“Will there be snacks?” I asked, looking across the table at Eric J. Martinez and Jesse Littlebird, who, along with Aryon Hopkins, are spearheading the release of a new collaborative publication called DRY MTN. Incidentally, the answer was “yes.” But that is about the only thing that will be typical of an art event that is going down at the launch for the magazine.
“We had a conversation about how frustrated we were as creatives because sometimes we needed an excuse to create something,” Martinez explained about the inception of the project. “Why do we wait around for gallery shows? Why do we wait around for opportunities or clients or whatever? Why don't we just self-produce this … and put it out there?” The trio responded to the latter question with action. Initially conceptualized as a totally self-funded zine, DRY MTN was scaled up when the collaborative was awarded a grant from the Fulcrum Fund. Now it is taking the shape of a large format print publication devised and designed to encourage collaboration and creativity for its own sake. Despite the windfall of extra money, “there's still no rules,” Littlebird added.
The three behind DRY MTN outright refuse to be directive—that's the beauty of what they're creating—and it is also, in part, what piqued my interest in the happening that will yield the final product. There is a shroud of mystery attached to all this. Without giving too much away, I'll do my best to explicate: On Friday, Sept. 16, at Deep Space Coffee, 1,000 copies of the first DRY MTN magazine will be seen for the first time ever, but this isn't actually the finished product. There will also be a number of screens—some of which will be created by other artists who have been invited into the DRY MTN fold to collaborate. This time around, besides the work of Maritnez, Littlebird and Hopkins, there will also be original work by Kelly Williams, Thomas Christopher Haag and James Harper. Literally whoever walks through the doors of the coffee shop that night has the opportunity to put their own stamp on the publication by screen printing on and over its pages, drawing in the foreground, making notations in the margins—whatever you want. That's kind of the idea.
“It's simple,” Littlebird said. “It's saying, I'm having fun making art, I want you to come have fun making art with me.” Martinez' thoughts ran a similar course, “We really want the larger community to take away that you can really just create … just make stuff because it's fun.” That lighthearted approach makes the entirety of the project—from the happening at Deep Space to the actual magazine—seem accessible, easy to participate in and engage with, with no pressure and no pretension. “When someone gets too serious or too pointed,” Martinez explained, “[something] we say a lot is 'whatever forever', don't put a blinder on or be too focused in a certain direction.” Their buoyant approach is tempered with a charming fatalism—“This could be a good way to spend our time and money to be creative with the community, or it could be a 16-page newsprint publication that gets curled up and tossed on the side of the street tomorrow,” Martinez continued. “That's kind of how I envision it,” Littlebird added. “Just flying down the streets of Albuquerque.”
No matter what happens, there will be snacks. Connect with DRY MTN on Instagram @drymtn.