Oct 22, 2019 in Analysis

Caruso’s Dream

Caruso’s Dream is one of the sixteen arts and design works in San Francisco that gives a very beautiful look to the town. Its design comprises thirteen pianos made of salvaged factory windows that look old, but due to which the view of the artwork is amazing. The design is located on a seventeen story building and placed at the side that faces the road. The road is the ninth street in San Francisco and passes next to the residential building. The art has some specific rays which comprise neon rights that provide warm light in the street during the night, which impresses the passers-by and a key tourist attraction in San Francisco. The thirteen pianos do not stand by their own rather attached to each other by a rope while the supporting stands are made of wood. Due to these features, the artwork looks very natural and presentable.

Information about the Artists

The art design is a perfect work created by two artists, Dorka Keehn and Brian Goggin, whose work is always magnificent and recognized all over the world by the developed and more improved artists. Brian Goggin is the mastermind behind this art and implemented it without much struggle and hustles. Brian Goggin is an Alumnus of a local university in the town of San Francisco, where he then moved to Cambridge to study arts. He has designed a lot of arts and sculptures in Great Britain, Russia, Ireland, etc. Dorka Keehn is Franciscan local artist who designs and decorates the city of San Francisco with great artistic works. These two creators keep the field of arts alive in the town of San Francisco. They both have a lot of awards and honors achieved together, and they continue to develop and reach new goals. These two people designed and provided the current view of the Caruso’s dream artistic work that is fabulous.

”And my Room Still Rocks Like a Boat on the Sea” Meaning

These were the words uttered by an Italian tenor Enrico Caruso, who visited San Francisco in the year 1906. During this time, San Francisco experienced a very great earthquake that shook the whole town of San Francisco. At that time, Enrico was in his room and watched through the windows to see the damages caused by the earthquake. Moreover, he did not realize if he was awake or still dreaming because he did not believe his eyes. In the interview, he said Enrico that “And my Room Still Rocks like a Boat in the Sea." From that day henceforth, Enrico vowed never to return to San Francisco. Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn used this phrase and its meaning to transform it into the art and the pianos that are designed as if they are sailing on the sea.


This paper reviews different components that define Caruso’s Dream art. These components include the reason for which the art was placed there, the activities involved, including the lighting at night, etc. The paper also reveals much information about art and its significance to the community as well as the impression it makes on people. Finally, the paper gives the potential values of the artist work and how it helps the community in San Francisco.

Meaning and Message of the Artwork

The concept of the artwork comes from the earthquake experiences in San Francisco in the year 1906 where Enrico Caruso, the pianist, visited the area. The earthquake caused serious damages to the city that is a memorable case even nowadays. The 12 pianos represent the way in which the things were thrown in the air by the earthquake, and one big piano in the center has a different meaning. The central instrument depicts the way Caruso felt as if he was in a turbulent boat.

Caruso's Dream was not a dream, but the situation he experience seemed unrealistic to him. Enrico has never faced earthquake in his life or caught up in that situation again. However, when he had such a terrible experience in San Francisco, it seemed like a dream to him. Caruso perceived the turbulence of the earthquake and the way it destroyed everything as the waves of the sea.

This meaning may be supported by the fact that Caruso lived in San Francisco to perform the art. It is evident that during that time when he visited the city, there was a terrible earthquake. Observing the houses, which were rolling, and the pianos, which were flying in the air is a frustrating experience. Any normal person, who has never faced such a terrible disaster as earthquake, would accept this occasion as a dream or something not realistic.

Consequently, the reason for creating this artwork is to follow the city trend while using traditional and cultural symbolic features. Second, it is as a means to keep the memories of the tragic earthquake in the mind of the countrymen and women. The old materials from the old factories depict the fallen houses and premises during the earthquake. Finally, it is as a remembrance of the iconic visit of Enrico Caruso in the city. The rays and the bright LED lights depict the brighter future of San Francisco after the tragic earthquake.



The pianos are designed and aligned in a disorganized way. It looks as if the pianos were falling from the top of the building. This case represents that fateful night when the pianist and tenor Caruso visited the city and Demonstrate how his iconic visit was disrupted by the tragic event. The arrangements of the pianos represent the falling and disorganization of the town during the earthquake period.

All the elements of the artistic work are different and represent a lot of components and most of the town concepts during the earthquake. The ropes show that the town was weak when the earthquake shook the land. The wooden posts are a heritage of the town and represent the way it was supported by the breakable foundation during that time. The old and the tattered glasses used in building the pianos shows that the town can still collect from those ashes and continue executing daily activities and lead a normal life. However, the high number of pianos does not make much sense. A maximum of eight pianos would have made a good impression and pass the corresponding message.

