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Discovering the Hidden Gems of Local Museums: A Review of the Immersive Art Experiences on Offer

Discovering the Hidden Gems of Local Museums: A Review of the Immersive Art Experiences on Offer
Discovering the Hidden Gems of Local Museums: A Review of the Immersive Art Experiences on Offer

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When you take part in the public indoor tour “Into the Rabbit Hole” at the Gregangelo Museum, you are in for a unique, immersive art experience. This experience is one of two available to participants and promises to reveal an answer you didn’t know you needed – a fluffle.

A fluffle is a term used to describe the tour groups, which consist of two to six participants, as they embark on their journey through the rabbit hole at the Gregangelo Museum. The tour lasts for an hour and is an extraordinary adventure that has the power to open your mind, senses, and heart in ways you may not have thought possible.

During the tour, participants are guided through the rabbit hole, where they are exposed to a wide range of surreal and immersive art experiences.

These experiences can have a profound impact on the senses and emotions, creating an unforgettable adventure that is both playful and thought-provoking.

The goal of the tour is to offer a unique and exciting way for visitors to experience art and engage with their imagination.

One of the most remarkable things about this experience is the way it encourages visitors to participate fully in the tour. Rather than being passive observers, visitors become active participants in the art and the story it tells.

As part of a fluffle, you will be fully engaged in the art and the journey it takes you on, which can be a powerful and transformative experience.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable art experience, the “Into the Rabbit Hole” tour at the Gregangelo Museum is a great choice.

By becoming part of a fluffle, you will be able to immerse yourself in a world of surreal art, phantasmagorical experiences, and mind-opening adventures that will stay with you long after the tour is over.

Tour guide and facilitator Nick Brentley greets tour guests at the entrance of the Gregangelo Museum at the start of the museum’s private indoor tour activation, “Into the Rabbit Hole.” The unique museum is within a home in the St. Francis Woods neighborhood. Photos by Alyson Wong.

Located in the Balboa Terrace neighborhood, adjacent to St. Francis Woods, lies the Mediterranean-inspired private residence of Gregangelo Herrera.

It can be easily missed, as it is situated on a quiet residential street and appears to be just an ordinary house. However, there are some peculiarities that hint at the wonders hidden within.

For instance, a corkscrew Dali-esque grandfather clock that can be spotted peeking out of the shrubbery, and a rounded swiveling gate at the sidewalk are the only telltale signs that there is more to this residence than meets the eye.

Once you enter, you will be transported into a world of awe-inspiring art and immersive experiences that will leave you mesmerized.

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Gregangelo Herrera, a Lebanese and Mexican artist, spent his childhood in San Francisco’s Chinatown where he was drawn to the arts. His love for the arts only grew stronger as he grew up. During his high school years, he attended St.

Ignatius College Preparatory High School, which was an all-boys school at that time. It was not his top choice, as he had initially applied to Lick-Wilmerding. Despite this, he persevered and continued to pursue his passion for the arts.

The private residence of Gregangelo Herrera is a Mediterranean-styled house located in the Balboa Terrace neighborhood, next to St. Francis Woods. It is situated on a quiet residential street and is easy to miss, with only a corkscrew Dali-esque grandfather clock and a rounded swiveling gate to distinguish it from the other houses in the area.

However, once you step inside, you will find a place full of curiosities and wonders that are sure to captivate and inspire.

The house, which has now morphed into the Gregangelo Museum, is a testament to Herrera’s artistic talent and his passion for creating immersive experiences that engage and challenge the senses.

He has carefully curated the museum’s exhibits, using his unique style to blend together different art forms, including music, dance, theater, and visual arts. Visitors are invited to explore the museum’s many rooms and corridors, each of which offers a different experience and a different perspective on the world around us.

Gregangelo Herrera (center) spontaneously picks up a djembe hand drum inviting California College of the Arts students to participate in a musical jam experience inside the Scentsorium Emporium room.

The background of Gregangelo Herrera, an artist of Lebanese and Mexican heritage who grew up in San Francisco’s Chinatown. He attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School after not getting into his top choice school.

At St. Ignatius, he participated in various arts activities and developed a whirling dervish act with the San Francisco dance company, Aswan Dancers.

After high school, Herrera pursued his own major at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now known as the California College of the Arts) and continued to travel the world and perform, studying and working in many mediums. His work is rooted in performance art.

The Gregangelo Museum is the result of Herrera’s creative vision and open-minded approach to art. Located in a Mediterranean-styled private residence in the Balboa Terrace neighborhood of San Francisco, the home is a living work of art where science and art intersect, and ancient mysteries are woven together into a sensorial portal.

It is open Thursday through Saturdays, and guests are guided through themed rooms that feature fabrics, mosaics, murals, mystical installations, sculptures, and North African and Middle Eastern decor.

