the Hatchery: Fortress Curatorial Statement

Photo courtesy Bill Doherty

The Hatchery: Fortress explores the idea of fortress in a variety of non-literal, nonrepresentational ways. The exhibition includes work dealing with social issues such as housing and homelessness, immigration policy, marginalization, climate change and drought, as well as law enforcement and budgeting policies. Other works take a subjective and internal spin on the topic, such as the bolstering effects of commercial products on personal image; the walls of blithe misunderstandings which pile up around attempts at sincerity; a personal exploration of the natural world in retreat. We are also including works that connect to the local environment and history, such as a personal take on local heroes/villains and presumed train robbers whose hideout and last stand was located in Badger.

The opening on Saturday, November 7, will feature the performance/installation of My Private Room by Nasim Hantehzadeh. There are several premieres among the works chosen for the exhibition: Phillip Andrew Lewis’ video View from the Window at Hotel Casa del Mar, Lex Calip’s drawings from his series Tensions, Max Buck Henri’s drawings from the Evans and Sontag legend, and Rob Divers Herrick’s monumental photographic installation, Colossus, for Melencolia.

The Hatchery: Fortress exhibition will be linked to a worldwide, nearly simultaneous art event, and conceived of as an International City Tour by its founding organization, the Urban Arts and Media Organization, based in Munich, Germany ( The Hatchery was selected by UAMO for the Fortress event as the sole USA site in the tour, along with alternative venues in ten international cities, including Berlin, Amsterdam, Zurich, Athens, Mexico City, and more. Two artists from the Hatchery will be chosen to have their work exhibited in UAMO’s culminating City Festival in Munich in April 2016 (along with selected artists from the other cities in the tour), as well as video and photo documentation of the entire Hatchery exhibition.

The Hatchery is situated in a rural, remote environment approximately four and a half hours from both Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The property’s natural beauty is compromised by the detritus of failed human endeavor, giving it an oddly decayed urban feel. Located at Badger Creek Development/Sequoia Resort in Badger, California, in the foothills of the southern Sierra Nevada, the Hatchery is a large airplane hangar built as such and later used as a community center and school. The property was first developed by Synanon, a drug-rehab organization which was progressive in its time for its culture of racial integration, but fell into disrepute as its founder became delusional and authoritarian. The property was subsequently re-purposed as a Muslim religious community and boarding school for children from Oakland’s worst neighborhoods, but was abandoned after 9/11 amid accusations of fraud.

The current drought and the effects of pine bark beetles on the forest have devastated the area surrounding the Hatchery. Many thousands of dead ponderosa pines and incense cedars surround the property, and some have been logged. The seasonal creek and a large pond, attractive to deer, bear, wild pigs, raptors, water birds, and songbirds, has dried up.

The Hatchery: East of Fresno is curated by Bill Doherty, Anné M. Klint, and Bachrun LoMele.