Great cities are defined by great art. We acknowledge the fact, profit from the spirit, but don’t necessarily involve ourselves with feeding our city’s vital arts character. Blessedly, in New Mexico, many do.
Last week, I took part in #abqtalk: a Twitter Talk show moderated by William C. Reichard, multi-talented communications pro and author of the blog Technoagita. Although the concept of any number of people simultaneously tweeting on a target topic sounds like a recipe for mayhem, it works. Reichard invites newcomers, thanks departers, adds missed links and repeats tweets to cohere and clarify the flow. Last week’s subject was the arts in Albuquerque; the “panel” three of the Duke City’s arts organizations: Popejoy, a performing arts venue seating 1985 patrons bringing in touring acts to New Mexico, Chroma Studios, “an art center with studios, gallery, performance space where creatives can work, play, show and perform their ideas” and The Harwood, “a community art center that focuses on promoting education and visibility for artists, would be and could be artists.”
Participants acknowledged the impact of the recession and their role in keeping interest alive. “When money is tight, said @ACiepielaBFT, sometimes people forget what a difference the arts can make in their life. In the words of @TheHarwood “to build the arts audience in abq, we also need to inspire it – show people how creativity & art are relevant.”
Some tweets spoke of perennial roadblocks–ego, snobbery and inadequate funding among them. What surprised me was to hear of the difficulty that these established, and fairly high-profile venues face in getting the word out.
Several organizations decried the lack of “a centralized email calendar”and lamented that with “so much going on we don’t always make the cut on [published] calendars.” One participant noted that Albuquerque arts venues also must acknowledge how they are perceived outside the state: locals know we are an arts locale, nationally, people think Santa Fe.”
I sense an opportunity.
My focus, here and with Changing Gallery, is to promote the arts, businesses, events and people of downtown Santa Fe. I am particularly committed to promoting independent and emerging artists who operate outside of the gallery system. The blog is one place where you can find out about the activities, news, culture and players of the Alt/Indie/Emerging Arts Scene. I intend my work to be complementary to, not opposed to, the efforts of local galleries who cannot fund, represent or support every creative that crosses their paths.
According to a survey by the nonprofit group Americans for the Arts, over the last ten years the number of arts organizations increased rapidly at the same time that the percentage of people attending arts events declined. Too many hands are reaching out for pieces of a dwindling pie. The good news is that there are many people motivated to preserve a vigorous arts presence. The challenge: how do we work together to create strength for all?
I do not have immediate, definitive answers but I offer what I have: my brain, my heart, my snippet of time, and my blog.
North/Central New Mexico, let’s start with the longed for centralized calendar. We can use this informational meeting place to build a sturdy bridge between Santa Fe and Albuquerque: two vibrant arts communities whose proximity and complementarity are an open conduit for cooperative effort. Santa Fe: if you’ve never been to an ArtsCrawl, make an effort. Check out the offerings at Chroma Studios and The Harwood Art Center. Take a look at the full spectrum of activities provided by Popejoy Hall. And Albuquerque, don’t dismiss Santa Fe as snobby. Every been to a performance by WiseFoolNewMexico?
“Every thriving city I can think of has a visible, supported, and bustling art scene,” said @TheHarwood last week on Twitter. Let’s be that thriving Twin City.
I look forward to your commentary and shared energy.
THIS WEEK ON THE SANTA FE/ALBUQUERQUE ALT/EMERGING/INDIE CREATIVE SCENE
Chace Haynes’ show People, People! is still up at High Mayhem at 2811 Siler Lane in Santa Fe. Chace plans to be at the studio this Saturday and Sunday, from 1-4. Call him at: 505.670.6115 to confirm or arrange an appointment.
Check out the appealing abstract paintings on Halle Treanor’s Art Page We met Halle at an open house at our listings at 111 East Santa Fe Ave. Her blog includes a link to Halle’s site on Fine Art America which features more photography than painting.
Albuquerque based FractionMag is a photography site of distinction. Great people driving great work by emerging and independent photo talents.
Red Cell and Patricia Sautoff continue their admirable work at The End of Being : a guide to difficult and unusual art, music, film, people and ideas.
Jenna Gerbach’s still pumping out her humble brilliance at MyHungryEye
Finally, take a look at a sensitive, piercing collection of photos by KayLynn Deveney chronicling the daily life of a Welsh man by the name of Albert Hastings. Photographer Kaylynn Deveney happens to be William C. Reichard’s wife, but my endorsement is spontaneous and unsolicited. This is simple, powerful stuff.