PER­FECT STRANGERS

I have been a stranger in a strange land. — Ex­o­dus 2:22

Pasatiempo - - MIXED MEDIA - — Michael Abatemarco

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

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