Opening Reception: Ideasthesia

  • SOMArts Cultural Center 934 Brannan St San Francisco, CA, 94103 United States

“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. 

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 scents 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. 


This exhibition is made possible by our sponsors and supporters:
San Francisco Grants for the Arts
Wine Sisterhood
MIKMOI San Francisco
Aurora Catering
Naked Wines
Sterling Art Services
Owen Brown

Ideasthesia is supported by the SOMArts Cultural Center’s Affordable Space Program, which provides subsidized, large-scale affordable space and technical assistance to nonprofits. SOMArts receives support from the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Community Arts and Education Program with funding from Grants for the Arts/The Hotel Tax Fund.

The mission of SOMArts is to promote and nurture art on the community level and foster an appreciation of and respect for all cultures. To find out about SOMArts classes, events and exhibitions, please visit