I have been a stranger in a strange land. — Exodus 2:22
The first rule of the Strangers Collective, a grass-roots group of young artists and writers in Santa Fe, is that there are no rules. If you are experimental and innovative in your work, all the better. The group, which formed last year, has quickly grown and currently has about 20 members.
“We’re all emerging artists and writers,” said Stranger Kyle Farrell. “People who have never published and never exhibited in the galleries before suddenly had a place to show their artwork.” It was a breakthrough for the collective’s members when they realized there was a network of young artists who felt isolated in Santa Fe. “Younger artists like us don’t necessarily feel nurtured by the current structure,” said Strangers co-founder Jordan Eddy.
No Land, its latest exhibition, opens with a 5 p.m. reception on Friday, Oct. 16, and runs through Oct. 28, at Wheelhouse Art (418 Montezuma Ave., 505-919-9553). The space opened a little more a year ago and has exhibited the work of prominent local artists alongside emerging and underrepresented ones. However, Wheelhouse is closing its doors at the end of October, and this is its final exhibition. “We were thinking about the fact that our show was happening in this no man’s land of a gallery that’s about to close its doors,” Farrell said. “We often feel like, in such a competitive market, it’s hard to find our own territory and plant our own flag. So we called the show No Land, which also has this sort of cheeky reference to Santa Fe’s landscape painting-focused art establishment, as well.”
Strangers’ manifesto is shown on its website. “We would like to see more places where self-determination and multiplicity and a deeper dialog are encouraged,” it states. The document then expresses a desire to see more locals buying locally made art. The manifesto is a call to establish opportunities for creative individuals who don’t necessarily see themselves as artists and who wish to curb the commercially driven bottom line of the art market and promote affordable works of art. “There’s a whole end of this market that isn’t being recognized,” Eddy said. “How do we connect with that community and band together to rise together and keep people around, as well? So many of our friends who are talented young creatives are moving away.” That was what happened to Strangers co-founder Erikka James, who moved to New York City earlier this year.
Some of the artists showing in No Land are Farrell, James, Leah Devine Pokrasso, and Dion Valdez. Writers in the collective participate by creating zines, which are for sale at the exhibition. There’s no proscription for the zines’ sizes or contents as long as the writing touches on the theme of “no land.” Writers in the show include Eddy, Chris Quintana, Elliot Jackson, and Juro Gagne.
“We’re definitely strangers to the art community here,” Eddy said, “but we also realized that there are strangers out there who are very like-minded and who are seeking the same level of inspiration. If we just reach out, one link away, we’re going to build this group.”
Film still from Freedom Hopkins’ 2015 Capstone