While camping at China Camp State Park in San Rafael, we realized we had forgotten to bring milk for breakfast. So we headed for the store. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a big white thing.
Upon closer inspection, we found it to be a huge metal sculpture.
It sits on the grounds of an abandoned school.
Later found out that it started out as the Mcphail School. Great name. Then it was the Marin Center for Humanities and the Arts. Then the Marin Design Center. Now it has an interesting, slightly melancholy post-apocalyptic feel.
Got home and got on Google, trying to get info on it. Didn’t know the title or artist, so came up empty. So I put up a couple of posts on Craigslist asking if anybody knew about it. Right away got a reply, with a link to the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Turns out it’s called Four Times Daily, by a sculptor named Robert W. Ellison. It’s about thirty feet by fifty feet. Must weigh several tons.
It started life in 1978, in San Francisco Civic Center Plaza. A documentary short film was made about it called ‘The Unveiling of Four Times Daily’. Currently out of print, unfortunately. It was moved to its present location in 1983. What an engineering feat to move this thing.
I found Robert Ellison’s website, and emailed him, asking about what would happen to it. He promptly wrote back, saying he is working on getting it a home on the campus of Sonoma State University, but that it may take a year or two. Hope it happens, a lot of folks would enjoy this, and it’s kind of forlorn where it is.
This is easily the coolest thing I’ve seen since the Hunter’s Point Copra Crane ( on this blog a couple pages back).