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Art in the Presidio

 

Art has long engaged the public in the natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational resources of America’s national parks and urban parks across the globe.

 

For nearly a decade, the Presidio Trust has invited artists to bring their unique perspectives to the Presidio. Their works have introduced thousands of visitors to the Presidio and enabled people to see the park through a new lens. These exhibits were made possible through a variety of partnerships and generous philanthropic support. 

 

Two documents guide the Trust’s decision-making regarding art in the Presidio: the art policy and the art collections manual. Three important factors are considered:

 

  • Is it relevant to the history of the Presidio or California?
  • Is it uniquely suited to the park?
  • Will it enhance the visitor experience?

 

This section describes art installations that are currently on display in the Presidio – including works sponsored by our partners at the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy – and chronicles past exhibits. If you have questions, please contact the Presidio Trust at art@presidiotrust.gov.

 

  

Current Exhibits

 

Goldsworthy at the Presidio
Andy Goldsworthy is one of the world’s most talented site-specific artists. In 2005, Smithsonian Magazine named him one of 35 people “who made a difference,” saying that he uses “nature as his canvas [to create] work of transcendent beauty.”  Among his peers on the list 5 were Maya Angelou, Bill Gates, Yo-Yo Ma, Frank Gehry, and Wynton Marsalis. The Presidio Trust is honored to host the largest collection of the artist’s works on public view in North America. The three installations - Spire, Wood Line, and Tree Fall - can be visited individually or enjoyed together via a 2.7-mile loop along the Presidio’s trail network.  An overview of each installation is provided below.  

 
1- Spire
Sponsored by the FOR-SITE Foundation in partnership with the Presidio Trust
Located on the Bay Area Ridge Trail near the Arguello Gate
 
In 2006, celebrated artist Andy Goldsworthy visited the Presidio and saw an opportunity to celebrate the lifecycle of the historic forest. Planted over a very short time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the U.S. Army, the groves of Monterey Cypress and Pines are now reaching the end of their lifespan and require renewal.

Aging Monterey cypress trees taken down to allow for young plantings were given new purpose in Goldsworthy’s Spire. Constructed in 2008 in a beloved grove near the Arguello Gate, the sculpture is comprised of 37 large cypress trunks fastened meticulously together. Spire reaches approximately 100 feet to the sky. Young trees growing at its base will eventually grow up to obscure the sculpture. 
Learn more about Spire >>

 

2- Wood Line
Sponsored by the FOR-SITE Foundation in partnership with the Presidio Trust
Located adjacent to Lovers’ Lane near the intersection of Presidio Boulevard and West Pacific Avenue

 

In 2010, Goldsworthy looked to a new part of the park for inspiration - an historic eucalyptus grove near the Presidio’s oldest footpath, Lovers’ Lane. Eucalyptus were planted here by the U.S. Army more than a century ago, with lines of cypress trees occasionally weaved in among the regimented rows. Outcompeted, the cypress declined, leaving a large gap in the grove. Goldsworthy fills this empty space with a quiet and graceful sculpture. Completed in phases, the work was finished in 2011.  To create the piece, Goldsworthy laid eucalyptus branches on the ground to form a sinuous line that, in his words, “draws the place.” Learn more about Wood Line >>

 

3 - Tree Fall
Sponsored by the FOR-SITE Foundation in partnership with the Presidio Trust
Located in the historic Powder Magazine (95 Anza Avenue) on the Presidio's Main Post

 
Tree Fall is the first Presidio Goldsworthy installation to be created indoors. Its backdrop is the historic Powder Magazine, constructed on the Main Post during the Civil War. The petite structure protected gun powder and munitions and is made up of four-foot-thick stone walls. While Spire articulates the space into which trees grow and Wood Line investigates the relationship of a tree to the earth, Tree Fall explores what occurs beneath the ground. The sculpture is comprised of a tree trunk suspended inside the building so that the sculpture does not touch or alter the historic walls. The trunk and the domed ceiling were covered with clay, also from the Presidio, that dried and cracked into a beautiful organic pattern. Learn more about Tree Fall >>
 
 
Picturing the Presidio by Lyle Gomes
Sponsored by the Presidio Trust
Through October 31, 2014
Various locations in the Presidio
 
