AutoMatters & More: “The Art of the Brick,” Maker Faire & “October Sky”

“The Art of the Brick” at the Fleet Science Center

Recently the Fleet Science Center in San Diego’s Balboa Park unveiled its new name and logo –visible elements of a bold strategic plan that began to take shape in 2014. “The Fleet is transforming from a museum in the park to a county-wide organization devoted to building and supporting communities rich in science learning.” This includes expanding relationships with students and educators in schools, and with the community at large.

“The Art of the Brick” is a truly inspiring, special exhibit of artworks sculpted from simple LEGO bricks by corporate lawyer turned world famous artist Nathan Sawaya: from stylized reproductions of famous works of art, including Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Rodin’s “Thinker,” to imaginative interpretations of the world around us, past and present. Be sure to check out the 20-foot long T-Rex dinosaur and have your picture taken beside a life-sized LEGO person, like those you may have spotted a few months ago when this exhibit was previewed on park benches during San Diego Comic-Con.

The Southern California premiere of “The Art of the Brick” runs through January 29, 2017. To learn more about the Fleet’s expanded mission, programs, exhibits and events, visit

Maker Faire San Diego

Returning for a second big year in celebration of the Do-It-Yourself culture of the Maker Movement, Maker Faire San Diego brought inventions, arts, crafts, science, technology and much more to 11 venues in Balboa Park.

This hands-on event included robots, electric vehicles, green tech, art, student projects, beer brewing, 3-D photography, flying model rockets and much, much more, including an amazing collection of Star Wars and other figures made from common, everyday masking tape by Sacramento artist Danny Schieble (see The Old Globe offered guided, behind the scenes theater tours, as well as displays and interactive exhibits about many aspects of their stage productions. A tall, conical building called the YOUtopia temple was temporarily built on the El Prado promenade using no metal fasteners or glue – just interlocking pieces of wood.

We were looking forward to a repeat of a popular event that was at last year’s Maker Faire, where exciting mock sea battles were fought in an above-ground, freshwater pond. Pneumatic guns on scale model, radio-controlled naval vessels fired round after round of metal bearings into enemy ships, sinking them. While the non-profit Western Warship Combat Club did have an exhibit this year too, due to environmental concerns they were unable to bring back their pond.

According to Rob Wood, the club’s president, roughly half of their members are Armed Forces veterans. Some members are active duty. This family-oriented activity teaches a variety of skills including historical research, scale model fabrication techniques, pneumatics, robotics, radio control, strategy and tactics, teamwork and friendly competition. It seems like a great fit for San Diego but they need a shallow freshwater pond, or a flat piece of ground with access to fresh water where they could build a pond. If you know of such a place, please write to Rob at

“October Sky” at The Old Globe

Inspired by the fact-based, popular 1999 Universal Pictures film by the same name, and “Rocket Boys” – a memoir by Homer H. Hickam, Jr. – “October Sky” is a musical stage play currently being performed at The Old Globe in Balboa Park. Set in the small coal-mining town of Coalwood, West Virginia, just after the launch of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik satellite in 1957, this story follows the lives of Homer Hickam and several of his high school buddies, as they dared to look beyond their likely future lives spent working as coal miners, and instead reach for the stars.

It is fascinating to see how The Old Globe uses stagecraft and technological wizardry to safely launch rockets high above the stage. Young and old alike were also encouraged to launch rockets at The Old Globe during Maker Faire.

“October Sky” features 25 songs and a live orchestra. Other particularly effective uses of technology include an exploding fence, projections of clouds moving slowly across the sky in the background and miners moving up and down through trap doors in the stage, during the mine elevator scenes.

“October Sky” continues through October 23. Tickets start at $37. For more information, visit

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Copyright © 2016 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #458