Inspired by the forms and forces of nature and the nautical and aquatic world surrounding him, San Diego metal artist Jon Koehler creates motion from materials others see only as immobile (or static). Noted particularly for his kinetic sculptures crafted from hard-to-form stainless steel, Jon is a largely self-taught craftsman renowned for his precision work and meticulous attention to detail. Jon developed a special feel and understanding for stainless steel, which is intrinsically harder to work with than softer and more malleable metals like copper and aluminum. Stainless steel requires a special expertise and finesse — as well as patience and persistence – to manipulate without fracturing or damaging the metal.
Born into a San Diego boat-building family and raised in and around his family’s Shelter Island boatyard, Jon displayed an early talent and pleasure in working with his hands along with a distinct artistic bent. His father, a hands-on master boat builder and founder of Koehler Kraft who passed on his knowledge of the traditional marine crafts and his focus on quality, encouraged Jon’s interest in metalwork and welding, which he started learning from one of Koehler Kraft’s skilled welders. Later he refined his precision metalworking skills transforming high-performance race cars into clients’ “dream cars.”
Jon’s passion for metal flourished. In working on his sculptures, Jon senses the proper balance and grace between metal and open space, between calm and fluidity. He works with clients to understand their underlying wishes. “I have the ability to make their dreams come true,” he explains.
The journey is just as important as the destination, in the craftsmanship of Jon Koehler’s stainless steel sculptures. By creating kinetic sculptures, starting in the details of the craft, knowing how to break down the elements of steel with the manipulation of welding, Jon is pushing the boundaries of metal engineering. Jon brings opposing forces into equilibrium, turning cold hard steel into a graceful kinetic balance within its environment. Making the immovable move, making a heavy medium appear light, creating from a pure source of exploration and pushing the boundaries of imagination and engineering is the dichotomy of his work.
Jon’s creative objective is to bring the viewer into a new world where a gentle breeze or push of the hand will bring to life the complexity of his organic sculpture, thus transporting the viewer further into a world where steel dances like a feather in the wind. The continued exploration of “opposites in balance,” to extend the realm of kinetic movement, creating a visual harmony with flowing lines of steel within a natural environment is what fuels Jon’s imagination and continued creative pursuits.
Jon’s sculptures, ranging from 3 inches to 30 feet, are available for purchase or custom commission. You can see the fusion of Jon’s eclectic talents and experience displayed along many parts of San Diego’s waterfront and beyond, both in his stainless steel kinetic public art installations and in his artful, custom-functional stainless steel work adorning million-dollar yachts and homes across the country.