ideasthesia: A multisensory installation by owen brown

August 25 - September 4, 2015
Curated by Pamela Grombacher

Opening Reception: August 27, 2015, 5:00-8:00 PM
SOMArts, 934 Brannan Street, San Francisco CA 94103

100% of proceeds of this fundraising pop-up exhibition support Meridian Gallery.

North 3, 2013, 9” x 12”, colored pencil on vellum.

North 3, 2013, 9” x 12”, colored pencil on vellum.

“How do ideas feel?” This is the question driving Danko Nikolic, the neuroscientist famous for theorizing “ideasthesia” - the notion that thoughts and sensations are interconnected and interdependent. Sights, sounds, and smells are not simply interpreted by the brain; rather, the ways in which we experience these stimuli are informed by our understanding of the world. In this special pop-up exhibition, San Francisco artist Owen Brown explores the complexity of perception with a multi-sensory, interactive installation.

Breath 4, 2015, 9" x 12", colored pencil on vellum.

Breath 4, 2015, 9" x 12", colored pencil on vellum.

At each of the four sensory stations that will fill the space of SOMArts’ expansive Bay Gallery, viewers will find an overhead projector with four transparencies, which they can flip, stack, layer, and rearrange to create an endless variation of unique projections on the gallery walls. Featuring delicate but lively biomorphic forms that come alive at the viewer’s touch, the transparencies are evocative of a slide one might find under a microscope. These images will be paired with the unique fragrance accords of local perfume maker MIKMOI and set against the sonic background of an interactive soundtrack comprised of visitors’ recorded comments (edited daily by poet Emily Wolahan).


Conceived by Brown as a fundraising exhibition in support of the nonprofit Meridian Gallery, Ideasthesia is a celebration of tenacity and new beginnings. A mainstay in the San Francisco art world since its establishment in 1989 by Anne Brodzky, Meridian Gallery was uprooted from its longtime home in the fall of 2014, but has continued to operate its thriving music and youth arts education programs from an office in the Presidio’s Thoreau Center for Sustainability. 100% of the proceeds of the exhibition will be used to fund Meridian Gallery and its various programs (including the Meridian Interns Program, Meridian Music: Composers in Performance, and MERIDIAN STUDIO VISITS online) as the organization works to establish a new, permanent home.

Click here to RSVP to the opening reception.


An Evening with MIKMOI
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
6:00-7:00 PM
$15 suggested donation
SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan Street, San Francisco CA

Local award-winning perfumer Michael “Mik” Coyle brings the worldly and romantic sensibility of his artisanal fragrance line, MIKMOI, to Ideasthesia with five unique personal scent accords inspired by Owen Brown’s distinctive imagery. Discover the art of perfumery as Mik shares his inspiration and creative process as Brown’s collaborator.

All five MIKMOI perfumes featured in Ideasthesia will be available for purchase. 50% of proceeds support Meridian Gallery.


Ideasthesia Exhibition Catalogue
Designed by George Mattingly and edited by Anne Brodzky.
Click here to pre-order.

Featuring contributions by art historian and culture writer Lissa Tyler Renaud, poet Emily Wolahan, and curator Pamela Grombacher, the Ideasthesia exhibition catalog further explores the complex relationships between perception and narration, senses and meaning, and ambiguity and interpretation.


Venue support generously provided by SOMArts, which is supported by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Meet Bre'yanna

Banker by day, artist and musician by night, Bre'yanna got her start with the Meridian Interns Program (MIP).

"Growing up in what is considered to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in San Francisco wasn't easy," writes former Meridian Intern Bre'yanna, "but the Meridian Interns Program helped me focus, and stay on the right path. It kept me out of trouble."

When Bre'yanna turned 14, she needed to find an after-school job. Through the Mayor's Youth and Employment Education Program (MYEEP), she discovered the Meridian Interns Program (MIP) and was thrilled to learn that she could get paid to receive an arts education! Inspired by her life-long love of music, Bre'yanna couldn't wait to learn more about the visual arts. A few weeks later, she began her internship at Meridian Gallery.

Working with MIP's staff of professional Artist Instructors, Bre'yanna experimented with a range of artistic media and discovered a love of drawing, painting, and collage. Here are a few of her creations:

MIP's many field trips offered Bre'yanna a broad cultural education. Not only did she visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Artde Young, and other local art institutions, she also visited the zoo to observe and sketch exotic animals, the Presidio to draw in nature, and the Headlands Center for the Arts to bake bread in a traditional brick oven. 

Bre'yanna and fellow Meridian Intern Thao at the annual bread baking field trip. Headlands Center for the Arts, 2010.

Bre'yanna and fellow Meridian Intern Thao at the annual bread baking field trip. Headlands Center for the Arts, 2010.

In her editorial for the 2008 Megazine (MIP's annual, self-published magazine), Bre'yanna wrote that these field trips broadened her definition of art and strengthened her friendships with fellow Meridian Interns.

"Meridian had become not only a safe haven but my second family."

Today, Bre'yanna credits MIP as central to her professional development. Working with others on projects like the Megazine and the annual MIP Spring Exhibition gave her the opportunity to develop leadership, public speaking, and time-management skills.

"The experience I gained at Meridian is irreplaceable, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world."

Following her graduation from the Meridian Interns Program, Bre'yanna studied criminal justice at Heald College, making her the first member of her family to attend and graduate from a post-secondary institution. Now working at Union Bank, she plans to pursue a career in finance. Bre'yanna remains deeply involved with the arts, as she has continued working with Meridian Gallery as our weekend attendant and bookkeeper, and plays both the violin and the cello. 

Drawing of Bre'yanna by Meridian Intern Nelson.

Drawing of Bre'yanna by Meridian Intern Nelson.

"We cannot give up on the Meridian Interns Program. Everyone deserves a chance to succeed."

You can change the lives of low-income youth like Bre'yanna by supporting the Meridian Interns Program. Please give today.


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Meridian Intern Saula Gonzalez

Meridian Intern Saula Gonzalez

Meridian is a nonprofit arts organization with strong commitments to diversity and social justice. We believe that art can change the world, and you can too!

By donating to Meridian, you will:

  • Increase the visibility of underrepresented artists  
  • Empower low-income teenagers to become the next generation of great artists
  • Provide musician/composers and dancer/choreographers the opportunity to develop and share their unique sounds and moves

Click here to learn more.

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