Balboa Park Activity Center’s The Circle and the Self.

The Earth and a crescent moon. One of 26 terrazzo inserts arranged in a circle in the entrance plaza of the Balboa Park Activity Center. Created in 1999 by artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw.
The Earth and a crescent moon. One of 26 terrazzo inserts arranged in a circle at entrance plaza of the Balboa Park Activity Center. Created in 1999 by artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw.

I recently enjoyed looking at some very cool public artwork. Located in front of the Balboa Park Activity Center, The Circle and the Self: A Picture Story by artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw is a series of images that tells a unique story about human activity and sport. Twenty six terrazzo inserts are arranged in a circle on the building’s south plaza, within a large tile map of the western United States, which was designed by another artist Raul Guerrero. I took a close-up photo of each terrazzo square and show them in sequence. That way you can easily follow the artist’s narrative, and the thought-provoking transformations.

The gymnasium-like Balboa Park Activity Center is where many San Diego residents go to participate in badminton, table tennis and volleyball. Similar artwork by the same artist can be found inside the building. Seventy two laser-cut metal plates depict the bodies of athletes engaged in sport, in many different, often imaginative environments.

Human figure poses beneath the slender blue moon. That moon will transform as the narrative moves counter-clockwise around the circle.
Human figure poses beneath the slender blue moon. That moon will transform as the narrative moves counter-clockwise around the circle.
Reaching up toward the ring-like moon. Striving toward hopes and dreams.
Reaching up toward the ring-like moon. Striving toward hopes and dreams.
After grabbing hold of the ring, and another, a gymnast swings through space.
After grabbing hold of the ring, and another, a gymnast swings through space.
This outdoor public art titled The Circle and the Self tells the story of human athletic pursuit and competitive sport. Each tile measures 16 by 16 inches square.
This outdoor public art titled The Circle and the Self tells the story of human athletic pursuit and competitive sport. Each tile measures 16 by 16 inches square.
Planet Earth seems to transform into a ball. Is it a tennis ball being served?
Planet Earth seems to transform into a ball. Is it a tennis ball being served?
Here's a planet-sized ball swooshing through a cosmic basketball net.
Here’s a planet-sized ball swooshing through a cosmic basketball net!
Perhaps that ball is a round blue moon orbiting the Earth.
Perhaps that ball is a round blue moon orbiting the Earth.
A player tosses the ball toward the net.
A player tosses the ball toward the net.
This fun artwork causes the curious viewer to actively walk around the large Activity Center patio. Now that's true kinetic art!
This fun artwork causes the curious viewer to actively walk around the large Activity Center patio. Now that’s true kinetic art!
A ball and net, half light, half shadow.
A ball and net, half light, half shadow.
A competitor leaps!
A competitor leaps!
Another figure aims to shoot the ball.
Another figure aims to shoot the ball.
Is this an Olympic athlete engaged in shot put competition?
Is this an Olympic athlete engaged in shot put competition?
Circles are a common image in sport. A sphere moves and bounces equally. The playing field is level.
The circle is a common image in sport. A sphere moves and bounces equally. The playing field is level.
Is that a flying ball and baseball player?
Is that a flying ball and baseball player?
Here comes the ever-changing blue ball!
Here comes the ever-changing blue ball!
Getting ready to catch the ball--or is it the Earth flying through space?
Getting ready to catch the ball–or is it the Earth moving through space?
Dynamic artwork shows human physical activity while moving along life's circle.
Dynamic artwork shows human physical activity while traveling along life’s circle.
Is this man playing handball?
Is this man playing handball?
A blue circle on a stick. What sport is this?
A blue ball on a stick. What sport is this?
Perhaps this ball is about to be served in table tennis.
Perhaps this ball is about to be served in table tennis.
The magical blue ball suddenly grows!
The magical blue ball suddenly grows!
The blue circle now seems to be a lake inside the contours of an ocean coast.
The blue circle now seems to be a lake inside the contours of an ocean coast.
As scale is altered and perspective changes, ocean and coastline become the planet Earth once more. Other blue circles are heavenly bodies throughout the universe.
As scale is altered and perspective changes, ocean and coastline become the planet Earth once more. Other blue circles are heavenly bodies throughout the universe.
Our big blue marble is third planet from the sun. It has its own small orbiting moon.
Our big blue marble is third planet from the sun. It has its own small orbiting moon.
The viewer of this art has returned to the beginning. We've come full circle.
The viewer of this art has returned to the beginning. We’ve come full circle.
The Circle and the Self by Joyce Cutler Shaw, 1999. City of San Diego Civic Art Collection. Commissioned for the citizens of San Diego.
The Circle and the Self by Joyce Cutler Shaw, 1999. City of San Diego Civic Art Collection. Commissioned for the citizens of San Diego.

Follow this blog for more photos of cool stuff! Join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

6 thoughts on “Balboa Park Activity Center’s The Circle and the Self.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.