Imagine a festive “one-night-only” art event more like a rock concert than a gallery opening. No fancy, self-conscious people milling about a cavernous, half-empty gallery space sipping chardonnay from plastic cups. Instead, a low-key venue that holds over 50 accomplished artists and their boisterous fans in a crowded space jam-packed with overlapping artwork. And the main aim of the night? For artists to network and socialize. (No sales allowed!)
“This is artists, for artists, by artists. It’s about a kinship and sense of community between us,” Max Presneill, a founder of the traveling MAS Attack series, asserts. On the evening of Saturday, July 19, 28 LA artists and 30 Burque artists will gather at Creative Albuquerque (115 Fourth Street NW) to revel in a bit of madness. Following on the heels of similar events in San Francisco and Las Vegas, Albuquerque’s first MAS Attack should scramble the traditional arts scene.
British-born artist and curator Presneill has been bringing artists together in LA since 2009, when he helped create ARTRA Curatorial as “an alternative to the commercial galleries and the lack of exhibition opportunities due to the recession.” Later, through conversation with another artist on Facebook in which they both praised each other’s work, he came up with the idea of staging a MAS (“Mutual Appreciation Society”) in order to champion artists who don’t get enough exposure in galleries.
Albuquerque artists are gearing up for the July 19 event. Lea Anderson, whose intricate patterns and otherworldly pods decorated like Easter eggs reflect her interest in odd natural phenomena, says she is looking forward to making connections outside of New Mexico.
David Santiago, who works primarily with charcoal, pastel and oil on wood, depicts mysterious women in his artwork. (“The women I paint all have secrets,” he says.) Santiago believes that “if we can start bringing some outside artists in and combining them with our own local artists, we are both creating new ways for our community to engage with our local talents and a chance to discover new artists from other parts of the globe.”
And Jill Christian, whose paintings are saturated with rippling blue and yellow strokes that capture impressions of the evening and the morning sky, said she thinks “MAS Attack could be a model for creating more community-building events.”
According to Nancy Zastudil, the art curator and writer integral to bringing MAS Attack to the Duke City, there’s no reason for artists to depend on galleries any longer. “Why not take a road trip and host a one-night event in a new city with a bunch of artist friends? What other ideas might we come up with that support a wide range of artists and various styles of art making?” she asks. Perhaps the event will help Albuquerque artists to get creative and paint outside the lines when it comes to sharing their work, while thoroughly enjoying themselves in the process.