by Ben Wood
Published on February 8, 2019Journal of the West Article Ben Wood and Jonathan Cordero, 2019.
Engaging Sites with Art, History, & Imagination
During the past 12 months, in spite of creative setbacks and bureaucratic obstacles, I've forged ahead with passion and tenacity. Through my dedication, I've made significant breakthroughs - some which I've been working toward for well over a decade.
I'm deeply grateful to be able to share these accomplishments.
Newly Published Article about the Mission Dolores Mural
It has been 15 years since I first stood above the altar screen of San Francisco's Mission Dolores, lowered a camera and began an effort to record the hidden painting. This sacred artwork dates to the early years when the Spanish colonized indigenous California.
This month an article that I've written about the historic artwork with Jonathan Cordero,PhD, a sociologist and descendant of San Francisco peninsula Native Californians, has been published in Journal of the West.
Together we have written a history of the artwork, described its most likely painters, and the invaluable history of those who preserved it. Our article, California's Hidden Sacred Mural: The History of the Painted Adobe Reredos at Mission Dolores, is published in the Fall issue, Vol. 57, No. 4 of Journal of the West. You can purchase the issue here.
In anticipation of the article release I made a new website with more up to date information on the project. See the new Mission Dolores Mural website here.
I will be giving a 12 minute mini presentation about the deep-history of the mural on March 16th at Other Cinema at 992 Valencia Street in San Francisco. I will present as part of the broader "San Francisco Psycho-Geography" show. Showtime at 8:30pm.
My Path to Citizenship
In April at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland I made an oath and became an American citizen. It was the end of a journey that I began 19 years ago. With my new responsibility as a citizen I will strive to follow my artistic compass as I continue to search for my own ways and approaches that reflect the story and meaning of being a US Citizen. Here is my video reflection of my journey to citizenship.
This year I had the unexpected but unique experience of working in the Alcatraz Cell House. Over a period of 9 months, I guided tourists on the infamous island, and within the cell house, sharing the stories of inmates, correctional officers, child residents, and others. As a culmination of this work residency I created my own video tour guiding viewers through spaces and stories of Alcatraz which I presented at another historic and venerable San Francisco institution itself, Other Cinema.
I've now made it to dry land and I'm working in an old US Army post at Fort Mason.
I was honoured in early November to revisit the site of my video installation, at the historic Haas-Lilienthal house. During the Past/Forward conference put on by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a group of "Young Preservationists" convened for a special event at the house, where I shared my work among a supportive and engaged group of peers, talking about "cultivating creativity" in a preservation context. I'm excited for potential opportunities with some of the inspiring people that I met.
I continue my hands on efforts, passionately making new creative ideas and plans. Over the past months I've submitted a number of imaginative proposals, which I hope will shortly evolve into fully realizable projects.
by Ben Wood
Published on December 24, 2017
During the course of this year my ongoing efforts to preserve the Mission Dolores Mural were included in a couple of recently published books. Photographer Dick Evans chronicled the Bartlett Street recreated (and sadly now destroyed) version of the mural in his book, The Mission published by Heyday Books.
Also in celebration of the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library I wrote an essay for their book 50 treasures of the Archive-Library about my ongoing efforts to record and preserve the story of the hidden mural.
In this new year I will be completing a short book about the mural with Jonathan Cordero, PhD who I have been working with over the past couple of years to ensure the legacy of this important early California artwork is not forgotten.
In May I was in New Mexico doing photography at one of America's oldest churches. I hope to share more about this project over the coming months.
Working as an Artist
This year I've been very fortunate to work with Marty Nemko, educator, coach and KALW radio show host, who has brought wisdom, ideas, tools, and strategy never shared with me in the world class colleges where I was a student. Listen to my interview with Marty on his show "Work with Marty Nemko" which aired on KALW 91.7 in September.
by Ben Wood
Published on November 15, 2017Photograph of Haas Lilienthal House Projected Artwork by Ben Wood, Photograph courtesy of Scott Hahn.
An animated video artwork illuminates the front windows of the Haas-Lilienthal house at 2007 Franklin Street in San Francisco with an after-dark projected installation.
Windows of the house are transformed into a unique motion-picture album sharing the life of the family over the decades of the Haas-Lilienthal family and their descendants. The projected artwork includes rare photographs and film from the family archives that have never been shown to the public.
A 15 minute looped-video will be on display each night from 5:00pm to 9:30pm and viewable on the facade windows outside the house at 2007 Franklin Street in San Francisco. The projection will run thru the last week of November.
This project was created by Ben Wood with help from San Francisco Heritage staff members and funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and David Wessel.
The animated artwork will present image sequences as time-lapses, cycling through portraits of the town's citizens, its artists, actors, musicians, book sellers, librarians, tour guides, historians, merchants, servers, inn-keepers, shop keepers, gardeners, cooks, residents and tourists in their spaces. People will be featured in their physical setting as animated portraits briefly carrying out their activity.
The artwork will focus on the local community members, it's quietly dedicated citizens and workers who comprise a vital source for preservation of the towns identity and the village itself as a vibrant West Coast destination of natural, cultural and architectural heritage.
It will be a contemporary animated portrait of Mendocino village presenting visually dramatic moving portraits and landscapes to be embedded as an after dark projected artwork onto the facade of a Moody's Coffee bar in the village for the upcoming Mendocino Almost Fringe Festival on April 7, 8. The completed artwork will be projected onto the facade of Moody's Coffee at 10450 Lansing St, Mendocino, CA 95460
Where: Moody's Organic Coffee 10450 Lansing St, Mendocino, CA
When: The projection event will begin on 8:20pm April 7th and 8th, 2017
The video loop will start approximately at 20 minutes intervals such as 8:20 pm, 8:40 pm, 9:00 pm and will run until 10pm
The artworks goal is to embody the uplifting ideals of Mendocino as a town where people can get to work in their neighborhood, livelihoods and within their community to repair the world.
Mendocino Village community members were invited to participate and recorded and interviewed on March 3, 4 2017 and will be featured as part of this community based artwork.
Special thanks to the The Mendocino Tourism Commission which made a generous contribution of $2,500 towards the production of "A Portrait of Mendocino".
Also many thanks to the people of Mendocino, Danna Hall, Exhibitions Coordinator, Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino Sheriffs Department, Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department, Moody's Organic Coffee bar.
"During the weekend of March 4th my 30+ interviews captured a microcosm of Mendocino daily life from a spectrum of people from native Mendocinoans going back generations to hippies who broke down outside of town and never left. I elicited a range of powerful stories from artists to store clerks, police, street vendors, voluntary firefighters, book sellers, homeless people and many others. Over the next few weeks I will be editing these images and stories together to create a projected artwork that I hope will reveal a compelling portrait of this vibrant community. I look forward to sharing this project next month for the upcoming Fringe Festival. Stay tuned and meanwhile keep getting the word out to help raise funds for the completion of my work."
Awarded Richard and Julia Moe Grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation at Haas-Lilienthal House
With project partner, San Francisco Heritage I have won a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to animate the windows of the historic museum, San Francisco's Haas-Lilienthal House with after dark projected-art work.
The Moe Fund, is a special program of the National Trust that encourages state and local preservation organizations to envision and test creative, "break-through" ideas and strategies. The fund encourages members of the National Trust's Partners Network to undertake new initiatives that have a demonstrable impact on their work or their community.
The project will take place some time in 2017 at the Haas-Lilienthal House. - Stay Tuned!