By Andrew Pridgen

Point Reyes Light, September 4, 2003

Even by the standards (or lack of them, as curmudgeons complain), the Box Show --- now finishing its run as a fundraiser for Gallery Route One in Point Reyes Stations --- is unexpected. The exhibit consists of 150 boxes that a like number of artists have turned into whimsical cubes. Each box is a perfect seven-by-seven-inches, although sizes have changed through the years. Last year each creation was shoebox size. The final bidding in a silent auction is supposed to be the highlight of the month-long fundraiser for the cooperative gallery. This year, however, the auction may be overshadowed by the premiere of a documentary film, The Box Show, directed by San Francisco filmmaker, Victoria Lewis.

Documentary film about show
Lewis was so surprised by the concept of the show that she spent more than a year capturing different artists in the process of turning a simple, pine box into a miniature masterpiece. Just before the auction ends Sunday, Lewis will show a rough cut of her 25-minute short. The filmmaker previously made a PBS documentary about the Romanov family with Inverness resident Andrew Romanov, grandnephew of the last Tsar of Russia, Coincidentally, artist Romanov's box Farmer Joe was getting bids above $200 this week.

The origin of box shows
The brainchild of Inverness resident Nick Corcoran five years ago, the first Box Show was intended to be merely a one-time fundraiser. Why a box show? "We were thinking of something more substantial than an arty-type garage sale," Corcoran replied. "Someone gave me a light fixture with 55 empty slots, and I thought it’d be nice if a different artist filled each slot," Corcoran said. "We raffled it off, but then we started thinking about expanding the idea a little bit. For some reason, I started building boxes." Corcoran admitted that after building 150 boxes that first year, he swore off box shows forever. But the show's instant popularity, and the fact that it "pretty much raised enough money to keep the gallery in business for another year," kept Corcoran, and the artists, coming back. Now there's a waiting list of more than 50 artists to be in next year's show, with a lottery to help select them.

Artist Nick Corcoran - thought the Box Show up.
(light photo by Andrew Pridgen)

Exactly 150 artistic boxes
Each year Corcoran builds exactly 150 boxes, all of them the same size. A box-show bidder cooed over Corcoran’s own entry, a giant rear-view mirror and pair of fuzzy dice called: Looking Back. After learning that Corcoran not only was one of the artists but also built the boxes, the bidder asked how long the carpentry took him. Corcoran simply smiled and started counting invisible numbers with his fingers. "It's a kind of Zen thing," he said. "You sort of get in this box-building zone. But I won't lie, it does take awhile." Judging from the many bids of $300 or more as of Monday, this year's box size and the artist's work are both attracting more buyers than the past. "You don’t want to say that one year is better than the other," Corcoran said, "but there are no duds here. What people come up with each year is amazing. We're surprised every year at how personal and professional the pieces are."

Vietnam War Memorial
Particularly personal to Corcoran is his nephew Keith Corcoran's box titled Touching a Hero, which shows a plaster hand touching a name on a replica of the Vietnam Memorial. The name on the artist's memorial is Edward Corcoran, Nick Corcoran's brother who died in the war. "When Keith visited the wall he said that's how he felt, like someone was touching back," Corcoran said. It's the personal pieces that make the show so special," Bolinas artist and Gallery Route One volunteer Vickisa Feinberg told The Light. "Everyone in this community holds this show dear," she said, "so it's no surprise that people from other places are inspired by what they see.” Artist Feinberg, who has seen clips of The Box Show, said, "It's like the show in a way. Of course, I think everything in it is really good because I'm so involved. Then I talk to other people about it. And they seem to be equally amazed."