With warm weather coming in (however inconsistently) and summer on the way, the nights are getting more hospitable and frankly, I would like to spend more time dancing them away. But how do I enjoy the crisp nighttime air while also engaging in mindless hip shaking? What’s the solution to this widespread and pernicious problem plaguing our city? An outdoor music festival, naturally. But why stop there? Skateboarding, break dancing and art installations are all fair game and sound awesome.
With what I can only assume was exactly that thought process, Creative Santa Fe has brought together artists, dancers and musicians for an event that can only be described as fantastical: the second annual FantaSe Dome Fest. Originally launched in June 2013 to celebrate the reopening of DeVargas Park, the first FantaSe festival met with a crowd of over 2,000 people who came to explore whimsical installations throughout the park. This year, it’s back with a vengeance—a fun vengeance.
The festival opens with a skate jam where you can watch the local boarding enthusiasts (read: adorable skate ruffians) do killer tricks to a soundtrack provided by a live DJ. Then, experience break dancing and jams with the 3HC Hip Hop Crew, a local group that has been spinning, flipping and shuffling in one form or another since 1997. As the sun goes down, the acrobatics cool off to make way for the glowing lights of five art installations.
This year's installation theme is geodesic domes, an architectural innovation and one of the many strange structures that speckle the Southwest. The domes give an otherworldly vibe to the park and invite participation with interactive features.
Tesuque-based artist Marion Wasserman, whose video garden installation Find Your Fortune leads participants through a series of crystal balls and 250 LED lights, says the project is about bringing community together "in a spirit of playfulness."
It's playfulness that inspired Santa Fe artist Jacob Snider's installation Tunnels, an interactive landscape of fog, bubbles and light that participants enter without shoes and bring to life by touch. It's not a piece to pass by quickly either; Snider invites participants to "lay down, hang out, have a complete experience" before leaving the dome.
Snider says he was brought to this piece by seeing how a previous installation, which was intended to be a more somber, introspective experience, ended up as a bit of a "daycare," as children explored and played in the space. "I realized that's the best response to an installation, their excitement at the light and interacting with it…Kids are awesome appreciators of art."
The other installations scattered across the park include the motion-activated Sensorius, by Española-based art collective Domasulon, The Logic of Falling by Albuquerque artist Brad Wolfley and a cinematic experience of the New Mexico wilderness by filmmakers Richard, Sandra and Justin Duval and Amy Filbeck called The American Mustang.
Playing off this visual landscape is a wide array of musical talent that Creative Santa Fe Program Coordinator Katelyn Peer says are definitively local, but "aren't what you immediately think of when you think Santa Fe."
Last year's event also boasts an unusual demographic for the City Different with about 92 percent of participants reportedly under 44 years old. Peer says such statistics in Santa Fe are "unheard of," and she hopes the festival will help to "support that element of our community so it can thrive."
What's more, a large percentage of the revenue generated by the event goes back to the "creative economy"—to the artists, musicians, performers and technicians who brought their crazy creative antics and practical know-how to the festival. Local funding and a well-supported Kickstarter campaign has allowed Creative Santa Fe to really go to town on the festival, which they hope will gain ground internationally as a destination event.
Peer says it's time to show off the creativity that's "so vibrant here" and make a space to get Santa Fe "out there." Peer calls the event a "prototype" of what she hopes will become a major part of the culture of Santa Fe, promoting how mind-bendingly fantastic we are.
Jared Garcia, lead vocalist of Thieves & Gypsys and music coordinator for the Dome Fest, talks about what the outdoor bash represents for Santa Fe:
FantaSe Dome Fest
6 pm-midnight Friday, May 9. Free
(corner of Guadalupe
and W DeVargas Streets)