Ocean of Light: Submergence by Squidsoup at the MAH

Interact with Art, MAH, Santa Cruz

Scene from Continuity at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.

We recently went to see teamlab’s Continuity exhibit at the Asian Art Museum. In 2016 teamlab showed off their immersive art in Menlo Park. In San Francisco they expanded their exhibit and I believe the rose smell was an added feature. I highly recommend the experience. It is a new way of connecting with art, by being part of it and even influencing the flow.

Ocean of Light by Squidsoup at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz.

But this blog is for experiences in the Bay Area outside of San Francisco. So, let me point you to another amazing exhibit at the Museum of Art and History (MAH) in Santa Cruz. Before we argue if Santa Cruz is part of the Bay Area, maybe we can agree that sometimes you have to bend the rules, like the immersive art that is displayed. 

I visited Santa Cruz’s MAH in 2017 and was pleasantly surprised about the multiple aspects they offer to their visitors. Recently, I came to see the Ocean of Light: Submergence by Squidsoup, an installation of over 5000 suspended lights.  I felt again satisfied with the different exhibits.This immersive art work lets the viewer walk into the art; it is not only focused on light, but also movement, sound, and the immersive feeling it invokes. 

A giant blue foam hand with a tongue sticking out in front of speed wheel posters.

Besides their ongoing focus on the history of Santa Cruz there are also exhibits on the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, and the Art of Santa Cruz Speed Wheels. To round it up I recommend chilling in the outside sculpture garden on the top floor. 

More information

Continuity at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco just got extended until November.  

Opening hours are:

Thursdays 1 pm – 8 pm, Fridays to Mondays 10 am – 5 pm. 

Tickets for Continuity are sold separately and allow you to see the rest of the museum. Adult admission is $20 weekdays $25 weekends, discounted tickets are $15/$20.

The Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz is open Thursdays to Sundays 12 pm – 6 pm. General admission is $10, students, teachers, and veterans pay $8.

Would you like to be immersed in art?

Touch station. The sign reads: Reach your hands inside these boxes and touch the secret item. Use what you feel and the photos as clues to figure out what's inside!

Smell, Touch, and See

The Guadalupe Park & Gardens Visitor Center, San Jose

Turtle sunbathing at the Guadalupe Park and Visitor Center, San Jose.

The Visitor and Education Center for the Guadalupe River Park is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. It says on the door to ring the bell when the door is locked, so I did. 

Right now during COVID there are no field trips, but you can imagine little kids will love this place. The room is not expansive, and probably hard to social distance with more than 20 kids.The center hosts a large aquarium and five terrariums. The volunteer asked me to watch my step, but when she looked over her shoulder, she saw that the turtle was still enjoying the sun, only turning slightly to me to get its picture taken. 

Snake skin. The sign says: Feel free to touch on this shelf gently.
Raccoon fur at the Guadalupe Visitor Center, San Jose

I was also surprised to see such a large garter snake in one of the terrariums. The snake just shed its skin and you are allowed to touch the remains. It feels fragile but not brittle. I was informed by the volunteer that this skin was just a few days old.

Speaking of touching, there is a large raccoon fur hanging next to the snake skins to diversify your sensory experience. This is a room for all senses. The far wall has touch, smell, and sight stations. I hope the visitor center will be filled with kids again soon, enjoying it with all senses.

Smell container. Sign reads: Please return the scent containers to this bin once you have finished guessing.

The Guadalupe Park & Gardens Visitor & Education Center is located 

438 Coleman Ave, San Jose

Current open hours are 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.
Mark your calendars. Pumpkins in the Park 2021 is October 9th, 10 am to 4 pm. Experience Guadalupe River Education, free pumpkins (while supplies last), a giant slide and obstacle course, and much more at Guadalupe River Park.

If you want your children to have sensory experiences, try the Sensory Garden of the Gardens of Lake Merritt, Oakland or Charles Street Gardens in Sunnyvale.

The entrance of the children's bookstore Hicklebee's in San Jose.

Excited by children’s books’ artifacts, Hickelbee’s in San Jose

Hicklebee's where books come alive sign.

Exit through the gift shop, is not only an experimental documentary by street artist Bansky but the strategic reality of most museums. At Hicklebee’s, a quaint children’s bookstore in the lovely Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, that idea is turned on its head: a museum in a bookstore. 

The wall with authors and books artifacts at Hicklebee's, San Jose.

