Escondido, CA
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Letter of Marque a House of Navigation


A letter of marque was a government license in the Age of Sail that authorized a private person, known as a privateer or corsair, to attack and capture vessels of a nation at war with the issuer at the time when the ocean was lawless and all merchant vessels sailed armed for self-defense.

This letter is symbolic, and personal … it is for all the people who believe in something greater than themselves and give their lives toward having a better collective experience of the world and for those that shape their lives around an idea, a home, or community.

Who authorizes ownership? Who authorizes a just course for social and cultural progression? Who determines we are the finest city?

When you invite the public into your personal space, your home, there’s a level of intimacy and trust that occurs that breaks down social barriers and gives people the opportunity to have genuine discussions with each other. This is how A Ship In The Woods art nonprofit emerged. 

We did not set out to establish a nonprofit. It was due to the organic response from the community that started forming around these shared ideals and manifested through the lens of contemporary art and the thoughtfully curated events by our many shipmates over the years. 

This has been a passion project, a learning experience in navigating personal/public domains, stereotypes, and the pursuit to explore fringe related discussions outside the main stream.

Over the last 9 years and with the right set of conditions and supporters, I’ve seen this idea grow beyond the framework of a house, a craigslist ad, and our rebus logo WSOHOIDPS.

There’s a painting by artist Chris Johanson hanging in the entryway of A Ship In The Woods depicting a doorway with a striped rainbow sky and field that reads , “All Are Welcome.”

It’s a symbolic doorway we opened in 2010 and made available to those who were searching, looking for alternative ways to perceive and explore our world-view, beyond the spectrum of our daily lives. Since then we have hosted 77 artists in residence and curated over 80 cultural and contemporary art events.

Now we need your support and authorization to continue the fight for alternative liberal arts spaces.

A Ship In The Woods is in a critical transitional period. We have been an all-volunteer run organization solely operated out of the generosity of our main supporter who has recently moved out of state to pursue a new path. Our main objective now as we restructure and move forward is to reaffirm our intention and preserve this natural artist sanctuary on a 2 acre oak grove as an inclusive space for the entire creative community.

We see this moment as a great opportunity for local industry, and art supporters, to help preserve a community that has been created through the collective creative strengths of our local talent, combined with outside cultural influencers. We’ve been able to attract some amazingly talented people to North County and have introduced them to a diverse and progressive culture that exists in the So. Cal. region.

If you would like to donate and help support our mission, please feel free to reach out to learn more or donate today.

R.J. Brooks is co-founder of A Ship in the Woods.

A Ship In The Woods (est. 2010) explores contemporary art and culture through rotating exhibitions, residencies, and public programs. Ship is a sanctuary for artists, musicians, and creatives looking to engage, connect, and support the community. It is based in Escondido.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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