The experience is designed to be a one-of-a-kind phantasmagorical art experience that has the potential to crack the mind, senses, and even the heart wide open.

Visiting students from a California College of the Arts glass class walk through The Midnight Hall, a corridor in the museum inspired by “secret passages of tombs leading to sacred treasures.”

The Gregangelo Museum offers a unique and unconventional experience for visitors, unlike the traditional art museums and galleries that often have white walls and a formal atmosphere.

The museum is a residential home that has been transformed into a cutting-edge living museum, where the art is not only on display but also interacts with visitors to extract their story.

As the founder and owner of the museum, Herrera explains that the museum is not a performance venue, but his home that has evolved into a living work of art.

Herrera started decorating his home four decades ago with unique finds from his world travels and home-fashioned art pieces, and the space gradually began to take on a life of its own.

He allowed a limited number of people to visit his home informally, including friends, family, artists, architects, and designers who were interested in seeing his home for inspiration. Herrera’s openness and hospitality towards artists also extend to inviting students to intern and tour the space.

Aside from the museum, Herrera also champions the arts by hosting a weekly event called “Let’s Do Lunch” every Thursday, which invites artists from all over the world to come together and break bread, exchanging ideas and cultures over a delicious homemade spread.

The event encourages collaboration, connection, and innovation, embodying the spirit of the museum as a place for exploratory contemplation and fun.

In conclusion, the Gregangelo Museum offers a unique and immersive experience that defies the conventional norms of art museums and galleries.

Visitors can expect to have their story extracted through the art, while Herrera’s passion for the arts and openness towards artists is evident in the way he welcomes visitors into his home and hosts events that encourage collaboration and cross-cultural exchange.

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The home-turned-living-museum owned by Herrera is a unique experience that defies conventional norms of white-walled art museums and galleries.

Upon entering the residential space, visitors are encouraged to forget preconceived notions about themselves and the world. As Herrera puts it, “You’re in the art and the art is extracting your story.” The experience is one-of-a-kind and must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Herrera emphasizes that the space is not a performance venue but his home, which he has decorated with unique finds from his world travels and art pieces both commissioned and home fashioned.

He has allowed a limited number of people to come by informally, and artists are always welcome. In addition to inviting students to intern and tour the space, Herrera champions the arts by hosting a weekly Thursday event called “Let’s Do Lunch,” which welcomes artists from all over the world to share ideas over a delicious homemade spread.

Like many other art and performance venues, Herrera was forced to open the museum formally due to the pandemic.

The arts and culture industry took a hit, and Herrera had to find new ways to move forward. He feels like an endangered species and considers himself lucky to have had enough energy to keep finding new ways to move forward.

Outside of the museum, the home is a buzzing artist’s lab, studio, idea incubator, costume workshop, and headquarters of Velocity Arts and Entertainment, an entertainment company helmed by creative director Marcelo Defreitas and Herrera, who serves as artistic director.

After working together on an event for a non-profit that directly works with the Latino community in Sonoma, they joined forces five years ago. They continue to defy any prescription for how to do things, and their tagline on the company’s website is “think outside the circle.” The core team of artists and creatives who come to work at Herrera’s home create immersive entertainment experiences for non-profits, large venues, private events, and some “weddings for weirdos.”

The team includes interactive, immersive, and experiential elements to bring stories to life that provoke contemplation and connection.

The current project they are working on is an experiential performance based on endangered species commissioned by a long-term client, the California Academy of Sciences.

The high-quality craft and joy that flow from the creative team keeping Velocity Arts projects and the museum running is palpable.

The team includes Darkhijav Damla, a Mongolian professional dancer who has been working with Velocity Arts for the past 22 years as a wardrobe designer.

Marina Polakoff from Russia and designer Monica Paz Soldan join her in the colorful costume-filled workshop downstairs.

Social Media Manager Angelica Irreno is an artist sponsored from Colombia who handles the team’s social media and marketing efforts, and Aaron Duffy manages artists and production alongside Nick Brentley who guides guests on museum tours.

Ian Fratar, an artist, juggler and bubble person from Oakland has also built installations and worked with the team for many years.

Herrera has actively championed the arts and continues to challenge the notion that art is not essential. He was recently awarded a certificate of honor from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors recognizing his positive contributions to the cultivation of the arts and cultural landscape of the City.

To continue his efforts, he is also diligently working on a city proposal to reinvigorate the hospitality industry (including hotels, convention centers, restaurants and installation spaces) by targeting areas within San Francisco that have been hard hit by the pandemic.

With both feet firmly on the ground and a bold gaze to the sky, Gregangelo has cultivated a space that brings people together, inspires joy and expands peoples’ ideas of what’s possible.

His hope is that the living system he has helped nurture will encourage others to “be in the present moment, engage, be reflective and get to know each other better.” He calls his home a “connectatorium,” and what could be more important today?

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