special exhibit at San Diego Museum of Art.
Sorolla and America special exhibit at San Diego Museum of Art.

Light is the physical means by which my eyes see. But I often don’t see true light.

Light is a mixture of myriad colors. But I often don’t see those many colors.

Yesterday I was struck by a few small touches of rare light. My eyes widened with astonishment during a few joyful, delicious moments of revelation.

I was very fortunate and privileged to be a given a special tour of the amazing Sorolla exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Catherine Jones, a docent at the museum, provided an excellent introduction to the light-dabbed paintings of a very important artist that the world has often overlooked.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida was a Spanish post-Impressionist painter who won several major art awards and popular fame while he lived, but who soon became forgotten with the advent of the modern abstract movement in the early twentieth century. His stylistically varied and often unusually angled images contain applications of light like I’ve never before seen. Bits of reflection and exquisite luster, and sheens of revealed color, pulled me into a world where the true essence of a subject seems to shine out like magic, but in a very natural way.

I could have gazed at his emotionally stirring, always fascinating paintings for the entire day!

María at La Granja, courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.
María at La Granja, courtesy San Diego Museum of Art.  Click image to enlarge.

The above painting, María at La Granja, was painted by Sorolla in 1907. In it you can see Sorolla’s famous application of light. The piece was donated to the San Diego Museum of Art in 1925 by Archer Huntington, philanthropist and founder of The Hispanic Society of America. The very first work of art to enter the collection, today María at La Granja is probably the most recognized image in the entire museum.

Joaquin Sorolla Portrait of President Taft, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Joaquin Sorolla Portrait of President Taft, courtesy of Wikipedia.  Click image to enlarge.

Joaquin Sorolla’s Portrait of President Taft was commissioned by the president in 1909. It is one of many canvases in a special exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art assembled from museums throughout the world. Most of Sorolla’s important works are present, including Another Marguerite (1892), which was awarded a gold medal at the National Exhibition in Madrid and first prize at the Chicago International Exhibition, and Sad Inheritance (1899), which was awarded the Grand Prix and a medal of honor at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, and the medal of honor at the National Exhibition in Madrid in 1901.

The two paintings that I’ve posted here hardly do justice to the full range of Sorolla’s splendor. His sun-splashed scenes of beach life in Valencia, his diverse and stunning portraits, his detailed scenes of life in Spain, all the essence and astonishing light that he captured, must be experienced firsthand to be most fully appreciated.

These works by Sorolla are on display for a limited time at the San Diego Museum of Art. If you can, you really should go see them! The special exhibition ends August 26, 2014.

Bart Club street art on a San Diego corner.

Two of three utility boxes at Eighth Avenue and G Street.
Two of three Bart Club utility boxes at Eighth Avenue and G Street.

At the corner of Eighth Avenue and G Street in downtown San Diego you’ll find the Bart Club. At this location, three utility boxes have been painted with whimsical versions of Bart Simpson’s iconic television cartoon face!

Street artists are openly encouraged to make their own contributions of Bart art.

Here are some images that I recently captured…

Bart Club on San Diego street corner has fun with Simpsons character.
Bart Club on San Diego street corner has fun with Simpsons character.
Bart looking like a yellow cactus.
Bart Simpson looking like a yellow cactus.
Bart now has become a banana.
Bart now has become a banana.
Bart Club features many crazy images.
Bart Club features many crazy images.
Another odd Bart Simpson on utility box.
Another odd Bart Simpson on a utility box.
The many fun faces of Bart Simpson.
The many fun faces of Bart Simpson.
Another side of one utility box.
Another side of one utility box.
Imagination run amok!
Imagination run amok!
Bart's unique hair seems plant-like.
Bart’s unique spiky hair seems plant-like.
Pop culture street art in San Diego.
Pop culture street art in San Diego.
Artists are encouraged to contribute!
Artists are encouraged to contribute!

Comic-Con morning near the convention center.

Huge Resurrection ad on Petco Park baseball stadium.
Huge Resurrection ad on Petco Park baseball stadium.

Early this morning, shortly after sunrise, I headed down toward the Gaslamp to see what was going on at Comic-Con. Thousands of people had gravitated around the San Diego Convention Center and were waiting in long lines to be the first inside and attend popular panels.

