Art

Thursday, October 22, 2020

NCJ Archives: The Haunting of Carson Mansion

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 11:50 AM

The Carson Mansion beneath the Snow Moon of February, 2020. Eureka, Humboldt County, California. - PHOTO BY DAVID WILSON
  • Photo by David Wilson
  • The Carson Mansion beneath the Snow Moon of February, 2020. Eureka, Humboldt County, California.

Editor's Note: With Halloween just around the corner, here's a blast from the past story (October of 2010) about Eureka's landmark Carson Mansion, which is not only one of the most photographed Victorian homes in the United States, but also a muse of sorts, in a creepy sort of way.

As the haunted holiday approaches and our thoughts turn to creepy wonders, things that go bump in the night and pillow cases full of candy corn harvested by the kids, one might be startled to know that a real scary celebrity resides in our midst, hidden in plain sight in Eureka on a hill overlooking Humboldt Bay, except when enshrouded by the fogs that plague our little Victorian seaport.

The Carson Mansion, one of the most photographed Victorian homes, is known for its unsurpassed redwood woodwork and extraordinary architecture, but few realize it has served as a template for haunted house art throughout the world, inspiring website design, video animations, posters, paintings, book covers and even amusement parks.

Do a Google image search for the phrase "haunted house," for example, and repeated among the top results is an eerie creation by Daniele Montella, one of Italy's top graphic artists. This image in particular, created in 2004, has gained a life of its own on the Internet, having been used for everything from website home pages to haunted house posters to news articles.

"The Haunted House" by Italian graphic artist Daniele Montella. - COURTESY OF DANIELE MONTELLA/DAN-KA.COM/COPYRIGHT 2004
  • Courtesy of Daniele Montella/Dan-Ka.com/Copyright 2004
  • "The Haunted House" by Italian graphic artist Daniele Montella.

“Each year, during Halloween, I get requests for use of the image, even from sites of paranormal research, or even by groups claiming to be ghostbusters,” Montella said in an email interview.

Thanks to Montella’s digital expertise, the house is a jumble of horrors: its decaying exterior is flanked by gnarly trees and crumbling tombstones. But the menacing nighttime shadows cannot hide one simple fact: The building is essentially the Carson Mansion.

“I think the Carson Mansion is by definition a haunted house. It is a wooden house, with a structure shaped like a castle, complete with a tower, patio, all of which lend themselves to the theme of the haunted house,” he said.

Other digital artists have fallen under the spell of the Carson. Arlen Nielson, a graphic artist from Vancouver, Canada, used it as the basis of a popular computer desktop background image with a haunted house theme. Daniel Norbury, a 3D animator from Nottingham, England, selected the Carson house as the location of a murder mystery for a video game demo. Bryan Camilleri, a spray paint artist living on Gozo, an island near Malta in the Mediterranean, is selling Haunted Mansion paintings, with the historic Eureka house as the unmistakable subject.

How did the Carson Mansion travel to such distant canvases and computer screens? There are several reasons. First, there are countless images of it that can be easily accessed on the Internet.

"It's well known that the Carson Mansion is the most photographed Victorian in the United States," says Ray Hillman, Eureka's premier historic tour guide. "Its images have been broadcast through the media, so that it can easily be an inspiration for those looking for something to make a haunted house image."

Norbury confirms that assessment. "I looked at various existing spooky looking houses and found the Carson Mansion, which had many different photographs taken of it at different angles," which was essential to making an animation.

Many such images find their way to stock photo websites, which graphic artists frequent. Nielsen said he found a Carson Mansion image from one such Internet stockpile. Indeed, there are plenty. Go to fotosearch.com or worldofstock.com, for example. Type in "haunted house." One soon finds oneself at the virtual corner of Second and M streets in Old Town.

Second, the house is such a Victorian oddity that it lends itself to imaginative fancies, including scary ones. "I don't think the Newsoms [the architects who designed the house] realized what it was going to be until it was built. They threw everything at it, including the kitchen sink," said Jill Macdonald, a Eureka historic architecture expert.

Despite its riot of styles and features, there is one structure on the house crucial to its elevated status in the realm of eerie abodes — its imposing 100-foot-high tower, which rules the landscape on the east side of the Eureka waterfront.

"The Victorian flamboyance of grand central tower is rather dominating, just by its sheer mass," Hillman said.

Macdonald agreed. "The top cupola is very Alfred Hitchcock-looking. It's a defining characteristic of the house."

