Join us Feb. 22, 2020


3525 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Lafayette, CA

at the Pop-up gallery for an interactive walk through of the vault of the Unknown Key. Artist, cartoonist, writer, Betsy Streeter will tell the tale of the vault and it’s many iterations. Stop in for a look at what is new and evolving.

Nobody really plans to make art in a bank vault. It’s just not an opportunity that comes up – well, ever. But here we are, with a tiny world in a little, concrete-and-metal room, filled with stories – first the stories of the families and individuals who stored their valuables inside, and now as an all-purpose story room that’s been interpreted in multiple ways – and keeps evolving.
When Betsy Streeter began work on Unknown Key, the first job was to clean up the vault and make it safe – remove the metal shards and sharp edges, figure out which boxes open and which did not, and take an inventory of a room that had been emptied but remained so intriguing. Hundreds of boxes, and keys, and little doors. And dust. And one piece of dried gum.
In the first installation, she built in tiny vignettes made out of toys, action figures, rocks, plants, and even printed labels. There were battles, crazy dinosaurs riding atop toy cars, little army men and astronauts and Superman watching over it all.
In the second chapter of the vault, nature took over. The lovely work of Joy Broom was moved in, and it became a cabinet of curiosities, filled with branches and seeds and preserved creatures and bones.
Now we are on the third chapter, in which Betsy is using the safe deposit boxes as a backdrop for a comic story centered on Birthday Kitty, found in a drawing on the wall just a few feet away. She started by having people vote on how the story might unfold, and then… Kitty just left the page. And now he’s running around, in his ducky pajamas and hat, with his always-celebrating attitude, in the vault. And his friends the sloth and manatee are looking for him, too.
Betsy thanks Jennifer Perlmutter, and Hillary Shipway and Martin Segobia, and everyone who came in and helped clean, and polish, and pull off stickers, and make this strange little room into a land of stories. Here’s to what happens next! Please come by often and see what’s new with Kitty and his friends – and the many other wonderful artists who show in the gallery.

Follow along and vote in the vault, or on Instagram @betsystreeter or @jenperlmuttergallery