UPDATE on Disappearance of the Peace Sign Atop of “Peace Rock”

by on January 8, 2008 · 5 comments

in Ocean Beach, War and Peace

POINT LOMA / OCEAN BEACH – This is an update on the disappearance of the beautiful, stained-glass peace sign which was attached to the top of “Peace Rock” off Sunset Cliffs – no, the artwork has not been recovered, and no, no one has been caught and no one has ‘fessed up. But as the peace sign was the work of a small group of locals who also have a web site, “Peace Rocks!”, we can now see by the tone of a number of nasty comments made on their site, that the peace sign was not valued by all. In the comment section on the web site, after 18 months of appreciative responses, we can read the vitriol expressed by a few people who, apparently, display the motivations to steal or vandalize the peace sign.

But first, let’s see what those who put it up say about its disappearance. A statement made on January 5 by Peace Rocker I, one of the organizers of the artwork, was posted both on their web site, “Peace Rocks!” and on a document attached to a nearby fence near “Peace Rock”. The statement read:

Sadly, two nights ago, the Peace Sign was removed (stolen?) by persons unknown. We are still processing this very sad development, and have no idea what motivated the interlopers.

Was it an ordinary vandal who simply took delight in destroying something beautiful? Was it some punk who just wanted to hang it in their own living room? Was it some conservative who mistook the sign as a political statement? Was it someone from the military who misunderstood the symbol as disrespectful to our brave troops? Was it maybe some environmentalist who simply believed that NO ONE should appropriate that rock for public art, for any purpose? Or was it maybe some other group of locals who simply wanted to put up their OWN new installation? We may never know the answer.

We who erected this sign intended it to be politically neutral, and simply a reflection of what we hoped was a UNIVERSAL prayer for peace. We also knew, of course, that our effort would not please EVERYONE, and that it might evoke a strong negative reaction from some percentage of the community (for all the possible reasons suggested above). In any event, it is with great sadness that we accept this development as just part of the natural progression of things, regrettable to us, but probably inevitable.

We believe that the Peace Rock had become a place of substantial civic pride for MOST locals, a place for reflection and a source of great inspiration. We are proud of our contribution to the community, and thankful that it touched so many people as positively as it did for the 18-19 months that it graced that spectacular rock.

And a final note to those who stole the sign: this was a very expensive piece of stained-glass art, intended as a gift to the community. We had always thought that someday we would remove it ourselves — to permit the tradition of random installations on that rock to continue — but that we would then donate the sign for permanent installation to some business in Ocean Beach (perhaps to Rock, Paper, Scissors, the wonderful Artists’ Coop on Newport Avenue). Accordingly, we would ask, respectfully, that you somehow transport the sign — even if broken in the process of removal — to the alley behind that store, hide it appropriately, and then phone the store anonymously the next day to alert them to retrieve it for public display inside. You would have the “clean” rock you apparently wanted, and the community would have a lasting symbol of something many thought was uniquely beautiful.


The original intent of the group is reflected in their statement of purpose:

When the previous installation-a marvelous Pterodactyl, poised for attack-was destroyed in the winter storms of 2006, a small group of long-time Ocean Beach residents decided to erect a new artwork, one that evoked the magnificence of the setting, and that inspired a positive reflection for Peace on Earth. The first peace rock – No political statement was intended by the design. Rather, the Peace sign is intended to inspire a continual contemplation on tolerance and harmony, and on the desire of all people and all nations for an end to violence, and a freedom from conflict or disagreement.
a time to spread peace – A second Peace Rocks installation went up Easter weekend in Santa Cruz, California, and a third site is under consideration for Maine or Massachusetts, to take our project coast-to-coast.With your help, Peace Rocks will continue to place sculptures throughout the country.

Now to the hypocritical, ignorant and crass comments. One commenter thought, even though it was a nice piece of artwork, that it should be on private property and “not ruin a beautiful, natural seascape untarnished by any special interest or belief or politic.