Hickelbee’s employee Carol Schweppe and her husband Steve brought their vision of children’s books alive with artifacts sprinkled around the store. Over the cash register a sign with their motto: Hicklebee’s – where books come alive. When I spotted the Nimbus 2000 I knew exactly what they meant. 

Don and Audrey Wood - Smoking Hot Pens - Original art created following a Hicklebee's signing in 1985.

In a display case on the left from the entrance, you can find more examples of literate artifacts. There is Harold’s purple crayon and an oversized acorn from Chicken Little. And, the authors themselves left their marks. Pictures of smoking pens from a signing by Don and Audrey Wood for example. In every nook you can find autographs and caricatures.

A wall of Hicklebee's with signatures and caricatures from authors.

With this much attention to detail it is no surprise that Hickelbee’s is a well stocked independent children’s bookstore. 

Have you spotted interesting artifacts at Hicklebee’s?

Another independent bookstore with a fascinating history, gives space to the counterculture of the 60s. See my blog post on Kepler’s in Menlo Park.

Stairs to Esplanade Beach, Pacifica.

Step down to Esplanade Beach, Pacifica

Shoes on Esplanade Beach with Pacific in the back.

Esplanade Beach was our most recent discovery. We grabbed some lunch from Rosalind’s Bakery (recently featured on a post about my favorite sweet treats) and drove down to Esplanade Beach. Street parking was plentiful. The first impression from above was not too thrilling. We parked near a chain linked fence that was obstructing our ocean view and left us with an uneasy feeling about the safety of these cliffs. The entrance to the beach is on Esplanade Ave, which has multiple apartment complexes. There were a few benches on a lookout above. 

Stairs to the Esplanade Beach in Pacifica

The real treat is the stairs leading down to the beach. This is quite a workout! I did not count how many steps or switchbacks there were but they kept on going. I would recommend slowing down for the last part because the sand on the stairs makes them slippery. 

Looking up at the stairs cliff side with sparse plants and netting.

You can tell that the stairs have gotten an overhaul recently. The plants to minimize erosion haven’t filled out the netting yet.
This is Pacifia’s only official off leash dog beach. We saw a few dogs enjoying the run. Visit Pacifica warns to check out the tide schedule since the beach can be narrow at high tide.  For the same reason,  you should probably refrain from walking here during stormy weather.

Looking up the cliff at Esplanade Beach, Pacifica.

If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity, September 18th is Coastal Cleanup Day. A great way to beautify these beaches and remove plastic pollution. If you’re really enjoying this you can help clean Esplanade Beach every 3rd Saturday of the month.

How do you step up for your local beaches?

If you relish an outdoor steps workout also consider Communication Hill in San Jose, or the Trailhead stairs in Saratoga.

Inside the orchetaria showing 3 electric pianos and some dining tables.

Dine and be Serenaded, Orchestria in San Jose

The Orchestria Palm-Court is a very special restaurant in San Jose. It serves great continental European cuisine, but the attractions are the many electric pianos. 

Electric piano with rolls of music and a poster for Golden Summertime.

You’ll be time traveling in this brick building from 1910. The decor is art nouveau with Tiffany lamps and Thonet’s No. 14 chairs. The music comes from the electric pianos, orchestrions (self-playing orchestras), and jukeboxes, all built around the 1920s. Our server moved around starting up the machines. He played jazz and classical music, and gave us a taste of the huge varieties of their electric pianos.

Popcorn machine at the Orchestria in San Jose

Partly the mechanics of the piano is exposed and you can see the rolls of encoded paper rolling around and pulling levers. The room is filled to the brim with machines and other paraphernalia, like the 1910 popcorn maker that butters every corn individually. We were encouraged to walk around and take a look at the machines. Since we booked an early dinner and, maybe also thanks to the Jazz Festival, the dining room was only occupied by us and one other family. For us, it was entertaining to guess which machine produced the music. 

A Poppy Dew from the vintage soda fountain at Orchestria.

We also enjoyed the food, they take pride in using all organic produce. I have to say, the vintage soda fountain drinks were my personal highlight. I enjoyed a Poppy Dew, fresh lime, orange sorbet and mint. But, let me tell you this was a hard decision. Parking was a challenge, so plan for that. Overall this is a true experience.

The Orchestria Palm-Court is located at 27 E. William St in San Jose, part of the hip SOFA district. They are only open Fridays and Saturdays for dinner. Please make a reservation ahead.

A box of music, Doin' the Raccoon.

Have you been to the Orchestria?

