Improve Second Saturday
SN&R asked some local art-makers and mover-shakers how, in the coming year, they might resolve to improve the Second Saturday experience.
“People actually enjoy street life.”
“It’s a time to see art but not look at it,” offers conceptual artist Danny Scheible. “If I’m going to go out and really look at art, I’m not going to want to be in a room full of people.” But, Scheible allows, “It’s one of the few times that Sacramento has a public culture where you can just go out and places are open and people are freely walking around the streets and enjoying the outside community. I think its increase recently has been because businesses have got the idea that people actually enjoy street life. A lot. So they want to perpetuate that. Anything that gets people talking to each other on the streets is good.”
So, is there room for improvement? “There could be more opportunities for artists to have discussions with the public,” Scheible says. “More encouragement of individuals who create art to bring it with them and leave pieces of it around town, so after Second Saturday you just get this trace of it. It’s important to make art outside of the gallery context. It just gives you more freedom and interaction with your material. You’re not stuck thinking about how it’s going to look, you’re just thinking about how it is going to interact with the world.
“More individuals participating in their own way to make visual art would make it better,” he continues. “Whether they’re setting up to perform in an alleyway or making art and leaving it behind, any individual participation outside of an organization or organized event is good. The way I understand creativity is that it comes from an individual place. The best artists are the ones who make art for themselves. It’s easier to interact with an artist than with a gallery. You would be more free to ask the questions you want to ask. You would realize that you could do it yourself, just walk around and make your own art rather than having to find a venue to exhibit it.”
“Lightening up a bit.”
CoolCat Gallery manager Jennifer Keller seconds Scheible’s vision for an increase in the ad hoc arts in 2008. “Street art is becoming a strong presence in Midtown and the greater Sacramento area. Pop-Surrealism art will be abundant with more bright colors and punchy compositions. Morbid and dark art seems to be maintaining, but I think that people are lightening up a bit.” You heard it here, folks: Happy really is the new brooding.
Keller and CoolCat event manager Mary Westmark also look forward to more outdoor festivals, like their own “huge block-party event on 24th between I and J streets (in front of CoolCat), to be held in summer 2008, that will showcase local artists, designers, musicians and cuisine.”
“An impressive and impossible venture.”
“I think Second Saturday has evolved into a great community event,” enthuses Gallery Horse Cow co-owner and performance artist Steve Vanoni. “The parade scene is nice. Normally I can only pick a few things to make it to; there’s just too many places to be, so a few choice things works good for me. Have you ever made it to all [the] places? Now that would be quite an impressive and impossible venture.”
“Our attention span can’t handle much.”
”Toyroom will not be participating in the Second Saturday community for the first part of the year,” say that gallery’s overseers, John Soldano and Craig Maclaine, in a jointly signed e-mail. “We’ll be taking some time off. We do, however, have plans for some special events in the coming year, which should coincide with the Second Saturday art program. We thought that the Second Saturday art experience was getting too ordinary for most of the participating community. It seems that we, as people, have come to a place where our attention span can’t handle much unless it’s fresh and new, so we’re going to offer something different this new year as far as the quality of events. Toyroom will continue as an online store and the events we’ll be promoting … will be a pleasant surprise that you won’t want to miss.”
“The shows you complain about not having here.”
“Sacramentans tend to buy into the old self-fulfilling prophecy that we are a cow town and that there’s never anything cutting edge around here,” says Gabriel Romo, one-fifth of Sol Collective, resident artist, gallery manager and co-curator. “Consequently, people looking for an alternative music and art scene tend to journey to San Francisco or other larger cities. Sacramentans are mistaken in their cliché mindset that ‘the grass is always greener.’ The truth of the matter is that Sacramento produces some of the best artists, musicians and entertainers around. So stop complaining. Your city offers the very same elements you search for in other cities—you just have look for them and lend your support.”
For example? “Sol Collective has an amazing list of past artists and entertainers who’ve performed in Sacramento,” he says. “I promise that had you been at even a fraction of the shows, you would’ve been blown away. These shows included outside artists from New York, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Los Angeles, as well as local artists showing contemporary art popular in metropolitan cities. Many of us local artists are forced to work in the Bay Area and Los Angeles because of the lack of support in our hometown. Sol Collective offers the shows that you would drive to another city for and complain about not having here. Sure, you have to drive to ‘uptown,’ er, Del Paso Heights, but it beats driving to S.F. and facing the daunting task of parking around 6th and Mission. Yikes!
“The point,” Romo concludes, “is that Sacramento has a lot more to offer than you may know, and all you have to do is show your support for the galleries and the artists that speak to your taste. If ‘XYZ’ gallery gives you only a bland and safe show, go somewhere else. Leave your little comfort zone and check out something new. Support the places dedicated to keeping art fresh. Gallery owners tend to be blind-sighted and miss talented new artists by focusing on [the] need to pay their rent and hosting only traditional shows. Your dollars and visits to shows are your voice to galleries, so stop visiting those galleries that leave you wanting more, and start exploring those that are willing to offer something new and exciting.”
“It’s all lumped into that one day.”
“I don’t see any fault to Sacramento’s art walks or art walks in general,” says former Fools Foundation proprietor Liz Teebee’eh (as in “TBA,” because her last name will be changing, but she spells it out phonetically), who now co-owns Ye Olde Junky Shoppe gallery and store. “But I think a fault arises in the art community because our art walk is basically the only time that galleries have receptions and people go out to look at art. Right now it’s all lumped into that one day. I think it could start to break down the art community if people don’t start doing more.” And so, her suggestion: “I really want galleries to have their own receptions, like, on a Thursday night.”
“Crabs in a bucket.”
“I’d like to see the youth finally take over,” says artist and urban vintage-clothing designer Illyanna Maisonet, of Siya Clothing. “One of my New Year’s resolutions is that the Sacramento art ‘community’ becomes just that—a community. Instead of the ‘crabs in a bucket’ mentality I’ve [seen] most artists have in this town, I’d like to see more artists and galleries come together and share resources harmoniously.” That said, she adds, “Sacramento: There’s more to art than fucking landscapes! Jesus, it’s so time this city gets out of its awkward adolescent phase and wakes the hell up! I want the artists of Sacramento to say, ‘I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!'”
“The far side of the moon.”
“Del Paso may as well be on the far side of the moon as far as Midtown residents are concerned,” says Janet Aly of Archival Framing, who wishes that weren’t so. “I also wish we could somehow encourage more people to come out and see shows on any one of the other 29 days of the month and not think that they have to cram all their appreciation into one evening.
“From the artists and gallery directors,” she continues, “I would like to see more conceptual art, digital art, theme shows and solo exhibitions. I would like to see more live music, installations and performance work. Why do artists pursue commercial art exclusively? Oh, right: because we want to pay rent. But, at the same time, I would like to see artists who value their work and don’t undersell themselves. While it’s great for the collector to snatch up a brilliant piece of work for under 100 bucks, artists can’t pay their rent in belly-button lint! In the new year, I would like to see artists recalculating what their time and effort is really worth.
“My personal New Year’s art resolution is to take my art into uncharted territory. By the end of the year, I hope to have a conceptual plan for a large-scale installation work and new digital artworks for projection. In 2008 my art will be included in a Liturgical Arts Festival in Springfield, Ill., an Islamic Art Symposium in New Orleans, La., an International Muslim Artist Network exhibition in Los Angeles, as well as a small exhibition inside the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op Cafe in April. So … I’ll be keeping busy!”