Sculpting The Wind: Jeffery Laudenslager
THREE ARCS OF TITANIUM have elegantly swooshed and spun above the I-5/805 freeway merge since 1999. Sculptor Jeffery Laudenslager’s first major commission, Archimage, presents an endless game of tag between two forces of nature: wind and gravity. He won a Fine Arts Orchid for that one, foretelling a streaking comet of 21st-century success that saw his kinetic sculptures landing in galleries, gardens, exhibitions and private collections all over the world. In 2012, 44 years after he decided to stop writing poetry and start making things with his hands, he was named winner, along with artist Arline Fisch, of the 2012 San Diego Art Prize.
But wait: He can’t draw or paint. “I have a capacity for solving problems, and a pretty decent sense of design and aesthetics,” explains the native San Diegan, who is sixty-six. “But my hands aren’t skillful, so my eyes have the appetite and the hunger.” Since his titanium and stainless-steel moving sculptures require advanced welding techniques, infinitesimally precise computation of centers of gravity, and aircraft-quality bearings, Laudenslager creates his designs using computer software (“It’s just another tool”), and employs an assistant, Daniel Camarena, to fabricate them in a studio in National City.
The dynamic sculptures grab the sun’s fire as they defy gravity with seemingly heavy metal floating on the wind. Is this legal under the laws of motion? Does the artist think he works outside the constraints of Newtonian jurisdiction?
Some of the eerily alive constructions are on permanent display at the Wolfstein Sculpture Park at Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, and Scripps Hospital, Encinitas.
Laudenslager remains at large, and at the end of the summer was bound for Florida, where an outdoor sculpture symposium will keep one of his multi-axis/rotating Ripples installed for a year. Though he does most of his design work in his home in Leucadia, Laudenslager regularly escapes to the house he’s built in breezy Costa Rica.
By Neal Matthews