There’s no doubt that traffic has been the single biggest issue on the minds of Mill Valley residents over the past few years, and the influx of summertime visitors, particularly those headed through Tam Valley to Muir Woods and points west, has only exacerbated our congestion in recent weeks.

But as local officials explore incremental solutions like the yellow school bus pilot project and tweaks to traffic light configurations, a group of local artists decided to take a more artistic approach to shining a light on the 94941’s gridlock. Under the umbrella of Pataphysical Studios – “a collective of artists, engineers, teachers and students based in Mill Valley” with professional backgrounds at organizations as wide-ranging as Apple Computer, Bill Graham Presents, Black Rock Arts, Industrial Light and Magic, Jim Henson Company, Rex Foundation, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Whole Earth Catalog, Wikimedia Foundation and Wired Magazine – the artists reimagined the “Welcome to Tamalpais Valley” sign near the Holiday Inn Express.

To do so, they placed a temporary “Traffic Jam” canvas sign last Friday over the word “Tamalpais” in an effort to “improve the quality of public information in a wholly reversible and non-destructive way,” says Howard Rheingold, one of the Pataphysical artists and a 30-year Tam Valley rersident. 

Rheingold say the project was quite simple: “We measured the sign and took photographs, matched the paint color and type face, then cut a piece of canvas, sewed seams, added grommets, painted it, and installed it with bungee cords. It was installed Friday at the beginning of rush hour and taken down Sunday afternoon after the peak traffic. It will reappear at some point.”

The Pataphysical Studios collective “gets together every Saturday afternoon to build the Pataphysical Slot Machine, “a community-created poetic oracle that invites you to face mysterious ‘cabinets of curiosity,’ ask about your future and get words of wisdom.” The slot machine, which is comprised of a variety of materials, including “wood, clay, paints, LEDs, sound chips, motors, as well as Arduino, the interactive platform which holds it all together,” was unveiled at the Mill Valley Library in late 2015.

Here’s a brief video of the installation of the “Traffic Jam Valley” sign:

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