For some reason, when I was in San Diego last year with “Mary Poppins”, I missed the San Diego Museum of Art. The opportunity to visit fine art museums in cities across the United States was one of the great gifts of being on tour for three years with the show. Now that I am back on the road again for six months, on the Broadway-bound tour of “Jekyll and Hyde”, I am thrilled about the prospect of re-visiting some of my favorite art institutions. As I was saying, for some reason I failed to get to the San Diego Museum the last time I was here. This afternoon I wandered up the hill from the Sheraton hotel to Balboa Park where the museum is situated amongst buildings originally created for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 and the California Pacific International Exposition of 1935. It’s a remarkable place, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city.
The museum itself (actually I visited two today: the Timkin Museum of Art – considered one of the great small museums of the world – and the adjacent San Diego Museum of Art. Both wonderful, but since the Timkin does not allow photographs of it’s works, I’ll focus more on the S.D. Museum) was a revelation: a refreshing and inspiring afternoon spent amongst old-masters through early 20th-century works, and all in galleries that are very manageable in an afternoon’s stroll.
Invariably, whenever I visit an unfamiliar museum, there are always surprises: works of art that I was familiar with, but was unaware of where they lived. Today, as I rounded a corner into a gallery, I was pleasantly surprised to see a painting that I recognized to be the work of Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida – an artist that I greatly admire. The full length “Maria at La Granga” is a portrait of the artist’s daughter, who had recently recovered from tuberculosis. The dappled light, so characteristic of Sorolla’s bravura style is evidenced in the pic of the painting below. Taken on my iPhone, along with the other quick snaps that follow, it probably doesn’t do the work justice, but you get an idea of it’s quality. Since portraiture is one of my big interests, I shot some close-ups of paintings that caught my eye. They are details – not the entire paintings – but they serve as a nice reminder to me of an enjoyable afternoon in San Diego.