In 1912, California State Senator James Duval Phelan began constructing Montalvo, an ambitious estate nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Villa Montalvo became Phelan’s beloved retreat; a place where he entertained artists, poets, musicians, politicians, soldiers, scholars and cultural figures. Upon his death in 1930, Phelan’s will stipulated that Montalvo be “…Maintained as a public park open and used as far as possible for the development of art, literature, music, and architecture by promising students.”
Over subsequent years, countless individuals have strived to keep this legacy alive, transforming Montalvo into a leading artist residency, arts center, historic property and hiking destination.
For two months we activated the gallery space, working four days a week on new products labeled with re-examined stories.
Located at the Montalvo Arts Center, a historical site at Villa Montalvo, California, this project presents to the public a souvenir shop that is a "front" for re-examining the complex issues of commerce, empire, and the repackaging of historical narrative. Rough-hewn display tables hold an array of strange and contradictory products such as bottled water ("Hetch-Hetchy Elixir"), false precious stones ("Genuine Faux Fool's Gold"), as well as salvaged remnants of other artists artworks. Viewers are able to peer through and walk around the lattice-like sales counter made of recycled pallets, to see the production space where everything is explicitly made.