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Balboa Park Beat

What’s it like to be a reporter in Tijuana? Or a gay man in Uganda? A female athlete in Iraq?

For a third year, the Museum of Photographic Arts will host the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, a traveling showcase of thoughtful and engaging documentaries. Convening a brilliant mix of filmmakers, human rights advocates, and internationally-minded San Diegans, it has become one of my favorite annual events in Balboa Park.

You won’t find a bunch of yawn-inducing talking heads; rather, the Human Rights Watch team reviews hundreds of submissions to select the most compelling documentaries.

Girl-Power in Iraq

“Salaam Dunk” follows a group of female Iraqi basketball players at American University in Sulaimani, Iraq. It presents a different view of Iraq than the troubled, sectarian one we see in the news as young women from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds join together to learn a team sport.

Salaam dunk MOPA

The team plays a game of knock-out at the end of practice. (Photo: David Fine)

Director and Editor David Fine spent more than two years working on the film after he learned about the team from a friend of a friend who had gone to Iraq to teach and write a novel, and ended...Read The Rest

The Japanese Friendship Garden has started offering tours of the nine-acre expansion area between the garden and the Prado restaurant. Last Wednesday, I went on a one-hour, docent-led tour with three visitors. We were led up hills and through newly constructed walkways for an up-close look at the progress of one of Balboa Park’s most anticipated additions.

Since the garden’s grand opening in 1991, it has become a Balboa Park staple that offers visitors a chance to drop their to-do lists and get lost in the serene Japanese-inspired atmosphere. The Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego hopes to enrich the peaceful experience by adding many exciting new features.

Additional Koi Pond

 Will allow people to donate their koi to the pond and also let interested buyers purchase fish from the pond.

Outdoor Amphitheater

Provides another venue in Balboa Park where visitors can enjoy live performances. 

Traditional Tea House

Will recreate the experience of a true Japanese tea ceremony.

...Read The Rest

The San Diego Museum of Art has explored aspects of urban life in various ways -- through the 2011 Summer Salon Series theme “What does a city need?”, through the gritty depictions of cities in this year’s German Expressionism exhibition, and now through an interactive exhibition from the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Titled “Beneath the Moon II: Journey Through the City,” the free exhibition is the first experience to take place in a new permanent welcome center at the Museum that UT San Diego writer Jim Chute described earlier this month. The welcome center reflects a trend among museums to offer select experiences outside their walls (or in this case, inside, but free) to reach broader audiences and experiment with new ways of engaging with visitors.

"Our international relationships are key in expanding the variety of art here in San Diego, and offering this interactive experience free to the public provides invaluable access for all,” said Executive Director Roxana Velásquez in a statement.

For this all-ages exhibition, Spanish sculptor and living artist Miquel Navarro re-purposed his sculpture "Beneath the Moon II" as an opportunity for all to learn the fundamental concepts of a city.

Spread out across the gallery floor, the installation consists of a sculpture that has been deconstructed...Read The Rest

A look back at a year in Balboa Park through twelve memorable photos.

Lily Pond Restoration

Lily Pond

One morning I woke to Twitter notifications about vandalism related to a midnight water gun fight at the Lily Pond. The next 72 hours were filled with media inquiries, donation campaign launches, and phone calls from eager volunteers. With more than $14,000 in contributions from individual donors (some involved with the water gun fight) and local companies, the City’s team worked hard for weeks to refill, replant, and restore the pond.

Kate Sessions

Kate Sessions

This haunting photo of Kate Sessions was one of our most-liked photos on Facebook this year. Some people asked if it was a statue of Mary Poppins. Balboa Park PR Manager Debbie Petruzzelli -- my early-bird colleague who took the photo during a morning walk -- explained that Sessions was a horticulturalist who helped turn the park’s land into an urban oasis. She is sometimes called the Mother of Balboa Park.

Japanese Friendship Garden Expansion


The Japanese Friendship Garden started its expansion project a few...Read The Rest

Grant BarrettCo-host of A Way with Words joins the Museum of Man as its marketing manager

During the past few years, the San Diego Museum of Man has been in a period of reflection and reinvention. New staff and board leaders have increased its community engagement efforts and zeroed in on a new mission: to inspire human connections by exploring the human experience.

The transformation kicked off with the hiring of Dr. Micah Parzen, a community-minded lawyer who transitioned from his prior job as a partner at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, LLP, to become the museum’s Chief Executive Officer. Then Dr. Parzen brought on Hope Carlson, formerly the Executive Director of the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet and a graduate of Harvard Business School, to serve as Chief Development Officer.

The museum’s latest coup is Marketing Manager Grant Barrett, pictured at right. Public radio lovers may recognize his name from A Way with Words, a fun, hour-long show about language that Grant has co-hosted with Martha Barnette for six years (he’ll continue to work on the show).

A graduate of Columbia University, Grant is an American lexicographer and dictionary editor specializing in slang and new words....Read The Rest

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