Djerassi Resident Artists Program yields a feast for the eyes with left behind sculpture

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on July 10, 2017

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An InMenlo team first went on a sculpture hike on the property off Bear Gulch Road in Woodside that hosts the Djerassi Resident Artists Program almost exactly four years ago on a day that was shrouded in a heavy, drippy fog. The past weekend we visited again, this time in blistering heat. But the payoff was the same, hiking through breathtaking landscapes amidst sculptures created by resident artists.

Our docent-led, four-mile hike — a distance that is new this year — was in advance of DRAP’s annual Open House/Open Studios scheduled for Sunday, July 16 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. In addition to visiting with the resident artists and walking the land amidst the sculpture, attendees can participate in a new-this-year BioBlitz by finding and identifying all the amphibians, butterflies and wildflowers with SmartPhones in a specific area on Djerassi property. Advance reservations are required.

Dr. Carl Djerassi is known as the “father” of the birth control pill, which he accomplished while at Syntex. The wealth that came with that discovery allowed him to purchase a large tract of land on the western side of Skyline Blvd. A tragedy, the suicide of his daughter Pamela, led to his coverting what had been a cattle ranch to the the artists’ residence program.

Residencies are awarded competitively to national and international artists in the disciplines of choreography, literature, music composition, visual arts, media arts, and science. Since 1979, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program has provided over 2,000 artist residencies and currently serves approximately 90 artists each year — all free of charge. No commitment from any artist is required; some may choose to do nothing during their four week stay.

Sculpture hikes on the property are scheduled from March through September of each year. While fully subscribed this year, reservations are still being taken for the open house on July 16. Of note, visitors view individual pieces as is; almost all are allowed to deteriorate over time rather than be maintained.

We were lucky enough to have Riggy Rackin on our tour, a Renaissance man of multiple talents, among them nature photography. Descriptions of the photos he took follow in order of their appearance

Torii (1983) by Bruce Johnson is the most iconic of the Djerassi sculptures, used on literature and t-shirts alike.

Red Hot Salt Room (2016) by Annie Albagli is a sauna using isolation, natural heat and salt vapors to create a healing space. The artist is interested in the intersection of military and tech in the Bay Area and asks “if the military can actively shape the land, why can’t artists?”

Menlo Park resident Bill Rhine examines Hear (2013) by Aristotle Georgiades, a hillside listening device created from materials discarded from the ranch. The interactive device can be listened through or shouted into.

Shown back to back Orpheus Coyote and Friends (1999) by William King as it looks now and a photo of how it once looked.

The final photo shows a trail marker.

Photos by Riggy Rackin (c)2017; used with permission

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Wendy July 11, 2017 at 11:19 am

WONDERFUL GIFT! Can’t wait to visit, join in the spirit!

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