Posted in SPACES News, Threatened Environments
The Last Resort Lagunitas has a special place in the cultural landscape of the area of Marin County, California, as it exemplifies many of the traditions that originated and evolved in this rural area north of San Francisco, including the inception of the local environmental movement, the birth of a unique style of Arts and Crafts/Pacific Rim architecture, and the formation of alternative artistic currents growing from the counter-culture of the 1960s-‘70s.
David Hoffman began to create this unique art site in 1973 when important cultural fermentations were taking place, drawing on the experience of his extended travels in Nepal, Bhutan, India, and China. In a unique and thoughtful way, he merged the ideologies and societal values of contemporary California with his own interest in the timeless Asian philosophies of life perpetuation and renewal, popularized at that time by the teaching of British philosopher Alan Watts. Hoffman fused these ideals within an array of structures that comprises the site; while reminding visitors of a multitude of world places and cultures, these structures are not copies of actual buildings but are rather the product of his memory, drawing from images of Buddhist temples, traditional rural housings, ancient hearth structures, and from an array of elements of the world’s traditions of tribal and folk art. Hoffman has intermingled all these influences while conducting personal research in order to transform this into “a totally sustainable site,” where the reuse of materials and the recycling of waste are central concepts for the design and construction of all structures. Hoffman has been working on the construction, updating, and maintenance of the site without interruption since its beginnings in 1973.
This site, however, is threatened, as the County of Marin has appointed a receiver in order to force compliance with literally hundreds of what they see as code violations, without taking into consideration the special importance or significance of this site. In an effort to more broadly publicize the concerns about the local government’s trajectory and to garner additional public support to save the site, freelance filmmaker A.J. Marson is producing a documentary on Hoffman and the Last Resort Lagunitas. He and his crew came to SPACES on February 15, 2017 in order to interview SPACES Director Jo Farb Hernández, who provided comprehensive background information on the genre of art environments and discussed specific efforts that are being made to advocate for the preservation of Hoffman’s site.