Coming-out party

Underground venue The Red Museum inches closer to permitting

The Red Museum, the black uniform.

The Red Museum, the black uniform.

Photo by Kris Hooks

Red Ex: Vol. 1 spotlights local talent such as Hobo Johnson, Drug Apts, Ganglians and So Much Light, headlined by noise-rockers No Age. The show’s from 3 p.m. to midnight August 26. There will also be art and comedy from The Latest Show’s Shahera Hyatt and Michael Cella along with food trucks such as Pizza Supreme Being.

Inside The Red Museum warehouse, a gathering of the community space’s members sip coffee as they chat about the future: the next episode of Game of Thrones and the Kendrick Lamar show that evening. There’s another night on their minds as well: August 26. That will be the night of a special event at the space, Red Ex: Vol. 1. They plan with confidence, despite the lack of electricity to the warehouse and the sign on their door that reads “DANGEROUS BUILDING. DO NOT ENTER.”

By now, the story of that sign is out there, on social media and even in the pages of The Sacramento Bee: The city shut off the building’s lights while citing code violations, forcing shows such as Sac Ladyfest to scramble for a last-minute change of venue and leaving the space in a state of limbo that The Red Museum’s manager, Jen Jackson, is still navigating.

Over the last two years, The Red Museum has stood out among a tightknit scene for its underground and avant-garde performances and events. It hosts improv circle singing and nationally touring acts including Roselit Bone as well as screenings of cult classic movies such as They Live. As venues like Starlite Lounge and Naked Lounge close their doors to live acts, the importance of The Red Museum becomes more apparent.

Rather than dampening hopes, the space’s code-enforced moment of silence hastened a process that members were already working toward, Jackson said. The sudden visit and shutoff order from the department of Housing and Dangerous Buildings came right as she was arranging meetings with other city departments to settle the future of The Red Museum.

Now, it’s the city, particularly the office of Councilman Steve Hansen, that’s working to help them put the lights back on, she says.

“I think they recognize, through things like Art Hotel and Art Street, that it’s really stimulating for the city to let arts stuff happen,” Jackson said. “We’re all learning. They’re learning, too, on how they can help with that instead of be a barrier.”

Hansen declined to comment. His office facilitated the connection between The Red Museum and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 340. The union donated labor and materials—valued at about $10,000—to replace the old building’s code-defying wiring.

Thornier issues remain, such as how to zone and classify the warehouse, but until that’s settled, they still have a special event to plan.

Red Ex: Vol.1 serves both as a benefit to raise funds for the space and as an introduction of The Red Museum to the community at large. The fest will spotlight local acts such as Hobo Johnson mixed up with art, comedy and food trucks.

“It’s trying to stretch our boundaries and use this space to the fullest,” said Drew Walker, a member of The Red Museum who will also be performing under his stage name Doofy Doo. “The vision of seeing all the people out here on the hill and a cool stage and art everywhere and rad music happening has always been with us.”