Lucy Goodhart, Solstice Fire
Text by Heather Snider
The gradually yellowing skies over San Francisco were the first eerie indication that something was amiss. Following reports of freakish mid-summer thunderstorms we soon learned that lightning had set hundreds of fires ablaze throughout the state. Some of these fires were in the not-so-far countryside, and here in the City we lived under a hazy sky and gentle dusting of particulate for weeks: anxious reminders of the fiery battles just beyond our horizon.
One of the most devastating of those fires in the summer of 2008 occurred in Big Sur, San Francisco’s most famous outlying coastal wilderness. The Basin Complex Fire, as it was eventually named, destroyed over 160,000 acres making it one of the largest fires in California history. While the media streamed images and details towards us, seeing a fleck of ash settling onto the city sidewalk was as close as most of us came to the fires.
Lucy Goodhart’s Solstice Fire series of photographs bring us to the heart of Big Sur in the midst of this devastating but natural event. Many San Franciscans and tourists visit Big Sur but it is a place that few know well. The terrain is dramatically beautiful, wild, and sparsely populated. Impressively impenetrable, Big Sur nonetheless leaves an indelible mark on any visitor. It also seems to draw artists to itself with an engulfing, Calypso-like allure and through their work Big Sur is brought to us in human terms.