On October 4, 2010, Port Mobile was the first sculpture installed for the Port of San Diego's Urban Trees 7 exhibit. At 20 feet tall and over 500 lbs, it was also the largest of the 30 artworks chosen for the year-long exhibition along the bay. The concept for Port Mobile was inspired by a trip to Big Bear where Shawn Michael and I spent 10 days in a cabin just as the leaves were changing into their autumn wardrobe. We spent our time in front of picture windows looking out over old oak, pine, and maple trees, and wandering around forest trails graced by giants cloaked in leaves of fire. Having installed Office Arbor with the Port the previous year, we intended on submitting ideas again for the 2010-2011 program, and a miniature version of this was submitted by Shawn Michael in the spring:
When we heard that the Port wanted us to actually make the beast, we were elated! Our friends over at South Bay Welding helped with some of the steel work and custom hardware, and Shawn Michael and I got to work at our studio. Materials include steel, custom hardware, parachute clips, over 700 feet of steel cable, 600 silk leaves, and thousands of double-barrel leader sleeves (after 5 trips to Fisherman's Landing in Point Loma, you'd think the guys would have asked).
When designing this sculpture, one of our main intentions was to encapsulate the idea of an "urban tree," especially one located along San Diego Bay. The structure is certainly tree-like, but also emulates a ship's mast and sails. Nautical elements, such as fishing weights, combine with the fall-colored silk leaves to create a tree that mimics its harbor environment.
As the Port prepares to make way for the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, the trees were taken down this month, and ours was one of the last to go. As a tribute to Port Mobile, try to make it to open space this year and enjoy the living trees that surround our beautiful city, and inspired this tremendous piece of artwork!