Artist Roman de Salvo has created a permanent public artwork for the new field station at Mission Trails Regional Park, titled Fountain Mountain. Roman de Salvo is a San Diego-based conceptual artist who works in both sculpture and installation, infusing the ordinary with surprise and poetry. Fountain Mountain consists of a large andesite boulder with trail-like channels carved into its surface. A functioning drinking fountain fixture rises out of the highest point of the boulder. When a curious park visitor activates the spigot, water flows through the array of tiny trails in serpentine paths down the slopes of the boulder.
The artist, who is an avid visitor of the park, was inspired by the park’s extensive trail system and archaeological sites and the sculpture is a simplified microcosm of the park that playfully celebrates some of its essential ingredients – water, stone, trails, and human energy. With this artwork, de Salvo aims to recreate the joy of finding and following trails on an intimate scale. De Salvo’s artwork references the archaeological remains of grinding rocks used by the Kumeyaay, who were the first people to extensively live on and make use of the land that became part of the park.
For de Salvo, these grinding rocks embody a sense of history, timelessness, and a connection to human activity in the park. As a result of the act of carving into the boulder, de Salvo hopes Fountain Mountain creates a formal parallel to the grinding rocks, themselves. The artwork is located among other boulders in the field station’s outdoor gathering space adjacent to the covered picnic area. The sculpture encourages a sense of discovery and contemplation in visitors as they study its carved trails and activate the water feature.