Tourism for Locals: Andy Goldsworthy Spire Is a Natural (Art) Wonder

Every major city in the world has some sort of nickname attached to it to characterizes its aura. Paris is the City of Love and Lights. New York is the City that never Sleeps. And while San Francisco is known as the City by the Bay, perhaps the City of Public Art would be better suited. 

San Francisco hosts one of the biggest displays of public art in the nation, and the city's public art collection boasts more than 4,000 pieces that are valued at some $93 million. A phenomenal feat that benefits all residents and tourists alike, because we can all view works spanning the different decades of contemporary art history without ever having to set foot in a museum.  

This week's Tourism for Locals brings you an artist who has contributed to the San Francisco visual landscape by building from raw materials found locally.  San Francisco has been a great host to the natural world of Andy Goldsworthy

[jump] Goldsworthy is a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist who produces site-specific sculpture and land art situated in natural and urban settings. His work has been featured all over the globe, but it's San Francisco where his style seems to naturally play off the city's vibe. 

Using nature as his canvas, Goldsworthy creates works of transcendent beauty utilizing natural raw materials, including flowers, icicles, leaves, mud, pine cones, snow, stones, and twigs. He reconstructs them, creating a juxtaposition between the man-made and the rural. His pieces have often prompted visitors to question their relationship with nature and how their behavior is inextricably intertwined and a consequential force.

According to the Smithsonian Institute: Goldsworthy's principal artistic influence is to “Land Art,” an American movement of the 1960s that “took Pollock's and de Kooning's macho Abstract Expressionism out of the studio to create giant earthworks such as Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake of Utah or Michael Heizer's Double Negative in Nevada.” But unlike Smithson and Heizer, however, Goldsworthy specializes in the ephemeral. The massive site-specific Spire in The Presidio is one clear example of his artistic vision and aesthetic. 

In 2006, the artist visited the Presidio and saw an opportunity to create a piece that celebrate the lifecycle of the historic forest planted more than 200 years ago. The aging Monterey cypress trees were taken down to allow for young plantings to grow, thus resulting in the creation of the new public artwork. The sculpture was constructed in 2008 in a grove near the Arguello Gate. Spire comprises 38 large cypress trunks fastened together. At its zenith, Spire reaches more than 90 feet. 

Spire is located on the Bay Area Ridge Trail near the Arguello Gate, west of Inspiration Point Overlook and north of the Presidio Golf Course Clubhouse. The documentary Rivers and Tides was released in 2001, which chronicles the artist  and his workflow. But once again, we locals don't really have a need to check out this documentary because Goldworthy has not only left his mark with Spire, but he has three other works in the Presidio and another installation at the front entrance of the de Young Museum.

That's what happens when you live in the City of Public Art. 

Tags: , , , ,

Related Stories