The money for the PLA's sculpture was donated by Point Loma philanthropist Dorothea Laub.
Working closely with the city's senior public art manager, a group of volunteers on PLA's Art Committee has applied to, and been accepted by, the Commission for Arts and Culture to have the aesthetic, kinetic Taiji sculpture approved. The committee vetted artists and commissioned submissions. People voted their preferences at multiple public presentations.
Taiji or kinetic art is art from any medium that contains movement perceivable by the viewer or depends on motion for its effect. Canvas paintings that extend the viewer's perspective of the artwork and incorporate multidimensional movement are the earliest examples of kinetic art. Kinetic art is a term that, today, most often refers to three-dimensional sculptures and figures such as mobiles that move naturally or are machine-operated. The moving parts are generally powered by wind, a motor or the observer.
Discussing his work, sculptor Jeffrey Laudenslager said he was approached by the PLA and happened to have an “existing inventory piece” that the nonprofit approved of for its median beautification project. Though Laudenslager's wind-driven sculpture is 14-feet tall, he noted, “It's not a heavy piece,” pointing out it comes apart in pieces and can be relatively easily installed.
“It's a serious sculpture working on the yin-yang principle,” said the sculptor.
In Chinese, yin and yang describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
“All of my sculptures have the character of movement, which tends to be slow, deliberate and very precise,” Laudenslager said. “I don't do rapid spinning objects. Taiji is a particular yin-yang symbol, not the black-and-white symbol most are familiar with. It's more of an open work. Each of the black or white symbols have a circle in it. It's a simple piece — yet very complicated.”
Speaking on behalf of public art on the Peninsula, PLA president Clark Anthony said, “In 60 years of working to beautify our community, the PLA has used addition and subtraction. We’ve worked to subtract bill boards, overhead powerlines, weeds, graffiti and strip clubs. We have added colorful, water-wise plantings, and public art, like brightly decorated utility boxes and inviting welcome banners showcasing unique Peninsula features.”
“In Point Loma today, we have four pieces of art from the city’s collection of about 500,” said Anthony. “One piece is at the Hervey Branch Library. Another is at 2392 Kincaid Road at the SDPD and Fire Training Center near the airport. Another is at 2799 Carlton near the road to Shelter Island, except it’s on a side street with next to no traffic – wheeled or walking.”
Anthony noted the final piece of PLA-commissioned art is tucked away at the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, way beyond the SPAWAR entrance and nearly inaccessible by unauthorized personnel. This is why PLA volunteers have worked for several years to bring a wonderful sculpture to the Nimitz Boulevard median, where people can actually see and enjoy it without having to make a pilgrimage.”
Anthony added the city, about six years ago, approved a PLA plan to turn barren plots of land at the end of Interstate 8 and Friars Road into a well-landscaped entryway to the Peninsula. “The plan called for trees and other vegetation to reach all the way down Nimitz Boulevard,” he said. “It also called for public art, and a cement pad was installed in the median. However, at that time no funding was available.”
Anthony said the rest of the story is that, last year, philanthropist Dorothea Laub pledged the money for the sculpture, and PLA formed a committee of volunteers who worked closely with an art expert and the city staff to complete our application for donation.
“Now that the Commission for Art and Culture has formally accepted our gift, we hope the project will soon pass final review regarding installation and traffic safety,” Anthony said. “Planting and pruning is much easier than dealing with public art. But we accept the challenge and envision TAIJI as being just the first of such gifts to our community.”