Explore the Tour

Join for this self-guided tour in which artist Roman de Salvo guides us through the watersheds of San Diego through the prism of five public art works. The tour will begin among the mountains of Mission Trails Regional Park and ultimately lead to the ocean, next to the mouth of the San Diego River, showing the underlying ecological connections of seemingly unrelated parts of the city.

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Mission Trails Regional Park

The tour begins among the mountains of Mission Trails Regional Park, where de Salvo recently installed Fountain Mountain, 2020, a boulder with trails carved into it that channels water from a drinking fountain installed at its summit.

Alvarado Riddle

Downstream and up a tributary to the Alvarado Medical Center Trolley Station, travel to Alvarado Riddle, 2005, which is inscribed in a frieze running the length of the station. The rhyming text engages transit users in an examination of the site in order to figure out the three-part answer to the riddle. Hint: one of the answers is the name of the San Diego River tributary hidden beneath the station.

Chollas Creek

Switching to the Chollas Creek watershed, visit the Chollas Creek Linear Park and The Chollas Realm, 2019, the gateways that demarcate a recently restored section of this urban creek. With its plantlike silhouette, the branching motif that forms the arch of this gateway is actually a map of the canyons and riparian corridors of the Chollas Creek watershed. As such, it offers a rudimentary grasp of the underlying ecological connections of seemingly unrelated parts of the city.

Ruocco Park

Next, our tour proceeds to Ruocco Park on the waterfront of downtown San Diego to see The Riparium, 2012. As rivers and streams are primordial connections between the land and the sea, they are evoked in this gateway as a metaphorical way of connecting the public to the bay. The work is also an homage to the park’s namesake, the influential architect Lloyd Ruocco, whose work provided inspiration for how this gateway addresses its site.

San Diego River

The tour concludes at the ocean, next to the mouth of the San Diego River. Here at the South Mission Beach Lifeguard Station, you will find Beach Castles, 2019, installed directly in the sand of the beach. The work caps a seawall that protects the lifeguard station from the ocean. Consisting of pre-cast concrete house forms, the seawall cap is a stable fortification, while the sand in which it is placed is in constant movement with the wind and waves. The houses may at times be nearly buried, while at other times, their full elevations may be exposed. Thus the artwork is an index of natural processes where civilization abuts the sea.

About Roman de Salvo

Roman de Salvo is a sculptor and public artist whose work infuses the everyday with surprise and intrigue. His art is characterized by an inventive use of ordinary materials and objects, often involving energetic phenomena such as wind, water, fire, electricity, and audience participation. De Salvo’s work has been featured at the 2000 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the 2002 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, Baja to Vancouver: The West Coast in Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum, Insite 2000 in Tijuana, Mexico, and Giverny Garden Projects at the Musée d'Art Américain, Giverny, France. He now resides in San Diego.