Presidio of San Francisco (October 2, 2013) - The FOR-SITE Foundation, in partnership with the Presidio Trust, is pleased to announce the opening of Tree Fall, a new work by artist Andy Goldsworthy in the Presidio of San Francisco on Saturday, October 19, 2013. Installed inside the historic Powder Magazine in the Presidio’s Main Post, Tree Fall is constructed out of a eucalyptus tree removed as part the reconstruction of Doyle Drive (the Presidio Parkway project) and clay sourced from surrounding land. The imposing and architectural installation serves as a powerful reminder of the relationship between the Presidio’s natural and built environments.
Tree Fall is a natural progression of Goldsworthy’s ongoing work celebrating the Presidio’s landmark forest. The organically evolving projects include two earlier site-specific installations: the monumental yet ephemeral Spire, completed in 2008, and the sinuous Wood Line (2011). All three installations were created using trees felled as part of the park’s reforestation and park-making efforts. While Spire articulates the space into which trees grow, and Wood Line investigates the evolving relationship a tree has with the ground, Tree Fall is an exploration of that which occurs below ground. As with many of Goldsworthy’s site-specific works, the materials used in Spire and Wood Line will decompose and return to the earth over time.
“FOR-SITE and the Presidio Trust have been working with Andy Goldsworthy to illuminate elements of the remarkable forest here since 2008,” said Cheryl Haines, FOR-SITE executive director. “With Tree Fall, Andy has suspended earth fantastically above the viewer, offering an unexpected and sublime glimpse beneath the surface of the forest. This installation adds another dimension to Goldsworthy’s representation of the forest’s verticality in Spire and the procession of time in Wood Line.”
“The Presidio is honored to host three works by Andy Goldsworthy,” said Craig Middleton, Presidio Trust executive director. “We are particularly enthusiastic about Goldsworthy’s approach to creating art that is derived from and is about the Presidio. We believe that art is a medium through which to experience the Presidio in new ways; it enriches the experience. We are grateful to Andy Goldsworthy and the FOR-SITE Foundation for bringing Tree Fall to the Presidio.”
Installing a large tree branch structure within the Powder Magazine, a Civil War-era building that just celebrated its 150th birthday, posed unique challenges. In order to protect the building’s structure and historical fabric, FOR-SITE worked with Presidio Trust historic architects and contracted with structural engineers endrestudio and custom fabricators IRONGRAIN to build an architectural substructure on which Tree Fall was installed. Preparation of the clay materials was completed with the help of more than 40 community volunteers.
The Presidio is located at the Golden Gate, where the Pacific Ocean meets San Francisco Bay. The land was in constant use as a military post for two centuries, first for Spain, then for a newly independent Mexico, and finally for the United States. Today, it is both a distinctive national park site within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the world’s largest urban national park, and a National Historic Landmark District. The 300 acre historic forest was planted by the United States Army more than a century ago and today endures as the largest contributing feature to the Presidio’s Historic Landmark District. The Presidio Trust recently completed the first decade in a 60-year reforestation program aimed at preserving the forest in perpetuity. This regeneration effort, and the forest itself as a manmade construct of the park, were of immediate interest to Goldsworthy during his first visit to the park in 2006 and continue to serve as inspiration for his ongoing work.
Goldsworthy’s towering sculpture Spire (2008) was constructed from the trunks of 37 Monterey cypress trees felled as part of the Presidio’s reforestation effort. Inspired by the form of church bell towers but rooted in the earth, the artwork evokes the layering of natural and human history in the Presidio’s forest, which was planted by the US military in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
From its 15-foot diameter, Spire rises more than 90 feet into the air. The height of the sculpture and its placement presented particular challenges. Architects, structural engineers, and preservationists were all brought into the process. To ensure stability, the keystone tree was lifted by a 350-ton crane, anchored into a metal sleeve within a 12-foot-deep hole, and surrounded by poured concrete.
Goldsworthy’s Wood Line (2011) is made from eucalyptus branches laid out in a sloping, sinuous curve through a standing eucalyptus grove near Lovers’ Lane, the Presidio’s oldest footpath. Goldsworthy has described the movement of the piece through the landscape as “drawing the place.”
Installation of the sculpture required a delicate touch, sited as it is directly underneath a section of the Presidio’s federally designated historic forest. In order not to disturb the trunks or root systems of the venerable, towering eucalyptus trees that surround the path, the logs were transported and placed using the utmost care.
About the Artist
Andy Goldsworthy was born in 1956 and spent his childhood in Yorkshire, England. The artist has made works in the open air in places as diverse as the Yorkshire Dales, the North Pole, and the Australian Outback. Goldsworthy is known to many through the 2001 film Rivers and Tides. His works in the Bay Area include Stone River at Stanford University, made from the rubble left after the 1906 earthquake, and Drawn Stone at the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which recalls the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and its impact on the museum.
Goldsworthy draws his inspiration from specific places and creates art from the materials found close at hand, such as twigs, leaves, stones, snow and ice, reeds, and thorns. The works made from these natural materials interact in different ways with their environments. The Presidio’s man-made forest is an evocative locale for an artist who strives “to make connections between what we call nature and what we call man-made.”
About the FOR-SITE Foundation
The FOR-SITE Foundation, a San Francisco–based nonprofit organization launched in 2003, supports the creation, understanding, and exhibition of new art about place. FOR-SITE fulfills its mission through artist residencies and graduate-level education projects at its residency site in the Sierra foothills outside Nevada City, and through site-based projects. In 2013, FOR-SITE was recognized as a finalist in Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network Year in Review for its groundbreaking exhibition International Orange, installed at Fort Point in honor of the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary.
The goal of FOR-SITE’s work in the Presidio is to propose and implement projects that provide the public with new ways to see, understand, and appreciate the natural, historic, and cultural resources of this unique 1,491-acre urban national park. For more information about the FOR-SITE Foundation, visit for-site.org.
About the Presidio Trust
The Presidio Trust is a distinctive federal agency created to save the Presidio of San Francisco, a historic Army base, and transform it for a new national purpose. Since 1998, the Trust has worked to catalyze ideas, partners, and resources from all sectors to save the Presidio as a public place. In 2013, we reached a key milestone established by Congress and now care for the Presidio without annual taxpayer support. The Trust is guided by a clear vision for the future: To ensure that the Presidio will forever be a public place—vital to life in the Bay Area, valued by all Americans, and celebrated as an international destination. The Presidio Trust actively shares its knowledge, promotes leadership and service, and fosters innovative problem solving. For more about the Presidio Trust: www.presidiotrust.gov.
Funding for Tree Fall, and for all of FOR-SITE’s projects, comes from individual donors to the foundation.
For questions about Mr. Goldsworthy’s work, images, or video:
For questions about the Presidio or Presidio Trust:
The three Goldsworthy installations are located along Presidio trails. Admission is free.
Tree Fall (Opening October 19, 2013)
Fall 2013 Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Additional weekday hours, by appointment only: (415) 561-5300
Location: In the Powder Magazine (Building 95) in the Main Post (corner of Sheridan and Anza)
Hours: Open daily
Location: On the Bay Area Ridge Trail, near the Presidio’s Arguello Gate, west of Inspiration Point Overlook and north of the Presidio Golf Course Clubhouse
Hours: Open daily
Location: In the Eucalyptus grove near the intersection of Presidio Boulevard and West Pacific Avenue, just off Lovers’ Lane