Arlo Cubit Acton was born 1933 in Knoxville, Iowa, and grew up on a farm. He later earned a BA from Washington State University in 1958. He received a Master's Degree in Fine Arts (MFA) from the California Institute of Arts in 1959, being one of the first to ever receive a degree as a sculptor. He has worked as a janitor for Herman Miller Furniture Inc., and he taught sculpturing at UC Berkeley while living in San Francisco in 1963. During his successful career as an artist he won several prizes and exhibited his work in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and other venues. You can read more about Arlo's career as a sculptor on the page about his 'Yurt Studio'.
Robyn Martin was born in North Hollywood, California in 1944. She has always been interested in Art History and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts at Mills College, an undergraduate women's college in Oakland, California. From 1966 to 1968 Robyn received her Master of Arts in Sculpture and Fine Arts at UC Davis. She continued her work as an artist ever since arriving at Olala Farms, which she calls a "Museum without Walls". Since living at Olala, she produces flower essences and sells herbal products, something she started because they "live out of doors, so we must protect ourselves from the vagaries of weather & 'la natura', which we love so much" (LinkedIn: Robyn Martin). Since 1980, she is a teacher of herbs, homeopathy, and flower essences and she used to hold retreats at Olala Farms and other locations in Northern California where she taught how to identify plants and how to use them for flower essences, gem elixirs and homeopathic remedies. She has been a volunteer broadcaster on 'The Garden Forum' at the local radio station KVMR since 1990.
Robyn and Arlo met at the San Francisco Museum of Art ‘Eat Show’ in the late 1960s. They then lived in Arlo's studio for a while, but had to move into Robyn’s studio at Pier 1 ½ because Arlo's studio burnt down. While living in San Francisco, they met the Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni and were involved in painting the airplanes in his movie Zabriskie Point, released in 1970. The two artists moved to North Beach, and later lived in Hopland for a while, where their oldest son Aero was born. In 1974 they arrived in North San Juan where they bought their 200-acre property, soon to be called Olala Farms. They came to the area because one of their friends from the city, Terry Riley, a composer and performing musician, was living on the San Juan Ridge and Robyn and Arlo already visited him once or twice and really liked the area. Their daughter Ana was born on the farm in 1976. Two more sons, Zeno and Orb, followed in 1980 and 1982, respectively.
After living on the farm for 25 years, Robyn and Arlo got married on the property in 1999, holding a simple ceremony with their friends and family. The vows were composed of only one word: Love!
Robyn and Arlo are known in the area and have actively contributed to the community by serving on various boards, doing volunteer work, or by just being there for other people. Their door is always open to anyone and they have taught a great number of things to many people. Without knowing much about us or our project they welcomed us into their home and let us stay there for four weeks. We really appreciate their generosity and hospitality and are incredibly grateful that we were able to spend four weeks on their farm to work on this project.
Robyn Martin and Arlo Cubit Acton
„here we are in South Park in SF----that's south of market st near the bay bridge, we used to live at the foot of Brannan and the Embarkadero in a warehouse - the state belt railroad parked an engine behind the fence and the guys played cards while waiting to load and unload freight from the boats at the docks, the engine purred and the red light circled around all night
there was a hobo jungle behind the grease pit next door, we scaled the fence of the grease pit to take showers after hours, we had a pet black rabbit
we liked to eat at Sam Wo's---Edsel Ford once kissed me there one night while we were out seeing the Russian version of War and Peace - the studio burned down, the firemen threw a tarp over the bed so even though there was water on the floor we climbed into bed, next morning the bums showed up to get our dirty and wet stuff - we told them to move along
then we moved into my studio at Pier 1 1/2. That was where the Red Stack tugs were. Later we lived in North Beach, then Hopland and in 1974 we arrived in North San Juan.
you can't find a trace of our previous existence in SF except for Arlo's sculptures in various museums.“
Robyn and Arlo in San Franciso in 2010
(from Robyn's Facebookpage)
Ana Acton and Larry Desmond talk about
Arlo & Robyn's role in the community