North Bay
North Bay
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

Various Locations in Marin:Ritter House 25 Art Houses:Homeless Benefit for May 1 Auction

Saturday, May 01, 2010
10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:

Art Houses project to help Ritter House raise money to battle homelessness
Jim Welte
Posted: 02/27/2010 06:36:12 PM PST

Artists Peter Allen and Kathleen Lipinski were among those chose to design the Art Houses of Marin, a public art display of 25 miniature homes placed around the county starting Monday. They ll be auctioned off May 1. (IJ photo/Frankie Frost)
MARIN RESIDENTS unaccustomed to seeing loads of new homes popping up all over the county will get quite a surprise Monday when the Ritter Center unveils a new anti-homelessness fundraising campaign.

The venture, dubbed Art Houses of Marin, will exhibit 25 miniature houses - bigger than a dollhouse but slightly smaller than a children's playhouse - that have been painted and decorated by some of Marin's top artists. The

houses will be on display throughout the county and will be auctioned at a May 1 gala at Woodlands Farm in Ross.

The money raised will help the nonprofit Ritter Center expand some of its services and heighten its focus on eradicating homelessness in Marin by finding more transitional housing units to offer. According to a 2009 survey conducted by the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, there were some 1,770 homeless people in Marin, up from 1,002 people counted as homeless in a 2007 survey by the Marin Continuum of Housing and Services.

Ritter Center hopes to raise $150,000 to $250,000 through the Art Houses campaign, said Diane Linn, the center's executive director.

"Every time we go to work and see the people who might benefit from this, it's pretty inspirational," she said.

The project piggybacks on similar efforts held in Chicago, San Francisco and Portland, Ore. An art cow campaign in Chicago raised $3.5 million for a variety of charities, while "Hearts in San Francisco" has drummed up nearly $5 million for the San Francisco
General Hospital Foundation.

Linn originated the idea for a public art-based fundraising plan after her experience as chairwoman of the Board of Commissioners in Oregon's Multnomah County, which raised about $2 million for homeless youth programs with a spinoff of the cows on parade campaign.

"We think it's possible to end homelessness in Marin," she said. "This kind of project is specifically and uniquely matched to Marin because of our celebration of arts and culture. The fundraising
Artist Peter T. Allen stands beside his art house called 'Our House.' He used the lyrics to 'Our House' by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young for his house. (IJ photo/Frankie Frost)
potential is extensive."

Ross artist Peter Allen connected Linn with Michael Osborne, designer of the hearts created for the "Hearts in San Francisco" campaign. Osborne designed the 4-foot-tall art houses for Ritter, and Donna Seager, who owns a downtown San Rafael gallery, headed the campaign's artist selection process.

The artists chosen include a wide range of Marin standouts, including Nicholas Wilton, Joe Brubaker, Michael Cutlip, Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang, Judy North and Reuben Raffael, Kathleen Lipinski and Heather Wilcoxon, among others. The varied styles of the artists are reflected in the work, from Lipinski's pastoral landscapes of Marin theme to Allen's decision to use the lyrics of the 1970 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song, "Our House."

"Ritter Center is so brave for initiating this project," said Lipinski, 59. "This is high visibility and high risk, and I was thrilled to work on it. I picked this theme because I find solace in Marin's natural landscape."

Allen, a veteran of the brand communication business and a former creative director at Apple, added elements such as a chimney and a wooden roof to the house as punctuation.

"This was about the psychology of homes and home ownership," he said. "It reflects the dream of home ownership and what it would be like to live together."

One of the most prominent homes will be placed in front of San Rafael City Hall. Dubbed the "Rock 'n Roll House," it features artwork from the late Jerry Garcia and former Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick. Donation of the art was the work of Tim Jorstad, the business manager for Slick and manager of Garcia's estate.

"Grace was thrilled to lend her painting," he said. "It should be a good bid item."

Public art campaigns have become a major phenomenon in recent years. Their recent origin traces to fiberglass cow sculptures that were created in 1998 in Zurich, Switzerland, with a similar exhibition opening a year later in Chicago. Since then, dozens of cities have used public cow sculptures as a fundraising venture in the United States, Europe and Asia.

The money raised by the art houses campaign will go toward implementing Ritter Center's new strategic plan, adopted by the board in March 2009. The plan calls for a variety of changes, including expansion of the center's health clinic's hours to five full days a week, up from four partial days.

The major change involves going beyond a predominant focus on "harm reduction," or "giving people what they need when they need it," according to Linn, who oversees a staff of 14 and an annual budget of $1.4 million. The center will focus heavily on providing more transitional housing units in Marin, like the four multiroom units designated for Ritter at Hamilton Meadows, an affordable housing program at the former military base in Novato.

The need has never been more apparent, said Linn, who noted the Feb. 6 electrocution death of a 42-year-old homeless woman at the Pacific Gas and Electric substation in San Rafael.

"She should have been indoors," Linn said. "She was just trying to find a safe, warm place to be."



City Hall Plaza, 450 San Rafael Ave.

Corte Madera

The Village, in front of Pottery Barn, 1618 Redwood Highway

Town Center, 100 Corte Madera Town Center


Bolinas Park


Bank of Marin, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at LaCuestra Avenue


Woodlands Market, 799 College Ave.


Downtown grassy lot, between Ward and Post streets

Mill Valley

Mill Valley Community Center, 180 Camino Alto Strawberry Village, between Asqew and Woody's, 800 Redwood Highway

Chamber of Commerce, 85 Throckmorton Ave.


Museum of Contemporary Art, 500 Palm Drive

Vintage Oaks, 208 Vintage Way


Post Office, 1 Ross Commons

San Anselmo

City Hall, 525 San Anselmo Ave.

San Rafael

City Hall, 1400 Fifth Ave.

West End, 1561 Fourth St.

Rafael Theater, 1122 Fourth St.

Downtown Plaza, 1002 Fourth St.

San Rafael Community Center, 618 B St.

Montecito Plaza, Third Street at Grand Avenue

Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 3501 Civic Center Drive

Northgate mall food court, 5800 Northgate, Terra Linda


City Hall at Sweeney Park, Caledonia at Litho streets

Bank of America Plaza, Bridgeway at Anchor Street


Town Square, Main Street and Juanita Lane

Contact Jim Welte via e-mail at jwelte [at]

put up

mostly for outside bay area

mostly for in bay area

Added to the calendar on Sun, Feb 28, 2010 6:30PM
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$40.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network