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Artists Charles Sowers transforms the facade of the Randall Museum with 500 wind-activated sculptures
Windswept uses the power of the wind to create a kinetic sculpture that is engaging, fun and beautiful.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- The San Francisco Arts Commission and the Randall Museum announce the installation of Windswept, a wind-driven kinetic façade by Charles Sowers. An artist and exhibit developer at the Exploratorium, Sowers has created thought-provoking, beautiful experiences for visitors for 15 years. Consisting of over 500 freely-rotating directional arrows, Windswept transforms a blank wall into a large-scale observational instrument that reveals the complex interactions between the wind and the environment. The artwork was funded by the Art Enrichment monies generated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's capital projects. A public dedication ceremony will be held on Saturday, February 4 at 10 a.m. with an Artist Talk to follow at 10:30 a.m. in the Museum's theater.

"Windswept uses the power of the wind to create a kinetic sculpture that is engaging, fun and beautiful. Children and adults alike will enjoy this mesmerizing artwork, and perhaps be inspired to think about the wind as a potential energy source," said Public Art Program Director Susan Pontious.

"Windswept exemplifies how wind can be harnessed as a sustainable energy source in an urban environment," said Juliet Ellis, SFPUC Assistant General Manager of External Affairs. "We believe that art can play an important role in educating San Francisco about cleaner energy alternatives."

Wind gusts, rippling and swirling through the sculpture, will illustrate the myriad and ever-changing ways the wind interacts with the building. Inspired by the maritime wind direction indicators found on sailboats, the arrows, which are mounted parallel to the façade in a grid, serve as discrete data points that provide a sample of the wind at its point of contact with the Museum. The arrows indicate the direction of the distinct air flows that comprise the larger wind phenomenon.

According to the artist, "I'm generally interested in creating instrumentation that allows us insight into normally invisible or unnoticed phenomena. The Randall site, like many in San Francisco, is characterized, to a great extent, by its relationship to the wind."

"Charles Sowers's new kinetic art piece will engage our visitors as soon as they arrive at our site. Like a giant school of glittering fish, the little wind vanes will dart and turn in unison, making invisible wind currents into an ever-changing graphic display of a force of nature," said Randall Museum Executive Director Chris Boettcher.

Sowers received his B.A. in Anthropology at Oberlin College in 1989 and has been an exhibit developer at the Exploratorium in San Francisco since 1998. His work presents actual physical phenomena - often of striking visual beauty - that draw people into a careful noticing and interaction. He seeks to provoke a sense of delight and wonder and reward extended observation. Frequently this involves developing an apparatus to recreate and/or highlight some natural phenomenon observed in the world - the swirl of fog blowing over a hill, the formation of ice on a puddle, or flow of water and foam on the beach as a wave drains away. Science (especially the field of non-equilibrium pattern formation) serves as a deep resource for creative ideas and Sowers frequently collaborates with scientists to recreate lab experiments. Windswept is Sowers' third public art commission. In April 2011, he completed Butterfly Wall a kinetic sculpture at the San Francisco International Airport's new Terminal 2, which was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission.





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