Another stated, “Thank goodness the ‘artwork’ is gone. The OB rock is part of the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park and as such should not in anyway or for any purpose be defaced. Regardless of the intent or purpose, the OB rock cannot be use as a pedestal for the display of any objects.” Hey, I want to ask this person, how about the years of defacement by the City of San Diego and private developers who have destroyed much of the cliffs in order to save them by dropping boulders over the side and by pouring cement over the face of the cliffs?

Another caustic comment stated: “Thank god that is gone. What is beautiful about the cliffs is just that, the cliffs and sunset and the surf and kelep (sic) beds. Not some piece of metal and glass put up by some “environmentalists” who want “piece and harmony”!! Some other moron tried to put up “art” at no surf beach made of concrete, metal, and glass. Some real environmentalists. Leave the cliffs how you found them, just like everyone else has for the last 150 years.”

This person, I suppose, has not bothered to look down from the cliffs themselves to see all the concrete, asphalt, rip rap, and boulders dropped over the edge over the years. They continue: ” I have lived in the area for 30 years and have done numerous beach clean ups at the cliffs, picked up other people’s dog crap, etc. Placing “art” on natural landscapes is a very selfish thing to do.” And then their real motive comes out...” Might want to your (sic) all this effort in sending our troops some gifts or something more worth while than ruining a perfect good bare rock. Put it in an art gallery, or on your wall cause that is where art belongs.” That’s right – art only belongs in galleries. They finish, “Might want ask the community before you put something up if it really belongs there, too. I would have opposed it.” Yeah, right, like the community is asked about anything.

The low point of all the negative comments was this declaration of unbelievable Bush-type of patriotism: “ Its a sign of traitors. Thank God its gone!

Yes, it is a sad commentary of our local community. But we can be buoyed by the last comment made by peace rocker:

I and my two principal collaborators would gladly fund another sign, but I fear that, at this point, it would just seem like “taunting” to whomever stole the first one, and he (or she or they) would simply steal the next one.

Indeed, know that we already have another incredible 5 foot stained-glass siign essentially already ready to go, and are just awaiting inspiration for WHERE to put it (accepting that it, too, could be, vandalized (or lost to the ocean, as our installation in Santa Cruz was).

I’m ready to go, to Seattle, to Boston, to New Hampshire, whereever we can find another appropriate place (in a community that would likely, in majority, accept it; where it plays to the public (not to just some private beach homes); where th esite is similarly SPECTACULAR and INSPIRATIONAL to our rock here; where it is close enough to the shore to be visible, but hard enough to access that it won’t likely be vandalized (arrrgghhh!). Ideas from ANYONE are welcome. We’re ready to GO.

I’m disappointed by our recent loss, but not daunted. Peace is a PROCESS, and this setback will not stop us, even if the project is offensive to some percentage of this or that community.

Finally, for another moment of inspiration, while visiting their web site, click on the photo and watch the video, and listen to John Lennon and his “Imagine.”

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar OB Joe January 9, 2008 at 7:28 am

Unbelievable! These people with such blind ignorance … I wonder if they are the rich and wealthy ones with million dollar homes right off the cliffs. The once-beautiful pristine cliffs have been altered so much from their original natural state that for anyone to complain that the peace sign was “defacing” the cliffs beauty is so whacked out, their own selfish ultra-NIMBYism is bubbling up through their warped views.


avatar nunya January 9, 2008 at 4:26 pm

That’s a shame that someone took it. It was lovely.

I wish I were more surprised about the nastiness and stupidity in San Diego.


avatar Richard Nadeau January 9, 2008 at 5:54 pm

When a country is in harmony with the TAO, the factories make solar panels and windmills, when a country goes counter to the TAO, it builds nuclear power plants, and warheads are stockpiled outside the cities.

Thus, a peace symbol is in harmony with the TAO!


avatar Darla Bebrin June 16, 2008 at 2:44 pm

We think that a certain Obecian named ******* stole the Peace sign.


avatar Frank Gormlie June 16, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Darla – appreciate your concerns, vigilance and interest, but we can’t post someone’s name without very good substantiation. If you have more info, pass it along to us via the “contact” page and we will forward that to Peace Rocker.


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