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Ivan Navarro's "The Ladder (Sun or Moon)" lights the San Francisco sky
Ivan Navarro, The Ladder (Sun or Moon) © Henrik Kam, 2020.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Internationally renowned light artist, Ivan Navarro’s first permanent site-specific public artwork, The Ladder (Sun or Moon), has been unveiled by Shorenstein Company for its new apartment building, 50 Jones, in San Francisco.

The Ladder (Sun or Moon), located on the façade of the building’s 12-story tower fronting Market Street, consists of a ten-storied neon and steel ‘ladder,’ resembling a functional fire escape, with each diagonal section corresponding to the height of one story of the building. Looking upwards, a ladder of bright white light disappears skyward, and transports viewers from the traditional urban street life setting to an unexpected experience; a sensation of mystery and transcendence, which distinct to Navarro’s artwork, is also reminiscent of the marquee that adorned the Granada Theater in the 1920’s (later the Paramount Theater), the site upon which 50 Jones now sits.

“I believe that art must be surreptitiously implanted into the public realm,” says Navarro, “to produce a maximum effect and propel the viewer to question not just the meaning of the single art object, but of the entire lexicon of everyday objects that surround it. The Ladder should not announce itself as a sculpture, as an object divorced from and yet imposed upon its context. On the contrary, I envisioned an artwork that infiltrates the public space by proposing to ‘naturally inhabit’ its environment.”

Navarro’s use of everyday architectural elements, from neon lighting and water towers to ladders, have been a recurring symbol in his artwork, including in “This Land Is Your Land” (2014), a temporary public installation, debuted at Madison Square Park in New York City (later to be installed at Navy Pier, Chicago), which used the form of New York rooftop water towers common to the city’s skyline, combined with an ascending ladder of light.

“The Ladder is a work that reflects the history and the future of Market Street,” says Meg Spriggs, Managing Director of Shorenstein’s Multifamily Investments Group, “giving Mid-Market a renewed place of pride in San Francisco’s consciousness and providing a remarkable entry into our building and retail.”

“THE LADDER now represents one of the great visual attractions along Market Street,” notes Dorka Keehn, project public art consultant. “Navarro’s art adheres to a language of minimalist construction based on geometry and repetition, but produces a sense of ethereal sublime as the illuminated form ascends toward the sky. The form is simple and essential, yet the result is radiant and spectacular. Through Navarro’s creation, the neon ladder becomes a purely poetic object, a repetition of form whose ordinary identity is now accentuated.”

The Ladder (Sun or Moon) subtly penetrates both the public space and the public imagination, by merging familiar visual languages iconic to urban architecture in the United States, whose structures adorn facades, but whose functions are long buried beneath their nostalgic beauty. The charged combination of these two forms, provokes a conceptual and material dislocation that is the essence of artistic subversion.

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