I walked from the east side of Petco Park, over the Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge, and past the Hilton Hotel to the back of the convention center. I then walked back around to the front and across the street to the Gaslamp trolley station. Here is what I saw:

Sleepy Hollow covered bridge recreated in Petco Park parking lot.
Sleepy Hollow covered bridge recreated in Petco Park parking lot.
This big Once Upon a Time banner is falling off Petco Park!
This big Once Upon a Time banner is falling off Petco Park!

I walked a bit northwest along Tony Gwynn Drive to get this picture.

Workers push huge Homer Simpson eyeball into a big yellow head.
Workers push huge Homer Simpson eyeball into a big yellow head.

Now I’m across Harbor Drive directly in front of the Hilton.

Homer's Dome area opened on Friday behind the convention center.
Homer’s Dome area opened on Friday behind the convention center.
One of the fun Simpsons games set up on the grass by the Hilton hotel.
One of the fun Simpsons games set up on the grass by the Hilton hotel.
Gotham skyline contains Riddler's and Penguin's not-so-secret lairs.
Gotham skyline contains Riddler’s and Penguin’s not-so-secret lairs.

This is between Homer’s Dome and the San Diego bay.

A long zip line lets daring Comic-Con guests fly past Gotham City!
A long zip line lets daring Comic-Con guests fly past Gotham City!
Comic-Con fans wait in long lines for popular panels.
Comic-Con fans wait in long lines for popular panels.
Vehicle from Into the Storm, a new movie about storm chasers.
Vehicle from Into the Storm, a new movie about storm chasers.
Fan sitting by the bay behind San Diego Convention Center looks wicked.
Fan sitting by the bay behind San Diego Convention Center looks wicked.
Looks like a huge Godzilla is on the rampage in San Diego!
Looks like a huge Godzilla is on the rampage in San Diego!
The fearsome monster rises darkly into the sky and now I'm worried.
The fearsome monster rises darkly into the sky and now I’m worried.
Smiling Wonder Girl is here to handle the dire situation!
Smiling Wonder Girl is here to handle the dire situation!
Someone inside this costume will keep us all safe, thank goodness.
Someone inside this costume will keep us all safe, thank goodness.
News reporter talks with very elegantly dressed Star Wars characters.
News reporter talks with very elegantly dressed Star Wars characters.
Cool cosplayers were in front of the convention center before it opened.
Cool cosplayers were in front of the convention center before it opened.
Batman zoomed by. I used Gimp cartoon mode to make blurry pic fun!
Batman zoomed by. I used Gimp cartoon filter to improve blurry pic!
Captain America and others head across Harbor Drive to the Gaslamp.
Captain America and others head across Harbor Drive to the Gaslamp.

Evil Minions attempt to mimic superheroes!

Funny Minion Captain America greets San Diego Comic-Con visitors!
Funny Minion Captain America greets San Diego Comic-Con visitors!

I spotted some evil, scheming Minions in East Village during the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. They were impersonating famous superheroes!

These cartoons painted on the windows of the Tilted Kilt were just plain silly, so I had to share them!

A truly despicable Minion tries acting like Superman for a change.
A truly despicable Minion tries acting like Superman for a change.
A Minion was spotted in San Diego stuck on a window like Spiderman.
A Minion was spotted in San Diego stuck on a window like Spiderman.
Those are mighty big claws for a yellow single-celled organism!
Those are mighty big claws for a yellow single-celled organism!
Minion impersonates Wonder Woman at the Tilted Kilt in East Village.
Minion impersonates Wonder Woman at the Tilted Kilt in East Village.
Two eager Minions try against all odds to duplicate the Dynamic Duo.
Two eager Minions try against all odds to duplicate the Dynamic Duo.

Cosplay and Comic-Con craziness in the Gaslamp!

Gentleman heads toward downtown's Gaslamp with a Spiderman tie.
Gentleman heads toward downtown’s Gaslamp with a Spiderman tie.

