Sometimes the right person for the job has to be imported. When the late Felix Wurman needed someone to manage The Kosmos performance space, he summoned Austin expatriate Maggie Ross. In a year’s time, Ross has made the space a versatile tool, a virtual Swiss Army Knife for the community with live rock shows, chamber music, yoga classes, movies, poetry readings and a full coffee bar. I managed to catch up with the industrious Ross (no easy task) for some Q-and-A.
Aside from the Carl Sagan-type answers, where is The Kosmos?
1715 Fifth Street NW in the Factory on 5th, a collection of artists' work spaces.
When was The Kosmos established?
My friend Felix Wurman wanted to expand the community that had been established through a Sunday morning concert series. He leased this grand space with a vaulted, trussed ceiling in a beautiful red-brick warehouse. I was living in Greece and he e-mailed me about coming back to run it. I thought it was something that Albuquerque was very much in need of. It's been an excruciating journey with meager funds, a lot of blood sweat and tears, but I feel I've managed to pull off a bit of the vision that Felix had in mind. We lost him to complications of bladder cancer in December.
Who is The Kosmos?
The Kosmos is everyone who's ever braved the strange and unknown world that is the industrial warehouse district north of Downtown! Essentially, The Kosmos is me and business partner Jerry Miller, a co-owner of the compound. David Cudney of 5G Gallery is around hanging chandeliers, providing the charming sculpture installations, building a nifty, mobile console for our projector—
The Church of Beethoven [a chamber music and poetry event] is held every Sunday morning at 10:30. There’s free kundalini yoga class every Friday at 9:30 a.m. and old-school cartoons on the big screen Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, complete with sugary bowls of cereal for a buck-fifty! We also rent the space for weddings, fundraisers, private parties, whatever. Coming up: a performance for the DjangoFestival; Albuquerque Experimental [a new two-day music event]; and our second annual alternative holiday arts/crafts fair Bizarre Bazaar—we truly run the gamut!
OK. So we have where, when, who and what but most vital: Why is The Kosmos?
Since leaving Austin six years ago, I was missing the satisfaction of listening to an excellent show, seeing who was out that night, catching up with friends and what they're workin’ on, what the ladies were wearin’, who was kissing who, all of it! I wanted to create an environment that was more than just about getting fucked up on a Friday night. Albuquerque has a wealth of talented bands coming through. We need to offer the appropriate listening spaces for them.
At its essence, The Kosmos is a reality of my own creation because, goddamn, if the one on hand ain't ever-terrifying! I want people to come here and remember that humans can relate on a level that does not involve authority, paperwork, the 9 to 5 grind, reckless consumption, over-sterilization, over-
How does The Kosmos support itself?
My madness and masochism. I've spent the last six years kinda fucking-off / squatting / rambling around the planet, in terrible conflict with the excess of how we live. I have no problem living in poverty while laboring to keep this place afloat. Hell, it's better than shoveling french fries at McDonald’s, right? I am so grateful for the physical space, the opportunity to provide an alternative venue for Albuquerque, and that I have been able to feed and shelter myself along the way—that's more luxury than the majority of the planet can afford. And it's worth it to be my own boss and to live as subversively as I want.
What’s a typical day in the life of The Kosmos?
Sometimes I feel the most fitting job description would be "furniture mover." The space transforms at least three times a week, every week. We've hosted yoga, tango, documentary screenings, bazaars, bands from American roots to European innovators of the “noise” genre. There was even a live human sacrifice once, complete with sheep mask and splattering blood! Considering my lifelong aversion to routine, I feel satisfied.
What’s your favorite color, Maggie?