ARTSHIP 1999-2004

ARTSHIP at night docked at the Ninth Ave Terminal
ARTSHIP looking on the starboard docked at Ninth Ave Terminal
ARTSHIP rear of the ship at night, Ninth Ave Terminal

ARTSHIP as we said goodbye to it in 2004. We enjoyed our ship from 1999 until 2004 when forced to renounce its title.

A Day on the ARTSHIP

On any average day on the Artship you could find musicians recording in acoustically unusual spaces of the ship. Visual artists making things, for example, Ben Trautman creating sculptures as a part of the accessibility route of the ship, schoolchildren touring the ship and having ship specific art and interpretive projects, local non profits meeting, (we were in a coalition of 30 local community-orientated groups). Dancers, clowns, actors, musicians rehearsing, knitters knitting, poets reciting, welders welding, cameras clicking, wood chips and plaster in unlikely places. The images here are just a sampling of what happened to be recorded and was at hand.

Temporal Wind Sculpture on the gangway onto the ARTSHIP
Wind sculpture installation
Fabric Wind Sculpture on the gangway onto the ARTSHIP

Ladder down into the theater that was the former cargo hold aboard the ARTSHIP
Cargo hold #1, now a three-storey Theater
Ensemble rehearsal in the theater aboard the ARTSHIP

1995 ARTSHIP chosen as the US Headquarters of the International Peace University

Under the patronage of more than twelve Nobel peace laureates, the International Peace University opened in Berlin during fall, 1995. Laureate participants and sponsors included Oscar Arias, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, The XIV Dalai Lama, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Frederik de Klerk, Nelson Mandela, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Shimon Peres, Jose Ramos-Horta, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel and Betty Williams. Earlier that year the founding committee traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and America looking for appropriate partners and artist-participants for the opening. Hearing about Artship's Window Project and Open Rehearsals, two committee members, who were visiting San Francisco came to Oakland. They were inspired by what they saw and commissioned Artship to design a dance for the opening ceremony and to bring Oakland performances to Berlin. The audiences and the committee appreciated the work, community orientated spirit and cultural sensitivities so much that they invited Slobodan Dan Paich to serve on the board of the “Society of Founders of the International Peace University.” He was appointed as co-director for Art and Culture, a position he initially shared with Yehudi Menuhin.

Ensemble rehearsal in the theater on ARTSHIP
Open rehearsal process at the Artship
Open rehearsal process at the ARTSHIP

Marija Krtolica from the Ensemble in rehearsal on the ARTSHIP
Marija Krtolica in rehearsal
Rehearsing on stage on board the ARTSHIP

Marija Krtolica from the Ensemble in rehearsal on the ARTSHIP
Marija Krtolica rehearsing

1992 Establishing ARTSHIP Foundation

The Artship initiative started as an outcome of the Windows Project.

1991-2004. The Windows Project

Since its inception in 1991, The Windows Project has showcased over 5,000 artists in vacant storefronts on Broadway and in Jack London Square in downtown Oakland. "Filling the windows with art proved to be a hit not only among passers-by, but also for the owners of the commercial spaces, who found it much easier to rent their vacant stores once their windows were filled with art displays." (Oakland Tribune article, March 2, 1997 by Jolene Thym). In addition to revitalizing downtown Oakland and helping artists exhibit their work, the Windows Project addresses "audiences who wouldn't usually set foot in some haughty gallery." (Oakland Tribune, 10/14/93). Slobodan Dan Paich initiated and orchestrated the Windows Project in close collaboration with Augusto Ferriols.

Igor Ivan Sapic, Artist-in-Residence for this project Message in a Bottle
Igor Ivan Sapic, artist-in-residence
Igor Ivan Sapic next to a painting of a sleeping man

Igor Ivan Sapic at his installation Message in  Bottle on board the ARTSHIP
Robert du Domaine's Jazz Musician Silhouette Chairs
Robert du Domaine's Jazz-Jammin’ chairs

Signature Cultural Venue

Through the success of the Windows Project as a grass roots effort with the coordination of S. D. Paich, the artists, the business and community leaders were gathered and met in a series of public meetings. The meetings took place at the Waterfront Plaza Hotel, in Oakland's Jack London Square, which has for a year and a half donated meeting spaces. Furthermore, the Windows Project success naturally reinforced the emergence of Jack London Square as a potential waterfront cultural district. The community meetings identified the need for a signature venue, at the municipal scale capable of being a symbol for as diverse a community as possible. After lots of discussions the idea of a decommissioned ship was adopted and the future cultural facility was named ARTSHIP and the Artship Foundation began to form its founding board. The historic Grove Street Pier at the square, now demolished, was to be its home.

