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Group of visitors in front of tall Spire art

In-Spireing Story


Presidio of San Francisco (April 22, 2009) — Goldsworthy at the Presidio, a free exhibit that tells the story of British artist Andy Goldsworthy’s Spire, has been extended until July 19, the Presidio Trust and the For-Site Foundation have announced. The exhibit, in Building 49 next to the Presidio Officers’ Club on the Main Post, has attracted more than 6,000 visitors since it opened in November. It was originally scheduled to close May 3.

Goldsworthy’s Spire pays homage to the Presidio forest – its history and natural rhythms – as it welcomes a new generation of trees in one of the key historic stands in the Presidio. Goldsworthy at the Presidio affords visitors the opportunity to learn more about Spire, the artist’s working methods, the Presidio forest, and site-based art in general.

A 12-foot model of the Presidio Spire is one of the striking original pieces in the exhibition, which features drawings by Goldsworthy and a sculpture he created in Building 49. Selections from the 2001 documentary Rivers and Tides and a video produced on the installation of the Presidio’s Spire offer further insights into the artist. The exhibit also includes color photographs by Goldsworthy of spiral-based ephemeral works created over the past two decades at other sites. For visitors who choose the exhibition as their starting point, maps and a visitor guide will direct them to Spire. For those who come to the exhibition after viewing the Spire, the exhibition will broaden their understanding and appreciation of the work.

One section of the exhibition is dedicated to the historic Presidio forest and the Trust’s efforts to preserve and revitalize it. Planted by the Army in the late 1800s, the Presidio forest is the most dramatic example of how people shaped the park’s landscape. Now more than 100 years old, the forest provides a habitat for birds and wildlife, and contributes to the Presidio’s National Historic Landmark status. While the forest’s eucalyptus trees continue to thrive, the pines and cypress are declining. Each year, the Presidio Trust replants two to three acres, staggering the effort to create an uneven-aged forest that can be more easily sustained. Since 2002, the Trust has planted nearly 2,000 trees and is preserving the qualities that define the forest’s character, such as the orderly military alignment of the trees.

Goldsworthy visited the Presidio in 2006 and was inspired by the history and character of the forest, which served as an evocative environment for the artist who strives “to make connections between what we call nature and what we call man-made.”

Spire was completed in October. The 90-foot sculpture is made from cypress trees felled as part of the Presidio’s reforestation project. Spire is located along the Bay Ridge Trail, near the Arguello Gate, west of the Inspiration Point Overlook.

Born in 1956, Andy Goldsworthy spent his childhood in Yorkshire, England. His work has been made in the open air, in places as diverse as the Yorkshire Dales, the North Pole and the Australian Outback. Goldsworthy’s works in the Bay Area include Stone River at Stanford University, made from the rubble of the Loma Prieta earthquake, and Drawn Stone at the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which also recalls San Francisco’s earthquakes and their effects.

Goldsworthy at the Presidio runs through July 19 in Building 49 next to the Presidio Officers’ Club, 50 Moraga Avenue, San Francisco. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm. Admission is free. The exhibition is a project of the For-Site Foundation and was organized with the cooperation of the Presidio Trust by Hal Fischer, For-Site’s Director of Special Projects.

The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to oversee the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre site contains expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. It also comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District.

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