These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 1

As we celebrate 40 years, we’ve asked some of our Alumni to share memories of their time at Headlands. These snapshots of moments big and small offer a glimpse into the life that unfolds here: impromptu parties at the Gym, wildlife encounters, and unexpected collaborations. We’re reminded that Headlands serves often as both refuge and hub, and that the stories that take shape here reach far beyond these walls and fields.


Chris Natrop (AFF '04–'05)

A person standing in front of a white building, the building scrawled with pink text that reads "invasive species"


“In 2004 and 2005 I was an Affiliate Artist at Headlands. For a year and a half, I adopted a World War I-era bowling alley as my studio. During my time there I integrated many site-specific cut-paper installations into the peculiar nooks of my unconventional studio. I also curated a group exhibition, Invasive Species, for which I brashly scrawled fluorescent pink lettering (to the relief of park officials, made of removable paper tape) across my historic studio building.”

Invasive Species included artists Andy Hope, Laurel Roth Hope, Dorsey Dunn, Tom Fowler, Ty Tripoli, Ken Griswa, Rebecca Miller, Andrew Schoultz, and Alison Pebworth.


Christopher White (AIR '16)

A ring of chairs facing inward, lamps in the center

Autumn, 2016: An impromptu seance in the small closet next to the bowling lane in the gym basement. My eyes slowly adjust to the dark, wondering what they’d see.


Lara Mimosa Montes (AIR '22, '20)

A large gymnasium room with a red floor decorated with tinsel and balloons

I feel compelled to share one of my favorite memories at Headlands, with Andreas [Johansson], iris [yirei hu], and Bridget [Mullen] from summer 2022. This is a photo of us installing our Headlands prom together; installing the Félix González-Torres beads…This moment—everybody working together to do this spontaneous part—was so special, and to me represents the spirit and community of Headlands and California.


People in a large gymnasium haning a string of gold beads




Thomas Centolella (AFF '92, AIR '90)

A large concrete bunker set into a hill

One of the most memorable Halloweens I’ve experienced took place at the Headlands. In 1990, I was an AIR with my collaborator, Kathy Evans, and we decided to host a nighttime Halloween party at Battery Wallace. Everyone showed up in costume and carried flashlights or flickering candles. Under a nearly full moon, we settled in a glowing semi-circle at the entrance of a bunker. It felt ritualistic, as if we were kindred spirits of our ancient ancestors. Nobody knew there would be a “featured performer.” Without introduction and dressed in harem garb and velvet cape, a slender redhead with long curly hair and an angelic face took her place in front of the cavernous bunker, whose acoustics lent themselves to her a cappella version of Skylark. Her voice was even more lovely than her features. The lyrics seemed to emerge from our very surroundings, and from my questioning psyche.


Have you anything to say to me?
Won’t you tell me where my love can be?
Is there a meadow in the mist
Where someone’s waiting to be kissed?


Have you seen a valley green with spring?
Where my heart can go a journeying
Over the shadows and the rain
To a blossom covered lane
And in your lonely flight
Haven’t you heard the music in the night?
Wonderful music, faint as a will o’ the wisp
Crazy as a loon, sad as a gypsy serenading the moon

Oh skylark

I don’t know if you can find these things
But my heart is riding on your wings
So if you see them anywhere
Won’t you lead me there?

After the first verse, my friend Linda, never one to be easily dazzled, whispered in my ear, “Who is that?”

I said, “That’s the woman I’ve been telling you about.”

She was someone whose charms were undeniable but for various reasons had kept me in a limbo of ambivalence. That night, though, after her last note resonated in the night air, we sat transfixed under the gypsy moon, every one of us in love.


View These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 2

These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 2

View These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 3

These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 3

View These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 4

These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 4

View These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 5: “Holly Blake saved my life.”

These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 5: “Holly Blake saved my life.”

View These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 6

These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 6