Co-Chairs SF-BCN Sister City Committee
SF-BCN Sister City Committee promotes Economic, Academic, Technological and Cultural projects between the cities of San Francisco & Barcelona.
July 2015 will be the fifth Anniversary of our Sister cities & we will be renewing our partnership. It would be a great moment to celebrate our continued efforts to build a bridge between our two cities by presenting Enric Pladevall’s project, Organic Shadow.
Therefore, we want to back the idea to build the sculpture in San Francisco to enhance the liaison between Barcelona and San Francisco by sharing this outstanding cultural exchange.
But you find few who have both. Enric Pladevall is indisputably talented and in all the time I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him still for even a single moment, as he is busy all the time with his sculptural projects, large and small, his move to Vic in L’Empordà and the art centre, studio and home that he has opened there. All the while he continues to produce works of remarkable beauty and presence, among them Organic Shadow, a great sculpture in every sense of the word that I hope to see soon in the port of San Francisco, and the many other pieces by him that institutions and collectors around the world, from Australia to the United States, have in their parks, squares, gardens and homes.
There are many good sculptors. There are few good sculptors with a huge capacity for work. There is only one Enric Pladevall.
Poet and writer
Founder of Imagine Creativity Center, San Francisco
About the Dreams
In 2000, I had the great fortune to work with Enric Pladevall on Pladevall Virtual Projects, an interesting experiment in which Enric imagined impossible sculptures without technical or economic constraints, and I 3D modelled them in non-realistic environments like the surface of the moon or the side of an erupting volcano. The project ended up in a beautiful exhibition in the Maeght Gallery, Barcelona. For me, seeing those 3D drawings hanging in the Maeght Gallery was already a dream come true.
It has been 15 years since then, but I perfectly remember the day Enric showed me his first Organic Shadow sketch and told me that it was technically such a hard piece to build that it was even going to be hard for me to 3D model. It was really hard. It was not easy for me to model this piece with the 3D software available back in those days, but I managed it in the end. Since then, I have commented to Enric on numerous occasions that, to me, the Organic Shadow was the most beautiful piece of all the Virtual Projects collection, and that one day it would be a dream of mine to see it built.
It has been 15 years since this dream was conceived. My life has led me to live in San Francisco, a city where dreams can come true and where, by the way, I had the honor to welcome Enric Pladevall to my home and enjoy some very inspiring days with him. I love San Francisco and I love Barcelona, two sister cities since 2010, intertwined by the action of the sisterhood committee of which I am a member, its purpose being to promote collaboration between two places that have so many visions in common, including the marine environment and a special sensibility for art and culture.
I must admit that I was very excited when, in one of my recent trips to Barcelona, Enric showed me the mockup of the Organic Shadow. It was a moment I will never forget, in his workshop, in that magical place where Enric builds his dreams with love and effort. That same day he announced that his daughter, Paula, was about to give birth.
The level of excitement was indescribable.
There are dreams that come true, some like Paula’s, where one must wait to find the right person to form a family, others like Enric’s, where one must wait to find the right place and time to give birth to a sculptural piece. Undoubtedly, San Francisco is the ideal place to create the Organic Shadow and this, 15 years after its conception, is the perfect moment for the piece thanks to the maturity of the technique, which makes the project viable now, and because of the maturity of the artist, who is at a magical moment now in his career.
Organic Shadow is a dream that will come true and turn into a symbol that demonstrates that, when you put a lot of love and effort into a dream, it will end up becoming a reality. This world needs works like the Organic Shadow, reminding us that we have to dream, and this world needs men like Enric Pladevall, showing us that we must fight for our dreams.
Shadow, Light, Grace and Gratitude
Few artists are as qualified to design, engineer and build a sculpture as safe, beautiful or appropriate. The sculptor has long chosen materials to explore the intersection of things: birth, cultures, men and women, life and death, natural and man-made. The wonder of his work lies at these intersections — the place we call common ground. With that in mind, it is impossible to view any of Pladevall’s sculptures around the world and not be moved by their sweep, grace and sublime mix of materials. His work is timeless and contemporary; it is a dance of shadow and light, curves and edges, male and female.
