Recent Acquisitions: Enormous, Wind-Driven Sculpture for Kids Is Anything but Child's Play


Cultural institutions in San Francisco continually search for new acquisitions. Alexis Coe brings you the most important, often wondrous, sometimes bizarre, and occasionally downright vexing finds every Friday.

What constitutes a successful art opening? If the elements include a packed house, people carrying political signs, and contending shrieks of revelry, then the unveiling of Aero #8 by Moto Ohtake was a resounding success.

There were also an abundance of time-outs, which is something this arts writer has never seen at an opening, no matter how bad the behavior. To be fair, most of the crowd was under four feet tall.

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Tom DeCaigny, the cultural affairs director at the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC), briefly spoke to, or rather over, the restless crowd, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with partners from the Parks Department. No stranger to underage patrons, DeCaigny spent nearly a decade leading an arts nonprofit for low-income youth. Named director almost a year ago, DeCaigny has been doing great work since higher-ups learned his predecessor, Luis Cancel, was telecommuting from Brazil.
Art enthusiasts descend on the Fulton Playground. It was BYOL: bring your own lunch.
"So often, wind in San Francisco creates a barrier to our enjoyment of public space," DeCaigny explained before he was interrupted by the artist's arrival. Ohtake, an internationally acclaimed artist, had missed the opening ceremony. Based in Santa Cruz, Ohtake taught a morning class on 3-D design at de Anza College in Cupertino.
Aero #8 by Moto Ohtake, commissioned by the SFAC.

SFAC has championed the arts in San Francisco since 1932, asserting that equal access to arts experiences throughout the city fosters a creative cultural environment, one that is essential to inhabitants' well-being. There is no better place to start arts education than the playground, but Aero #8 is anything but child's play.


The 22-foot, wind-driven kinetic sculpture is comprised of interlocking loops that vary in size. The loops move in continuous gyroscopic circular motions. Each loop has a different angle, ensuring that wind conditions will create opposing rotation. The viewer is transfixed by an infinite number of movement combinations in response to changes in weather patterns.

DeCaigny and Ohtake.

Aero #8 is just one in 50 kinetic sculptures Ohtake has created over the past 14 years, but the artist believes the work is particularly well-suited in the playground. "The amount of wind in San Francisco provides a perfect environment for my work and serves to heighten the viewer's awareness of their natural surroundings."

Follow Alexis Coe on twitter @alexis_coe.

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