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Arts & Culture

Artist Wes Bruce's Fort Comes To Film

Trailer for "A Film About A Fort"

The fort, taking up a 2,000 square foot space at California Center of the Arts in Escondido and built by San Diego artist Wes Bruce, was taken down December 31, 2010. But Wednesday night, fans got to see a documentary about the artist's fascination with forts, shacks, and abandoned homes.

"A Film About a Fort," directed and filmed by Bryan Bangerter, a friend of Bruce, screened in a packed theater at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

Bangerter was asked in July to start shooting footage while the fort was installed at the Center, which included documenting the unpacking of a U-Haul filled with a hodgepodge of supplies.


The fort was titled "Ms. Augustine Greane," named after a fictional character created by Bruce. Built out of wood pallets and scraps, the fort is meant to be the home of Ms. Greene. It held old toys, sleeping bags, pillows, photos and other memorabilia, some of which belonged to Bruce's own family.

Bruce described his collecting bug in a post on the Sezio website:

I've become the keeper of other people's wisdom teeth, cat skulls, and letters. What do you do for work, I was asked at Thanksgiving? Collect bugs and steal things from abandoned homes I thought to myself. I find ways to get paid to sleep in the woods, and write poetry on the bank statements of Swiss-German immigrants I’ll never meet.

Ultimately, the film became a story of what happens when an artist imagines the life and home of another in his work.

The film starts on a visit to Bruce's childhood home in Northern California, where viewers see the beginning of his fort making in the thick woods of his backyard.

Since the fort came down in December, Bruce has built about 6-7 smaller forts around the area.


This summer, Bruce and a group of friends will travel throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada building more forts. They plan to connect with volunteer organizations working with educational programs, urban gardens, refugee communities, and other organizations.

During the Q&A portion of the screening, Bruce and Bangerter said they have hopes of showing the film at other museums.

A website has been set up to learn more about Bruce's summer tour or donate to the project.