By Joey Patton
It does not take long to recognize the natural beauty of San Dimas. Nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, the city’s terrain is dressed in a diverse blend of winding trails, wildlife and a waterfall that flows through a rippling creek and at last into the Pacific Ocean.
This scenic landscape will be celebrated in a unique fashion, as it will serve as the theme of the city’s soon-to-be Gold Line station, scheduled to make its way to town by 2025.
In a decade-long collaboration with the Foothill Gold Line, the city of San Dimas has teamed up with a pair of talented artists to make the new station not just a stop along the journey but also an attractive destination.
Eugene Daub and Anne Olsen Daub are San Pedro-based artists with several accolades between them. Daub is a renowned sculptor who has been awarded the highest honor for medallic art: the Saltus Award from the American Numismatic Association. Olsen Daub has designed for Mattel, Inc., one of the largest toy manufacturers in the entire world, and has worked on numerous private commissions.
Though married, the two often work on their art independently. For the Gold Line project, however, they are working in tandem to help visitors experience the beauty of San Dimas.
To reflect San Dimas’ scenery, the Daubs are crafting four decorative hiker’s walking sticks, each of which will stand a towering 8 feet tall on the railway platform. Engraved into the sticks will be depictions of various animals and landscape features found throughout the foothills.
“We came up with a proposal that was all about being aware of all the trails and lakes and the mountains — all the things that San Dimas has to offer,” Daub explained.
“It’s something to say, ‘Get out there in the country,’” he added. “‘Get out there in those hills, and see what you have in your own backyard.’”
The walking sticks will feature a holistic representation of the area’s wildlife. Exactly which plants and animals will be represented are still up for discussion, but to Olsen Daub, that is all a part of the creative process.
“You can’t really plan that out, it’s kind of a spontaneous thing,” Olsen Daub said. “Flora and fauna, birds and critters … We have four of them to play with, so that will be fun.”
The Daubs’ concept is modeled directly after the city it represents, whereas many other stations’ artwork is based more broadly on the San Gabriel Valley at large. To City Councilmember Denis Bertone, this approach will give the San Dimas Station a unique look.
“Many of the other stations in the area were going with a citrus theme, so we decided not to do that,” Bertone said. “Ours is more hiking and animal prints, because being up against the foothills we have a lot of wild animals that come down here. So the artwork will be different from every other station’s, and I think the community will give a positive response.”
Bertone was one of the committee members who selected the Daubs to design the station art. Several accomplished artists were in the running for the project, but Bertone felt the committee made the right decision in selecting the Daubs.
“I was very happy they were selected,” Bertone said. “They understood what we wanted in San Dimas, and they came up with a good presentation.”
The Daubs’ work on the Gold Line station is just one of many projects the two have designed throughout their prolific artistic journeys.
Beginning his career in Pennsylvania in the 1970s, Daub has lived his teenage dream of practicing art professionally for nearly 50 years. Originally starting with graphic design, he made sculpture his primary discipline in his 30s.
“I began to investigate other avenues, other aspects of the world, and I found that sculpture was much more appealing to me,” he recalled. “And through reading and researching, I just fell in love with sculpture.”
Through the decades, Daub has established himself as a master of his craft. His work is displayed in prestigious venues like the Helsinki Art Museum, the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. One of his best-known works is a 2013 sculpture of Rosa Parks, which now stands at the United States Capitol.
“For me, the important part is I have fallen in love with portraiture and people who have done wonderful things,” Daub said. “I love to depict that, and I love to study in that area.”
Olsen Daub describes herself as “an artist from day one,” and she has achieved success in numerous fields of discipline.
After starting her career in fashion in her hometown of Fresno, California, Olsen Daub opted to try her hand at toy design at Mattel. Throughout her time there, she generated fresh ideas inspired by her daughter and her friends.
After spending seven years in toy design, Olsen Daub returned to her roots in the fashion industry and enrolled at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. While she said enrolling in school as a single mother in her 30s presented its share of emotional challenges, she knows she chose the best path for herself.
“I knew I made the right decision when I signed up to go to fashion school,” she stated. “I was going to go to art school for fine art, but I was a little nervous. Fashion seemed like a safer way to go.”
Now, Olsen Daub combines her passions for fashion and fine art by crafting found object jewelry, creating stylish accessories from items normally seen as disposable.
“My thing about jewelry is that my pieces are all one-of-a-kind, made from found things, antiques and modern things — things you would never think would become a piece of jewelry,” she said.
While the Daubs take vastly different approaches to art, their work on the station will allow them to complement each other’s strengths.
“Where Anne and I really work together is on the idea level, because that’s really where we can collaborate best,” Daub said.
Daub is the more methodical of the two, whereas Olsen Daub works best on the fly. This difference in approach, however, should make for an interesting collaboration.
“It’s going to be neat working on the walking sticks because I am so spontaneous and Gene kind of isn’t, so it’s going to be fun for the both of us,” Olsen Daub said.
Once the sticks are unveiled, both of them hope the installations are viewed not simply as decorations but rather pieces of art with which viewers can interact.
“I think the sticks are going to draw people to look at them if they’re there long enough and they let themselves be there long enough to look,” Olsen Daub explained. “There’s only so much time at a station, but I think they’ll draw people in.”
“Even if you just lean up on it while you’re reading the paper and just look up every once in a while, you’ll probably see something different,” Daub said. “So they’ll be pretty interactive, I think.”
The station is not scheduled for completion until 2025, so San Dimas residents have to wait some time to see the Daubs’ artwork come to life. Given the couple’s history and clear vision for the project, it seems it will be worth the wait.
See more of Olsen Daub’s work online at anneolsendaub.com or on Instagram @anne_olsen_daub.