SFR Talk: Sweet Spread

With SPREAD contenders

According to Phillips Director and Chief Curator Irene Hofmann, SITE Santa Fe's micro-granting art initiative SPREAD was the largest event of its kind. SPREAD raised nearly $8,000 for the kitty through sales of 250 tickets, as well as donations, for the March 18 dinner event (beforehand, Director of External Affairs Anne Wrinkle had modestly estimated the event would raise $3,000, assuming 200 tickets sold at the minimum sliding-scale price of $15).

The event was an upscale barnyard affair with predominantly black garb, relatively fashionable attendees, and decorations of smart checkered tablecloths and "SPREAD"-stamped lemon centerpieces—all of which belied the Santa Fe Farmers Market location and the Whole Hog Café barbecue fare. Selected out of 60 submissions, eight presenters (or groups of presenters) delivered five-minute pitches for their respective projects. At the end, attendees voted for which project should receive funding. Meow Wolf, a collective of 50 people who were not allowed to vote, won with its mammoth pirate ship installation, "The Due Return."

Two other SPREAD events are scheduled for this year, in June and October (see for submission deadlines and more info). Below, we’ve quoted each of the presenters and provided brief summaries of their proposals.

Cloacas with Flying Wall Studios plans a short film starring a cast of puppets that will “tell the tale of Wide-mouth Mason, an honest everyman who ‘gets done wrong’ his whole life, but manages to make the best of things.” The film will include an original score of acoustic quintet music. “We’re seeking to resuscitate what we see as dying arts.”

Neal Ambrose-Smith, who has taught nontoxic printmaking in schools across the country, wants to institute printmaking using water-based, pure-pigment inks in an Albuquerque school. “There’s nothing more satisfying than the joy of children’s glee when pulling fresh paintings off the press.”

Sculpture artist Willie Ray Parish, in collaboration with photographer Scott McMahon, is renovating a small aluminum trailer to create a traveling camera obscura to be used at museums or at public events. “Basically, it’s a giant pinhole camera…set in a trailer built in New Mexico by a New Mexican in about 1952.”

Rebecca Holland wants to draw attention to an unnoticed exterior space by spreading crushed green candy at the site. She estimates the installation would last two to three weeks, depending on rain. “I search for an insignificant space I can alter or define somehow.”

Madi Sato hopes to post-produce Return to the River, her CD of traditional Japanese music with world musicians recorded at a Japanese Zen monastery. “We’ve brought in internationally renowned as well as local artists…to bridge American hearts with Japanese hearts.”

Architect and artist Conrad Skinner plans to write, research and travel in order to create two histories of the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater, one for publication and one an annotated academic version. “Interaction with the space made a difference. I climbed right through it…never had I seen a theater invite such physical engagement by performers.”

Over the course of two years, Ben Haggard is painting 200 to 600 impressionistic portraits of Santa Feans. After the 90-minute sittings, he will not alter the 24-by-32-inch acrylic works, which he plans to exhibit in diverse venues. “I want to create a collective portrait of a community through weaving portraits of individuals together.”

Winner Meow Wolf is constructing a 70-foot-long, 25-foot-wide and 14-foot-high enterable—and livable—pirate ship. It will include a “futuristic control room,” bunks and an upstairs lounge, as well as sound, video and performance art. “It’s reality completely abstracted, destroyed, obliterated and put back together again.” —Nicholas Chiarella, one of three Meow Wolf speakers.

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