Setting the vibe: The Chambers Project brings festival experience to gallery setting (PHOTO GALLERY) |

Setting the vibe: The Chambers Project brings festival experience to gallery setting (PHOTO GALLERY)

Different Chambers Project art pieces are projected onto the front of the gallery during Friday evening’s opening of the show TOGETHERRR, where a live painting was conducted by five artists.
Photo: Elias Funez

Luis Oviedo, an Arcata-based Mexican painter and etcher, was one of over 200 gallery attendees Friday that made a special trip to see The Chambers Project’s second show: TOGETHERRR.

There, aesthetes began break dancing to The Gaslamp Killer’s remix of “La Pava Congona” as Oliver Vernon put acrylic to canvas alongside four other artists.

“The opening felt really nice, pretty much like in a festival,“ Oviedo said. ”I catch the vibe — everybody was happy, dancing — there were art expressions going on, seriously, that inspired in all the senses.”

Attendees bought tickets to bear witness to a collaboration between Vernon, Mars-1, Damon Soule, David Choong Lee and Nome Edonna on two separate canvasses in the gallery on East Main Street in Grass Valley.

There, gallerist Brian Chambers brought his niche of the art world — live painting collaborations — to his local community.

Artists Mars-1, from left, Oliver Vernon, Nome Edonna, Damon Soule, and David Choong Lee collaborate on a pair of mural pieces at The Chambers Project in Grass Valley over the weekend.
Photo: Elias Funez

“I set the vibe and let them paint as long as they want,” Chambers said of the five friends who finally disembarked from their collaborative journey around 5 a.m. Monday. “Everyone was very activated and inspired by the show. We had some extremely talented musical friends come play and they just kept playing.”

Chambers said although the doors closed to the public before midnight during Friday’s event, the painters worked through the weekend. Even now, Chambers said the two canvasses are not quite complete.

The gallerist will present the final iterations of the two paintings at the BitCoin Conference in Miami from April 6 to 9.

The TOGETHERRR exhibit will be open until May 21.

“It’s a challenge,” Chambers said of the two-piece project, adding that if the artists had decided to use two difference palettes, “It would have been too much.”

The Gaslamp Killer operates the DJ booth during portions of the live painting sessions at The Chambers Project gallery off East Main Street in Grass Valley.
Photo: Elias Funez

Attending artist Oviedo said he liked that the canvasses’ large size required the artists to physically reach in order to cover all the corners.

“It’s really nice to see the human body working in an art expression,” Oviedo said.

Collectively, the artists’ styles are abstract and nonrepresentational. Their contribution to two pieces creates what Chambers said led to “pushes and pulls in different directions.”

“In Mexico, we have an expression — ‘Cinco cabezas es mejor que una,’” Oviedo said, honoring what it means to have not just one, but multiple artists, unite their creative effort.

Chambers did not influence the palette, he said, adding that his intention is to facilitate the artists’ “freedom to do whatever they think is best, fitting of the occasion or in the mood to take a risk they might not take.”

Oliver Vernon uses different masking tapes to create elements of the collaborative artwork Friday at The Chambers Project Gallery in Grass Valley.
Photo: Courtesy Austin Metzger for The Union

“I believe in them 100%,” Chambers said. “I always have.”

According to Oviedo, “the colors contrasted very well” in the end, creating depth.


Chambers has amassed hundreds of pieces of contemporary and historic psychedelia since purchasing his first event poster in 1995, and finessed the approach to party throwing over the last 13 years.

“This is one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of being involved with,” Chambers said. “I think all the stuff looks really amazing together.”

The gallery featured collaborative pieces from the Furtherrr crew that was creating live, as well as unique pieces from Mars-1 and Ralph Steadman, Mars-1 and Alex Grey, and Mars-1 and Doze Green.

A bronze cast by Ralph Steadman, commissioned by gallerist Brian Chambers, sits on display within The Chambers Project Gallery at 627 E. Main Street in Grass Valley during Friday’s opening of the TOGETHERRR show.
Photo: Elias Funez

Ink blots characteristic of Ralph Steadman, a cartoonist best known for his work featured in “The New York Times” and “Rolling Stone” alongside Hunter S. Thompson’s bylines, made would-be two-line seagulls look like bats over a pastel-infused industrial collage in his collaboration with Mars-1. The artists’ signatures — one scrawled, one seemingly coded — seem to testify to a generational distance, but Steadman’s fountain pen ink was first published around the time graphic designer Richard Danne developed the NASA font Mars-1 uses on his work.

“That is the only collaborative piece Ralph has ever done,” Chambers said, who stayed with the two artists for five days during the project’s creation. “I had to get them together. Mars is a once-in-a-lifetime type talent and it was important for them to be together — whether or not it worked. I like pushing these guys into uncomfortable areas and challenging them to step out.”

Chambers said the piece debuted in a Steadman retrospective in 2018 at Haight Street Art Center in San Francisco, blocks from Mars-1’s home.

Chambers had Steadman’s portrait of his co-conspirator Hunter S. Thompson cast in bronze and one of the statues stands hunched in the foray of the gallery. The goofy-footed Thompson may look out of place to those unfamiliar with the history of the psychedelic art movement, but the representational piece bears witness to abstract collaborations created at Symbiosis and Burning Man over the last 13 years.

Artist Oliver Vernon places the first splash of paint on a pair of collaborative murals at The Chambers Project gallery in Grass Valley.
Photo: Elias Funez
The Chambers Project gallery attendees take in one of the many large pieces of art on display during the show TOGETHERRR, now open.
Photo: Elias Funez

“I wasn’t sure if I should leave him in here,” Chambers said of the statue’s presence Friday night, “but he’s such an important part of my history.”


Chambers’ second gallery opening required collaboration not only on canvas, but between local businesses like Kurt’s Garden and Natural Selection Food & Wine, which lent additional parking spots to accommodate the crowd.

The event was all locally sourced, Chambers said, with libations and cuisine provided by the The Ham Stand, Gold Vibe Kombuchary and Bullmastiff Brewing.

The psychedelic aficionado’s first show opened at its current location in November, and drew over 3,000 people for its two-month duration.

Chambers said the success of the show is another indicator of stronger footing and support from the community, something he needs to truly bring the interdisciplinary art space to life in the 8,000-square-foot building on East Main Street.

The collaborative paintings come together after two days of work by five artists: Oliver Vernon, Mars-1, Damon Soule, David Choong Lee and Nome Edonna.
Photo: Elias Funez
Artists Mars-1, Damon Soule, Nome Edonna, Oliver Vernon and David Choong Lee work on a pair of collaborative pieces at The Chambers Project gallery.
Photo: Elias Funez

Eventually, Chambers hopes to have the infrastructure required to cast bronze statues, like the one of gonzo journalist Thompson he has in the gallery’s lobby.


Timothy Sandison, a sewer and welder at the Curious Forge, said he was moved by the way Oliver Vernon uses color to build dimension.

Marisha Pizzolato, a Grass Valley-based dancer who was raised in a Mississippi Hare Krishna community, said she enjoyed spontaneously exploring the limits of her own expression through movement alongside the five painters Friday night.

Pizzolato said she looks forward to future exhibits that highlight the work of women in the psychedelic realm.

“There are so many talented artists in this town,” Pizzolato said.

Chambers said his work has connected with him from talent and interest all over the world. Chambers is looking forward to featuring the work of local artist Candace Thatcher at the gallery’s next show in June.

Spectators take in the live collaborative painting during Friday evening’s opening of the show TOGETHERRR at The Chambers Project in Grass Valley.
Photo: Elias Funez

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at

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