Obtainium Works to Host Gallery Show
The steampunk-infused arts organization kicks off the year with a three-week exhibition
The tinkerers and “steam bohemians” of Obtainium Works will celebrate the organization’s 7th anniversary with an exhibition slated for March 8-24 at the Temple Arts Loft Gallery in downtown Vallejo, California. Many of the group’s art cars — at least the ones that can fit inside the building — will be on display over three weekends.
Obtainium Works is also planning several special events as part of the exhibition, including a steampunk costume dinner on Saturday, March 16, followed by a live performance of “Cthulublanca,” an alternate-world parody of Casablanca.
The group’s contraptions include a pirate ship, a wine-serving tricycle, the “Ancient Mariner” submarine, and the “Rudolph 5000,” a sleigh made for “Vallejo SteamPunk Santa” Thomas Bilbo.
One project you won’t see in the gallery is the Neverwas Haul, a three-story Victorian house on wheels that’s become a steampunk icon. Until January 2020, the house is on display at the Lyft Art Park on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.
The festivities begin with an opening celebration on Friday, March 8, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., featuring steampunk vendors and art car rides. That will be followed by the formal gallery opening on Saturday, March 9, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., with art car rides and kids’ crafts.
“Feast of the Tentacles” and more
The main celebration will happen on March 16, beginning with art car rides, kids’ crafts and photo ops from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Steampunk vendors will be selling their wares all day.
The steampunk dinner, which serves as a fundraiser for the organization, is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Provisions Restaurant, which is a short walk from the gallery. Participants will be treated to a four-course “Feast of the Tentacles” meal with Calamari Frito Misto and other delicacies. The cost is $49 per person.
Afterwards, the group will stage a “Cthulhu Processional” back to the gallery for the 8 p.m. performance of “Cthulublanca.” The play was written by Trevor Allen, an Obtainium Works crewmember and artistic director of the Black Box Theatre Company in Vallejo.
Guests that evening will also be able to sample cocktails made by the TikiTron Drinkbot, a contraption invented by crewmembers Samuel Coniglio, Kiki Jewell, and Katherine Becvar.
The exhibition concludes on Saturday, March 23 with a wrap party featuring drinks, appetizers, and karaoke. It’s scheduled for 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
In addition to these special events, the gallery will be open on Sunday, March 10, from noon to 4 p.m.; Friday, March 15, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, March 17, noon to 4 p.m.; Friday, March 22, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday, March 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Obtainium Works Fearless Leader Shannon O’Hare says he will consider requests from school groups and others for visits when the gallery is closed. Contact info and additional details are on the website.
The exhibition is the first of a series of public activities the group has planned for 2019.
Next up is Maker Faire Bay Area, May 17-19 in San Mateo, California, where Obtainium Works anchors an outdoor section featuring its art cars and a handful of steampunk vendors. The Bay Area event is the world’s largest Maker Faire, drawing more than 100,000 visitors over the weekend. It’s a showcase for all kinds of do-it-yourself projects, including many art installations first seen at Burning Man.
On Sunday, July 28, the group will host the 8th Annual Obtainium Cup Contraptor’s Rally, a wacky road race featuring its own art cars and those from other makers. The vehicles will navigate obstacles such as flying monkeys, zombies, robots and Mad Hatters. The event also includes steampunk vendors, live music, food, and other festivities. It’s held at Alden Park, 8th St. and Walnut Ave. on Mare Island in Vallejo.
Past years have included an Art Car Jam on the previous Saturday, but O’Hare says the group will not be hosting one in 2019.
If you want to see the Obtainium Works facility, your best chance might be Vallejo Open Studios, which is held on the second weekend of each November. Artists throughout the city open their studios to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Artist directories and maps will be available at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, 734 Marin Street.
Finally, Obtainium Works will have a major presence at the 10th annual Mad Hatter Parade and Holiday Festival, Dec. 8 in downtown Vallejo. The parade has an “Alice in Wonderland” theme, but the event is a showcase for many varieties of whimsy and wackiness. Last year’s parade was the debut for Santa’s new steampunk sleigh.
See our previous stories about Obtainium Works:
Steampunk Cheer at Mad Hatter Parade (Dec 3, 2018)
Midsummer Night at Obtainium Works (Aug 28, 2018)
Wacky Vehicles Hit the Road in NorCal (Jul 24, 2018)
Art Car Jamming in Vallejo (Jul 21, 2018)
Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect the new temporary location of the Neverwas Haul in Las Vegas.
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