Tag Archives: Andy Goldsworthy

The Presidio, San Francisco

It’s not far from Crissy Field to the Presidio – just follow the signs for Main Post.
(Click on the photos for larger versions)

The Presidio in San Francisco, California

The Presidio in San Francisco, California

Within no time at all we were in the main square of the Presidio.  In the middle is a large car park, which used to be the parade ground when the Presidio was at its zenith.  On one side of the parade ground is a row of handsome brick buildings which used to be the Montgomery Street Barracks.  The plan is to convert the parking lot into a green park and to refurbish the barracks into restaurants, galleries and cultural spaces.  One of the buildings has been completed and is the Walt Disney Family Museum which opened its doors on October 1 this year.  One day we will come and view it, but that will have to wait until the crowds have died down; although at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning all was quiet and peaceful.

Tom parked the car and wandered off to take a few photos of the buildings while I stayed in the car and wrote my journal.  Not much seemed to be going on around us.  Even the Visitors Center was not open.

We then drove up the hill to The Spire.  We last visited in January this year and were keen to check it out again.  At the Inspiration Point car park we indicated to turn into it but it was closed off.  There was a sign saying it was temporarily closed today.  I wonder why?  We drove a little further and turned into the Presidio Golf Club car park.  Fortunately there were no signs saying we could not park there.

From there is was a short climb up to The Spire.  The area is known as Aguello Gate and the path leads to the Bay Area Ridge Trail.  Alongside the path were a stack of enormous felled Monterey Cypress trees.  A sign nearby said the they had been felled as they were decaying.  They will be replaced by young Monterey Cypress trees next year.  It is all part of a well planned restoration project.  The smell of resin from the felled trees was intoxicating.

Andy Goldsworthys, The Spire in The Presidio

Andy Goldsworthy's, "The Spire" in The Presidio

Further on there was another stack of felled trees and they formed a convenient bench.  I sat in the sun and looked around me.  In front of me, towering high into the sky, was The Spire which was the inspiration of Andy Goldsworthy.  Around the base of the spire were 100 young Monterey Cypress trees.  On our visit in January they had just been planted and the area round the spire was clear apart from the tiny seedlings and the sticks supporting them.  Today the view was different.  The small trees and sticks were still there, although some of the seedlings had not survived, but weeds have sprouted all around each sapling completily hiding the tiny trees.  I guess that was bound to happen.  Hopefully on our next visit the trees will be higher than the weeds.

Tom had wandered off to take photos so I sat on my comfortable perch writing up my journal.  I must say it was a great place to be.  I leaned back and rested against another felled tree.  The view was magnificent, not just of The Spire but I could see Alcatraz sparkling like a jewel out in the bay.  What with the warmth of the sun and the resiny smell, surely this was the place to be on this fine Saturday morning.  I could have stayed there for hours just drinking in the sights sounds and smells all around me and watching runners jog past but Tom beckoned so I went to join him.

He had explored further up the path to where it joined the Bay Ridge Trail and he thought there would be a good view ahead of the bay as we were quite high there.  The trail skirted the golf course.  The reason I knew this was because I spotted a golf cart.  The view never materialized and the path we chose came to a dead end at the base of a disused tower – probably a fire look out – next to a covered reservoir.  The tower was defended by an impenetrable barrier of barbed and razor wire.  The main intention was that nobody should be able to climb the tower.

We turned back and returned to the car and set off to find somewhere for breakfast.

San Francisco – ‘The Spire’ at the Presidio

Spire - Andy Goldsworthy

Spire - Andy Goldsworthy

Still in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, our next stop was Andy Goldsworthy’s new sculpture called ‘The Spire’ in The Presidio.  From Crissy Field, we drove up Baker Street and, after a couple of turns, found ourselves on Lyon Street.  Opposite Liverpool Lil’s, an English style pub which has been around for over 30 years, is one of the entrances, to the Presidio on Lombard Street.  Just inside on the right is the Letterman Digital Arts Center, the new home for LucasFilm.  In 2005 George Lucas moved both his Industrial Light and Magic and the LucasArts studios from San Rafael to under one roof in the Presidio.  The Letterman Army Medical Center used to be on the site..

The Presidio covers nearly 1500 acres.  It was an army post for over 200 years but became part of the National Park Service in 1994.  We meandered through the Presidio, passing recently refurbished residential areas.  Our destination was Inspiration Point, which is to the south of the park near the golf course.  After driving past the Visitors Center, situated in the Officers Club near the main parade square, we turned onto Arguello Drive, past the golf club and eventually came to Inspiration Point.  Just before turning left into the car park, we spotted the sculpture to our left.

It was just a short walk from the car park, across Aguello Drive and up a rough track to the new sculpture, which stands on a ridge looking down onto Inspiration Point and out over the bay towards Alcatraz and Angel Island.  The site is still raw and the landscaping has not quite been completed.  There are still cones and plastic tape preventing entry to several places.

