What I’m Listening To is a series where we talk to exciting artists and musicians and get a five song slice of their current playlist. 

“Right now we’re taking deep breaths before the insanity of ArtStreet ensues.”

Jennifer Jackson at the Berlin Wall. Photo: Brett Loper.
Jennifer Jackson at the Berlin Wall. Photo: Brett Loper.

Jennifer Jackson grew up in Placerville, visiting Sacramento when her ex-East Coast punk father showed his paintings or visited other artist’s shows on Second Saturday. She remembers the city feeling “vibrant and a little scary – just how a good city should feel.” Now a Sacramento resident, Jackson is the co-founder of M5 Arts, the Red Museum, co-owns Grigio, an art consulting business, and is this month’s What I’m Listening To playlist curator.

Jackson and her boyfriend Brett Loper were inspired to start the Red Museum, an art collective with practice space for bands and the occasional event, after a trip to Berlin last summer. “We knew so many people here in Sacramento who wanted to live in a city like that, so we tried to imagine a gathering place that would help transform Sacramento into the place we wanted to be.” They lucked out when looking for warehouse spaces, finding the Red Museum’s current location on their first attempt.

Though the Red Museum is still young, Loper and Jackson want to make sure it does not get pigeon-holed in its event choices. “The idea of tastemaking really appealed to us when we stepped into this so we limit the number of shows and try to make them really unique. Having multi-faceted events is something I’ve gravitated towards even more since Art Hotel–combining different types of art and expression under one event can be more powerful and memorable than sticking to a safe bill where everything obviously aligns.”

In addition to founding the Red Museum, last year saw Jackson forming M5 Arts.”When I think back on the origin of M5 Arts last year, it’s hard to describe. It’s like we all floated together with similar feelings and ideas, and then a spark lit up and we were on the ground running.” Jackson credits Pete Noack, the owner of the Art Hotel building, with being that spark as he believed in the idea of a soon-to-be demolished hotel being given a brief new life through art. 

When she is not running the Red Museum or M5Arts, Jackson does art consulting with her company Grigio. Her company provides art for hospitals, medical buildings, and corporate buildings in the area and throughout California. Her goal is to get businesses to invest in local art. “The benefits of supporting the art community often have to be laid out in front of people; to artists, that means you can’t assume that people understand the value of what you do as an artist. That communication link is essential to addressing the economic needs of an art scene.”

“Sometimes I feel like everything I’m doing in the arts scene is a gamble. I put my energy into a platform – The Red Museum, 1810 Gallery, M5Arts – and I hold my breath to see if the community will come together and embrace it. Luckily, so far, it’s working.” Though Jackson struggles to balance the various projects in her life, she says, “the goal is bigger than me.” And fortunately, she has Loper to lean on for support. 

So what is art consultant, collective co-founder, and curator extraordinaire Jennifer Jackson, listening to? Let’s find out.

Nicolas Jaar-‘The Governor’- Nicolas Jaar is just so damn cool to me. His new album Sirens has been on repeat since it came out, a dark, intricate, subtly dancy electronic masterpiece that never misses a beat.”

Drug Apts-‘Mother Invention’- “Sacramento’s Drug Apts absolutely kill live. They just had their EP release at The Red Museum earlier this month and it brought me to tears. Andy Morin and Zach Hill of Death Grips produced the EP, which was released on LCD Soundsystem’s Tyler Pope’s label Interference Pattern Records. Whitney [Kebschull] is such a bad-ass performer, edgy and punk as hell, and then she walks off stage and is the sweetest, most endearing, considerate human being. The fact that those two personas exist in one person blows my mind.”

Hauilu Mergia & Dahlak Bank-‘Sintayehu’-“Giving anything from the mostly re-release label Awesome Tapes From Africa label is definitely worth a shot. Picked this up a few months ago to expand my Ethiopian jazz phase and it’s solid. This genre of music satisfies so much of what I crave after listening to perfectly produced modern electronic-based music. It’s raw, low-fi, fun, accessible, and full of soul.”

Madeline Kenney-‘Signals’- “I can’t wait to see this live at The Red Museum on Saturday. Her layered vocals are entrancing over minimal instrumentation. At 2:37 [mark in the song] you can really get lost in the transformation of the song.”

A Tribe Called Quest-‘We the People…’- “I think that when the social and political climate gets murky and isolating, sometimes the people can only rise up and reconnect through art. Tribe’s album drop hits on so many levels of art, politics, and unity at the perfect time.”

Jackson is in the throes of organizing a huge event through M5Arts called ArtStreet, which promises to bring three weeks of free art and events to a 65,000 square foot indoor and outdoor space in Sacramento in February. M5 is aiming to raise over $100,000 for the event. Interested? Donate here.

Meanwhile, at The Red Museum, Oakland musician Madeline Kenney will be playing with local band Pregnant on November 26th. “We took a chance reaching out to her and are really excited to show her that there’s a community of passionate music supporters here.” Doors open at 7 pm and tickets are $8. More information here. Additionally, Tele Novella will be playing on December 7th and Dead Western on December 10th.

Words: K. Hules.

Leave a Reply