Speaking of the great suspensefilmmaker, Hitchcock is associated, albeit tangentially, with the Carson Mansion's scary legacy, revealing that 

Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful - RANDOM HOUSE, 1961
  • Random House, 1961
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful

it predates the Internet by decades. In 1961, Random House published "Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful: Nine Cool Stories About Haunted Houses and Ghosts for Boys and Girls." The book cover, illustrated by the late Fred Banbury, sports the looming face of Alfred Hitchcock alongside a cartoon-ized Victorian home. The inspiration is clear to Hillman.

"Oh, the Carson Mansion is there," he said. "They've increased the size of one of the gables, but look at the sunburst panel at the cap of the tower, and that lunette [half circle feature] on the tower. Whoever drew that book cover definitely had images of our mansion."

Steeped in California history, Hillman recalls other ways in which the Carson Mansion has influenced fantastical architecture in the Golden State. At Disneyland in Anaheim, for example, the train station tower was inspired by the Carson Mansion cupola, he said. The former has circular clocks in the place of the semi-circular lunettes. Otherwise, they look strikingly similar.

"The architect that built the train station visited the Carson Mansion before construction of Disneyland," Hillman said.

The Carson Mansion has impressed imaginative creators in the past and present. What about the future? Well, speaking of Disneyland, another Mickey Mouse theme park is slated to open a major attraction in 2013, inspired by, according to many ... you guessed it.

Last year at the Disney Fan Club Expo in Anaheim, Disneyland Hong Kong created a buzz among amusement park enthusiasts when it unveiled sketches for Mystic Point. The main attraction will whisk visitors back to the year 1908, into a Victorian home on a remote hilltop known as Mystic Manor. A mischievous monkey opens an enchanted music box and all sorts of shadowy shenanigans ensue.

MiceChat.com, the leading Internet clearinghouse for news related to Disney theme parks, came alive with posts on its forum. A leading question: What inspired the design for the Mystic Manor exterior, a mostly Victorian horror with a strangely added onion dome? A handful of candidates were forwarded, such as Morey Mansion in Redlands, Calif., which has such a feature. But overall, most agreed that the primary muse was the green, many-gabled wonder built for the family of William and Sarah Carson in 1885.

"It struck me that the Carson Mansion in Eureka, which I suggested would be a great building to house an attraction, looks a lot like Mystic Manor," one MiceChat.com member named CaliforniaAdventurer said.

Hillman agreed. "Look at the porch, the spacing of the columns, the general configuration, I'd say no doubt. And the tower, they just doodled with it a little."

Certainly visual artists can transform the Carson Mansion into super-scary houses, but the question remains whether the house is inherently creepy or whether said creepiness needs to be brought about through creative manipulation.

"I may be too close to it, but I don't think it's scary," said Macdonald, who has studied the building extensively and regularly visits the house, which since 1950 has been owned and operated by the Ingomar Club, a private civic group. There may be paranormal rumors, Macdonald said, but they are whimsical and fun, not frightening.

Hillman agrees, to a point. "In the daytime, it has an uplifting look, a fanciful look," he said. "But at night, when the shadows are deep, and our thoughts are more in the dark world, you can start spinning tales."

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Local Theaters Go Red Tonight in Support of the Live Events Sector

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2020 at 1:46 PM

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Humboldt County entertainment organizations, including local theaters, will turn on the red light tonight in support of the live events sector, which has taken a heavy hit due to COVID-19.  The idea is to draw attention to a vital industry that has been shuttered since early March, 2020, and most likely will not reopen until well into 2021.

Olivia McGahan, Regional Coordinator with We Make Events-North America, a collective of volunteers from the entertainment industry, has organized the local event taking place tonight from 9 p.m. to midnight in correspondence with events across the United States that will be happening at the same time.

A press release for the event states, "On September 1, 2020, #WeMakeEvents, a coalition of trade bodies, businesses, unions, and live events workers, will light as many as 1,500 venues, and iconic structures in red in over 50 cities across North America to raise public and media awareness in support of the live events sector."

Local participating theaters include Arcata Playhouse, Dell'Arte International, Humboldt Light Opera Company S.P.A.C.E., North Coast Repertory Theater, Redwood Curtain Theatre and Ferndale Repertory Theater.