In 1996, Enric Pladevall was among five Catalan sculptors who participated in the Cultural Legacy Project. These five artists designed and built five public artworks to celebrate the passing of the Olympic torch from Barcelona’s 1992 Olympic Games to Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic Games. Four of the five pieces were privately funded. Pladevall’s sculpture, Androgynous Planet (see photo), was the only one of the five to be paid for by the Atlanta Olympic Committee along such artists as Siah Armajani (USA) and Toni Cragg (UK). The 35 foot tall stainless steel and bent-wood sculpture still graces the city’s Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. We who care about public art are grateful it exists.
It is my belief that the judgement of public artwork should be left to the public. Public art is not made to impress art historians, professional art critics or the smart, smug members of the local museum guild. Public art exists to provoke, inspire, charm, delight or enrage the cab driver, the high school teacher, the homeless man, the banker, the laundress and the tamale vendor. It is the mirror into which we look to our own glory and vanity, our kindness and cruelty, our hope and despair. In Pladevall’s Organic Shadow, one may see a bridge that connects us but another may see a bridge that exists only in hopeless dreams of utopian artists. But all will see an expression in three-dimension, of natural and man-made materials at a scale that will attract their attention — and make them pause and think. For that alone, it is worth any price.
Pladevall’s proposed sculpture, Organic Shadow, is another triumphant stop along his life-long search for common ground. It is a metaphor for the links between San Francisco (a city I once called home), and Barcelona (a city in which I spent much time working with Pladevall and the other Barcelona artists in the early ’90s). But it is much more than a metaphor for the collaboration theme civic leaders often call “sister cities” — it is form that suggests a floating bridge, an energy curve, a connecting spine, a oceanic wave. It will remind many of connection between people, culture, human forms and natural beauty. In other words, it evokes, life and its fragile status due to man’s consumption.
San Francisco is uniquely blessed with a wealth of public artwork and lovely civic spaces. Its leaders mostly have chosen well — creating one of the most vibrant public art streetscapes in the United States, if not the world. The proposed sculpture by Enric Pladevall would complement this well-curated public art collection with its precise engineering, graceful curves, judicious blend of natural and fabricated materials as well as its impressive scale. To witness this floating expression of harmony and balance will delight San Franciscans and their guests for decades to come. I wish we could have one like it in Atlanta. We could use more beauty — and we could always us more shade.
Artistic and technical report
My friend Xavier Verdaguer saw the model when I was coming to the end of assembling it and he told me that I should suggest it to San Francisco, that he would help me… attempt it, and that it was the best city in the world for installing the work. He is a member of the San Francisco – Barcelona Sister City Committee… so there’s synchrony!!
Organic Shadow is intended to be the artistic expression of the sisterly relationship between the cities of San Francisco and Barcelona. The sea is a connecting point that unites them. The work is inspired by the simple bones of a sole, the sculptural possibilities of which suggested to me the idea of building a vast awning: an organic and technological shadow; a space for dialogue and reflection; a place where architecture, nature and sculpture co-exist. At night, the slats are lit up subtly by blue solar LEDs and at midnight they beat like a heart for a minute.
The sculptural assembly is joined together by balls that serve as joints, linking the aluminium, stainless steel and wood blades, which are connected internally by three stainless steel cables (12 mm) and two additional outer cables that ensure the work is stable, and give it its curves.
The awning is raised between 3.7 and 5.5 m above ground level and is supported by three stainless steel structures: two of them are a large continuous arc while the third undulates, which makes the whole assembly stable. At the top, there are two further safety cables.
|Location||San Francisco Harbor|
|Material||Stainless steel, cast aluminium, wood and light|
|Dimensions||33 m long x 10 m wide x 13 m high |
Steel towers: two between 12 and 13 m and one 8.7 m high
|Weight||Approximate weight of the shade 3 tonnes|