About a month ago, I packed up all of my belongings and made the move from sun-soaked Marin County to ‘The City by the Bay’. As ecstatic as I am to be in San Francisco, my heart broke a little leaving Mt. Tamalpais and the perfect weather. I have been lucky though. I gave up easy access to nature, but that loss has been replaced by people and places committed to sustainability and a deeper understanding of our environment. Today’s adventure paid homage to that. Today, I visited two installments by Andy Goldsworthy in the Presidio. If you have never heard of Andy Goldsworthy, do yourself a favor right now and watch Rivers and Tides, a documentary about the British artist. Rivers and Tides was my first encounter with Goldsworthy and I was completely entranced. Not only is Goldsworthy an incredible artist, but he is someone who has wholeheartedly thrown himself into the relationship between humans and the environment. His work forces the viewer to recognize this relationship and consider it’s fleeting, ever-changing nature. This was my first time seeing Goldsworthy’s work in person and it did not disappoint.
Andy Goldsworthy visited the Presidio in 2006 and saw an opportunity to celebrate the lifecycle of the historic forest which was planted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The groves, now reaching the end of their lifespan, require renewal. “Aging Monterey cypress trees taken down to allow for young plantings were given new purpose in Goldsworthy’s Spire. The sculpture was constructed in 2008 in a beloved grove near the Arguello Gate. It is comprised of 38 large cypress trunks, fastened meticulously together. At its zenith, Spire reaches more than 90 feet to the sky. Even this great height will not keep Spire from experiencing the changes of time. Young trees growing at its base will slowly obscure the sculpture.Spire recalls one of Goldsworthy’s earliest works, Memories, also spires of mature trees, created in 1984 in the Grizedale Forest in the Lake District of North West England. Goldsworthy said, ‘I have not found another great location for this type of work until now.’”
Wood Line lies in a historic eucalyptus grove near Lover’s Lane. The eucalyptus were planted more than a century ago by the U.S. Army with lines of cypress trees occasionally weaved in. The cypress ended up declining, leaving a large gap in the grove. “Goldsworthy fills this empty space with a quiet and graceful sculpture. Where Spire reaches for the stars, Wood Line flows elegantly into the valley of the Tennessee Hollow Watershed. To create the piece, Goldsworthy laid eucalyptus branches on the ground to form a sinuous line that, in his words, “draws the place.” The wood was sourced from various Presidio projects that required tree removal, including Doyle Drive reconstruction, environmental remediation, and habitat restoration.”
If you ever have the chance to see Goldsworthy’s work or watch his documentary, don’t pass it up.