art / artist / sacramento / Words.

Midtown and the Upside Down.

The second season of Stranger Things just dropped on Netflix and how fast did you binge it? Two days? One day?  And after you were done, did the feeling of waiting another year for the next season start to fester in you like the Shadow Monster? The Netflix show has left a mark in the world of pop-culture at a surprising rate and has generated a fan culture that rivals 1980’s cult films; though the show has only been around since 2016. And like any pop-cult following, fans from all over the world have paid homage to the kids from Hawkins, IA in all different types of artistic media.

Taking the opportunity to share that love for the show again, Midtown Sacramento will be entering the Upside Down…actually, just the corner of 21st and K Streets.  The non-profit art organization Menagerie is teaming up again to present the Stranger Things II art gathering at Outlet Coworking on January 27, 2017.  With its unexpected success last year, Menagerie co-founders Sarah Marie Hawkins and Autumn Brown are expecting the same, or larger, attendance and recruiting artists who are fans of the show to display their pieces that represent their love for the Demogorgon. TUBE. spoke Hawkins, to get her observations from last year’s event and how taking a chance with a new concept can lead to future opportunities.

 

TUBE. Magazine: Considering for a show that has been on for less than two years, why do you think the impact of that has led to an art show?

Sarah Marie Hawkins: I feel like [the show] is very relatable to a lot of generations; it has so many generational gaps, because it’s set in the 80s and its nostalgic of all the movies we had, or our parents had, like The Goonies, Stand By Me, and E.T. The show did a good job making it appeal [to] everybody, because it’s new and kids now aren’t really interested in anything unless it is new. It’s tricking them into liking the things we liked way back when, [rather] than just whatever the new network show is. It was relatable to a lot of generations including my older cousins, my parents, and myself. And then the new generations now like teenagers and pre-teens.

 

Do you work with Outlet Coworking or Menagerie?

I work with both of them. Myself and my friend, Autumn Brown, started Menagerie four years ago and will be five in March, and Outlet Coworking, I knew Harry Rich [Co-owner of Outlet Coworking] and his brother Travis had been to a few Menagerie shows and we didn’t really have a home. We were doing pop-up shows at District 30 on Wednesday nights there, because it was a night they didn’t use [Outlet Coworking], and got a lot of traction with those, but they were pop-ups, so we literally had to install art from the ceiling because we couldn’t hang it on the wall and hang down on wires around one pm till basically when they opened up, and we had to take down the pieces around midnight.  It was really difficult but it was great because and they gave it to use for a really low price and eventually for free, but then we hopped around to a couple different places, like Insight Coffee. However, when they founded Outlet, they told me that they really wanted to support the arts and they knew it would be mutually beneficial to have art in their building. Also, their love for the art wanted to be displayed, and because as a new company, it’s hard to buy original artwork, and basically wanted something that is local that represents artists that live and work in Sacramento. They came to me and asked me what I could do, and we just decided to start doing art shows there. We’ve been doing it for three years.

 

How did the idea for the Stranger Things exhibit come around?

I’d wanted to do a themed show for a really long time, and we’ve done weird-themed shows like loose or open interpretation, but nothing like TV, or the cinema.  We’ve never done anything like that and I’ve been so picky about doing that because we didn’t want to be a copycat for such other themes such as Amelie or Wes Anderson. So Stranger Things came and I said this show [is a] hit so many people and had already seen so many good pieces pop up on the internet, and if we jump on this now we may be the first people to do this show; and we can do it how we want, and do everything as original as possible. People would be excited because it would be the first show–we searched around for a while seeing if any shows were happening while we were working up to it.

 

Did you go through Sacramento or through the whole country?

(Laughing) Everywhere! A couple cool Stranger Things-themed parties but no specific art shows. We had seen so many people from around the world, out of state, that were creating really cool art and thought this could be a really great opportunity for [Menagerie and Outlet Coworking] and it’s so big right now.  And it was again, the number one reason, [about] being nostalgic and being able to act like a kid. [It had] all my favorite things growing up like science fiction, or the motley crew-like gang like The Sandlot and The Goonies.

 

For this submission deadline, do you think you’re going to have a bigger turnout this year for January’s show?

I’m anticipating it.  We were a little overwhelmed about how many people came last year, so we might have to do some sort of ticketing. It will be free–it’s donation basis if people want to donate too, but somewhere that you can actually RSVP, like an Eventbrite. Because we had a specific time entry like what they have been doing with Color Factory, or the Ice Cream Factory in San Francisco, which is hugely popular, but you get a certain amount of time and you’re not shoulder-to-shoulder with somebody else-you’re actually able to enjoy the art. We played around with a couple of ideas because we know it’s going to be huge. Last year it was over an hour before the show and we had people lined up around the corner and then we definitely hit capacity. So we have to be careful because Outlet Coworking is a business and we don’t want them to get in trouble with fines and what not. Now we’ve opened the outside area, which is completely remodeled, and hoping we can utilize that depending on the weather, and purchase some outdoor heaters, so it can push people outside to make space for everybody to get a chance to see the art inside.

 

Do you plan on making the event longer than a week compared to last year’s engagement?

It was originally only supposed to be one week but we had such a really positive response to it that we spoke to the Outlet, and again, it is a business and we have to be careful on what type of art we put up in the building, and it is a family business more importantly. Harry is the most artistic of the brothers–he’s a videographer and does a lot of filming in Sacramento. And there’s Travis , who does real estate and property management, so Harry is always pushing for us to go further and Travis holds us steady. [Travis] was a little concerned it not being the right type of art for the building for [the] long term, but then a lot of the co-workers said, “Wow! This is the coolest show we’ve ever had here,” and they’re so used to us doing once a month, or every couple months, a new show and they always get into it and come to our events. The members who work at Outlet have become used to it and Travis got such a positive response from them that we were allowed to keep it up longer and we flipped around the Alphabet Wall (from Stranger Things), so people passing by outside could text in and get their messages shown even if we were closed. We kept that open for once month instead of the one week.

Don’t miss your chance to be part of pop-culture history of attending next year’s event with Menagerie and Outlet Coworking. The Stranger Things 2 show opens Jan. 27, 2018. Keep an eye on the Menagerie’s page here for more details. 

Words: Jacob Monka

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