The release states, "Community members are encouraged to show their support by checking the social media sites of their closest theater where a map of all participating locations will be posted and visiting the aforementioned locations where they can take photos to post on social media using hashtags:
#WeMakeEvents #RedAlertRESTART #ExtendPUA."
A map of participating local theaters
  • A map of participating local theaters

For more information on tonight's event, see the press release below:

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Friday, July 24, 2020

Eureka Street Art Festival Announces Artists for Third Annual Event

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2020 at 12:41 PM

esaf1.jpg
This year's Eureka Street Art Festival (Aug. 10-15), which will include a virtual component due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will feature 12 new murals and eight sidewalk poetry installations in the Henderson Center neighborhood (E and F Streets between Henderson and Harris) by Humboldt County and California artists alike.

According to a release, four of the murals will be a "part of the inaugural Native Mural Project, which was created in partnership with the Native Culture’s Fund, the Humboldt Area Foundation and a group of local Native leaders. This project strives to provide a platform for native artists in the local public art scene. These murals will be painted on the Discovery Shop wall on F Street."

Continue reading »

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Art for Your Face: Snarky Mouth Coverings by Humboldt Artists for Sale

Posted By on Fri, Jul 3, 2020 at 12:18 PM

If your neighbor's children aren't already scared of you and you'd like to look more like Shane MacGowan of the Pogues, or just generally deck up your current boring COVID-compliant face mask, two local artists have you covered.
Shane McGowan mask by Aimee Hennessy. - REDBUBBLE
  • REDBUBBLE
  • Shane McGowan mask by Aimee Hennessy.

Aimee Hennessy, local artist and co-owner of Richards' Goat Tavern and Tearoom in Arcata, is flogging her handmade masks on Redbubble, a platform for independent artists to sell their work. Hennessey's mask designs draw from vintage illustrations ranging from the bucolic (Yosemite) to the Satanic (goat and cat chimera). The shop also features a satiric image of our fine state with an arrow pointing to the rest of the United States along with the phrase, "I'm With Stupid."
Death's Head Moth with Nose mask by Aimee Hennessy. - REDBUBBLE
  • REDBUBBLE
  • Death's Head Moth with Nose mask by Aimee Hennessy.
Not to be outdone, Jesse Wiedel, best known for his grim surrealist depictions of Northern California squalor and people living on the margins of that squalor, is also selling a "Meth Mouth Mask," with crooked yellow teeth poking out of a gummy pink mouth. Reached via email, Wiedel said he heard from a friend about a site  — Art of Where — that would post artwork on masks and decided to give it a try.
Sample image of "Meth Mouth" mask by Jesse Wiedel, now available for sale. - ARTOFWHERE.COM
  • ARTOFWHERE.COM
  • Sample image of "Meth Mouth" mask by Jesse Wiedel, now available for sale.
"I had tried to make my own painted masks a few times and I'm just not a very good crafter," he said. "The image I used was from my 'Meth Mouth 3' painting because I wanted to use a mouth image. The company does really good quality work and the masks are well made, and you can even get filters for them." It should get you that 6 feet of social distance, too.
"Meth Mouth 3" by Jesse Wiedel. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • "Meth Mouth 3" by Jesse Wiedel.

Wiedel said sales are "going OK." So if you'd like to put some art where your mouth is, consider supporting a local artist.
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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Friends of the Dunes Presents the Dispersed Sand Sculpture Festival

Posted By on Sun, Jun 28, 2020 at 5:56 PM

Friends of the Dunes announced that a physically-distanced version of its 25th Annual Sand Sculpture Festival will take place during the entire month of July. The modified event, called the Dispersed Sand Sculpture Festival, will take place in lieu of the annual Sand Sculpture Festival previously scheduled for July 25, 2020 at Samoa Drag Strip.

Getting outdoors and creating art in a socially distant and responsible way?
We dig it.
2019 Sand Sculpture Festival - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • 2019 Sand Sculpture Festival

In the press release, organizers invite household groups to "create sandy masterpieces on local beaches, post creations on social media, vote for their favorite sand sculptures, and be entered to win exciting prizes."

2019 Sand Sculpture Festival - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • 2019 Sand Sculpture Festival
The press release goes on to say, "Rather than taking place at a designated beach on a designated day, the Sand Sculpture Festival will take place throughout the entire month of July at any beach the sculptors choose to sculpt. For the health and safety of participants and interested spectators, Friends of the Dunes is asking sand sculpting teams to practice physical distancing, which means teams should only consist of households or people that are sheltering together. Before households start sculpting, it is important to check the tides and always keep an eye out for dangerous sneaker waves."

Prizes include $100 cash for the sculpture with the most votes, and a chance to win a free Friends of the Dunes membership.
2019 Sand Sculpture Festival - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • 2019 Sand Sculpture Festival
July will be here in just a few days, teams, so on your marks, get your pails and tools together and get out there! For more information on rules, prizes and how to enter, read more from Friends of the Dunes below.

