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Badger, California

The Hatchery Art Spaces

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 Sequoia Resort in Badger, California, in the foothills of the southern Sierra Nevada, Hatchery exhibitions were staged in 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.

Four exhibitions were mounted at the Hatchery:

  • 2011 Free Range (artist collective)

  • 2012 East of Fresno (curated by Bill Doherty, Anné Klint, Bachrun LoMele, and Tom McGlynn)

  • 2014 God Will Not Have His Work Made Manifest By Cowards (curated by Astri Swensrud and Quinn Gomez-Heitzeberg)

  • 2016 Fortress (curated by Bill Doherty, Anné Klint, and Bachrun LoMele), as part of an International City Tour organized by Urban Arts and Media Organization in Munich, Germany


The Hatchery: Fortress

In 2016, The Hatchery: Fortress exhibition was linked to a world- wide, 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 Hatchery artists, Glen Farley (Canada/Norway) and Rob Divers Herrick (San Francisco), were 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. Hatchery: East of Fresno artist David Sanchez Burr (Chicago) participated in a live performance during the Munich event.

Exhibition Video

Participating artists:

Dori Atlantis and Karen Frimkess Wolff (Los Angeles)

Lexygius Calip (Bay Area)

Elizabeth Dorbad (northern Sierra Nevada)

Bill Doherty, curator (NYC)

Glen Farley (Canada / Norway)

Greg Fraser (Scotland / Oakland)

Rebecca Gourevitch (Bay Area)

Nasim Hantehzadeh (Los Angeles)

Max Buck Henri (NYC)

Rob Divers Herrick (San Francisco)

Anné Klint, curator (Oakland)

Phillip Andrew Lewis (Chattanooga, Tennessee)

Bachrun LoMele, curator (Pinehurst, California)

Myra Margolin (Washington, DC)

Muriel Montini (France)

Shana Moulton (Santa Barbara)

Stefan Reibel (Germany) 

Byron Russell (Fresno, California)

Mayuko Imai Russell (Fresno, California)

Rachel Van Pelt (Reno, Nevada)

Nichole Shaffer (Bay Area)

James Stark (Sultana, California)

Bob Thornburg (Badger, California)

Sheila Ross and Laura Ten Eyck (NYC)

The Hatchery: East of Fresno

Curatorial Statement

The Hatchery: East of Fresno is a contemporary art exhibition featuring work by forty-four US and international artists in an unusual venue: a three-hundred and seventy-seven-acre compound abandoned by two failed intentional communities. The property and its central building, now known as "The Hatchery," have become a seasonal arts destination, making The Hatchery: East of Fresno the latest realization of purposeful community.


Located near Badger, California, approximately 54 miles east of Fresno, the ruined compound stands in stark contrast with its setting in the foothills of the spectacular Sierra Nevada mountains. The curators hope that by pointing the way “east of Fresno” the compound can again become a significant site of experience, as it was in its heyday, and lending the directional a sense of destiny. 

This year, drawn to this rural backwater by the pathos of its prior history as a former Synanon drug rehabilitation center and later a Muslim religious community and charter school, artists from various disciplines have made work in direct (or oblique) dialogue with its unique layered past. Several of the pieces are installations that have been made onsite within the last two months.


The site has been a veritable ghost town since it was last abandoned in 2001, and visiting it has become a fascinating experience. Ten years of human neglect have encouraged nesting birds, mushrooms and moss, and cattle seeking shade, overtaking structures intended for people. Human histories are physically layered throughout the space—schoolbooks, homework, lesson plans on walls, the remains of a recording studio and a commercial kitchen, carefully chosen design. It is an archeological dig, but the ruins are of our own time. The visitor gets a clear sense that things didn't work out: what happened here? What went wrong?


For artists, it is a venue unlike any other—ruined, huge, open for so many interpretations, no rules, no restrictions—to explore, exhibit in, and interact with. The social, physical, and natural layers become lenses through which art is made. The artists of East of Fresno are invited to confront and elucidate the lingering questions, and possibly invoke new ones. Provocative, disturbing, and eye-opening, it's a sensory and psychic adventure for artist and viewer alike.

God Will Not Have His Work Made Manifest By Cowards

Press Release

This exhibition will engage with ideas surrounding the actualization of utopian ideals. Throughout human history, the desire for improved methods of being in the world has driven visionary leaders to propose ideal models for society. This exhibition aims to examine the complexities and difficulties that occur when these utopian social plans move from the idealized space of the proposal to actualization in the world.

The impetus for this exhibition stems from a physical site of recurring alternative societies – The Hatchery, located near the small town of Badger in Central California. The Hatchery first gained notoriety as the home of Synanon, a California-based self-help movement turned authoritarian religious cult that rose to prominence in the 1960s and 70s. After Synanon’s collapse, the abandoned Hatchery compound was converted into an Islamic community and school called Baladullah. Formed as a haven for Muslim families to escape the poverty and conflict experienced in larger cities, the Baladullah community fell to rumors of terrorist activity and anti- Islamic sentiment shortly after September 11, 2001.


The paired narratives of Synanon and Baladullah – from their idealistic origins, through their eventual collapses – serve as case studies of the difficulties of actualizing utopian societal alternatives. This exhibition includes works by artists that form connections to the three distinct phases of Synanon’s utopian model – from the personal utopia of self-help, to the communal utopia of an alternative social structure, to its final, universalized iteration as a totalitarian religion. The title of the exhibition –God Will Not Have His Work Made Manifest By Cowards – comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance,” a text which served as a cornerstone of Synanon’s philosophy. It points toward the intersections of personal effort, social enforcement, and divine authority which underlie most utopian experiments. The artists in this exhibition create works that address and investigate these attempts in their various individual, political and esoteric implications.


This exhibition will take place in two phases. First, a selection of performance pieces developed in connection to the Hatchery site will be shown in a public event at the Hatchery in Badger, CA on Sunday, October 12, 2014. The second portion of the show will be exhibited online at Light & Wire Gallery in November 2014, including the work created on site presented alongside works by visual artists and writers exploring the complexities that come with actualizing utopian ideals.

Curated by Astri Swendsrud and Quinn Gomez-Heitzeberg

Performance Exhibition Artists/Writers: Anthony Bodlović, Ronald Dzerigian, Zach Kleyn, Jason Kunke, Sarah Petersen and Semi-Tropic Spiritualists

The Hatchery: Free Range

Event description

The day started out rainy and foggy, then turned sunny and spectacular, confounding and challenging Matthew Rangel's painting students. But about 150 people turned out from Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Visalia, Fresno, Kingsburg, Three Rivers, and all the mountain communities for a lively, enjoyable, surprising, and inspiring afternoon and evening. 


Paintings, photos, and digital prints by Jane Ziegler, Laura Horst, and Robert Mertens were shown in the office gallery. Paintings by Matthew Hopson-Walker, Lex Calip, and Matthew Rangel, drawings by Kevin Bowman and Amie T. Rangel, photos by James Stark, and installations by Lex Calip, Nicole Shaffer, Anne M. Klint, and Bachrun LoMele were in the Hatchery.


A performance of Irish music by two of Amie Rangel's art students was an afternoon surprise before the BBQ. Singing and playing in the evening were Melissa Lou Castellano and Evan apRoberts - lovely, soulful, strong.


We're planning to do this again, at least once, in the warmer months of 2011 (May and/or September). We hope to see you then!

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