Hard to believe we've had three years of access to Zephyr Community Art Studio already, and yet, here we are. This is one of those important spaces, too: The kind that puts on art stuff for the love of putting on art stuff; the sort of space of which Santa Fe thankfully has many—it's the goods without money calling the shots and with the spirit of collaboration and DIY leading the charge.

"I wanted a space to play music, personally, and to record music," co-founder Alysha Shaw says. "Now we're in a place where there are a lot of folks who are involved and really taking the initiative to create art and share it."

Zephyr celebrates this momentous occasion on Sunday Dec. 23 with music performances from Miss Pavlichenko, Jessie Deluxe, P S I R E N S, Rumelia Collective and a few others. But the real draw of the show (in my opinion, anyway) is the coming-together of four exciting local visual artists, dubbed After the Darkest Night.

We start with Alexandra Rose, a recent graduate of the Institute of American Indian Art. Rose has worked in numerous media, but until recently, her most complete bodies of work have been in photography. For After the Darkest Night, Rose worked at the IAIA foundry to craft cast metal works; lipsticks in iron that resemble ammunition and a bronzed bra that required affixing to her body,
gluing, waxing and ultimately burning before it was cast. Rose says this is a loose homage to the bra-burning days of feminism, though also notes that the show isn't inherently about feminism.

"For me, the core of the [show] is that it's about the voice and expressing your individuality and what you care about," Rose explains. "That the voice is your most powerful tool against all these things we want to dissolve in this world."

Fellow participating artist Andrea Isabel Vargas muses, "Just in this last month, while being in affiliation with [Zephyr], I've run into musicians all over town who know them. People who are not within my sphere of influence, who know the space, and I'm enthusiastic about experiencing it myself."

We spoke of Vargas' figure paintings on paper in our last issue for a story about The
Agency and B Yellowtail pop-up shop (told you we want her on your radar!), and for this event, she'll show paint-on-paper pieces similar to the ones on display at VQ Gallery (703 Canyon Road) as well as life-sized torsos and other larger-scale works. She says she created new entries for Night because "I couldn't help myself—and I feel very fortunate that I've been aligned with other artists and creatives who are provoking and quite distinct." Raw is the name of the game for Vargas' contributions and, she says, they'll be presented without frames. "It really helps us identify mark-making as the most important part," she says.

Paris Mancini, meanwhile, is hard at work completing her own project, a series of figurative paintings that make use of "obnoxious amounts of color." Like Rose, Mancini identifies a certain inescapable feminist energy to the show, but says it's no more about feminism itself than would be a woman who is great at guitar simply playing a guitar. Regardless, like the other artists in the show, she's pushing herself to create with a strong voice; in this case, paintings inspired by the qualities she admires in her friends. Mancini starts with photographs, attains a level of representation with acrylic on canvas, then goes off the rails with hot pinks, light blues and Easter-y yellows.

"They're things I want to be surrounded by," Mancini says of the more abstract elements of her work. "These archetypes I'm creating are what I really want to put out into the world."

Artist Charlotte Thurman rounds out the opening with a stunning hybrid sculpture/video project titled "How to Make a Seine Net." Thurman says she stumbled onto the concept of the seine net—a type used by fisherman that features a hanging net skimming the water vertically—while studying gyotaku, a Japanese printmaking technique also developed by fishermen for making prints with fish. Ironically, Thurman's piece doesn't actually represent the steps of making the seine net, but rather mending one. She was drawn to this concept because, she says, "Mending is an act of empathy," a tenet she hopes to use in her own life and for the self. In the video, viewers find Thurman literally printing her body using gyotaku; the prints are then rolled up and placed in the net, thereby creating a spine-like three-dimensional sculptural work.

"What's exciting about the DIY scene is that the artist has so much ownership," Thurman tells SFR. "It was complete freedom, whereas when I've shown in galleries it's been more regimented."

Amen, Charlotte.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Zephyr Community Art Studio!!

After the Darkest Night: 
3-7 pm Sunday Dec. 23. $5-$10.
Zephyr Community Art Studio,
1520 Center Drive, Ste. 2.