How I See the Presidio: Curator Cheryl Haines
The Presidio is a 2.8-square-mile former military base reborn as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Refurbished red brick military buildings are now family housing, offices for 225 organizations and attractions such as the Walt Disney Family Museum, located at the Parade Ground.
To Cheryl Haines, who conceived and produced @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz in 2014, the Presidio's empty forts, batteries and barracks are full of potential. They are the home of her new exhibition, Home Land Security, which brings together works by contemporary artists and collectives from around the globe to reflect on the human dimensions and increasing complexity of national security, including the physical and psychological borders we create, protect, and cross in its name. Home Land Security is now open to the public through December 18, 2016 admission-free.
What's your perfect day in the Presidio?
Early morning walks are the best. I start at the golf course, at the Arguello Street entrance of the park, follow the Bay Area Ridge Trail past Andy Goldsworthy’s beautiful Spire sculpture, and continue on to Fort Scott. Then I make my way to the General’s Residence, circle back down to the Main Post, and grab lunch at either Commissary or Arguello. Both restaurants are operated by the remarkable Traci Des Jardins. After that I pay a visit to the newly renovated Officers' Club, which now houses a museum dedicated to the fascinating history of the Presidio dating back to the Ohlone Indian tribe and the arrival of the Spanish in 1776.
What's your favorite place in the Presidio to take a photo?
The Battery Godfrey Vista, overlooking the fortifications on the coastal edge of Fort Scott, is beyond compare. You see the Marin Headlands, the ocean, and Golden Gate Bridge all in one dramatic sweep.
Where do you indulge your artistic side in the Presidio?
Throughout the whole park! The Presidio is incredibly rich in cultural history and a wonderful place to discover art. As executive director of the FOR-SITE Foundation, I’m fortunate to have had a hand in placing a number of sculptures in the Presidio, including four permanent installations by land artist Andy Goldsworthy. Woodline, a sinuous path of enormous eucalyptus branches near Lover’s Lane, is fun to follow. Our most recent project, Home Land Security, gathers work by 18 artists from 12 countries inside a series of military structures at Fort Scott, some open to the public for the first time.
Who or which sources do you follow to keep up with the latest happenings in the Presidio?
Both the Presidio Trust and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy have excellent websites that stay up to date with special events. They also have a visitor center in the Officers' Club that maintains information about the historical sites and most iconic points of interest.
Any last final advice for travelers planning to visit the Presidio?
Allow yourself plenty of time. It’s such a gorgeous environment, an excellent place to be outside and walk, hike, bike, and simply experience the natural beauty.