“The Long Wharf,” 1996, #1 Embarcadero Center, SkyDeck, 41st floor, San Francisco, California.
“The Long Wharf,” an art installation displayed at Skydeck, which was an observation floor (later discontinued) at the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, included seven paintings taken from archival photographs of maritime ships in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1850 to 1885, during the gold rush, as well as an array of architectural fragments from the same era.
All the relics, artifacts and architectural fragments displayed with the paintings at the Skydeck were discovered underneath the foundations of Embarcadero One during its completion between 1968 to 1973. These artifacts and structures still retain their original color.
The paintings seen here recreate Gold Rush period photographs of Chinese junks - sailing vessels with fully battened sails – as well as other seafaring ships that played an important role in intercontinental trade during the 19th century. The east-west axis of the Embarcadero building is also that of the original Long Wharf, and Liu’s "fleet" of paintings and artifacts evokes the moment when San Francisco became a boomtown.