Archive for November, 2010

Imagine Hotel del Coronado’s 1900 Tent City

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

If you are exploring modern Coronado, California, by bicycle you will probably find yourself cruising along the Glorietta Bay Promenade looking at yachts, pigeons, high rise condos, and the Hotel del Coronado.

Bathing Beauties

But in the years between 1900 and 1939 you would have seen the Hotel del Coronado’s Tent City, a crowded promenade in itself of bathing tents, bathing beauties, sea, and sky.

Artist Todd Stands has recreated Tent City. In a way. For his 2009 outdoor sculpture, Imagine Tent City, he embedded photographic images in glazed tiles and arranged the tiles on a large structure in mosaic fashion forming a collage of images gathered from the photographic archives of the hotel and historical societies.

Tile Mosaic by Todd Stands

If you look south at the collage, you will see what was there when Tent City thrived. If you look north, you see the northern view of Tent City as it would have been in the early 20th Century.  You do need to factor out the steel and glass high rises, the marina yachts, and the cement walkways, but that is easy to do as you search the photo tiles for a piece of history.

Tent City mosaic by Todd Stands

It is actually interesting to peek through a window in the tiles and see today’s palm trees in contrast to the old photographs.

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Art Olio/Apple Apps

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Precision by Ken Smith

Star of India sails

A new selection of Urban Trees is spread out along San Diego’s waterfront and the Star of India’s Halloween sails have been replaced by its regular, untattered sails.

However, the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes’ sails are still underwater off the coast of Gibraltar.  And Odyssey Marine Exploration is still trying to get salvage rights to her treasure of Spanish coins minted in Peru. The Mercedes was a Spanish Royal Navy Frigate which sunk in a sea battle during Spain’s war with England in 1804. The Eleventh Circuit Court of appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, is hearing Odyssey’s appeal to the dismissal of its claim to the treasure. Kimberly Alderman on her blog at is following the case, known as the Black Swan case, for us.

Still out there, and might as well be under water, are the five masterpieces stolen from the Paris Museum of Modern Art in May 2010 (, and the dozen masterpieces, including three Rembrandts,  stolen from the Gardner Museum in 1990 and recounted for us by Ulrich Boser in The Gardner Heist. And a lot of other stolen art. Check out Art Theft Central.

Caravaggio's Fanciullo con canestro di frutta

Digital painting by David Hockney

But the good news is that this is the 400th anniversary of Caravaggio’s death and he has an Apple App with English text and Italian narration. How great is that!  An iPad app for a 16th century painter who probably used a camera obscura set-up to create some of his work.

At least, David Hockney thinks he did, as he explains in detail in his book Secret Knowledge (2001).

And David Hockney himself has iPads and iPhones bolted to the walls in Paris’ Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation with his digital drawings glowing away (; He created them on Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

I wonder what counts as the “original work.”  Something embedded in electronics–you’d have to display it over your mantel on an iPhone or iPad.  Anything else would be just a copy, once removed from the original. Maybe the only original is on Hockney’s own iPhone or iPad. In which case, anything on anybody else’s iPhone or iPad  is a heck of a lot more than “once removed.” And if you print it out as I did here,  it’s a facsimile.

And if Hockney’s  iPhone and iPad are carried to the bottom of the sea in a ship wreck,  the art probably won’t be salvageable.


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Bronze Warriors, Horses’ Hooves, and El Cid

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Anna Hyatt Huntington's El Cid

Anna Hyatt Huntington's El Cid

There may or may not be a correlation between the number of raised forelegs of a bronze horse and the fate of its rider.  Perhaps a code exits among bronze artists governing how to depict a warrior and his/her steed. Or perhaps not.

Cecil Adams at investigates whether the number of raised feet of the horse carrying a war hero depicted in bronze statues corresponds to how the warrior died: four feet on the ground means the hero did not die in battle, one raised foot means the hero was wounded in battle, two raised forelegs means he was killed in battle. Is it a code which artists follow in sculpting war heroes? Adams doesn’t find a tight connection even in the statues at Gettysburg. Neither does a review of military statures on

So when I noticed that the statue of El Cid Campeador by Anna Hyatt Huntington in San Diego’s Balboa Park had one raised foreleg, I looked up El Cid to find out how he died.

At the time of his death in 1099, Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, El Cid, ruled Valencia, Spain. Some sources say he died from a stray arrow, some from an arrow in his heart. Some say from poor health. Some say only that he died. So it’s not clear if the horse’s raised foreleg on Anna Hyatt Huntington’s statue indicates anything at all regarding wounds in battle.

But the raised foreleg is very dramatic and El Cid is definitely leading a battle charge. It’s a great military statue!

Anna Hyatt Huntington was born March 10, 1876 and died October 4, 1973. She was an American sculptor whose works of animals and human figures are displayed throughout the world. Her husband was the very rich American, Archer Milton Huntington who founded the Hispanic Society of America, endowed its museum, and founded the Mariners’ Museum in Virginia. He also wrote an account of the life of El Cid which won him membership in the French Academy.

El Cid Campeador was presented to San Diego by the trustees of the Hispanic Society of America, July 5, 1930.

See how it all connects. Amazing where horses hooves will lead.

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