New Public Art in Glen Park
SAN FRANCISCO - The new Glen Park Canyon Recreation Center features a new public art project by Charles Sowers, a local artist known for seamlessly melding his love of science into his art. Inspired by 19th-century meteorological instruments that used a spherical glass lens to burn a sunshine record on a substrate of wood or paper, Solar Totems is a sculptural data-logger that creates an archive of the interaction of sun, weather and site.
The installation is comprised of three 30-inch diameter by 12-foot-tall reclaimed redwood logs installed upright on the open, south-facing plaza in front of the new Recreation Center. A solar powered mechanism with a spherical lens is mounted on one of the logs. The sun’s rays are focused by the lens to lightly burn into the wood. As the sun moves across the sky, the burn becomes a line; preserving a record of sunshine periodically broken by fog or cloudy skies. The lens is advanced a small distance each day to create a distinct daily line. The mechanism records one year of daily atmospheric conditions. When the yearly record is complete, the heliograph is moved to another log, leaving a sculptural archive of daily variations in sunlight that park visitors can use to compare regional weather patterns from year to year.
According to the artist, ”Taken together, the three transformed logs turn the plaza into a kind of civic solar and atmospheric observatory, artistically expanding our understanding of place and connecting us to our environment through that understanding.”
“I want to congratulate the Recreation and Park Department on the superb renovation of the Glen Park Canyon Recreation Center,” said Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny, “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to commission Charles Sowers who has created an artwork that speaks to the natural wonder of this unique urban park.”
Pictured left to right: Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny, artist Charles Sowers, Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Rec/Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg.