The centerpiece of Pink Triangle Park is an arrangement of 15 sierra-white granite pylons each inlaid with a pink triangle made of quartz. The word ‘pylon’ originates as a massive Egyptian monument that acts as a gateway to a spiritual temple. Each pylon joins with others to form a larger triangle on the groundswell. Its base is oriented toward Harvey Milk Plaza, designed by AIA winner, Howard Grant, and the iconic rainbow flag created by Gilbert Baker. Both are gay men. The artists behind PTP are Robert Bruce and Susan Martin. Here is what they say about the creative challenge.
“First we had to decide we wanted to work together. Two strangers brought together by a friend. We agreed to meet, to share tea and crackers. We talked about sculpture, the Vietnam War memorial, and gardens. Specifically, Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny and the beautiful green stakes used to support the plants. We talked about the philosophical premise of the one and the many, site-specific sculpture, collaborating, controversy, neighborhood, community.
We knew the Nazis imprisoned and killed gays and lesbians: 5,000-15,000 people. We wanted to express the loss abstractly rather than figuratively. We learned that the United Nations was formed in San Francisco, and that without the UN we might not have a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We wanted the sculpture to be contemplative. We wanted to mourn the dead (past), to celebrate the living (present), and to hope for those to come (future).
When we started we didn’t know exactly what the memorial would look like. We did not know it would be granite or how exactly the individual elements would sit on the site in relationship to each other. We did not know how tall they would be. We did not know how they would be installed. We talked, we listened, we learned.
It has always seemed very difficult to express anything about living and dying with a single object. Perhaps this is because none of us would be here without the collaboration between at least two people. The simple definition of collaboration is to work with others. We hope visitors to Pink Triangle Park and Memorial will:
• Respect each other as this sculpture respects the site.
• Contemplate the softness of the plants and the firmness of the granite.
• Locate the softness and the firmness within themselves.
• Remember that gay men wore pink triangles, lesbians wore black triangles, gypsies wore brown triangles, Poles wore blue triangles, social democrats and other political prisoners wore red triangles, and Jews wore yellow stars.
• Think about how persecution of any individual or single group of people damages all humanity.”