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Home / Articles / News / Features /  Listen Up
W21
The brightest places for the arts are underground.

Listen Up

Can the underground go mainstream? Maybe so

December 23, 2008, 12:00 am

Before the news hit that WilLee’s Blues Club and the Green Onion were shuttering their doors, the indie music scene had already closed out its tab.

In 2008, local artists looked toward their friends and gathered together to form a network of underground venues that used collaboration rather than capital to get art out there.

Though the venues operate independently of one another, what they, as a whole, created over the year is an exciting do-it-yourself, all-ages community that thrives on and inspires participation. But, like any good family, that community had its ups and downs throughout the year.

First, in March, the DIY art collective Meow Wolf found itself in the spotlight when city inspectors found the Second Street space didn’t have enough parking to function as a music venue.

Then, in May, High Mayhem, which had housed its performance space, recording studio and gallery in a Lena Street residence for the better part of seven years, found itself in a similar predicament when Santa Fe fire inspectors showed up and determined only eight people could legally be in the building. Both spaces closed within weeks of their respective inspections. Meow Wolf reopened a few months later down the street from its old space and High Mayhem continues hosting shows at a variety of locations around town.

“We’re really using this time to recoup,” High Mayhem press liaison Alexis Brown tells SFR. “We are looking for a new space, but there’s no reason to rush it. We want to find the perfect place rather than the first place.”

In the meantime, High Mayhem has hosted shows and its annual festival at the new Warehouse 21 building, a sprawling multi-million dollar event and workshop space that opened in June, as well as shows at O’Shaughnessy Performance Space on the College of Santa Fe campus.

“We’ve been sending people to [The Process] and other venues,” High Mayhem Program Director Carlos Santistevan told SFR in February. “It’s not about competition; it’s about community. When artists can be supported it catalyses even further; it doesn’t matter where that happens. It’s just great that it happens.”

In addition to its own work, The Humble also is in talks with the Institute of American Indian Arts about future collaborations.

Just as High Mayhem was putting out its signature bonfire for the final time, the Santa Fe Complex, which hosts art and music shows as well as works with scientists and business leaders to make connections between art and science, jumped into the spotlight. The group officially began work during the cold winter, but it wasn’t until June that the doors opened officially to the public.

Since then, the Complex has hosted a variety of music events put on by local musicians with no organizational ties, as well as several events by the salon-style organization, The Process. On Dec. 10, the Santa Fe City Council voted unanimously to help fund Santa Fe Complex’s future endeavors.

While most of these venues are, or have been, a quick bike ride from downtown, the Southside isn’t left out. In fact, The Humble is the most underground of the bunch. “We try to do it without doing what everyone tells us is the ‘right’ way,” Micah Wesley, aka The Werewolf Micah, tells SFR. Located just off Airport Road, the warehouse space, which two of its collective members also call home, hosted various successful shows this year. In the coming months, Humble plans to launch a puppet theater, continue its visual arts programs and host spoken-word performances. Music is also in the plan but will be more the occasional event, such as the December performance of Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses fame.

“We had to do that one,” Wesley says, “it was just too good to pass up. So, we’ll keep doing stuff like that when it comes around.”

Back at Meow Wolf, collaboration is on the brain as well. At a recent meeting, some 20 young artists tossed ideas back and forth for an upcoming art exhibition.

“If anyone has any ideas, anything, let’s get it going,” Quinn Tincher of Meow Wolf told the group. “It doesn’t matter what it is, if we work together, we can make anything happen.”

 

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