Sunday, May 16, 2021
Pioneering machine artist Kal Spelletich is being evicted: Help...

Pioneering machine artist Kal Spelletich is being evicted: Help save his robots!

The teacher and inventor who brought robots and flamethrowers to Burning Man must leave his home and studio of 25 years.

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“On a troubling note, after 25 years, I am getting evicted from my home base and studio space,” artist Kal Spelletich tweeted this morning. “I provided housing and/or studios for countless artists, freaks, traveling activists, and radical journalists. Save Kal’s Robots here:  Thank you thank you Thank You”

So much of Bay Area arts culture is indebted to Kal, from Survival Research Laboratory shenanigans like giant fire-spewing robots (he was the first to bring both robots and flamethrowers to Burning Man) and interactive machine art that helped pave the way for today’s creative developments, to constantly helping and hosting artists (he teaches at the SF Arts Institute) and causes like Green Party fundraisers, Streetopia, and so many more … well, this just sucks. 

Kal’s studio has been a ground zero for local innovation—the kind we used to value, the non-commercially-driven kind— for a quarter century, as well as his home. Now, Kal says, “Like many Bay Area artists Im being forced from my home. I’m asking for $10K to move and store my robots by the end of the month.”

The 57-year-old artist is filing a renter’s lawsuit. “There’s always a risk with a renter’s lawsuit. It could lose and if it does it’s possible I could be sued for a lot more than I have ever made or will ever make in the rest of my life. Much more than I’m asking for right now.

“My entire art career has been a risk and a challenge. I’m on year 38 as an artist,” he writes on his fundraising page. “I’m working to make everything fall into place to keep momentum for the next couple of years—some of the most important in my life. A main concern is my old, tired body. Formerly broken fingers and limbs – my art wounds- flare up now and then. One is nothing without their health. Sorting through and moving 25 years of equipment and materials on my own is a major challenge.” 

However, he remains determined: “Over the past 38 years I’ve built momentum. Losing this is NOT an option.”     

Marke B.
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at) 48hills.org, follow @supermarke on Twitter.

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