The Commons expands the multidisciplinary Marin Headlands Center for the Arts’ services for resident artists and day visitors with more than 3,000 square feet of new programming space; three newly commissioned permanent artworks by local, national, and international artists; and additional places to gather, relax, and enjoy the area’s renowned natural beauty.
The project, sited between and immediately surrounding Headlands’ two main buildings, transforms an unpaved parking lot and gravel pathway into a thoughtfully designed outdoor space for art and everyday use. The Commons includes a new central plaza with outdoor amphitheater for performances and events, new pedestrian walkway connecting artist residency studios with the main public buildings, and a redesign of the public entryway into a more welcoming and accessible front door. The design resonates with Headlands’ overlapping cultural and natural histories, creates more social interaction, and carefully places the architectural elements in a way that allows them to be discovered almost as artifacts. The use of simple, natural materials such as raw concrete, reclaimed wood, crushed stone paving, and native plants draws the larger landscape through the Commons site.
The Commons is the latest installment in Headlands’ commissions program, which invites artists to reimagine the organization’s physical spaces as site-specific art projects, giving them new meaning while honoring their original designs and architectural integrity. In keeping with this rich legacy, The Commons incorporates three new permanent outdoor artworks:
Welcome Terrace East & West by Ball-Nogues Studio
Based on the tradition of Kintsugi or “golden joinery”—the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with lacquer and powdered gold, silver, or platinum—Ball-Nogues Studio will repurpose Headlands’ original broken concrete driveway to create Welcome Terrace East & West (2017), a vibrant new artist-designed promenade. The Los Angeles-based artists, whose work is included in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, will collaborate closely with the architect to reshape the fragments and reassemble them using colorful terrazzo mortar that honors repair as part of the history of the site rather than something to disguise.
Wall Space by Chris Kabel
Created by Rotterdam-based artist and designer Chris Kabel, Wall Space (2017) is a sculptural installation that turns Headlands’ building façade into a canvas for commissioned texts. Hidden armature, inspired by historical movie theater marquees, features a modular lettering system rendered in transparent metal mesh, which responds to changing light conditions and makes the text readable to viewers as a cast shadow. For the inaugural installation, which will change over the course of the year, Headlands has commissioned San Francisco-based writer Claudia La Rocco (Headlands Artist in Residence, 2013) to curate texts from Wendy Rose and Tongo Martin-Eisen, poets whom La Rocco describes as “formally dazzling and politically fierce.” Wall Space will launch with a new poem by Rose relating to her Hopi and Miwok ancestry and the Native American history of the Marin Headlands.
Doubledrink by Nathan Lynch
A functional sculpture conceived by San Francisco-based artist Nathan Lynch, Doubledrink (2017) is a ceramic drinking fountain designed for two people to drink simultaneously while looking each other in the eye. “Bending over to drink and making that sucking face is awkward and intimate, and an incredibly symbolic way to begin a conversation,” says Lynch. The work continues his ongoing interest in political conflict and environmental issues by heightening the importance of sharing water as a limited natural resource and celebrating its power to bring friends and strangers together for a brief moment.