Travel through the rabbit hole in the hill (the one-way, Bunker Road tunnel) from Sausalito and you are transported to the bucolic magic of the Marin Headlands – minutes from a throbbing San Francisco metropolis, yet worlds apart. It is green and quiet, pastoral, and a toss back to another era with a cluster of turn of the century structures along the Pacific Ocean with the Marin Headlands looming above. Brought to you by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).
What was once a military landscape (Fort Barry), was re-commissioned by the National Park Service into a cultural landscape for non-profits and a natural preserve in a classic “guns to butter” scenario. Dogs romp on Rodeo Beach along beautiful estuaries; the legendary Marine Mammal Center is perched on a hill, and tucked away in Main Building 944 visitors will stumble upon the Headlands Center for the Arts.
The battered and weather beaten building smacks of nostalgia, reminiscent of a time and place long gone, yet radiates an au courant and avant-garde aura. It now houses artists in residence and has evolved into a laboratory for creative thought, as well as a meeting and exhibit space flooded with natural light. With over 1,200 alumni, the Headlands center has nurtured many a successful contemporary artist and a massive inventory of innovative, provocative work.
The current exhibit –– puckishly named (IM) Materiel – is curated by Kevin B.Chen and is no less experimental. Matériel is a French word, but in English, it is a term for equipment and military supplies, a nod to the military history of the Headlands. The eclectic show, however, is really about “the line dividing the known/unknown, tangible/intangible and terrestrial/extramundane” which, according to the brochure, “becomes slippery when given different lenses to perceive our world”. You must see for yourself, for as they say: what we physically see represents only a fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Eighteen artists participated in the exhibition which features photography, sculpture, and video installations. The show runs until February 22 and the gallery is open Sunday thru Thursday Noon – 5 PM. headlands.org
Savor the scenery; indulge in the silence and expect the unexpected.