Sunday, December 16, 2012

Abandoned Structures: Presidio

Presidio (2006)

The Presidio, or fort, was the earliest Spanish structure built in Santa Barbara, founded in 1782. It was the last of four presidios erected in California designed to establish Spanish claims to the region.  Over time the fort was abandoned, the walls demolished and the site overbuilt by the city, with only two of the original adobe buildings surviving.

Starting in the 1960s the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation  embarked on a projects to restore as much of the original Presidio as possible.  Work has proceeded since, restoring and rebuilding many of the original structures notably  the chapel and many of the buildings on its northern side including sections of the defense walls

The most recent project has been to rebuild the north west corner to include the 10 foot high adobe wall. New concrete columns, as portrayed in my painting, are now in place to secure the wall, part of which has already been completed using adobe bricks made on site by volunteers. This reconstruction effort is a hopeful sign that society can stay the wholesale destruction of historic sites and structures.

In this painting I attempt to capture the dynamic process of restoration and rebirth, with lengths of steel rebar reaching out from the newly emerging concrete pillar as if to embrace the adobe walls to come.

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