I pass by the soft green, pink and blue colored adobe walls of the empty Sanitary Tortilla Factory on Second Street nearly every single day. As long as I have lived in Albuquerque, this iconic Downtown space has stood vacant, having shut its doors in 2004 after more than 30 years of “sanitary” tortilla production by machine. Early in 2016, however, all of that will change when SCA Contemporary Art breathes new life into the building by moving their gallery and studio space to the defunct factory. This endeavor is a costly one, however, and Albuquerque's arts community has banded together to form the Pop-Up Collective, an initiative that supports the revival of such spaces.
Albuquerque's Pop-Up Collective, which has existed in different incarnations for years, was officially formed in 2014 by locals Jodie Herrera and Angie Poynter Rehnberg. The group's explicit mission is to create one-night-only exhibitions that promote or utilize under-appreciated and under-the-radar spaces in the city and gather the community around art and other worthy causes. This Saturday, Dec. 12, the Pop-Up Collective hosts Manifold, an exhibit with a two-fold mission: to raise funds for SCA Contemporary Art's upcoming relocation and to generate donations for Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless, a non-profit that offers comprehensive health services to the homeless population. A donation will be generated by a silent auction, for which each participating artist will donate an original piece. Proceeds will be split 50/50 between the two causes.
“Albuquerque is a unique place, we want to highlight how incredible it is from the exceptional talent to the remarkable venues,” Herrera said of the Collective's work, adding, “Manifold means diverse, many and various, which is perfect in describing our lineup.” The characterization is apt; the Manifold pop-up exhibit will feature paintings from Herrera and mixed media offerings from Poynter Rehnberg, as well as photography, sculpture, even taxidermy, from the likes of New Mexican artists Shana Levenson, Stacy Hawkinson, Reyes Padilla, Rocky Norton, Elana Schwartz, Deret Roberts and Bruce Shortz.
The brevity of each show is essential to the mission of the Pop-Up Collective, helping to cultivate a sense of immediacy and closeness. “The concept of a one-night-only show helps draw a larger crowd … having a show that can only be viewed for one evening means the community makes a stronger effort to attend because they can't just go the next day [or] the next week,” Poynter Rehnberg stated. She believes that the gathering of the community around an arts event creates momentum and helps propel the city's vibrant and diverse art scene into a well deserved spotlight. “We intend to show that Albuquerque is a contender in the art world,” Herrera said, noting that the “pop-up show” is a concept that has been happening in urban centers around the world for years.
Just as the ephemeral nature of Manifold and pop-ups like it serve the mission of the Pop-Up Collective, so does the emphasis on using often overlooked spaces. “It gives us a new canvas to work with each time, but most importantly, it's interesting to create a new context for these spaces as well. We help transform stagnant, vacant spaces into active community venues,” Herrera said, elaborating on the complex relationship between art and the spaces it inhabits, “the site always influences the experience of art, but we have had exhibitions in everything from warehouses to vacant urban retail spaces and it seems like our shows transform the spaces, too.” Poynter Rehnberg expanded upon that idea, saying, “There are so many vacant spaces and hidden gems in Albuquerque … [we want] to get people from all walks of life to step outside the box of routine,” namely by experiencing those spaces anew.
Both Herrera and Poynter Rehnberg's connection to these spaces is deeply personal as well. Both were born and raised in New Mexico and have been influenced by their experience and history with the land. “My work is influenced by so many aspects of my identity and is constantly evolving and transitioning but an integral part of my identity is irrevocably New Mexico,” Poynter Rehnberg said of her influences. Herrera framed her experience similarly, “New Mexico is everything to me. My family has been here for over 500 years … There are so many diverse genres of art that are executed extremely well by our artists and it's the support and rich beauty of New Mexico that ties us together.”
Support the Pop-Up Collective, SCA Contemporary Art, Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless and local art by attending the one-night-only pop-up event Manifold, hosted by SCA Contemporary Art (524 Haines NW) on Dec. 12 from 6-11pm. In addition to showcasing original work by nine local artists, Albuquerque's 2012-2014 poet laureate, Hakim Bellamy, will perform, Birdman will be DJing all night and drinks will be provided courtesy of Tractor Brewery.