The lights are good, and their inclusion in the artistic work makes it perfect and fabulous. The warm soma light at night and during daytime and at night makes the site a good tourists’ attraction as well as provides the lively sense and feeling of the area. The music played mostly from 4pm to 10am in channel 90.9 keeps the nights around the street lively, and people always remember that fateful tragedy. People play their audios from this channel and relate them to the lights movements. However, to some extent, the location of the artwork in not convenient as it is at the roadside. This act causes a lot of traffic especially in the evening when people get home from work. After rush hours, the homeless go with their audios and invade the place that may feel insecure for the passers-by. If the artwork were located somewhere in a museum or somewhere segregated would be a better choice.

Personal Experience for This Artwork

I have been to the artwork twice, and my personal experience with it was at night when I heard Caruso music playing on channel 90.9, and I was watching the lights. It was on the 24th December 2014 when everyone was in the Christmas mood and searching for some entertainment. I went and parked at the opposite side of this piece of art and enjoyed the incredible view of the magnificent work while listening the music from my car radio. I felt the serene environment and remembered those days when those piano songs rocked loudly, and there were men with mustache and suits walking at that place. The Christmas experience made me visit the site once more during summer time. I felt good and appreciated the artists for the great work done. In addition, the work and the remembrance site cannot be better than it is now. I consider that the work is magnificent and built by the people with the highest level of professionalism.

Analysis of the Social Value

People interact with the artwork in a very friendly manner. Most of the residents living around often visit that place to pass time and admire the work. Mostly when the music plays at night, a lot of people stay and listen to the beautiful sounds until they feel it is time to sleep or go home. The audience of this artwork is the residents of San Francisco. However, many visitors come to enjoy this building every day and even at night. Due to such visits, the site always seems alive and encourages the residents to feel proud of the artwork.

It is worth noting that the contribution of the art to the community is significant. First, the artwork creates the spirit of nature, culture, and heritage. The people always feel better while associated with the art. The outside visitors who come to see and tour the area pay a reasonable amount of fees. The income generated by the site is comparable to the one generated by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The income generated is used to improve the welfare of the community and enhance diversity.

Site Specifically

The artist chose the site since it is the same venue that Caruso intended to perform at that night when the tragedy occurred and took more than 3000 lives. There is also a piano factory in front of the building that provides the construction materials for the piano. It uses the trans-bay materials as it is the oldest and the memorial structure that the community can remember. It is the historic site of the city of San Francisco and was present during the earthquake. The audiences of the site are the motorists performing their jobs and ensuring the security guards at night. The art communicates to its audiences, and they realize the meaning without much struggle. There is no difficulty in accessing the art site since it is located at the roadside.

The piece contributes to the public art in a manner that is one of the greatest sixteen public artworks in San Francisco. The public artwork means the result of work that the artist dedicated to the public as a monumental scripture. In other words, the artists do not expect any future gains from the artwork since it is a national heritage. At the time when the music plays, people return from their works and entertain. However, after the rush hours, the homeless and those people who love clubbing access the area to get more entertainment with their audios and the serene feeling.

Public and Semi-Public Artworks

Caruso’s Dream art is a public building since one can access it always during daytime and at night when the music is played on channel 90.9 and the lights burn. There is no restriction to viewing this piece of art and no charges imposed on people while enjoying it from outside. The case is against the Ai Weiwei art piece on Alcatraz Island, which is only accessible during the daytime. During this time, people pay some fees to view the artworks located in the center.


Despite the entire city suffered greatly from the earthquake during that fateful night in the year 1906, the artwork defines and brought a consolation to the nation. It is like the monument site where the city people can go and listen to the well-choreographed melodies and use it to remember their loved ones. The structure is influential, and the nations should work hard to construct and maintain artworks at all times. In the city of San Francisco, there are more than sixteen most decorated and celebrated pieces of art. The national government maintains these works and ensures that they are in corresponding condition. This case is a good scenario since it keeps the artwork and the art industry alive as well as motivates the artists.

because the art is still young, and the world is slowly acquainting with it, one may conclude that it has a brighter future, similarly to Bliss dance, the ocean mirror with fragments, etc. It has stamina and is not facing any demolition. However, even at the time of financial crisis for the artwork maintenance, the government should do everything possible to keep it alive.


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