September 5, 2017

The Commons: new outdoor space with three permanent artworks

Headlands Center for the Arts

Ball-Nogues Studio, Welcome Terrace East & West (foreground). Site-specific installation and pedestrian walkway, part of The Commons. Rendering: CMG Landscape Architecture.

Headlands Center for the Arts is pleased to announce the opening of The Commons, the newest artist-led enhancement to its historic campus located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area just north of San Francisco. The Commons will open to the public on Sunday, September 17, 2017, with a free daytime celebration featuring art installations, performances, live music, family-friendly activities, food trucks, and more. Opening event details are available at

The Commons is a 1.8 USD million project sited between, and immediately surrounding, Headlands’ two main buildings, and reimagines the exterior grounds as a thoughtfully designed outdoor space for art and everyday use. The Commons expands the multi-disciplinary art center’s 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 remarkable natural beauty. “The Commons is a significant milestone in Headlands’ ongoing campus transformation and builds on our legacy of innovative space re-use in partnership with the National Park Service,” says Headlands executive director sharon maidenberg. “We’re thrilled to share this beautiful new resource, which allows us to tap more fully into Headlands’ unrivaled nexus of creativity and the natural environment, and offers more ways for visitors to connect with art and each other.”

Envisioned in partnership with Bay Area-based CMG Landscape Architecture, The Commons includes a new central plaza with a casual outdoor amphitheater for performances and events; a new pedestrian walkway that connects the artist residency studios and main public buildings on campus; and a comprehensive redesign of the current public entryway. The central plaza includes a concrete overlook and series of terraces that reference military bunkers and shape views toward the nearby Rodeo Lagoon watershed and Gerbode Valley. Native plants such as lupines, Wyethia, California poppy, and assorted grasses—grown in the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s nursery—frame the smaller spaces within The Commons. The elegant, site-appropriate design redefines the experience of visiting Headlands while honoring the campus’ sensitive natural setting and its unique history as a former military base on national park land.

The Commons includes the following permanent, site-specific artworks:

Welcome Terrace East & West, 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 revitalized the original cracked concrete driveway at Headlands to become Welcome Terrace East & West (2017). The Los Angeles-based artists and designers collaborated closely with the architect to reshape the fragments, located near the front entry of each of the main buildings, and reassemble them using terrazzo mortar arranged into brightly colored stripes that celebrate repair as part of the history of the site, rather than something to disguise.

Wall Space, Chris Kabel
Created by Rotterdam-based designer Chris Kabel, Wall Space is a sculptural installation that turns Headlands’ building façade into a canvas for commissioned texts. For the inaugural installation, which will change over the course of the year, Headlands has commissioned San Francisco-based writer Claudia La Rocco to curate texts. Wall Space launches with a new poem by Wendy Rose relating to her Hopi and Miwok ancestry and the Native American history of the Marin Headlands.

Doubledrink, Nathan Lynch
A functional sculpture conceived by San Francisco-based artist Nathan Lynch, Doubledrink is a ceramic drinking fountain designed for two people to drink simultaneously while looking each other in the eye. “Bending over to drink can be awkward and intimate, and an incredibly symbolic way to begin a conversation,” says Lynch. The work continues Lynch's ongoing interest in political conflict and environmental issues and water’s power to bring friends and strangers together for a brief moment.

Details at

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