Mitchell Brand was on location at the Grand Opening of Obtainium Works this weekend. On his return from Vallejo, he stopped by my place and delivered the following report:
The Grand Opening of Obtainium Works took place on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, in Vallejo, California. A more fitting date could hardly have been found, and it is hoped that the Neverwas Haul Traveling Academy finds as much success in their new home as Saint Patrick did in his travels across the Emerald Isle. Like that saint of old, the Neverwas Haul founders and crew had a difficult time gaining the foothold they now claim with Obtainium Works.
Their journey began in The Shipyard, a maker collective space in Berkeley, California, where the Neverwas Haul was constructed in 2006. Built as an art car for that year’s Burning Man festival, the Haul has seen its share of activity every year since. But, as with all art cars and large scale sculptures, the makers found themselves in need of housing for their creation, and storage at The Shipyard had always been a tenuous arrangement. The City of Berkeley shut down activities at The Shipyard in 2007, but allowed them to resume a year later. Still, the situation there was far from ideal. Working out of steel shipping containers and with relatively unstable power supplies, The Shipyard makers were just steps ahead of fate it seemed.
Enter a sudden relocation of Neverwas Haul founders, Shannon and Kathy O’Hare. Their move from Orinda to Vallejo brought them within walking distance of a disused auto repair shop on Pennsylvania Avenue. After repeated requests for rental rates went unanswered, the O’Hares, including Shannon’s brother, Kevin, looked into purchasing the site. The ink has been dry just over a month, ladies and gentlemen, and this weekend’s Grand Opening event portends a fantastic future, indeed.
For those unfamiliar with its history, the Neverwas Haul is the product of “industrious lunacy,” and Obtainium Works was designed to keep that lunacy alive in perpetuity. Judging from the artwork on display at this weekend’s event, the crew have no shortage of talent, inspiration, and creativity at hand. Nor do they lack for projects to channel all that energy towards. With the Haul now six years old, Major Catastrophe (aka Shannon O’Hare) says it has found its “final rusting place.” Not to be left without transportation, the Neverwas crew has plans to construct a new and more navigable art car, The Airship Impetuous.
In addition to serving as a maker space with storage and shop space for rent, Obtainium Works will be open for public and private events. Plans are underway for a murder mystery night and silent auction. The O’Hares also have plans to host art and shop classes for the local community. With education budgets finding fewer and fewer dollars to spread around, there’s a definite need for training and exploration in the arts, and we wish Obtainium Works all the best in their efforts at keeping creativity alive and well in Vallejo. There’s good news brewing on that note, ladies and gentlemen. The City of Vallejo has already been in touch with the O’Hares about occupying a nearby lot as a public art garden.
A video of the event is now up!