Friends of the Dunes is excited to announce that a physically-distanced version of the 25th Annual Sand Sculpture Festival will be taking place during the entire month of July! During the Dispersed Sand Sculpture Festival, household groups are invited to create sandy masterpieces on local beaches, post creations on social media, vote for their favorite sand sculptures, and be entered to win exciting prizes.


Humboldt beaches are open and have an ample supply of sand and plenty of space to make all of your sand-sculpting dreams come true! Rather than taking place at a designated beach on a designated day, the Sand Sculpture Festival will take place throughout the entire month of July at any beach the sculptors choose to sculpt. For the health and safety of participants and interested spectators, Friends of the Dunes is asking sand sculpting teams to practice physical distancing, which means teams should only consist of households or people that are sheltering together. Before households start sculpting, it is important to check the tides and always keep an eye out for dangerous sneaker waves.


To be entered into the competition, teams should email images of their sculptures to info@friendsofthedunes.org along with the location of the sculpture, the date it was created, the team name, the name of the sculpture, and if applicable, the name of the business partner that your team is representing. Make sure that the images are in color, are not blurry, or taken from too far away. Teams will be entered for a chance to win the following prizes:


People's Choice: $100 cash prize for the sculpture with the most votes from you!

Golden Shovel: Only available to teams representing a business partner.

Teams can also win bragging rights and a free Friends of the Dunes membership when competing for the titles of:

Best of Show

Most Dedicated Diggers

Most Photogenic

Most Imaginative

Staff Pick


Don’t forget to post your sculptures on social media! Although it is optional, households that post their sculptures and the location of their sculptures on social media with the hashtags #SandSculptureFestival2020 and #FriendsoftheDunes, as well as tagging @humboldtbaysocialclub and @friendsofthedunes, will receive $5 off of a food purchase from our generous partners at the Humboldt Bay Social Club. After a long day of sculpting, you can reward your team with fresh oysters and a cold drink around the fire pit. Posting hashtags and locations is encouraged so that interested beachgoers can admire the sculptures in person before the tides wash them away. Those seeking out sculptures can search for the hashtags online, and are encouraged to maintain safe physical distancing.


Friends of the Dunes will post emailed images of the sculptures on their website as soon as possible, which means that spectators can start voting for the People’s Choice award right away! Proceeds raised from vote purchases will support free dune education and stewardship programs.


Playing in the sand at our local beaches is a great way to kick off the summer season, so grab your buckets, pack a picnic, and start sculpting! For full details on how to participate in the Dispersed Sand Sculpture Festival and how to vote for your favorite sculptures, please visit our website.
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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Local Poets Look 'Behind the Mask' at Humboldt During COVID-19

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2020 at 1:16 PM

behind_the_mask.png
The chapbook Behind the Mask: 40 Quarantine Poems from Humboldt County is now available and can be download for free from several local websites.

Eureka Poet Laureate David Holper and podcaster Anne Fricke put together the collection for release, with a host of local poets contributing their reflections on these unprecedented times.

Read the full release below:
Eureka Poet Laureate David Holper and local poet and podcaster Anne Fricke are releasing a free poetry chapbook called Behind the Mask: 40 Quarantine Poems from Humboldt County.

The chapbook can be found and downloaded from the local poetry Facebook site called Poetry on the Edge, or Anne Fricke’s website at annefricke.com, or David Holper’s website at davidholper.com, or the Eureka Poet Laureate page on the Ink People’s website at https://www.inkpeople.org/eureka-poets.

The poets included in the collection are Lasara Firefox Allen, Robert Allen, Greg Bee, Michael Bickford, Stephanie Bigham, Laurie Birdsong, Susan Bloch-Welliver, Sarah Brooks, Wendy Butler, Daryl Ngee Chinn, Larry Crist, Dylan Collins, Therese Fitzmaurice, James Floss, Mariana Franco, Anne Fricke, Susanna Gallisdorfer, Margot Genger, Susanna Gibson, Karen Harris, Kristy Hellum, David Holper, Ian Jewett, Deborah Kearns, Zev Levinson, Jason Marak, Jerry Martien, Pat McCutcheon, Katherine Nunes-Siciliani, Vincent Peloso, Will Schmit, Joe Shermis, Jacqueline Suskin, Neil Tarpey, Dawn Tisdell, Eureka Youth Poet Laureate Izzy Unsigner, Ryan Van Lenning, Adrienne Veronese, Jake Williams, and Amantha Wood.
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Monday, June 22, 2020

Eureka Street Art Festival Heads to Henderson Center with a Virtual Component

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2020 at 12:45 PM

Artist Nick Sweetman makes the climb up his scaffold. - PHOTO BY ZACH LATHOURIS
  • Photo by Zach Lathouris
  • Artist Nick Sweetman makes the climb up his scaffold.
The Eureka Street Art Festival is coming to Henderson Center from August 10-15, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not hold its block party and will include a virtual aspect.

