the apple press sculpture in golden gate park

Today I’m sharing a reblog of a recent piece in Heath Massey’s blog, “Golden Gate Park: Views from the Thicket.”  I love the fascinating history and lovely original drawings that Heath includes in her entries. And … I look forward to her upcoming talk, “Artists in Golden Gate Park,” at Canessa Gallery, Wednesday September 24, 7 p.m. The gallery is at 708 Montgomery Street in San Francisco, steps away from the Transamerica Pyramid building. My show “Welcome to Fogland” will be open for viewing for an hour before the talk. Stop by for some treats, some sparkling … yes … cider! … and Heath’s wonderful talk.

golden gate park: views from the thicket

Apple cider press statue in Golden Gate Park by Thomas Shields-Clarke, 1892 (sketch by Heath Massey) Apple cider press statue in Golden Gate Park by Thomas Shields-Clarke, 1892 (sketch by Heath Massey)

For some reason I always assumed this sculpture was about wine.  That muscled, bare-footed figure evokes for me a beautiful Greek god (Dionysus, Greek god of wine?).  Even on a typical foggy day in the park, he conjures a warm day in late summer, the grape harvest, abandonment to the pleasures of the vine.   Wrong!   Those are actually apples scattered around the base of the sculpture, which actually depicts a cider press.  Perhaps that’s because the sculptor, Thomas Shields-Clarke was from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where apples are no doubt much more common than grapes, especially in 1892 when this statue was made?  It was cast in Paris though, (by Jaboeuf and Bezout) so maybe that’s where it picked up the whiff of wine?  In any case, Michael de Young and the Midwinter Fair Commission purchased it and exhibited…

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