This was written for SFR, but conflict of interest made it not really suitable for them by the time it came to the front of the queue. So here it is, because I like it, and the dude I interviewed likes it, and maybe you'll like it. Enjoy.
I’ve watched the trend move around social circles from afar, like a desert rainstorm. Eventually, at some point, everyone leaves this place. It happened to me. It happened to many of my friends. Some are still out in the world, and there’s a good chance a few will never come back. But I’m not worried. For the most part, everyone comes back. My buddy Rainer said it best upon returning from Costa Rica a few months ago, “Santa Fe is the worst place to live when you’re young, but the best place in the world to come back to.”
It seems so strange, counterintuitive even, when you look at the rage with which some people decamp. But the pattern continues nonetheless. You watch your wonderful creative friends leave, and while you shed a tear, there’s a voice in the back of your head reminding you, “It’s Santa Fe… They’ll be back.” I recently sat down with a repatriate of some note to see if we could figure out why.
The conceptual multimedia artist, Red Cell – known for running the underground venue “The Process,” co-founder of the AHA Festival, and one of the more prolific creative minds to come out of the College of Santa Fe – and his art partner, JC Gonzo, recently returned to town after a year abroad, in Berlin, Tangier, and on the Azores Islands.
“We left because we wanted to explore what we did outside the realms of Santa Fe,” Red tells me, “It was time to leave and go meet some new people and do some new things. We didn’t know if we were coming back or not. JC and I left with an open-ended plan: Let’s go where the art wants us to go. And it led us back here.”
In their time exploring the big, wide world, they developed Reportal; a subscription-based year-long art project, where supporters throughout the world receive intermittent small pieces – field recordings, interviews, songs, zines, photographs, and other visual pieces – much like a fan club, and can watch the development of the two artists and the themes they work with over the course of the whole year. It is meant to be a prototype sustainable medium they hope to continue to explore in the future.
“Sustainability in the arts has always been a Santa Fe problem. I think that’s why people leave to begin with. You can do anything here, but it doesn’t mean you can do 60 shows a year at a bar and always draw a crowd. It’s not sustainable. On the other hand, there is a huge goodwill artistic community that vocally wants to support things. And [working with that community] is why I’m back.”
“We all know Santa Fe is unique, but I find that most people who come back are somehow tied into the creative community. When we were in Berlin, we started looking at Ireland [which was] crazy expensive and our funds were dwindling, and a lot of artistic opportunities started presenting themselves to us in Santa Fe at the same time. So we figured, well, this is where our resources are, and there’s a lot of portals opening up for us here, and we should probably go take advantage of that.”
We laughed about what a Santa Fe cliché it is, but while being back, they’re still operating under that idea of letting “the universe tell us where it wants us.”
“We’re still living here with that open-ended plan. We don’t have specific plans of when or how we’re leaving, it’s more about what comes next and being open to it.”