Except for the very last photo, I snapped these pics today in the early evening as I walked around downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Cool Adult Swim car seems to offer free rides around San Diego.
Cool Adult Swim car seems to offer free rides around San Diego.
Steampunk guys heading down toward the center of cosplay action.
Mad Hatter guys heading down toward the center of cosplay action.
It's Spidey driving a pedicab and giving me a thumbs up!
It’s Spidey driving a pedicab and giving me a thumbs up!
Lifetime Channel is to hold a Witches event tonight in San Diego.
Lifetime Channel is to hold a Witches event tonight in San Diego.
Mobile advertisement for the Sin City sequel, A Dame to Kill For.
Mobile advertisement for the Sin City sequel, A Dame to Kill For.
This colorful shop is appealing to the huge Comic-Con crowd.
This colorful shop is appealing to the huge Comic-Con crowd.
Gaslamp Reading Cinemas has showings, including Star Wars Rebels.
Gaslamp Reading Cinemas has showings, including Star Wars Rebels.
Flash sign is a window wrap near Petco Park.
Flash sign is a window wrap near Petco Park.
Two hostesses at a local restaurant are dressed for Comic-Con.
Two hostesses at a local restaurant are dressed for Comic-Con.
Lady with gigantic identification card is promoting Community.
Lady with gigantic identification card is promoting Community.
Lady swings in middle of the cool Assassin's Creed obstacle course.
Lady swings in middle of the cool Assassin’s Creed obstacle course.
This happy family belongs to the Justice League.
This happy family belongs to the Justice League.
Oh my goodness! That might be the real Dark Knight facing me!
Oh my goodness! That might be the real Dark Knight facing me!
Witches were chanting in a circle by the Gaslamp trolley station.
Witches were chanting in a circle by the Gaslamp trolley station.
One witch hexes me with her spooky red eyes.
One witch hexes me with her spooky red eyes.
Superman is down but not out.
Superman is down but not out.
Is that an angry bird or a happy bird, I wonder.
Is that an angry bird or a happy bird, I wonder.
That arm looks downright formidable.
That arm looks downright formidable.
This fantastic beast is called the Giant Creature. It's piloted by a small alien on top. The creature was moving about for the nearby crowd.
Giant Creature catches the attention of Comic-Con fans near the Tin Fish.

This fantastic beast is called the Giant Creature. It’s piloted by a small alien on top. No, actually it contains four people who move the huge limbs from inside. The creature was slowly moving about for the nearby crowd.

Giant Creature is promoting a new fun phone app called Blippar.
Giant Creature is promoting a new fun phone app called Blippar.
Pedicabs become pirate ships and carriages for Once Upon a Time.
Pedicabs become pirate ships and carriages for Once Upon a Time.
This tough vehicle is from the upcoming Brad Pitt movie Fury.
This tough vehicle is from the upcoming Brad Pitt movie Fury.
Dead Island 2 ad on back of enterprising pedicab.
Dead Island 2 ad on back of enterprising pedicab.
Here comes Wonder Woman from the convention center across street.
Here comes Wonder Woman from the convention center across street.
This guy is Green Goblin of Mordor.
This guy is Green Goblin of Mordor.
Crazy people wearing shark heads were promoting Sharknado 2.
Crazy people wearing shark heads were promoting Sharknado 2.
Young Leia has Sharknado 2 chainsaw.
Young Princess Leia has a Sharknado 2 chainsaw.
Just a whole bunch of fun cosplay up and down the crowded streets!
Just a whole bunch of fun cosplay up and down the crowded streets!
Boy shows cool costume as I cross street in Mission Valley this morning.
Boy shows cool costume as I cross street in Mission Valley this morning.

Pics of 2014 San Diego Comic-Con Preview Night!

Thousands crammed San Diego Convention Center for Preview Night!
Thousands crammed San Diego Convention Center for Preview Night!

