The Wait Is Over: Penelope Arrives In Coronado - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

The Wait Is Over: Penelope Arrives In Coronado

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 1:24 pm | Updated: 1:32 pm, Thu Sep 12, 2019.

Coronado has a new piece of public art in the community, and she arrived quietly last week in Tideland’s Park. The Port of San Diego Waterfront Arts & Activation department has been working diligently for the last two years to find an appropriate home for Penelope, a brass sculpture by Fallbrook artist Michael Stutz. Penelope is the wife of Odysseus in Homer’s epic The Odyssey. The Odyssey is the sequel to Homer’s first epic, the Iliad, the oldest existing work of Western literature. The Odyssey is the story of the Greek hero Odysseus, king of Ithaca, and his circuitous ten-year journey home after the defeat of Troy. The long journey coupled with the ten-year Trojan War keeps Odysseus away from home for two decades. Yet Penelope waits. Along with her son Telemachus, they negotiate with a group of rowdy suitors who compete to marry Penelope. However, Penelope is patient, hopeful, cunning, and wise. For 20 years she holds off the would-be suitors and waits for Odysseus. The story ends with the return of her husband and the passing of a test of her loyalty.

Just in case you would like to know more about the story and in anticipation of the celebration of Penelope, the Coronado Public Library is hosting a free lecture by author Dr. Laurel Corona. Corona’s novel Penelope’s Daughter (Penguin/Berkeley 2010) re-envisioned Penelope as the true hero of the Odyssey. She will share her exploration of women of the Bronze Age and her thoughts about the hidden story behind Homer’s epic. The lecture is Wednesday, September 11 at 12:30 in the Winn Room. A light Greek lunch will be served.

After learning about the story, you’ll want to see the sculpture, commissioned by the Port in 2009. It is a hand fabricated bronze, standing approximately seven feet. The piece is interactive. Penelope is bolted to a steel-reinforced concrete plinth with a cast wood-grain texture. The plinth features an inscription that reads from the text of the poem “Weaving by day, Penelope would be forced to choose a new husband when her tapestry was complete. But all the while she waited, unraveling her work by night, steadfastly sure of Ulysses’ return.” (If you miss the lecture and are unfamiliar with the poem, Ulysses is the Roman name for Odysseus.)

Originally the Port of San Diego sited Penelope adjacent to the Aircraft Carrier Midway Museum where she could look out to sea, but this was a temporary site and the Port began exploring alternatives. Coronado tidelands offered several options for Penelope to look out to sea in anticipation of her husband’s return. The Port was sensitive to view corridors and resident’s input in selecting a site and when the Port suggested a site on the Tideland’s bike path that centered her gaze on the Coronado Bridge the project was unanimously supported by the Coronado Cultural Arts Commission. Cultural Arts Chair Jeff Tyler exclaimed, “Two years ago when viewing the woven bronze Penelope sculpture in storage, I was immediately struck by her incredible beauty and symbolism.  Soon I learned about her perfection as a wife, her intelligence, strength and loyalty to her husband Odysseus during his 20 years away with the Trojan wars.  Penelope is a perfect symbol for our returning U.S. Navy spouses who protect America. Coronado residents and visitors alike are extremely fortunate to enjoy Penelope and our gentle harbor breezes as we gaze alongside her!”

 With the arrival of Penelope, Coronado is home to nine public art pieces owned by the Port of San Diego including My Bike on the Tideland’s bike path by Amos Robinson and Sea Passage by James Hubbell at the Glorietta Bay Promenade. All Port public art pieces within Coronado tidelands are purchased and maintained by the Port of San Diego but enjoyed by all. The Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners is committed to expanding opportunities for residents and visitors to Port tidelands to experience a vibrant waterfront destination with innovative artworks, cultural programming, and activation opportunities that enhance the visual excitement and cultural richness of Port tidelands. The Port created the Waterfront Arts & Activation department to provide leadership, management of the public art programs, and stewardship of the District’s Tidelands Collection as a regional cultural asset. Additionally, the Arts, Culture & Design Committee was established to serve in an advisory capacity to the Board and the Waterfront Arts & Activation department, promoting the District’s vision of Port tidelands as a world-class arts and cultural destination. Coronado resident, Mary Hale, appointed by the Coronado City Council, serves as Coronado’s representative on the Arts, Culture and Design Committee. Hale commented that “After seeing pictures of the sculpture, I was skeptical, but it was love at first sight! Penelope is perfect for us.”

The Port of San Diego invites the public to celebrate Penelope on Thursday morning, September 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Tidelands Park, 2000 Mullinex Drive in Coronado. The event will feature free food and refreshments, as well as live music. The event is free and open to the public but you are encouraged to RSVP to melicone@portofsandiego.org.

For more information on Coronado’s Public Art collection including a complete listing of Port of San Diego artwork in Coronado visit CoronadoARTS.com and download the Public Art Walking Tour Map and Brochure.

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