Bust Out of the White Walls, Visit Art in the Great Outdoors this Summer

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 6 years old.
Rene di Rosa, 'Untitled (Field Hands),' 1999. On view in the di Rosa's Sculpture Meadow. (Courtesy of the di Rosa)


If you’re like me, you spend most of your time indoors, hunched in front of a computer in a pose definitely non-OSHA-approved. And when you go see art, the only time you spend out of doors is the span of time between whatever indoors you left and the indoor art-filled space that is your destination.

This is a problem. Art thrives in diverse environments. It's important to remind yourself it's not always necessary for UV Plexi and 18 inches of climate-controlled air to get between you and an amazing art experience.

In that spirit, I present to you a list of art events, performances and collections you can enjoy al fresco all over the Bay Area this summer.

Robby Herbst's 'New New Games' comes to life in two game-playing festivals in June.
Robby Herbst's 'New New Games' comes to life in two game-playing festivals in June. (Courtesy of Southern Exposure)

Tournament of Games

Saturday, June 18, 12-5pm
Jackson Park Playground, San Francisco
Free and open to the public

New Games Re:Play

Sunday, June 26, 11am-5:45pm
Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin Headlands
Free and open to the public, advance RSVP required for $12 lunch

NNG-PlayHard ONLINE 3_0In the 1970s, a group of idealistic and fun-loving young people led by The Whole Earth Catalog’s Stewart Brand began staging New Games festivals, gatherings for cooperative rather than competitive game playing. Depending on your age, you might remember “Earthball.” Or maybe you’ve used some version of “Knots” in an office retreat icebreaker. Artist Robby Herbst puts a contemporary spin on the utopian-minded New Games with a public reinterpretation of the classic festival. Instead of just “Vampire Tag” and “Lap” (aren’t you curious?), Herbst’s New New Games project includes activities that reflect on our current modes of labor and leisure, with games like “Gig Economy” and “Containerization Tag.”


A festival organized by Southern Exposure takes place in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco on June 18, followed by a second, slightly shorter festival on June 26 (with a New Games documentary screening and option for a delicious Mess Hall lunch) hosted by Headlands Center for the Arts. Attend one or both and bring the whole family -- everyone’s a winner!

Site of the 'Re:Sound' performances on Mare Island.
Site of the 'Re:Sound' performances on Mare Island. (Photo: Lakshmi Sarah / KQED)

Re:Sound Sun

Saturday, June 25, 3:30-7:30pm
Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve, Vallejo
$10, with a portion of sales going to the preserve

Vallejo-based sound artist continues her incredible series of experimental sound concerts in a former munitions storage shed on Mare Island. Completely isolated in a field of fennel way down Railroad Ave, the concrete structure traps sound in a seemingly endless echo, a challenge and a thrill for the artists performing in the space. The June 25 concert brings Daniel Menche from Portland, Ore., mem1 from Providence, R.I. together with local artists Chris Duncan and Zachary James Watkins. Dress warmly, bring something to cushion your tush on the concrete floor and experience a forgotten space come to life through sonic reverberations. Food and drink are available for purchase on site.

Life After Life, 'Life After Life 10,' 2016; ceramics and plants on wall-mounted shelf, variable dimensions. Installation view: Villa Vassilieff, Paris.
Life After Life, 'Life After Life 10,' 2016; ceramics and plants on wall-mounted shelf, variable dimensions. Installation view: Villa Vassilieff, Paris. (Courtesy of the Headlands Center for the Arts)

Headlands Center for the Arts Summer Open House

Sunday, July 17, 12-5pm
Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin Headlands

Technically a mixture of indoors and outdoors, going to Headlands Open House days is really an excuse to wander around the beautiful former military base, watch a deactivated Nike missile gear up for simulated launch and contemplate how close we once were to WWIII. Oh, and most importantly: get a peek into the studios of illustrious resident and affiliate artists. This Open House also provides you with a chance to see summer project space exhibitions by Life After Life and Fritzia Irízar. Pack your hiking shoes!

Sam Yates, 'UNTITLED, (Minuet in MG),' 1999.
Sam Yates, 'UNTITLED, (Minuet in MG),' 1999. (Courtesy of the di Rosa)

di Rosa Outdoor Sculpture Tour

June 5, July 3 and 24, August 7 and 21, 10am-12pm
di Rosa, Napa
$15 per ticket (Call 707-226-5991x25 or email tours@dirosaart.org to make a reservation)

You should be visiting the di Rosa on the regular, but chances are you haven’t seen much past the Gatehouse Gallery. Splurge for a morning tour of the grounds, where outdoor sculptures dot the gentle wine country hills. Some structures resemble the detritus alien visitors might brush out of their spacecraft in a near-Earth flyby. Other sculptures are a bit more familiar, but to the extreme, like Sam Yates’ UNTITLED (Minuet in MG), the world’s tallest filing cabinet. Rene and Veronica di Rosa’s tastes were wide-ranging and playful, and it’s well worth the tour price to see how their collection thrives outside gallery walls.