Ship in the Woods sails into new home

Neuroscientist/artist Tim Mullen (right) and VisArts PhD-candidate Gabi Schaffzin (left) show Mike Casler (wearing EEG headset) how to use his head to change his brainwave image on the screen.
(Maurice Hewitt)

WSOHOIDPS. It’s not just a meaningless chain of letters. Look closely, and you’ll see a SHIP in those WOODS, the hidden name of an artful non-profit formerly based in a sprawling, mid-century rental in the hills of Del Mar. There, for five years, until their lease ended last summer, they welcomed the public to meet a changing cast of visiting artists and immerse themselves in a world of thought-provoking installations.

Bishop’s School student/art-lover Shabham Maghavi in front of Institute for New Feeling’s video
(Maurice Hewitt)

It took awhile to find, buy and remodel a new venue, suitable for the kind of cultural crossroads they wanted, but on June 4, they were ready. More than 400 people showed up at the grand re-opening, an event called, appropriately, FELICITA, since the place, which includes two acres of gardens, an oak-grove, a pool, and a year-round stream, adjoins Felicita County Park in Escondido.

The powers behind WSOHOIDPS are RJ Brooks and Dan Fauchier, joined several years ago by Lianne Mueller, a La Jollan who came aboard as curator and is now co-director. Mueller, who moved here from San Francisco in 2011, has a varied background in arts education and new media, and feels right at home with the Shipsters, in any location. “There’s always a sense of excitement and novelty,” she said. “I love it!”

The seven-hour, day-into-night inaugural was a great meet-and-greet featuring site-specific installations and performances, indoors and out, by 26 very different art-and-science creatives. It was really a kind of Alice in Wonderland adventure, with visitors free to wander about and make their own discoveries, like climbing a ladder to peer into Adam Belt’s foggy tower; fondling The League of Imaginary Scientists’ sensitive-touch plant to create a rainbow; sampling the cotton candy spun by Lissa Corona in “Sweetness”; sharing a Soup Toast with Wendell Kling (soup provided by La Jolla’s Whiskenladle Hospitality); following winding garden pathways and finding, amid the botanical delights, unexpected art-surprises, like Eva De Leon’s tiny hut-in-the-woods, where, once inside, you were enveloped in a red mist and tuned into the hut’s own heartbeat.

Outside, at the June 4 grand opening of Ship in the Woods: co-director Lianne Mueller, artists Christine Shields and Johanna Jackson, and gallery owner Mark Quint
(Maurice Hewitt)

If you missed the opening, worry not, there’s much more to come. To schedule a tour for your group or learn of future events, e-mail or visit