A Project for Natomas Fire Station 43
A streetlamp pole reaches up towards the sky, inspired by both a fire hose and a blade of shoreline grass as it organically twists and tapers. A bike fork sprouts from the top of the pole. At night, a single light emanates from the fork: a beacon shining from the apex out to the horizon. The towering pole, painted white, the fork and the base painted black, recalls the look of a lighthouse, but with a mysterious form, sculpted out of local, recycled, colorful steel bicycle forks and frames, a dramatic visualization of the bulkhead of a boat at the moment it is tilting up and rolling to the side, as if responding to the swell of a wave .
The curling streetlamp pole laces through the contoured lattice hull and fretwork deck of the bicycle-formed boat-inspired framework fourteen feet above the ground: the height a boat would be if floating on the unrestrained confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers on this site. The boat-inspired form references the shape of a traditional Maidu tule boat used by the indigenous people of the area to navigate the local waters for centuries, while also drawing influences from those more recent wooden boats used by settlers up through the twentieth century. The colorful form appears to hang tenuously from a thin cable stretched taught from the bow up through the fork and down to the stern. Inside, at the heart of the form, a cluster of vintage bike lights encrusts the pole. The lenses point out and down through the frames and forks. At night the lights shine blue, green and yellow like reflections of water onto a boat’s hull. The lights shift and shimmer, on and off, effecting a subtle swaying of the boat in our imagination.
Faro is a sculptural, transformational marker at the threshold of the station, conveying to the visitor that they have arrived at a place of watchful readiness, or are departing to participate with a town reclaimed from the waters. The installation will encourage a transformation from the distractions of everyday life to a state of conscious strength and calm. It will also offer a transition between the firefighters’ state of preparedness while in the station and their state of action when responding to an emergency in the community.
A work of art can take you on a journey. It can take you to another dimension and provide insight into another world, time, place, or way of thinking. Location is an important part of experiencing and understanding the work; there is often a reciprocal dynamic that the art and its place exert on each other.
100 years ago, a massive land reclamation effort took place in Natomas that turned acres of floodplains into fertile farmland. Natomas (meaning “upstream place” in native Maidu) was marshland at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers, but by harnessing the waters with levees and dams, it became a fertile valley. Faro (which is a Spanish word that means lighthouse) is a site-specific sculptural installation that will act as a beacon to the firehouse, and as a testament to the power of water. Harnessing and directing water is essential to Natomas and Fire Station 43, whether for home use, farm irrigation or fighting fires.
People, powered by foot or bike, flow up and drift down the newly built streets and neighborhoods in Natomas. One light pole, however, in front of Fire station 43 appears to have organically grown to lift a buoyant form that reflects the past and looks to the future.