Andy Goldsworthy is a remarkable British sculptor.  He uses materials found in the environment – twigs, leaves, ice,

Looking up The Spire in The Presidio, San Francisco

Looking up The Spire in The Presidio, San Francisco

stone, driftwood, etc.  Most of his structures are not built to last.  In fact some disappear very fast.  Two of his more permanent pieces of work can be found in the Bay Area – Drawn Stone outside the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and Stone River at Stanford University in Palo Alto.  The Spire was constructed last October.  It is made up of the trunks of cypress trees which had been felled on the site because they were unhealthy.  The structure looks like a branchless tree and is about 100′ tall.  The sculpture is surrounded by newly planted cypress trees which are only inches tall at the moment.  Eventually they will be as tall as The Spire.  At the moment, it stands out like a sore thumb but, as the small trees grow, it will disappear and will eventually rot away or will have to be dismantled if it becomes unsafe.

It was amazing to stand at the base and look up to the top.  I felt so small and insignificant.  It will be interesting to see how the site changes over time.

Stanford University, Palo Alto

Today is going to be a beautiful sunny day. We are later than usual starting off because we are not going too far – Palo Alto to be exact.

Our mission today is to find an outfit for me to wear to my daughter’s wedding in five weeks time. For several weeks I have been searching for something suitable but without luck. Yesterday I spent several fruitless hours at the Gilroy Outlets but everything was far too young and strappy for me. I even stopped off at a bridal shop on the way home and checked out their outfits for the ‘Mother of the Bride’ but these were not only far too ornate but out of my price range.

So today It will be Stanford Shopping Center where I’ll check out Talbots, Bloomingdales and possibly Nordstrom. Let’s hope I will be successful.

Our first stop though is Stanford University. It’s a lovely campus with many grand Italian Spanish-colonial style buildings (thanks to Dave for pointing out my mistake) but they were not on our itinerary. There were two places we wanted to visit – the Stone River sculpture and the Cactus Garden.

Stone River, Stanford UniversityWe knew roughly where they were but were not a 100% certain. I knew the Stone River sculpture was near the Cantor Arts Center so when we stumbled on that building we knew we were close. But it is hard to find because a) there are no directions to be seen and b) it can’t be seen from the road as it is below ground level. If you have a desire to see it for yourself here are the directions. The Cantor Arts Center is on Lumita Drive. When you stand on the steps in front of the Cantor, you can see Museum Way in front of you. Walk across the road to Museum Way. There is a car park on your left. Behind the car park look out for two granite blocks and walk towards them. You will then see the Snake River to your left.

It was designed by the British sculpture Andy Goldsworthy. If you have never heard of him or seen any of his work, let me introduce you. He was born in the north of England and his sculpture is unique as he uses basic tools and his works consist of twigs, thorns, stones, ice, leaves, rocks, chalk and literally anything natural in the vicinitiy. Most of them are reclaimed by nature pretty quickly but he takes photographs as a record. For a fascinating documentary of his life and work see if you can lay your hands on the DVD entitled ‘Rivers and Tides’.

The Stone River is a dry stone wall which took eight men, working six days a week, 11 hours aStone River, Stanford University day, three and a half weeks to construct back in the summer of 2001. Another place to see a permanent piece of work by Andy Goldsworthy – ‘Faultline’ – is outside the entrance of the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

While Tom was taking photos, I walked over to the Cantor Arts Center. Off to the left of the building is the Roden Sculpture Garden where some of Auguste Roden’s sculptures are displayed in a pleasing setting. Roden is famous for his sculpture entitled ‘The Thinker’. Here though you will see his ‘Gates of Hell’, ‘Adam’, ‘Eve’, ‘The Martyr’, ‘The Three Shades’ plus fifteen more.

To the right of the Cantor is a completely different sculpture. This is large and red and built out of stainless steel girders and is called ‘The Sieve of Eratosthenes’ by Mark di Suvero.

In front of the Cantor are some bike racks and what really amused me is that some of the bikes, firmly secured to the racks, must have been there for some considerable time.

Now for the Cactus Garden. Once again it is hard to find as it is not marked in any way. We have been here before and we knew it was near the California Cafe. The exact location is on Quarry Road, just off the car park opposite the Wells Fargo bank. Look out for the wooden posts which mark the start of the a footpath.

The actual name of the garden is Arizona Garden. It was laid out in 1880s for Jane and Leland Stanford (Leland Stanford was the founder of Stanford University). They planned to build their home nearby but it was never constructed. Their son, Leland Stanford, Jr. died of typhoid just before his sixteenth birthday and they used the land to build the Stanford family mausoleum instead.

The time is 8.30 in the morning and it is very peaceful. I wandered around looking at the many different cacti and succulents and then found a bench in the sun to write my journal. It’s a perfect day with hardly a breeze to stir the leaves. Every so often I gaze at the garden, which is showing its age a bit. Up to the 1920’s it was well maintained but then left completely untended until it was restored in 1997. There are some original plants still in existence but not all of them are in good shape. It adds to the charm of the place though.

Time for breakfast and then we will hit the shops.

PS – I did find the perfect outfit at Stanford Shopping Center – mission accomplished.

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