As an artist, I have always been deeply moved by prehistoric art. I feel that the Cro-Magnon artists had a clearer view living in their virgin world.
In the Summer of 2000, I was commissioned by developer, David Connor, to construct a replica of the famous cave of Lascaux, for a restaurant in South San Francisco.
When I first took on the task of designing and building the cave, I admit that it was rather daunting. We had to build a structure that was practical, convincing, durable, compliant with building codes, and above all done with sensitivity and a respect for the Magdalenian artists.
The restaurant backs on to San Francisco Bay, with wide and sweeping panoramas of the waterfront, but the room designated for the wine cellar was next to the entry, and it was quickly decided to sacrifice any view by blocking the windows in order to transport the customer "underground".
We then started the construction of the structure. A massive timber skeleton was built, to receive a wire and stucco skin. We had to keep the design very organic feeling, and so went to great lengths to avoid right angles and flat runs. I decided that the cave would have open fissures, which would help to disguise the borders of the room, and even invite exploration. This structure also had to carry and conceal the mechanics of the room (electrical, sprinklers, refrigeration, sound systems) and be strong enough to carry the 15,000 lbs. of stucco!
With the stucco in place, and 8 yds. of colored concrete poured for the floor, and details like real fossils buried into the walls, the cave was almost complete, and all that was needed were the petroglyphs to bring the cave to life.
The painting of the petrogylphs had to be done with great respect. These sacred images are mankind's oldest expression as artists, and to do them in anything other than the same spirit I felt would be an act approaching desecration. Using only the same pigments, and replicating the techniques of the Magdalenian artists I painted the animals,I then aged the art to give the look of 18 millennia of ripening.
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