Get­ting ac­quainted


Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS - Michael Abatemarco

Ifthe road to op­por­tu­nity is too nar­row, you can do what Strangers Col­lec­tive, one of Santa Fe’s hottest emerg­ing art groups, did, and widen the gap. In un­der two years, Strangers grew from liv­ing room salons to mount­ing ex­hibits at ma­jor gal­leries, and re­cently opened Nar­rows, its largest show yet, at the Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Gallery. The col­lec­tive has a num­ber of dy­namic pop-up ex­hi­bi­tions un­der its belt, in­clud­ing shows at David Richard Gallery and Caldera, the artist-run space started by the two-per­son col­lec­tive SCUBA. “It grew or­gan­i­cally from a small group of friends,” Strangers co-founder Kyle Far­rell told Pasatiempo. The group be­gan ex­hibit­ing its art­work at pre­sen­ta­tions in the liv­ing room of fel­low mem­ber Erikka James, lack­ing a space of its own (which it still does not have). Since then, Strangers has grown, and Nar­rows is its largest show yet, in­clud­ing the work of over 35 artists. There’s a buzz about not only Strangers, but other home­grown col­lab­o­ra­tives as well, in­clud­ing SCUBA, Meow Wolf, Il­lu­mine, and Hy­dra Col­lec­tive. The emerg­ing scene is adding a more art-cen­tric — rather than busi­ness-cen­tric — model to the Santa Fe art world, and the col­lec­tives are giv­ing voice to a gen­er­a­tion of young artists and writ­ers who, per­haps due to a grow­ing sense of com­mu­nity sup­port, are not leav­ing. “It seems like, even out­side of our group, in the larger com­mu­nity, that the al­ter­na­tive art scene has hit some sort of tip­ping point,” said co-founder Jor­dan Eddy. “A lot of the peo­ple we are ex­hibit­ing now were pre­vi­ously work­ing alone in their liv­ing rooms and never show­ing their work.” The ti­tle Nar­rows ref­er­ences small liv­ing and work spa­ces, where many artists, un­able to pro­cure stu­dios, pro­duce their creations — along with the lim­ited range of op­por­tu­ni­ties that ex­ist for such projects to be seen.

The Strangers mem­bers fund them­selves, and vol­un­teer their time to mount ex­hibits. “That’s im­por­tant for build­ing the com­mu­nity,” Eddy said. “It’s more than just show­ing the work in a gallery space. It’s also shar­ing re­sources, skills, and in­for­ma­tion. We’re do­ing some­thing totally dif­fer­ent from what hap­pens in tra­di­tional art dis­tricts in town, but we’re just as

We’re do­ing some­thing totally dif­fer­ent from what hap­pens in tra­di­tional arts dis­tricts in town, but we’re just as se­ri­ous about it, and we’re work­ing maybe even twice as hard be­cause we don’t have a lot of fund­ing to do it. — Strangers Col­lec­tive co-founder Jor­dan Eddy

se­ri­ous about it, and we’re work­ing maybe even twice as hard be­cause we don’t have a lot of fund­ing to do it.” Mem­bers’ com­mit­ments to the larger group keep costs down, al­low­ing Strangers to mount shows for less than $200. “The shows keep get­ting big­ger and big­ger,” Far­rell said. “Some­thing we’re fac­ing now is, how do we start hav­ing a lit­tle bit of fund­ing to pro­duce these shows? We know we can do it on noth­ing at this point, but it would be more com­fort­able to have a lit­tle bit of money. So now we’re look­ing into grants to fund the col­lec­tive for a cer­tain num­ber of months or the whole year.” For now, Strangers re­mains un­in­cor­po­rated, with no stand­ing as a for-profit busi­ness or non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Nar­rows is a mul­ti­me­dia ex­hi­bi­tion with works on paper, pho­tog­ra­phy, paint­ing, and sculp­ture. Vis­ual artists in­clude Far­rell, James, Shan­non Latham, and Kather­ine Lee. Strangers also pro­duces zines. “Erikka and I are vis­ual artists and Jor­dan is a writer and we knew a lot of writ­ers,” Farell said. “It’s even harder for them to get their work out there and get pub­lished. At least with the art scene there are so many dif­fer­ent art spa­ces and op­por­tu­ni­ties, like at the Com­mu­nity Gallery. But I think the writ­ing scene hasn’t re­ally built that in­fra­struc­ture at all for young writ­ers.” Par­tic­i­pat­ing writ­ers in­clude Daniel Bohn­horst, Austin Eichel­berger, and Kelly Skeen. Strangers plans a zine work­shop at the Com­mu­nity Gallery on Satur­day, May 28, and artist talks on Wed­nes­day, June 1.

It can be ar­gued that the col­lec­tives op­er­at­ing in Santa Fe to­day are, in fact, keep­ing a cer­tain tra­di­tion alive. Even the lauded move­ments and grass­roots col­lab­o­ra­tives of the past, such as the Taos So­ci­ety of Artists, and other re­gional groups and move­ments, be­gan in much the same way as Strangers: as a small group of friends or­ga­niz­ing what were es­sen­tially pop-up, and not nec­es­sar­ily cu­rated, ex­hi­bi­tions. What is wel­come is the recog­ni­tion of con­tem­po­rary col­lec­tives of young artists by es­tab­lished gal­leries like David Richard Gallery, which hosted Happy Birth­day

Meow Wolf! in Fe­bru­ary, a ben­e­fit ex­hi­bi­tion on the oc­ca­sion of the group’s eighth an­niver­sary. The gallery also held a salon that month with Strangers. Art.i.fact, a con­sign­ment shop in the Baca Street arts dis­trict, hosted a Strangers’ pop-up last sum­mer. The Com­mu­nity Gallery, where any­one can pitch a show, seemed like a log­i­cal next step for the group.

“One of our goals is to bridge gaps be­tween the emerg­ing or al­ter­na­tive art scene and the more es­tab­lished art scene,” Eddy said. “We did a small pop-up at Caldera and one of our artists, Mar­cus Zu­niga, did two pro­jec­tions in the court­yard and from that show, he was in­vited to do a piece for open­ing night of the Cur­rents New Me­dia Fes­ti­val. He’d been try­ing to get into Cur­rents for years, and this show totally turned it around. That’s what we want — to build ex­po­sure and get peo­ple the op­por­tu­ni­ties they de­serve. You can make things hap­pen in a large group. When you think about the com­mu­nity that Meow Wolf sup­ports and cul­ti­vates and keeps here, a lot of those artists are young, emerg­ing artists in their own rights.”

Eddy views hav­ing an ex­hibit of 35-plus young artists in down­town Santa Fe as an in­ter­ven­tion of sorts. It’s a mo­ment where you see the work pro­duced by the artists you’ve never heard of be­fore, but who have been here, work­ing steadily. “We’re hop­ing that proves to peo­ple that you can carve out a space,” Eddy said. “We’re re­ally grow­ing. We’re at a point where art spa­ces are ap­proach­ing us. That wasn’t hap­pen­ing a year ago.”

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