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New Goldsworthy Wall at the Presidio

GoldsworthyEarthWall1

… and back to posting about Andy Goldsworthy projects. He has a new wall at the Presidio in the Officer’s Club. He built a rammed earth wall with a half sphere of eucalyptus branches buried inside, then chipped away the wall to reveal the sphere. From a distance it has a nice graphic look, like a bas relief, and up close you can appreciate the method of construction. I haven’t seen this done before, but it’s simple and effective and seems replicable for a residential garden. It sometimes seems like a cliche to be a stoneworker and love Andy Goldsworthy’s work, but I need to just embrace the fact that he’s really good and does things exactly to my taste.

GoldsworthyEarthWall2

There a short video and photos of him posing by the wall here.

GoldsworthyEarthWall3

Wurrungwuri Sculpture

The Making of Wurrungwuri – Short Documentary from Brain in Hand Productions on Vimeo.

Two posts ago, I said Andy Goldsworthy (to his credit) might be over-represented in the stonework videos I find on the web and sometimes re-post here on this blog. So here’s a video of another artist who works with stone, Chris Booth from New Zealand. A lot of his work involves stone supported by a steel armature. I sometimes struggle to fully appreciate stone that is used that way — I’m more inclined towards things like his dry-stacked homage to New Zealand’s sea stacks — but I always find it intriguing. I’d need to see this sculpture, Wurrungwuri, in person to really judge it, but a great deal of intent and technical skill obviously went into its creation. There’s info about the design and the construction at the website for the project.

James Turrell Skyspace

Happy Solstice everyone. This seems somewhat solstice-appropriate. While I was working on my friend’s project in San Francisco, I went by the James Turrell skyspace at the De Young several times. Titled Three Gems, it’s a little dome with a hole in the roof for viewing the sky. The acoustics are very cool and, after you sit for a while, the blue sky showing through the aperture seems just as much a physical thing as the concrete roof.

The feeling of the space, staring up at the sky, reminds me of the giant Cor-ten double-moebius by Richard Serra that I posted about a couple of years ago. There’s a nice photo on the De Young site that shows the aperture, the circle of cast light, the doorway, and the stone circle in the center of the space all together in a single photo without too much lens distortion, but I also like the simple flattened image of the aperture when it is stripped of context. It feels quite abstract and flattened in person, too, after you stare up at it for a while.

A great long article about Turrell.

Goldsworthy’s Clay Works for Runnymede

These are my photos of the Andy Goldsworthy piece at Runnymede. I kept them separate from the last post in part because I didn’t want a single post with 35 photos, but also because his work really does contrast with the rest of the sculptures on the property. He is the only land artist in the collection, and his is the only work that was designed and built onsite with materials from the site; he and the Runnymede staff made the clay with soil dug from the side of the road there at Runnymede, and then they used that excavation, resembling a slump in the road cut, as part of the piece. Also, his is the piece most clearly about negative space, not just the negative space inside the pots but also the negative space of the land itself; all of the other sculptures are essentially an object placed on the land, but his takes your eye down inside that land. And his is the only one that is really a sequence: you see the first pot and then another and another, and it builds into a little narrative as you walk along the trail. In some ways, I think the Runnymede collection as whole does this — your landscape experience builds out of what you’ve seen and your anticipation for what the next sculpture will be — but the Goldsworthy work does this on its own. Most people liked it; some folks were not sure what to think of it, finding it overly subtle; a majority of people had heard of Goldsworthy and many were there specifically to see his piece, but fewer had seen Rivers and Tides than I expected; a few people power-walked past without even noticing it was there.

I’m not sure if you are supposed to see it from the bottom or the top, but there’s a clear evolution throughout the sequence. The lower pots are more cracked and they sit more clearly perched on top of the land; the upper pots are more intact and more deeply embedded, culminating with the final pot sunk into the ground at the source of the clay. There’s an argument for starting at the top and walking along as the pots emerge and become more fragmented, perhaps an illustration of time or entropy; personally, I liked the sequence from the bottom, seeing the pots gradually take your focus into the earth, so that’s the order I’m showing. The entire sequence is below. (more…)

Runnymede Sculpture Farm

Early Forms by Tony Cragg

This past weekend I was a sculpture docent at the Runnymede Sculpture Farm in Woodside. Runnymede (also written up here, with an interactive map of the property here) is a large private property with over a hundred outdoor sculptures; it’s rarely open to the public and then usually just for guests at non-profit fundraising events.

This weekend’s event was the 50th anniversary celebration for the Committee for Green Foothills, an open space advocacy group on the peninsula. Personally, I hadn’t heard of the CGF, but the Student Conservation Association, who I have worked for in the past, was organizing volunteers and I jumped at the chance to see the property. I don’t generally think of myself as a huge sculpture person, but I knew that Runnymede has an Andy Goldsworthy piece, and I’ve caught glimpses of some of the sculptures from the freeway on my way to Woodside. I’ve now done enough sculpture posts to have a sidebar category for sculpture so maybe I’m more of sculpture guy than I thought.

Blue Gate, Leaning Ring, and Two Arms Akimbo by Sam Perry

I ended up being the docent for the Andy Goldsworthy piece on the property. I took photos of it, but there are a lot of them and it’s far from the first piece that you see on the property, so I’m going to post them separately in a few days. In the mean time, I have a bunch of other photos from the property, posted below. (more…)

Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone River

I almost included this in my post about the Richard Serra sculpture at the Stanford museum, but it seemed like it should get its own post. It’s Stone River, one of several Andy Goldsworthy pieces in the Bay Area. The others are Drawn Stone at the De Young museum and Spire in the Presidio. This one is my favorite of the three. I love the snakelike form and the stylized coping stones. Vertical coping stones along the top of a wall are common, especially in Europe, but I’ve never seen them quite like this. It’s all built from rubble the university saved after the earthquakes of 1989 and 1906, 128 tons of stone, 320 feet long.

The whole thing is set into the ground with the top of the wall at grade. Because the color of the stone and the dirt match so closely, it sort of feels like someone took a big scoop of dirt and compressed it into the stone for the wall. I like to see how far I can get walking along the top (not very far).

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