Art in the Presidio

Statue of Joseph Strauss, Chief Engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge

Statue of Joseph Strauss, Chief Engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge

Two Saturdays ago, Mom and Bill came to visit for Bill's birthday and I wanted to show them special places in San Francisco—places I had come across in my hiking research that I hoped they would love as much as I did. We first went to see redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument, then to the Presidio to see art by Andy Goldsworthy, a site-specific artist who uses natural materials on-site, like tree branches and clay, to construct sculptures.

Mom, Bill, Onur, and I visited two sculptures in the Presidio: Tree Fall and Earth Wall, both a short walk from the Presidio Visitor Center.

Tree Fall is a fallen eucalyptus branch suspended from the ceiling of a former powder magazine. The ceiling and branch are covered in clay from the Presidio grounds. The powder magazine has four-foot thick walls and a domed roof that were built to contain an explosion should the ammunition stored inside of it ignite. The sculpture is meant to “illustrate the relationship between natural and built environments.”

Tree Fall, created 2013

Earth Wall, located inside the Presidio Officer’s Club, is made of fallen eucalyptus branches that were formed into a sphere, buried, and then partially excavated. It speaks to the literal and figurative excavation of the Presidio’s past—discoveries of adobe foundations from Spain’s original presidio, Ohlone artifacts, and other important remnants from people who resided on these grounds.

Earth Wall, created 2014

Spire, created 2008

Spire and Wood Line are two more Goldsworthy sculptures in the Presidio. Spire, located near the Presidio Golf Course, is made out of 37 fallen Monterey cypress trunks and stands 97 feet tall. It speaks to the United States Army’s efforts to create a forest at the Presidio (to help manage the brutal winds) and the Presidio Trust’s current efforts to rehabilitate and rejuvenate the forest.

Wood Line, located next to Lovers’ Lane, the Presidio’s oldest trail, is a squiggle of eucalyptus branches laid on the forest floor within a large eucalyptus forest. The bare path that the sculpture lies in is from a row of Monterey cypress trees planted by the U.S. Army that didn’t survive and left a “lane” in the middle of the forest. Visitors are welcome to walk along the sculpture, and you can often see children playing on it. It is expected to slowly deteriorate over time.

Wood Line, created 2010-2011

In addition to this special trip with Mom, Bill, and Onur, I’ve been visiting the Presidio often, working hard on Presidio trail descriptions for Modern Hiker. The first is a “Presidio Art Hike” loop that’s about 3.0 miles and will feature all the sculptures in this post. The second is a 5.8-mile “Grand Tour” loop with 5 scenic overlooks, a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge, historic batteries, and views, views, views. Stay tuned :)

I’m also pleased to share that two of my recent trail descriptions were just published on Mount Umunhum and the Verna Dunshee Trail and Gardiner Fire Lookout. I’m especially proud that Modern Hiker shared the Verna Dunshee trail description across their social media sites on Election Day to celebrate over 100 women being elected to Congress.

Lastly, I leave you with this thoughtful quote by Cindy Crawford on this week’s Oprah Master Class podcast: “You can’t multitask presence.”

Cheers and happy weekend :)