Incubator of art and culture comes to Escondido

Incubator of art and culture comes to Escondido
The nonprofit A Ship in the Woods, dedicated to engaging in art and cultural dialogs, has a new, permanent home in Escondido near Felicita Park. Photo courtesy A Ship in the Woods

ESCONDIDO — The nonprofit group that continues to gain attention as an incubator and hub for artists, musicians and lecturers is readying the welcome mat to their new home.

After years of searching, A Ship in the Woods, which has been dedicated to engaging in art and cultural dialogs, has a permanent home in Escondido.

A Ship in the Woods is now quite literally in the woods.  Copious trees tall and old surround the house as its more than 2-acres nestles against the leafy confines of Felicita Park.

“It’s starting to come together,” said RJ Brooks, co-founder of the nonprofit, who, despite feeling a bit worn out from all of the renovations and moving, is excited about the home’s possibilities.

And while the excitement remains, Brooks knows there’s still a lot of work left to be done.

The group moved in late last year and they’ve been getting the feel for the house and what potential it has before they re-embark on their cultural odyssey full time.

Inside the house, members of the artful nonprofit, including Lianne Mueller, Dan Fauchier, Brooks and a host of volunteers have been working on their hands and knees, tearing up floors, demoing walls and doing whatever else they felt necessary to make the four bedroom, four baths home their own.

And then there’s the “backyard” — a forest-like area, complete with two walking bridges, hiking trails, birds and wildlife, and a natural stream that flows year-round, which Brooks said is 1,000 years old.

The day Brooks saw the house listed online, was the day they went to see it.

“We just jumped all over this, because it had a lot of what we wanted. It has the woods, it has the park, it was in our price range — so, we did it,” he said.

The experience of finally moving out of the Del Mar house they’d been leasing and where it all began six years ago, Brooks described as “weird” and “emotional.”

Owning a house now is also a big weight off their shoulders, he explained.

“The whole thing of not knowing if we were going to stay or not and what the future (was) — we kind of have a clear picture of the future and we’re very excited about it,” he said.

Brooks said there were a lot of things in the works for the new house, though he couldn’t go into detail on most. But he did mention their hopes of building a recording studio for bands and musicians, creating an organic garden and partnering with Felicita Park officials.

Their first artists in residency are a trio of Europeans going under the name 1+1=3.

The group, comprised of neuroscientist Stephen Whitmarsh, artist Per Huttner and musician Jean-Louis Huhta, makes music through brainwaves — done through what they call an EEGsynth.

That melding of music with the neurosciences seems to be a running theme with the Ship founders, including their Rhodopsin — a sensory experience art installation from sound artist Greg Smaller, neurobiologist John Reynolds and Brooks.

“Art and science and perception is a big part of what we do,” Brooks said. “And with the house and this domestic environment — and that art’s not just in box galleries and institutions — that it’s in everyday life and your domestic space.”

The house at 3007 Felicita Road was built in 1954.

The previous owner, Brooks said, was an arborist that had planted some of the property’s many trees and plants.

“It’s pretty rare to find something like this,” Brooks said.

The house gives the artist the opportunity to interact with the environment to see what can be created from it.

“I think it’s a very creative environment,” said Brooks. “We’ll like having to share this with everyone.”

The group plans on doing three to four house shows a year and will put on more events elsewhere.

They’re anticipating June 4 as the tentative grand opening date for the public. Check shipinthewoods.com or their Facebook page for more details.

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