Near the Orchestria is the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Quilt and Textile Museum

I did not receive any form of compensation for writing this post.

Spray painted sign: J-TOWN

Dive into J-town, San Jose

Santo Market mural in J-town, San Jose.

Sunday I convinced my family to come with me on an augmented reality tour of J-town – Hidden Histories of San Jose Japantown. J-town, or Japantown, in San Jose is one of three remaining Japanese communities in California, the others are in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Augmented lotus of the hidden histories tour of j-town on a phone

I saw an announcement for the augmented tour and we printed out the map from hiddenhistoryjtown.org and downloaded the AR-vos app on ar-vos.com. Our first stop was Santo Market, a supermarket with a great mural. The app showed us pictures from farmers and when you clicked on a seed it turned into a green vegetable, best guess broccoli. 

Augmented Taiko. It reads: 1973 San Jose Taiko is dedicated to cultural understanding creative expression & rhythmic heart beat.

The intersection of Fifth and Jackson St has floating blue lotuses. If you walk over to the Issei Memorial you see more images and a short Taiko performance with animated characters. This, I think, was my favorite. But overall the experience might be for a younger audience. My teenager wasn’t impressed at all.

Plants and toys at Zonkey's.

While walking around we found a store that sells plants and collectible toys – Zonkey – what a great combination! 

Our last try with the augmented tour was in front of San Jose’s Buddhist Church. You could place Chattra Umbrellas on the sidewalk. I got mine to spin, my husband multiplied his. 

The real treat were the two chalk drawings left over from the Obon Festival. Beautiful. 

Chalk art mural in J-town, San Jose.

In conclusion, I would not recommend the augmented tour, but a real tour of J-town is well worth it. 

A few more tips if you decide on doing the augmented tour. We found that we had to restart the app for every station. Also, the maker of the app, AR-vos, recommend bringing an extra phone charger. And I agree, the app will drain your battery. Always be aware of your surroundings and don’t walk into the streets in order to view the art.

While you are in Japantown, I also highly recommend the Japanese American Museum.

Have you explored J-town before?

A sign at the Lower Guadalpe River Trail about Lupe the Columbian Mammoth

Excavate the Story of Lupe the Mammoth in San Jose

In 2005, Roger Castillo, a citizen scientist, walked his dog along the Guadalupe River in San Jose. He spotted some bones. First he thought they were cow bones, but a closer inspection led him to believe it was a different animal. He called a geologist from San Jose State. The UC Museum of Paleontology excavated part of a skull, a femur, some toe bones and a rip fragment of a young mammoth. 

The Lupe sculpture at the Lower Guadalupe River Trail.

Lupe the Mammoth, named after the Guadalupe River, was a juvenile Columbian Mammoth. It was a big revelation for the scientific community since these are the most intact remains of a mammoth ever found in Santa Clara County. Today the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose has the remains of Lupe on display. The museum also teaches kids about the works of ​​paleontologists, with a hands-on exhibit.

Mamu looking into the Children's Discovery Museums exhibit of Lupe the Mammoth.

There are two sculptures of mammoth in San Jose. Both depict adult size mammoths and are about 11-foot high. One is on the outside of the Children’s Discovery Museum looking into the exhibit made by Blue Rhino Studio. The other is near where Lupe’s remains were found. This statue is an 11-foot bent pipe sculpture by Greenmeme Artists Freyja Bardell and Brian Howe. The juvenile Lupe mammoth was probably 6-feet tall.

Sign for the Lower Guadalupe River Trail with the sculpture of Lupe in the back.

If you want to see the metal sculpture, parking is tight around there. I recommend you bike the Guadalupe River Trail. On your ride you can stop at both sculptures.

In a KQED video UC Berkeley’s Paleontologist Kaitlin Maguire

 explains the history of Lupe and her involvement of the exhibit at the Children’s Discovery Museum.

What do you know about Columbian Mammoth?

If you decide to bike the Guadalupe River Trail maybe keep on going to the Three Creeks Trail and see the iris garden?

Resources

About Mammoth

https://ucmp.berkeley.edu/mammal/mammoth/about_mammoths.html

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

https://www.cdm.org/mammothdiscovery/index.html

A cow is part of the climbing structures at Discovery Farm.

Discover a Farm – Martial Cottle Park in San Jose

Martial Cottle Park celebrates the agricultural history of Santa Clara County. The land was gifted to Santa Clara County by Walter Cottle Lester, who was the last of a 150 year farming legacy.

Trail at Martial Cottle Park in San Jose.

