Tak­ing Flight

Pasatiempo - - Art In Review - Robert Nott The New Mex­i­can

One per­son feels that Santa Fe em­braces young artists. An­other says that you have to learn to mar­ket your­self here. A third be­lieves that the city of­fers no mo­ti­va­tion for young creative minds, while an­other says it’s the place to be as long as you want to work and grow— and not worry about whether or not you get paid.

The 13 artists pro­filed in Pasatiempo this week, rang­ing in age from 16 to 26, don’t share a com­mon thought as to whether Santa Fe is the place for them to spread their artis­tic wings. That makes sense, ac­cord­ing to Sabrina Pratt, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Santa Fe Arts Com­mis­sion: “For some peo­ple it works to stay here. Oth­ers want to go away, have a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence, and maybe come back later. Oth­ers come from else­where be­cause Santa Fe has some sort of in­spi­ra­tion to help them.”

Yet Pratt and other vet­eran arts ad­min­is­tra­tors, teach­ers, and men­tors agree that the city should nur­ture young artists in an ef­fort to get them to con­trib­ute to the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of Santa Fe — a tough chal­lenge, as the re­ces­sion is tak­ing its toll on both artists’ salaries and artis­tic non­prof­its. A re­cent arts and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment sur­vey cited in a Novem­ber edi­tion of The New York Times re­ported that more than half the na­tional artists sur­veyed said their in­come dropped from 2008 to 2009, while in Santa Fe the Cen­ter for

ICon­tem­po­rary Arts an­nounced it would close by year’s end if a fi­nan­cial an­gel didn’t come to the res­cue.

Yet op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn or work in the arts com­mu­nity ex­ist. Most lo­cal the­ater groups take on in­terns as ad­min­is­tra­tors or per­form­ers. SITE Santa Fe of­fers sev­eral youth-ori­ented pro­grams, in­clud­ing Young Cu­ra­tors, Vis­ual Think­ing Strate­gies, and in­tern­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties. The Ge­or­gia O’Ke­effe Mu­seum’s ed­u­ca­tional out­reach pro­gram pro­vides work­shops, classes, and ex­hi­bi­tions to ben­e­fit young artists. The New Mex­ico School for the Arts, slated to open next au­tumn, will of­fer free tu­ition to se­lected high-school stu­dents. Ware­house 21 hosts an ar­ray of classes in var­i­ous medi­ums.

But more and more, young artists are cre­at­ing venues— and op­por­tu­ni­ties— for them­selves. An en­sem­ble of stu­dents from the In­sti­tute of Amer­i­can In­dian Arts es­tab­lished a youthori­ented ex­hi­bi­tion space called The Hum­ble. Twenty-some­things Zac Schein­baum and Meghan Tomeo ran Pennbrick Gallery from May to Septem­ber; they hope to re­vive the project in the fu­ture. High May­hem, a mul­ti­me­dia-arts venue, is headed to­ward its 10th birth­day. Me­owWolf, head­quar­tered in a ware­house-type space off Sec­ond Street, cel­e­brates its sec­ond an­niver­sary in Fe­bru­ary. All th­ese en­ti­ties play a role in shap­ing Santa Fe’s fu­ture as an arts cen­ter.

“Young peo­ple who are try­ing to start here have to cre­ate their own en­vi­ron­ments to make art,” said Mark Hern­don, an IAIA fac­ulty mem­ber who works in jew­elry and met­als. “If this town is go­ing to be re­de­fined, it’s not go­ing to hap­pen be­cause of the older crowd. It’s go­ing to hap­pen be­cause young artists make their own state­ment and try not to em­u­late what the Santa Fe art scene is now.” Hern­don be­moans the fact that the city has no ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tute of­fer­ing a Mas­ter of Fine Arts.

There seems to be agree­ment that young vis­ual artists have a bet­ter chance of draw­ing at­ten­tion to them­selves than per­for­mance artists do here. “Vis­ual arts makes a lot of sense here,” said Cather­ine Op­pen­heimer, found­ing artis­tic di­rec­tor of Na­tional Dance In­sti­tute of New Mex­ico and chair of the New Mex­ico School for the Arts. “But we re­ally don’t have a strong, vi­able the­ater and dance com­mu­nity here. I think you can get great train­ing here, but then you have to move on. If you want to be a bal­let dancer at 18, 19, 20, you have to get a job, and to do that you have to go out of state.”

María Benítez, who runs The In­sti­tute of Span­ish Arts and has taught fla­menco dance for about 30 years, agrees, but she thinks dancers need to branch out as ed­u­ca­tors too. “Young peo­ple want to be per­form­ing, not teach­ing, but they have to teach to make sure they have a roof over their head,” she said. She pays her adult dancers, mu­si­cians, and tech­ni­cians and is looking for a way to pro­vide stipends for her Next Gen­er­a­tion young per­form­ers. She en­cour­ages her young dancers to go else­where for a ca­reer— at least, in the beginning. “I tell a lot of them, you’ve got to leave and feel what’s out there, and then you can come back.’ ” Still, she thinks young artists should un­der­stand, “In Santa Fe there are nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties to study dance, the­ater, paint­ing, mu­sic, etc., with top-notch teach­ers, but Santa Fe is not re­quired to pro­vide you with mak­ing a liv­ing in the arts — it has to at least start with you.”

Men­tors, teach­ers, direc­tors, and young artists agree that self-pro­duc­ing and self-pro­mo­tion are two vi­tal el­e­ments to suc­cess. Santa Fe na­tive Quinn Tincher, 25, one of the founders of Me­owWolf, be­lieves this city is a creative par­adise for artists his age. “If you’re try­ing to break into the sell­ing mar­ket, this may not be your town, but if your mo­ti­va­tion is to change

at­ti­tudes in the so­cial com­mu­nity via art, Santa Fe may be your bub­ble,” he said. Older, es­tab­lished artists have helped Me­owWolf sur­vive, but Tincher ac­knowl­edges that no one within the or­ga­ni­za­tion has the time, tal­ent, or de­sire to learn about money mat­ters such as in­cor­po­rat­ing as a non­profit or writ­ing grants. He’d like to see the city or state come up with a “gi­ant project for emerg­ing artists” or hire a fundraiser/grant-writer who could help the un­der-30 art crowd raise funds.

Ana Maria Gal­le­gos y Rein­hardt, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor ofWare­house 21, thinks it’s time for a city-wide sum­mit on youth artists and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. “Santa Fe wants to find ways to keep young peo­ple here, but what is the ap­proach? It’s all about jobs. We have to be em­ployed to sur­vive, and to­day teenagers are hav­ing a hard time find­ing work. Most of the peo­ple I have worked with over the last 25 years have left Santa Fe. In 10, 20 years, where will all those young peo­ple who are here now be? What’s go­ing to hap­pen to the art scene in Santa Fe if we’re not cul­ti­vat­ing that tal­ent now?”

Toe­ing the line at the Na­tional Dance In­sti­tute of New Mex­ico

In­sti­tute of Amer­i­can In­dian Arts class

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