We Are From Dust’s Inaugural Exhibition at Point San Pablo Harbor

We Are From Dust’s Inaugural Exhibition at Point San Pablo Harbor

by Candace Locklear

Art is important. It inspires. It has the power to transform the people who gaze at and gather around it.

While Big Art commands you to marvel at it as a spectator, Interactive Art invites you to engage much more deeply. That is when the real magic happens.

Strangers turn toward each other to share excitement and thoughts sparked by the piece. They show each other how to touch, climb, straddle or even ride the artwork, and encourage others along. They connect.

To be so uniquely drawn in by art, and then have the chance to share your delight with those around you, sparks bliss. Something in the brain snaps to attention — and suddenly new ideas, hopes, dreams, and possibilities are unlocked. 

“Future’s Past” by Kate Raudenbush, at Point San Pablo Harbor (Photo by Tex Allen)

That is what we mean when we talk about the transformative power of big, interactive art. Many who have trekked to Black Rock City understand this magic and have come to crave it.  It happens in smaller scale elsewhere, too. Just recently, the Albany Bulb hosted a number of installations, which drew people together to talk, marveling at what they were experiencing there in the reeds by the Bay. And Charlie Gadeken’s piece “Squared” just left its post in Hayes Valley where it thrilled thousands, and is on its way to Reno. Replacing it is a massive work -— a 17 foot sculpture of a woman called “Tara Mechani” by another long time artist Dana Albany, who made the piece for Burning Man two years ago.

Now that Big Art is being designed and created for festivals all over the world, it’s high time to figure out a way to extend the life of these works that more often than not get stuck in a warehouse or container. Art needs to breathe! Art should be out in public! And the artists deserve to be well paid for these creations — to rent or to own — so they can make a living wage and keep at it. Cities, institutions and citizens of means should be investing in bringing artworks into the open, giving more people the opportunity to be transformed.

We Are From Dust was formed with exactly this mission in mind. Our first project was just unveiled to around 200 local art lovers at Point San Pablo Harbor (PSPH) in Richmond, California. This marina, harbor, and surrounding land is being refurbished by people committed to developing a sustainable haven on the Bay and who appreciate the value of art, recognizing what it can do to galvanize a community. We are extremely honored that two legendary artists agreed to offer their works for our first exhibition. You’ll now find a tall, filigreed structure called “Future’s Past” by New York artist Kate Raudenbush there on the shore. Walk inside and see the circuit board-like cut-outs cast intricate shadows on your skin, or gaze in the mirror on top of the interior podium, or note how the embedded hourglass marks time in an ancient way.

“Asterpod” by Michael Christian, at Point San Pablo Harbor (Photo by Jon Ross)

While at PSPH, you are invited to walk past many colorful houseboats to a little jetty so that you are soon surrounded by breathtakingly unencumbered views of the northern Bay. At the jetty’s tip, you’ll find Michael Christian’s “Asterpod”, a crinkly wire ball on a metallic claw-like base with a hole just big enough for someone to crawl through. If you are there at night, you’ll be bathed in gently changing, multicolored lights that beam up from the bottom of the ball. Imagine the conversations that occur when three people climb inside to check out the vista around them?

We want as many people to experience these pieces as possible, and with your help, we can extend the exhibition of Big Art at Point San Pablo Harbor, and wherever our next Big Art exhibition will be. 

Please get in touch if you want to help in some way. Make a tax-deductible donation to We Are From Dust so we can continue to compensate our artists and source more works to install. Turn on people who have the means to contribute so we can inject the Bay Area (and beyond) with a much-needed cultural shot in the arm.