Installation in one of the former cargo holds aboard the ARTSHIP
Installation in cargo hold #2
Installation in one of the cargo holds aboard the ARTSHIP
Works by Augusto Ferriols

Artwork on the wall outside the cargo holds
Continuous exhibitions...
View down the corridor with artwork on the walls on the ARTSHIP
throughout the ship

Cargo hold number 3 installations
Cargo hold #3 installations
Installation in one of the cargo holds on the ARTSHIP
Experimental space for visual arts performances

Developing Cultural Facility

Parallel to running vigorous cultural programs, the newly formed ARTSHIP Foundation began to look for a ship in the U.S. Reserve Fleet and in government catalogs of retired ships. Through this process the founders learned that the California Maritime Academy training ship 'Golden Bear' was slated for decommissioning. After seeing it, the ARTSHIP Foundation Board of Directors unanimously voted to pursue the vessel. Built by the U.S. government in 1939, using some of the finest art deco elements available, the ship was sent into service as a passenger-cargo ship, and was licensed to Delta Lines for coffee trade between New Orleans, Argentina and Brazil. The U.S. Navy commissioned the ship to serve as a troop carrier and combat vessel during World War II. In 1970 the vessel became the California Maritime Academy training ship serving until 1995. To acquire the ship for Oakland the ARTSHIP Board of Directors was told that it needed an "Act of Congress." Without fully knowing what they were up against, the Board accepted the challenge. S. D. Paich worked on this critical component of the project with then U.S. Representative Ron Dellums's staff Teresa Saragosa almost daily from 1993 to 1998, when President Clinton finally signed legislation authorizing the transfer of the ship to the ARTSHIP Foundation.

Cargo net hanging in between decks in the three storey theater on the ARTSHIP
More images of the three=storey theater
Ladder down into the lowest portion of the cargo hold converted into a stage on ARTSHIP
and dance space

View from the upper level of the cargo hold
View across the open cargo hold

Looking across the stage on the bottom most level of the cargo hold
Looking down into the small theater of the cargo hold

Urban revitalization model

Creating a destination

The generative nature of Artship Initiative began to show through its development of international partnerships, leading to cultural tourism. This interest was anchored in Artship's highly developed and diverse grass roots programming and participation. The programs on the ship and in the community were becoming a recognizable nexus for developing a signature venue, a dynamic capable of becoming a destination and an epicenter of Oakland specific urban revitalization.

Economic development model

Jobs training for the maritime and culinary industries.

"CRISIS OF PERSEVERANCE" as articulated by Slobodan Dan Paich and Artship initiative members was a response to a local need addressing a contemporary problem, particularly among youth of having no role models or witnessing a success through perseverance. Artist of all types are the embodiment of achievable mastery and tangible experience of completion. Hence the name "Artship," an exciting, ever changing campus surrounding a hardcore job training programs.

Project Bandaloop aerial work off the side of the ARTSHIP
Outdoor performance
Aerial performer above the wharf hanging off the ARTSHIP
on the side of the ship

Performance on ARTSHIP deck
On the ARTSHIP deck
Performance on ARTSHIP deck

Performance on ARTSHIP deck
Performance on ARTSHIP deck
Artship Dance/Theater

Initially Artship planned and crafted two programs and was on the brink of bringing in $1.5 million support from the US Department of Commerce for maritime and culinary industry job training. The Sailor's Union of the Pacific indorsed the project. Maritime curriculum was created by one of the founding members of the Artship and Captain Ray Addicott who had been chairman for seven years. The program was implemented in the San Diego School District while waiting for Oakland to adopt it. Concurrently curriculum for the culinary jobs training was created by Paul Carrara, renowned local chef and restaurateur. The Artship Board was in open discussions with the Laney College culinary school toward possible partnership.

Project Bandaloop aerial soloist hanging from one of the ship's cargo booms
On the mast
Project Bandaloop
Project Bandaloop

Project Bandaloop
Project Bandaloop

The possibility lost. The pressures of real estate development and the neo-suburban models of gated communities left no room for the Artship initiative's deeply urban and people/community centered approach. The clear cutting mentality versus ecological approach, or deregulated crops versus fair trade, are the similar dynamics to Oakland's waterfront development. The City of Oakland sued and evicted Artship on January 1st 2004. Its agency the Port of Oakland strong-armed ARTSHIP Foundation to renounce its title to the ship and sold it for scrap.

Successes of the ARTSHIP

partial list:
  1. The passing of enabling legislation at the federal level, signed by President Clinton authorizing the transfer of the ship to the ARTSHIP Foundation.
  2. Accepting a mooring compromise at Ninth Avenue Terminal instead of Jack London Square tying the ship to state owned, municipally managed "Tidelands Trust" a land entrusted for community use with a stipulation clearly forbidding building of housing on such land
  3. Artship initiative became part of City Charter and a legal requirement to be included in any waterfront development at the Ninth Avenue Terminal through multi year intense participation in the city / port / community planning process.
  4. Raising just under a million in cash and 5 million in pro bono services
  5. Making two levels of the ship wheelchair accessible.
  6. Having innovative continuous art programming on the ship and in the community.

Black and white photo taken at sunset of the ARTSHIP docked at 9th Ave Terminal

Due to the commercial development of the dock site ARTSHIP lost its moorings and was forced to renounce its title to the Port of Oakland

ARTSHIP Inaugural arrival and ceremony
Nobel laureates welcoming the future campus of the International Peace University, the ARTSHIP arriving to the Oakland Waterfront Inauguration Ceremonies.

Google earth view of the ARTSHIP at the 9th Ave Terminal Oakland Waterfront
Artship as it was moored at the Ninth Avenue terminal from 1999 to 2004. TheArthur Wright and Slobodan Dan Paich have attended to the ship in every type of weather and any time of the day or night


Photos by Heath Winer