For two decades, photographer Lyle Gomes has captured emotive black and white images of the Presidio during a period of great transformation. Picturing the Presidio displays eight of his panoramic works along the trails where they were originally made, enabling viewers to consider the past, present, and future of key forest landscapes. The exhibit extends the experience by inviting visitors to share their own photographs of the park and to enjoy free guided walks, photography classes, and other programs. An online virtual gallery offers a larger selection of Gomes’ images.
Learn more about Picturing the Presidio >>
 
 
 
 
 
Upcoming Exhibits
 
@Large by Ai Weiwei
Sponsored by the FOR SITE Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
September 27, 2014 to April 26, 2015
Located on Alcatraz Island
  
The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is internationally renowned as a maker of potent and provocative art and as a passionate advocate for human rights and freedom of expression. His art and ideas find a compelling new context in this exhibition of works created specifically for Alcatraz — a 19th-century military fortress, a notorious federal penitentiary, a site of Native American heritage and protest, and now one of America’s most visited national parks. Alcatraz is visible from the Presidio’s northern shoreline. Revealing unexpected perspectives on Alcatraz and its layered legacy, @Large prompts visitors to consider the implications of incarceration and the possibilities of art as an act of conscience. Learn more about @Large >>
 
 
 
 

Past Exhibits

 

Mark di Suvero
Sponsored by SF MOMA in partnerships with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service
May 22, 2013 to May 26, 2014
Located at Crissy Field

 

Eight monumentally scaled sculptures by artist Mark di Suvero stood at historic Crissy Field for a free year-long exhibition. Set against the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge, a structure that has inspired the artist throughout his career, di Suvero’s dynamic steel sculptures framed and reframed the surrounding landscape in surprising new ways. Learn more about Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field >>

 

 

Arrivals by David Wilson
Sponsored by SF MOMA in partnership with the Presidio Trust
September 14 to November 17, 2013
Located east of the National Cemetery Overlook on the Cemetery Connector Trail

 

This exhibition by local artist David Wilson featured installations at six outdoor sites throughout San Francisco, including the Presidio. The Presidio piece, entitled Frog Woman Rock, was comprised of an elaborate 16-foot-high ink drawing displayed against the eucalyptus forest and accompanied by music recorded at the site. The drawing depicted a distinctive rock formation located in the Russian River Canyon recreational area that, for Wilson, evoked expectation and the excitement of arrival on his frequent trips to the area. Learn more about Arrivals >>

 
 

International Orange
Sponsored by the FOR-SITE Foundation in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service
May 25 to October 28, 2012
Located at Fort Point

 

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, International Orange — named in honor of the unique paint color of the span — offered fresh perspectives on the enduring landmark. This exhibition presented new work by contemporary artists responding to the bridge as icon, historic structure, and conceptual inspiration. The 16 contributing artists approached the bridge with diverse and distinctively individual aesthetics, materials, and points of view.  Learn more about International Orange >>

 

 

Presidio Habitats 
Sponsored by the FOR-SITE Foundation in partnership with the Presidio Trust
May 16, 2010 to September 30, 2011
Located in Fort Scott

 

Presidio Habitats was the first site-based art exhibition conceived for a national park. An international group of artists, architects, and design specialists were invited to submit habitat proposals for specific animal residents of the Presidio. From the 25 submissions received, 11 were selected as commission projects to be fabricated and installed in the Presidio landscape. An indoor exhibition in a pavilion designed by Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects provided background and context for the project, and presented all 25 of the submissions received. Learn more about Presidio Habitats >>

 
 
Lovers' Line by Jeannene Pryzyblyski
Sponsored by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts—Bay Area Now5/Ground Scores in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the Presidio Trust
May 16, 2010 to September 30, 2011
Located in Fort Scott
 
Using an audio tour, companion artful guide, and associated public program, Lovers' Line explored the rich history of the Presidio’s oldest foot trail. For more than two centuries people have made their way to and from the Presidio and San Francisco along this scenic, romantic path. While the interpretative signs are no longer out in the landscape, the audio program is still available. Limited numbers of the companion document are available upon request for interested Art Docents. Learn more about Lovers' Line >> 
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