People are welcomed to visit Henderson Center to see the progress the artists are making with their murals throughout the week or participate in the Virtual Art Walks that will be streamed on Facebook Live.

Read the full release below.
Eureka Street Art Festival Announced Third Annual Event

Eureka, CA – The third annual Eureka Street Art Festival will be spreading color throughout the Henderson Center neighborhood from August 10 - 15, 2020. Due to the virus, this year’s Festival will look a little different. There will not be any large gatherings (which sadly means no Block Party), but we are staying true to our mission of bringing colorful murals to brighten the neighborhoods of Eureka.

You are invited to walk through Henderson Center throughout the week-long Festival to watch the painting in progress, or participate in the Virtual Daily Art Walks, which will be streamed on Facebook Live and available to watch on our website. We will be publishing a self-guided walking tour on our website and social media leading up to the event to help you enjoy this event at your own pace, and in a physically-distanced and safe manner.

Stay tuned: we are beginning to announce the walls on social media, and we will be announcing this year’s Artists very soon.

Follow us on instagram: @eurekastreetartfestival and visit our website for more information: www.eurekastreetartfestival.com

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Friday, June 19, 2020

SCRAP Humboldt to Close Its Doors

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 2:32 PM

The store by the Arcata Marsh. - COURTESY OF SCRAP HUMBOLDT
  • Courtesy of SCRAP Humboldt
  • The store by the Arcata Marsh.
SCRAP Humboldt, a friend to many a crafty folk who enjoyed searching for treasure in its Arcata store, announced today that it will close at the end of July.

A news release from Director Kati Texas states SCRAP Humboldt wants to say the doors will one day reopen but that’s unclear at this time.

“SCRAP Humboldt filled our little niche in the material reclamation ecosystem, and that niche will remain, the release, which includes a long list of thanks, states. “But we can’t predict what the future will hold, so for now we need you all to be your own SCRAP. “

Read the full release below:
SCRAP Humboldt is sad to announce that we will be closing our doors at the end of July. Since we opened in 2012 we have enjoyed so much support from this community. We gratefully accepted your boxes of treasures, and took joy in helping crafty people of all ages find their inspiration while doing our part to keep useful things out of the landfill.

Thank you to all our customers. Thank you to every individual, business, and grant program who has given financial support. Thank you to every adult and child who has joined us to learn how to make beautiful things while keeping the planet beautiful. Thank you to you everyone who took the time to bring their creative reuse materials to us rather than letting them go to waste. Thank you to the Arcata Marsh Commons, our landlords for the years of support and patience. Thank you to the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who have helped us every single day with jobs large and small. We truly couldn’t have done it without you.

We want to say that we will be back. SCRAP Humboldt filled our little niche in the material reclamation ecosystem, and that niche will remain. But we can’t predict what the future will hold, so for now we need you all to be your own SCRAP. Practice the four R’s - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, and support the other places in our community that work to keep our planet clean and our hearts full.
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Juneteenth 2020 Celebration

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 10:30 AM

Join the Eureka Chapter of The NAACP and Black Humboldt for today's Juneteenth celebration happening from noon-11:30 p.m. at various online locations. 

The event includes performances from Black Humboldt artists, music, virtual vending from local POC businesses, Knowledge for Power sessions, hands-on workshops led by local black professionals and more.

Here's how to participate:

Zoom: Meeting ID: 328 941 2424
Facebook: @BlackHumboldt
Radio: 98.7 FM & 91.1 FM 88.1FM
Television: Humboldt Local AH11

For more information on Juneteenth and the celebration today visit Black Humboldt's website
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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Local Artist’s ‘Flatten the Curve’ Stained Glass was Purchased as a Gift for Dr. Anthony Fauci, Lost Coast Outpost Reports

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2020 at 7:08 PM

The Lost Coast Outpost is reporting that local artist Colleen Clifford's "Flatten the Curve" stain glass was purchased as a gift for Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Read the full story here
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