Someone Sent Me Two Feathers is a kinetic wind sculpture commissioned for a private home in Capistrano Beach, California, south of Los Angeles.
The sculpture is kind of unusual and I consider it to be one of my finest works, so maybe it deserves a page of it’s own. It was completed in 2006 but recently people have inquired about similar sculptures and I realized I didn’t have the video up on the website, so here’s a post about it.
As a kinetic sculpture, of course it’s heavily influenced by the work of George Baker, with whom I studied and worked for quite some time. I was an assistant in his studio for about 12 years and helped build over 100 commissioned sculptures, nearly all of them kinetic — motorized pieces, fountains, wind sculptures, some moved by hand. Although most of my own work is not kinetic, it is nice to revisit that genre once in a while.
Certainly, the motion can be fascinating, bordering on the hypnotic. But the challenge is in balancing pure sculptural form, while adding motion and a certain amount of choreography. The wind does not always blow, of course, so you want the still composition to be as successful as when moving.
The site is a residence on a bluff, up above the beach, the house commanding views north down into Dana Point Harbor, south down the beach, and out to sea. The work was commissioned by Ann and Roger Worthington, who knew George as well. I eventually did a number of other sculptures for them, but this was the first and largest. The house they built and helped design is just magnificent inside and out, everything from the landscaping to the furnishing would not be out of place in a museum.
A better site for a wind sculpture is hard to imagine. It’s ideally situated on the entrance side of the house, just out of the direct daily ocean breeze. A direct blast of onshore wind would probably just send the sculpture whirling around too fast. But with the wind being broken up by the house, there is a nearly ideal blustery quality to the air that gets the sculpture moving gently and randomly nearly every day, especially in the afternoon hours. Of course the morning I went to take some video – what would you expect – there was not much air movement.
Details: the sculpture and base are made entirely of 304 stainless steel. The base is about 4′ high and the total height of the sculpture is 12′ (3.66m). There are three sets (pairs) of aircraft stainless steel ball bearings. They are well shielded from rain and are not highly stressed, and should last for many decades without any attention if past experience is a guide. As I write this in 2012 the sculpture has never needed any mechanical attention. The sea air has not had an any deleterious effects on the stainless steel.
Fun fact: you can see this sculpture from space! If you go to Google Maps, enter the figures in the search box 33.458911,-117.670547 (latitude-longitude of the sculpture location). Zoomed in all the way, in satellite view, the sculpture is clearly visible in the middle of the circular driveway.