san francisco art magazine archives

The Crucible Mural Dedication Celebration

The Crucible
1036 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, CA

December 1, 2001

      We first introduced our readers to The Crucible in our November 2001 issue (see: Craigslist Foundation Nonprofit Venture Forum ). The Crucible is a non-profit educational facility and has classes for both beginners and advanced students in disciplines such as blacksmithing, welding, metal foundry casting, neon sculpture, machine shop technology, jewelry fabrication and casting, ceramic sculpture and mold making.

     On December 1st, The Crucible celebrated the beginning of its third year and the completion and dedication of the mural portion of its Façade Project. The mural, which faces Ashby Ave., is designed by M.S. Hove (right) and emphasizes the fire arts that are taught at The Crucible. The mural is reminiscent of the murals of Diego Rivera. Hove explains, "My studies in primative art led me to the Sepik River area in Paupua, New Guinea when I was 21, where I saw much interesting art and culture, but was almost killed by robbers. The art of pre-Columbian Mexico and South America was another huge influence, which led to studies of the Mexican muralists of the Communist Revolution, Diego Riviera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfred Siquieros. These artists helped me with the challenges of the Crucible mural. Lately the art of the ancient greeks and rennaisance era painters have been my focus, their sense of composition and refinement hold the hardest challenges I have yet seen."

     Referring to some of his other paintings, such as Stairs, Pagoda #1, and Pagoda #2, I asked him about his introduction to M.C. Escher. "I was introduced to Escher and hashish simultaneously while on a high school field trip. Very formative experience. Later, I attended CCAC (California College of Arts and Crafts) for a couple of years (1987-1990) but quit because I never faced the challenges I thought I would find at art school."

     In 1994 Hove did performance painting and body painting at the Whole Earth Expo at Fort Mason and the DNA Lounge. "The performance paintings were at events with many different types of artists doing all kinds of things, and I would do a couple of large and fast paintings while people would watch. Working under pressure like that used to be a thrill, but now it seems like an excercise in ego gratification. Don't know if I would do it again."

     Born and raised in San Francisco, M.S. Hove now has a studio in West Oakland. Hove prefers Oakland to San Francisco because of the availability of larger studio spaces to accomodate his paintings (artist shown with Medusa). In addition to his work in paint, M.S. Hove creates sculpture and mixed-media pieces, some of which can be seen on his website ( "My latest project is a 10 ft. tall strobe light activated zoetrope, a smaller version of which can be seen on my website but needs to be seen in person to be appreciated."

     M.S. Hove invites interested persons to visit his studio. Contact M.S. Hove at to make an appointment.

     The celebration at The Crucible also provided an opportunity to tour the facility and see the students and staff at work. I met with David Friedheim (left), a welding instructor, who was working alongside co-designer Trisha Kyner (instructor, figure in clay) on The Big Dog. The Big Dog is well, a big dog...sculptured out of cement of course. Friedheim excitedly removed the Big Dog's large glass eye from its protective transportation packaging in order to hold it in the eye socket so that visitors could more thoroughly admire the work-in-progress. Friedheim then explained how David LeCheminant, the artist who designed the eyes, proposed the addition of the red spiral/swirl in the yellow background and the choice of the large pupil to create more of a visual imapact. Stan Huncilman and Diana Durand (Cement Sculpture) are also part of The Big Dog artists team. David Friedheim encourages enthusiasts of The Big Dog to email him at to find out more about The Big Dog and see photos of its progress. Check out his website at to see other examples of David Friedheim's work.

     For the full and current list of course offerings at The Crucible, check the website: Hurry if you wish to register: classes start January 14th. Almost all of the equipment at The Crucible is donated, and this helps to keep the tution prices low. The Crucible also offers opportunities for volunteers to earn class time (60 hrs volunteer time = a ten week class!). Contact daniel@thecrucible for the types of volunteer positions available.

     The Crucible also has a gallery. The next exhibit is The Juried Student Show and Refusalon, January 2- February 8, 2002. See for more details.

     Don't miss The Crucible's Third Anniversary Benefit and Masquerade Ball - GREAT BALL OF FIRE. The Great Ball of Fire takes place on Saturday, January 12th at 8pm (until dawn) and tickets are $45 in advance or $50 at the door. Expect performances by Keith Hennesy & Circo Zero, DJ Vordo, Bonfire Madigan, Xeno, Extra Action Marching Band, Ultra Gypsy, Kelek's Tesla Coil, a Molten Bronze pour, Belly Dancing, and Fire Sculptures by Orion Fredericks, Justin Gray & Michael Sturtz. Complimentary Hors d'oeurves will be provided by Work of Art (until 10pm). Please come "Metamorphosed" - in costume!

Photos by Sheilah Navat except photos of "The Crucible Mural" and "Medusa" (courtesy of M.S. Hove).

Search San Francisco and Bay Area art here:
Custom Search