The popular LED forest installation Entwined is now surrounded by floodwaters of up to a foot deep, but the resulting lake has created a spectacular mirror-image effect that doubles the amount of visual joy the piece creates.
There aren’t many uplifting stories to these rainstorms and floods of the last three weeks, but one particular minor flood has created sort of a fabulous disaster. In Golden Gate Park’s Peacock Meadow, the now-annual winter run of artist Charles Gadeken’s LED forest piece Entwined is now up to a foot deep in floodwaters. But Mother Nature’s work has a spectacular, unintended visual bonus, as the flood waters have created a dazzling effect that mirrors the art above it, and doubles the fun for your eyes.
What was a light-sculpture installation in a meadow, is now more of a light sculpture bedazzling a water feature.
You can still visit this work in Peacock Meadow, just make sure to wear good boots and spare socks, because it’s mucky as heck out there! SFist spoke to Gadeken, who’s quick to point out that despite the battering of storms, the circuits have held up and the lights have run on schedule every single night.
“It hasn't gone down at all,” Gadeken tells SFist. “It’s been fully functioning in ‘Lake Peacock.’”
“We try to make art that could be permanent public art. So it needs to be as weather-proof as possible,” he adds. “It is all very water-proof. There are also circuit-breakers and fuses throughout the piece too for public safety.”
“I got a little lucky, there are a couple of components that are pretty close to the water-line. They’re at the very edges, so the water isn’t as high there.”
CANCELLED❌ Unfortunately this weekend’s Entwined events are being rescheduled due to the weather, keep an eye out for new dates and we’ll see you next Saturday at the Light up the Night Bike Parade✨🚲 https://t.co/YaEStqLIc1— SF Parks Alliance (@SFParksAlliance) January 12, 2023
There have, however, been a few weekend musical performances scheduled at the piece that have had to be canceled.
“It’s a little sad that they’ve canceled some musical performances, and people can’t really do the interactivity,” Gadeken tells us. “But in exchange, they get twice that visual thing on the beautiful reflections.”
A sign says “This area is closed,” though it’s not really. You can walk up pretty close to some of the trees, right off of JFK Drive, though the water is about a foot deep in its deepest spots.
“I have seen people wading out into the water,” Gadeken says, noting that dogs have been enthusiastically playing in the water too. “It was covered in children before, now it’s covered in dogs.”
But the flood, and its visual effect, were unexpected. “The lake is a complete surprise,” he adds. “But it’s funny, because at the very beginning when we were installing this installation, we knocked a sprinkler head off one of the sprinklers and we [accidentally] flooded the meadow. So on the second day of installation I filled it up like a lake. It was kind of foreshadowing.”
This year’s Entwined closing party is still scheduled for March 11, and the work remains on display until March 12. This year’s installation was built by a team of 200 different people, and each year’s version of the installation is indeed different.
“It’s not the same at all,” Gadeken says. “The first year there were 23 works of art, then last year there were 56 pieces of art, and this year there are 63 pieces of art. Every year it’s been different, every year it’s grown.”
The story of the gorgeous flood at Entwined is not a typical San Francisco story. But Gadeken’s studio, sadly, is experiencing a typical San Francisco story — they’re being evicted.
“Where Entwined was built was at the Box Shop, and we’re losing our lease,” he explains. “We are trying to find a new home and taking in donations.”
The Box Shop has found a prospective new building in Bayshore, but needs donations from the community to make it work. According to a Box Shop press release, “We are seeking donors to help us raise $3M to help us acquire a new property and make business-needed improvements to a new $8.5M space in the same neighborhood.”
These images can’t do justice to the dazzling flood effect, and that effect could be gone as soon as Wednesday. "I am actually hoping to pump the field out," Gadeken tells us."I haven't got a response from Rec and Parks yet. I haven’t gotten a ‘yes.'"
SFist did get a response from Rec and Parks, who do not sound inclined to drain the lake. "Standing water in Golden Gate Park is expected to drain on its own within a few days to a week," a Rec and Parks spokesperson tells SFist. "Flooding is a common occurrence in some the park’s lower lying areas, such as Marx Meadow and Lindley Meadow, during and after heavy rainfall. Fortunately, part of the park’s design in these low-lying meadows helps capture and manage storm water and allow for its infiltration into the landscape."
They also point us to the SF Parks Alliance calendar for January, which notes that this weekend's events at the Entwined exhibit are also, regrettably, canceled.
Note: This post has been updated with a response from SF Rec and Parks.
Images: Joe Kukura (SFist), and Jason Chinn