Client: SOMO Village
Location: Rohnert Park, CA, United States
Completion date: 2022
Curator and Producer
Joel Dean Stockdill
Executive Director of the California Indian Museum & Cultural Center
In 2021, Building 180 was brought on by SOMO Village – a live-work community in Northern California dedicated to sustainable living and community building – to curate and install large-scale public artworks in their outdoor areas. Building 180 curated collaborative partners Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova along with Katy Boynton.
Joel and Yustina installed Sheila, a larger-than-life Dire Wolf, modeled after a prehistoric canine, made of reclaimed steel and decommissioned gutters. They also installed the SOMO Quails, a site-specific commission inspired by the Pomo nation’s mythology. The sculptures represent a family of three quails made of repurposed metal from demolition sites at SOMO Village.
Katy Boynton installed Heartfullness SOMO Village, a steel-mended heart sculpture made of materials sourced locally in her studio and donated reclaimed metal. The sculpture represents mending together the history and beauty of the land with a new community to live, thrive, and prosper.
Building 180 was tasked to curate artists that aligned with SOMO Village’s values of sustainable living. In an effort to bring the community together through large-scale public sculptures, they wanted to share stories, incite reflections, and add meaning to their community.
Joel and Yustina’s site-specific pieces involve research of native endangered species and digging through piles of scrap found locally to implement in their works. The act of recreating a natural species by transforming material that would otherwise go to landfills is an invitation to view our natural world and our consumer behaviors differently. Sheila, the Dire Wolf, is modeled after a prehistoric canine that used to roam this continent. Sheila reminds us of what was on this land before we humans hunted them to extinction. She is located in an area that will soon be a dog park, allowing dogs and their owners to connect to their ancestors in a unique and fun way.
Katy Boynton specializes in large-scale metal sculptures using reclaimed materials. Heartfullness SOMO Village is located at the SOMO Village’s parking lot, the sculpture became a landmark where people “turn at the heart” to park and enjoy everything the community has to offer. The heart became a beautiful welcome sign to visitors.
Creating new public sculptures requires a considerable amount of collaboration amongst all teams. Not only did Building 180 curate the artists for the site, but we also ran the production of the process and installation. We worked very closely with Agata Baker, the design director of SOMO Village.
SOMO Village's land belongs to the Pomo nation and in considering the design of a site-specific commission, the artists Joel and Yustina collaborated with, Nicole Myers-Lim, a Pomo leader and CEO of the California Indian Museum & Cultural Center, to collectively create a sculpture that resonated with Pomo culture.
After the design process was completed for all artists, we consulted with our structural engineering team in order to ensure that the sculptures were safely constructed and that the footing was poured properly.
We worked with the on-site electricians to run power to the sculptures for integral lighting. Building 180 consulted with the operations team to coordinate heavy equipment and access and ensured that all parties communicated throughout the process for a successful installation.
The commission of the SOMO Quails was a collaborative initiative between the artists, SOMO Village, and the Pomo nation. The project was approached with guidance from Nicole Myers-Lim. Nicole spoke with the artists about the importance of certain animals to the Pomo people and kindly shared many written stories of Pomo mythology and narrative. Many of the stories regarded ‘Quail Woman’ as the most beautiful maiden in the village. Quail is also representative of a sense of home and family. They collectively decided that the quail or the “sak:a:ka” would be a very suitable animal for their project. The sculptures portray the female quail in relationship to her two chicks- each sculpture is depicted looking to its right side, creating a counter-clockwise direction of focus to honor the ceremonial direction of movement in Pomo spirituality. The quails are situated in 3 of the cardinal directions, with the East being left open, inviting the viewer to complete the circle. Collaborating with the Pomo people “was a beautiful opportunity to honor the land and to feel like we are coming in good relationship with the land and its peoples in placing sculptures on land where we are guests on,” says Yustina Salnikova.