A visitor center presents the heritage; outside, information tables with a timeline put the development in perspective. Trails, picnic areas, and green spaces occupy some of the 287 acres. Jacobs organic Farm and community education programs occupy 180 of these acres. The UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County help with community education about agriculture and the environment. And, the 4-H youth development, and Our City Forest, also found a home at Martial Cottle Park. 

A tunnel for climbing at the Discovery Farm playground.

Appropriately named Discovery Farm is the playground at Martial Cottle Park.  Some challenging climbing structures, farm animals to scale, and a tractor are the attractions. There are a few rules for the 5 – 12 year olds posted at the entrance of the playground such as sufficient strength and coordination, advisable parental supervision, etc. Additional COVID-19 protocols are in place. The water feature is turned off due to drought regulations.

Climbing structure at Discovery Park, San Jose.

Martial Cottle Park 

5283 Snell Ave San Jose, CA 95136

Opening hours are 8 am till sunset. 

Parking fees are $2 per hour or $6 all day.

Have you been to Martial Cottle Park?

Coffee mug with cocohodo.

Treat Yourself to Something Sweet

Today my mother would’ve been 80. Being German she loved coffee and cake in the afternoon. I’ll definitely have a nice piece of cake and a strong coffee in her honor. In this post I picked five Bay Area bakeries with special treats I love. I am not affiliated with any of the businesses and have not received anything for posting this. (This is not to say I wouldn’t be open to a taste test.)

Pastelaria Adega – San Jose

Pastel de nata at Pastelaria.

One of my favorite sweets is pastel de nata, a Portuguese egg custard tart pastry. Pastelaria Adega in San Jose does it right. You can watch them making the tart and stirring the custard in a large copper pot. Besides the traditional plain they also have fruit versions. If you are not interested in custard, maybe try some of their donuts, or savory items?

Wooden Table Baking Co – Oakland

A display of alfajores at the Wooden Table Cafe.

Alfajores – You had me at dulce de leche; put two shortbread cookies around and you get this Argentinian dessert. For an extra indulgence try them covered in chocolate! They also have many gluten-free options.

Cocohodo – Sunnyvale

Machine making cocohodo at Cocohodo in Sunnyvale.

Cocohodo is a traditional Korean pastry, shaped like a walnut, filled with bean paste and a chunk of walnut. If I still had a small child this would be my go-to place. You can watch the machine that makes the pastry right there, while also enjoying their great coffee.

Mini Taiyaki Cafe – Santa Clara

A taiyaki waffle shaped fish.

Another Korean favorite are taiyaki – fish shaped cakes filled with either custard, hazelnut spread, or red bean paste. They are freshly made and come in four fishes. The cafe is actually a hair salon and due to COVID restriction not a sit-down cafe. The taiyaki are fun when they are warm, but they don’t travel well.

  • Mini Taiyaki Cafe
  • 5075 Stevens Creek Blvd
  • Santa Clara, CA 95051

Rosalind Bakery – Pacifica

Croissants from Rosalind.

The artisan bread at Rosalind is amazing, but their croissants are what I crave. The almond one is filled with almond paste, topped with shaved almond, and the crunch is music to my ears.

Where do you go for sweet treats?

Climbing structure and concrete slides at Brigadoon Park.

Skid Down the Brigadoon Park Slide, San Jose

I arrived at Brigadoon Park greeted by an empty playground some late morning. My quest was the giant concrete slide I’d heard so much about. 

Many pieces of cardboard at the base of the slides at Brigadoon Park.

At the base I picked up one of the many cardboard boxes. If I ever wanted to slide, the opportunity of no witnesses was now or never. There are three options for sliding. One for the slimmer and tinier generation with higher walls for protection.

Two concrete slides are right next to each other.

I had to choose one of the two other wider slides. All of the slides have two bumps. This was a fun and scary experiment. The cardboard didn’t disappoint. This is a fast ride! I was relieved that by the time I crashed into the playground there was still no one around to take notice of my less than perfect landing. Very much fun for the younger crowd.

Brigadoon Park is located on Brigadoon Way and Maloney Drive in San Jose. Parking in the neighborhood was no problem. 

Concrete slide with cardboard at Brigadoon Park, San Jose.

Have you ever tried the slide at Brigadoon Park?

Other fun playgrounds in the Peninsula:

Seven Seas Park, Sunnyvale

Magic Mountain, San Mateo

Las Palmas Park, Sunnyvale

Magical Bridge, Palo Alto