I finally sorted through a bunch of photos from 2014 San Diego Comic-Con Preview Night, which ended just a few hours ago! Many images came out blurry, poorly composed or marred by glare from bright lights in the convention center’s ceiling. I did manage to capture a few decent pics which provide an idea of the extraordinary, mind-blowing experience. Three hours raced by in a flash as I wandered with a friend about the endless and amazing displays. I hope you enjoy this small glimpse…

Loads of awesomely cool stuff was literally everywhere one turned.
Loads of awesomely cool stuff was literally everywhere one turned.
Anything imaginable could be bought, including Star Trek uniforms.
Anything imaginable could be bought, including Star Trek uniforms.
Models of science fiction and fantasy characters were everywhere.
Models of science fiction and fantasy characters were everywhere.
Spiderman figurine just one of hundreds on display.
Spiderman figurine just one of hundreds on display.
Rocket Raccoon was a very popular character.
Rocket Raccoon was a very popular character.
Huge Marvel mural contained the new Thor and Captain America.
Huge Marvel mural contained the new Thor and Captain America.
I recognized this tiny alien from Men in Black.
I recognized this tiny alien from Men in Black.
Mace Windu in a movie clip shown above huge Star Wars exhibit.
Mace Windu in a movie clip shown above huge Star Wars exhibit.
Cool detailed model of Boba Fett.
Cool detailed model of Boba Fett.
One of many Darth Vaders at Comic-Con!
One of many Darth Vaders at San Diego Comic-Con!
This is a special, huge Darth Vader Hot Wheels car!
This is a special, huge Darth Vader Hot Wheels car!
I spotted the DeLorean from Back to the Future!
I spotted the DeLorean from Back to the Future!
Super scary looking Predator head.
Super scary looking Predator head.
Looks like a T. Rex devouring a nearby Nazgul.
Almost looks like this T. Rex is devouring a nearby Nazgul.
I modified this blurry image of the DC exhibit.
I tried to jazz up this sadly blurry image of the DC exhibit.
Wonder Woman in a glass case and passing fans.
Wonder Woman in a glass case and passing fans.
Cowl used by Michael Keaton in first Batman movie.
Cowl used by Michael Keaton in first Batman movie.
Cowl used by George Clooney in Batman and Robin.
Cowl used by George Clooney in Batman and Robin.
Batarangs used as props in various movies.
Batarangs used as props in various movies.
Clown masks used in heist scene in The Dark Knight.
Clown masks used in heist scene in The Dark Knight.
MAD magazine's Alfred E. Neuman.
Mosaic of MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman.
Alfred E. Neuman evolves from a caveman.
Alfred E. Neuman evolves from a caveman.
Swag bags were handy for 2014 San Diego Comic-Con Preview Night.
Swag bags were handy for 2014 San Diego Comic-Con Preview Night.
Art, prints, comics, collectibles, you name it was for sale and on display.
Art, prints, comics, collectibles, you name it was for sale and on display.
Huge Alien pod was an isolation chamber for video game players.
Huge Alien pod was an isolation chamber for video game players.
Lots of video games could be sampled including realistic racers.
Lots of video games could be sampled including realistic racers.
Comic books are a staple of San Diego Comic-Con.
Comic books are a staple of San Diego Comic-Con.
Even Sponge Bob has his own crazy comic.
Even Sponge Bob has his own crazy comic.
Horror paintings from Clive Barker's Imaginer art book on display.
Horror paintings from Clive Barker’s Imaginer art book on display.
Gollum with a tasty fish poses with Tolkien fan.
Gollum with a tasty fish poses with Tolkien fan.
Elven helmet from Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Elven helmet from Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Smaug from The Hobbit was a popular attraction during Preview Night.
Smaug from The Hobbit was a popular attraction during Preview Night.
Bright cartoon faces hover above the Nickelodeon exhibit.
Bright cartoon faces hover above the Nickelodeon exhibit.
Another sample of sheer fun and eye-catching delights.
Another sample of sheer fun and eye-catching delights.
You could buy official Wonder Woman bracelets!
You could buy official Wonder Woman bracelets!
Batman and his rogue's gallery are always popular.
Batman and his rogue’s gallery are always super popular.
Warner Bros. was promoting their superheroic television lineup.
Warner Bros. was promoting their superhero television lineup.
Fantastic art filled row upon row. You could spend hours just looking.
Fantastic art filled row upon row. You could spend hours just looking.
Geek Nation did a fine job creating this fellow.
Geek Nation did a fine job creating this fellow.
Kids young and old were just having a big load of fun.
Kids young and old were just having a big load of fun.
You could win a White Walker mask from Game of Thrones.
You could win a White Walker mask from Game of Thrones.