Friday, December 5, 2008

Goldsworthy in the Presidio

I walk in in the Presidio almost every day but, somehow, I missed the new Andy Goldsworthy sculpture until a couple of weeks ago when a friend led me to the new clearing just past the Arguello Gate where the work -- called simply, the Spire -- now towers over everything around it. I was speechless for a few minutes. If you've seen the documentary, "Rivers and Tides," you know how Goldsworthy works: he draws inspiration from materals he finds around him. Twigs, leaves, stones and reeds are used to create art from nature. Here, he's made a piece from cypress trees that were planted in the Presidio more than 100 years ago. Apparently very quietly, Goldsworthy has been spending quite a bit of time in the forests and groves of the Presidio the last three years. Thanks to funds from an anonymous sponsor, he set about creating a new work, deciding to use 35 trees that were felled as part of the Presidio's reforestation project. During a two-week period this October, Presidio workers dug a 14-foot hole on the site Goldsworthy chose just above the Inspiration Point overlook. A 350-ton crane lowered in the trees, which are anchored in concrete. Eventually, as new young trees grow, 90-foot high Spire will disappear in the forest. All this is described in a wonderful exhibit on the Presidio's Main Parade Ground in Building 49, a restored officer's home from 1873 that has been turned into a temporary Goldsworthy museum. There's a history of the Presidio forest, background on Goldsworthy, the drawings he did for Spire, and even another, smaller spire that he created inside one of the house's cabinets. Admission is free. Meanwhile, the Spire is just beyond the Arguello Gate and the Presidio Golf Course's clubhouse. Walk a few hundred yards up the Bay Area Ridge Trail. If you park at the the Inspiration Point Overlook look west and you'll see it poking up above the hill.

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