Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Free WE THE PEOPLE Event Kicks off Montalvo's Art on the Grounds

Free WE THE PEOPLE Event Kicks off Montalvo's Art on the Grounds

Montalvo Arts Center kicks off its annual Art on the Grounds exhibition program this summer with We the People, an evening of poetry, performance, and sound and installation art. Alluding to the quintessentially American phrase that begins the preamble to the constitution, We the People is an invitation to the Bay Area community to join poets, musicians, and visual and sound artists from around the globe to examine the timely and central theme of expanding, understanding, and reimagining the inclusive ways of being together. We the People will be presented 6pm-10pm, July 20 at Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga. Admission is free. To RSVP and for more information, the public may visit or call 408-961-5858. The works will remain available for viewing in the coming months.

Poets and musicians from across the country will perform on the evening of July 20 for We the People throughout Montalvo's grounds and inside its historic Villa. Participating artists may include Lucas Artists Literary Fellows and Guest Artists such as: American poet and author of Marvel Comics' World of Wakanda, Yona Harvey; author of The Possibilities of Mud (Kórima 2014) and Bloodline, Joe Jiménez; poet and children's book author Willie Perdomo; 2015 United States Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrea; sound artist, saxophonist, and composer Neil Leonard; powerhouse vocalist, songwriter, and producer Jennifer Johns; award-winning composer and musician Hans Tammen; among others.

The event will also include various opportunities for guests to participate in communal art making activities, including a crowd-sourced reimagining of a new global constitution, which will be performed at the end of the evening. Bay Area teens will perform poetry they have developed over a one-week period during summer camp at Montalvo working in collaboration with interdisciplinary artist Ashley David. Participants of We the People will also be invited to make their voices heard performing at an open mic session.

We the People will be the official debut of Montalvo's 2018 Art on the Grounds exhibition, which will remain on view on Montalvo's grounds through the summer and into the fall. Three newly commissioned works have been created by a distinguished group of Lucas Artists Fellows: one of the most significant artists to emerge from post-Revolutionary Cuba, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons; award-winning US composer Howard Hersh; and Brazilian artist Marilá Dardot. The works continue conversations around inclusion and exclusion, processes of othering, and the politics of belonging and home.

Magdalena Campos-Pons' contribution will be a performative installation, working together with community volunteers to create a new peace garden for Montalvo. Culminating on July 14, the garden will be comprised of season plantings arranged on Montalvo's grounds. The garden layout will be based on a scaled-down version of a floor plan from a typical Bay Area home combined with elements drawn from an aerial photograph of Soviet medium-range ballistic missile installations taken during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Envisioned as a contemporary peace garden, this timely new work blends historical, contemporary, collective and personal references for Campos-Pons. Her diverse practice encompasses painting, mixed media installation, performance, video, and photography and often collapses time periods, geographical space, personal and collective history, and memory to render visible the lives and experience of Afro-Cuban diaspora communities, and offer new ways of thinking about the complexities

of cultural identity. Campos-Pons is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee where she teaches at Vanderbilt University and was named one of Foreign Policy's 100 Leading Global Thinkers in 2015.

Howard Hersh will premiere his new sound work Four Bridges, which uses geolocation technology to create a sonic journey through earbuds of smartphones. Celebrating the beauty, mystery, and magic of the forest, the tour will lead hikers through Montalvo's redwood canyons and oak-lined meadows. Combining instrumental music, the voices and tinkling laughter of a children's choir, field recordings, audio clips from archival sources, and readings of poetry and prose, Four Bridges intersperses light, airy, and playful interludes with sober passages and subject matter to explore the richly textured experience of the human journey. The work features the voices of victims of political and social injustice: Holocaust survivor Renee Firestone recounts her imprisonment in Auschwitz; Japanese-American Masamizu Kitajima describes how his childhood came to an end after his father was forced to relocate to a WWII internment camp; and anonymous Chinese immigrants memorialize their detainment on Angel Island through the verses they inscribed on Immigration Station walls. These voices from the past demonstrate how the politics of mobility and belonging are always entangled in the politics of difference, an observation that continues to resonate in current moment. Hersh is a US-based composer who has received many awards from the American Symphony Orchestra League, the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, and the Irvine Foundation. Together with his composition work, he has founded and directed many new music groups, including the San Francisco Conservatory New Music Ensemble, and served as Music Director of KPFA-FM.

In her first exhibition in the United States, Brazilian artist Marilá Dardot will debut a new large-scale installation work featuring flags created by first generation immigrants living in the South Bay entitled Saudade (Our Flags). In this new work, Dardot will amplify the voices and experiences of San Jose's varied immigrant communities, and honor the challenges of their experience in the context of a divisive national conversation about immigrants and American identity. The work will develop out a series of workshops with various first-generation immigrants. The finished flags will then be displayed on flagpoles that will carpet Montalvo's expansive Great Lawn and surrounding areas. The flags will be hoisted at a flag-raising ceremony on July 16 and remain up through July 20, when they will be returned to their creators. A collection of flags will remain on view through end of March 2019. Dardot's work explores many themes but often focuses on the relationship between language, memory, and loss. In recent projects, she has explored the failure of political rhetoric and the erasure of speech through censorship and her work is held in the permanent collections of Inhotim, Coleção Gilberto Chateuabriand, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Arte da Pampulha and Museu de Arte Moderna Aloísio Magalhães in Brazil, as well as the Madeira Corporate Services Contemporary Art Collection (MCS Collection) in Madeira, Portugal and The Sayago & Pardon Collection in Los Angeles.

Montalvo's Open Access offers the public a unique opportunity to connect with the world-class artists of the international Lucas Artists Program (LAP) and explore the creative process. Open Access offerings are conceived of as a "bite-size artistic sampler," featuring an array of activities that reflect the multidisciplinary approach of the LAP and the work of its diverse Fellows. These can include music and dance performances, readings, conversations, culinary projects and presentations, and feature hands-on art-making activities.

Montalvo Arts Center is a donor-supported nonprofit institution whose mission is to engage the public in the creative process, acting as a catalyst for exploring the arts, unleashing creativity, and advancing different cultural and cross-cultural perspectives. Located in Silicon Valley's Saratoga Hills, Montalvo occupies a Mediterranean-style Villa, built in 1912 by Senator James Duval Phelan and surrounded by 175 stunning acres. Senator Phelan bequeathed the Villa and grounds to the people of California for the encouragement of art, music, literature, and architecture, a mandate Montalvo has carried forward ever since its founding. The grounds include the campus of the Sally and Don Lucas Artists Residency Program (LAP), the Claire Loftus Carriage House Theatre, and the Lilian Fontaine Garden Theatre. For more information about Montalvo Arts Center and its programs, the public can call 408-961-5858 or visit

Photo credit: Bahara Emami

Related Articles View More San Francisco Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You