Xpression Sessions is in its second wave, hitting Albuquerque every second and fourth Friday at 5 p.m. A youth-oriented artist workshop program, it’s sponsored by Warehouse 508 (508 First Street NW). Its frontman and main mover is Noah Kessler De St. Croix. He’s devoted himself to the program by fundraising, fanning public interest and coming up with the idea in the first place. His aim is to give the youth of Albuquerque a free outlet for their artistic impulses by pairing them with safe venues like Warehouse 508 and artists who can mentor them in the modern arts.
The goal of the Sessions is simple, says Kessler De St. Croix: “We are devoted to creating a space to support the cycle of educating youth and providing an opportunity for local artists to share their skills with the community. This not only generates local economy, but connects our community in a unique and positive way.” By bringing in experienced Albuquerque artists and paying them to work with the youth, the program establishes cultural and economic revenue for everyone involved. It gives artists the chance to mentor the next generation of creative minds and gives youth an opportunity to glean skills and savvy from successful mentors.
The guest artists brought in to lead the workshops possess multifarious skills. They are vetted and professional as well as locally revered. Kessler De St. Croix’s lineup includes Ben Shaw, Mooxie, CloudFace, Lisa Casaus and Melvin Mayes.
Kessler De St. Croix also emphasizes the program’s practical value and describes how a recent workshop given by Ben Shaw addressed the feasibility of making a life for yourself as an artist—not in the sense of becoming famous, but by making a living and raising a family on your work. He says, “[Shaw] talked about portfolio building, reference letters. Basically all that stuff colleges don’t tell you until the last quarter. The meat, the stuff you need.”
The next workshop will be led by Mooxie on July 26 and will focus on urban-edged illustration using pen, India inks and watercolors. Mooxie’s style is fresh and urbane, characterized by bold lines with a stylized rough finish.
On August 9, CloudFace will run the session. Of CloudFace, Kessler De St. Croix says, “He’s out there in your face doing a demonstration, up on stage with musicians, but he uses a lot of fine art techniques while staying street, raw. He’ll instruct you on how to make art publicly and talk about pacing and focus, about knowing your media and having your art supplies ready.”
The final session on August 23 will feature Lisa Casaus with a workshop that Kessler De St. Croix says will “focus on illustration and form. She kind of finds random objects then figures out how to morph them. It’ll be a workshop for the imagination. Letting go to find our creative paths.”
In the end, Xpression Sessions is a simple and sustainable equation. It’s about cultivating an Albuquerque culture by bridging generations of its artists. As Kessler De St. Croix says, “It’s kind of like a local creative revenue or sustainable resource. Albuquerque artists training Albuquerque artists in their formative years.”
All Xpression Sessions are free, with materials provided by Warehouse 508.