Crucible Artists Bring New Life to Bay Bridge Steel

by Kristin Arzt

[From left to right] Don Plumb, Bridgeman, Ron Holthuysen, SAS President and Creative Director, Spencer Roland, SAS Lead Artist and Project Manager, and Celeste Flores, Crucible Blacksmith, pick up steel from the original Bay Bridge that they will use to create The Bridge trophy. 

On Monday, NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California debuted The Bridge – a new official trophy for the annual Bay Bridge Series between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. The design and fabrication of The Bridge is a collaborative project between Scientific Art Studio, representing the San Francisco Giants, and The Crucible, representing the Oakland Athletics. Crucible blacksmith Celeste Flores and welder Don Plumb will be working with artists from Scientific Art Studio to fabricate the trophy out of steel from the original eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

For Celeste, who usually works alone on commissions as Clay and Steel, this project is a refreshing change of pace. “I am really enjoying collaborating with such a talented team,” she says. “It’s really exciting for me to be a part of Bay Area history and to be a representative for Oakland.” Celeste first starting taking Blacksmithing classes at The Crucible in 2010, falling in love with the discipline, and starting a two-year Blacksmithing internship in the department. She is now regular faculty, teaching students of all ages and experience levels how to swing a hammer and sculpt metal into practical tools and art. 

Don has been a high steel ironworker for over twenty years and is proud to represent Oakland’s Union Local #378, whose ironworkers helped to build many of the Bay Area’s most notable modern day icons, including Salesforce Tower and the new Eastern span of the Bay Bridge. Don was a Battle Damage Welder in Iraq and Afghanistan and is one of only three bridge welders in California. This project is an exciting opportunity for him to work with familiar material again, and to honor the ironworkers who, like the Bridge Troll, function as guardians of those who cross the Bay Bridge. “This work has been my life’s passion,” he explains, adding that he also appreciates the chance to represent The Crucible. “I have been volunteering at The Crucible for the past eleven years. I believe in their commitment to the community and the camaraderie amongst peers.”

Scientific Art Studio is an industrial design and fabrication studio that specializes in large scale art installations and immersive playground environments. Artists Ron Holthuysen, Maren Van Duyn, Spencer Roland, Jon Betthauser, and Lisa Tilton are all working to bring The Bridge trophy to life.  SAS has a long standing partnership with the SF Giants, producing one-of-a-kind installations at AT&T park, such as the Giant baseball glove, and the Coca-Cola slide. SAS art director and illustrator, Maren Von Duyn, whose miniature painting of “Rosie the Riveter,” hangs in the White House, has created numerous large scale murals all over the world. Maren created the final design for the Bridge Series trophy that was recently unveiled.

Weighing approximately thirty pounds upon completion, The Bridge trophy will feature a bronze Oakland A’s logo, Giants logo, and a baseball. Inside the trophy will be a tribute to the Bay Bridge troll, a small steel troll figure installed underneath of the Bay Bridge. The original Bay Bridge troll was installed by ironworkers after the catastrophic Loma-Prieta earthquake in 1989, acting as a symbol of protection for the Bay Bridge and its travelers. The relationship between trolls and metalworkers goes back hundreds of years, with roots in Norse culture, where steel and iron were believed to ward off evil magic.

This trophy will represent a collaboration between Oakland and San Francisco artists, using the bridge that brought them together. We cannot wait to see what Celeste, Don, and Scientific Art Studio create together! The Bay Bridge Series will kick off on July 13 at AT&T Park.  

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2018-04-06T16:24:09+00:00