“[E]ven though I only make a little physical art here and there, I consider myself an artist,” says Stephanie Longoria, public engagement and volunteer coordinator at the Crocker Art Museum. Longoria, in addition to being this month’s WILT playlist curator, coordinates the Crocker’s monthly ArtMix events, bringing together art, performers, interactive activities and music for themed nights of fun.
Longoria first became involved in the Sacramento art scene through music as a buyer and manager at Dimple Records, where she worked for a decade. Even after leaving Dimple, she kept going to local shows and venues whenever she could fit it in. She worked as a massage therapist until the bottom dropped out of the economy in 2008. “The massage industry was taking a huge hit because people were pulling back from that kind of spending.”
“I decided to go back to school and finish my art degree that I had started many years before. That led to a job at The Crocker and things just fell into place.” Though Longoria didn’t start the ArtMix (one of her predecessors had that honor), she worked almost every ArtMix from the event’s conception before becoming the coordinator in February 2016.
The ArtMix was started in 2010 with the opening of the Teel Family Pavillion in the hopes of attracting “a younger, more diverse crowd to the museum,” says Longoria. “We want the museum to be a place that everyone feels is theirs, that has something they relate to and makes them want to keep coming back; a place they think about as an option when figuring out their going-out plans for the week.”
It has definitely been successful. Longoria says their biggest change over the years has been the attendance. “The numbers of average attendees has tripled from those first couple of years. With the growing attendance, we have begun offering bigger events, more community involvement, more things to do, more performers etc. It is great that we are able to showcase more of the area’s talent in front of more visitors.”
If you’re thinking about trying to put on an event like the ArtMix yourself, she suggests reaching out to the community for performer ideas. “I often see the same performers being used over and over and I am sure we use some of them too, but we have such a rich community of artists and performers here in Sacramento and I love when I discover someone new from a friend or by putting out a post on social media looking for a specific type of performer. I love bringing them out in front of crowds for everyone to discover them.”
When it’s not the day of the ArtMix, Longoria says she spends “way more time in front of a computer screen and in meetings than you would guess, but I love that I am surrounded by art and artists and engaging people every day. If I need a break from the computer I can go up one floor and take a walk through the contemporary galleries or current exhibits and get inspiration.” She loves how many events besides the ArtMix happen at the Crocker including lectures, movies, and music. “[J]ust this morning I was walking in to go to work and there was a band from Elk Grove High School playing outside the front doors. [There are] constant, random special moments that I count myself lucky to be around.”
So what is artist and ArtMix Coordinator Stephanie Longoria listening to? “This was super hard for me after working at a record store for ten years, but I tried to keep it at exactly what I am listening to right now.”
Pearl Jam-‘Just Breathe’- “I am going to go with meaningful with this one and it is probably not one anyone would expect from me, but I find myself listening to it a lot at the moment and that is Pearl Jam, ‘Just Breathe’. Growing up in a record store in the 90’s I have listened to a lot of Pearl Jam and while they are talented and some songs by them are stuck in my head forever they were never one of my favorites. However, my husband introduced me to this song sometime in the last year or so and it has kind of become our song. I read somewhere that Eddie Vedder wrote the lyrics to this song one night after he and his wife had put their kids to bed and they were just laying in bed together and he was listening to her breathe. It is about stopping and just being together and sometimes I need that reminder.”
Cigarettes After Sex-‘Sweet’- “I just discovered the band Cigarettes After Sex and have been listening to this dream pop amazingness constantly. ‘Sweet’ is probably my favorite, with all of it’s echoing guitars and ethereal vocals that remind me of Slowdive and Mazzy Starr, but have current, relevant imagery about watching videos sent on a cell phone. I can’t decide if this song makes me want to sink into it or float away with it and that is the best feeling. I love how androgynous his voice is, the first couple times I listened to this group I thought the singer was a woman. It is just sultry bedroom sweetness and kind of a perfect love song.”
Thunderpussy-‘Torpedo Love’- “I have been listening to a lot of Thunderpussy lately because they will be at The Crocker in March. I am obsessed with the voice of Molly Sides, which is a little reminiscent of Florence Welch, but with a harder more rock ‘n’ roll band carrying it to a whole other level. The song ‘Torpedo Love’ is a little slower than most of their stuff and starts out all siren song and then builds up to something far more intense that really pulls you in. I suggest you listen to it really loud. I seriously cannot wait to see them play live at the museum, they are my new obsession.”
Ibeyi-‘Transmission/Michaelion’- “[This is] just one of my favorites by this band. It is really hard for me to choose one song by them because I love both of their albums in their entirety. However, it is this unexpected combination of spoken word excerpts from the diary of artist Frida Kahlo, what sounds like a gospel choir, lyrics in English and Spanish over synthetic and African beats and of course the harmonizing vocals of twin sisters Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé. It is seven minutes long and definitely takes you on a journey.”
[TUBE. Note: We were, unfortunately, unable to find a video of this track that wasn’t live.]
Real Estate- ‘Darling’- “[This song] makes me happy for reasons I can’t quite explain. Technically, the lyrics are about waiting for someone, but you know they are coming even if you are waiting ‘impatiently.’ This indie pop/shoegaze group reminds me a little of Yo La Tengo of the 90’s and maybe that nostalgic sound is partly why I love it. The song has a kind of melodic warmth to it that I find extremely comforting and maybe just that idea that someone is waiting is comforting too.”
Next month’s ArtMix theme is “Fierce.” It’s dedicated to those who identify as women and is just in time for Women’s History Month. “I decided it would be a great time to focus on the power of the women.” The event will have some great performers including Seattle’s Thunderpussy and LA’s Rituals of Mine. There will be a Women’s Marketplace with local vendors and coincidentally the Crocker exhibit at the time will be three female artists: Faith Ringgold, Corita Kent, and E. Charles Fortune, which Longoria says is “very unusual.” The 21+ event will be on Thursday, March 8th from 6-930 pm. Tickets are free for Crocker members and $10 for non-members.
Words: Katta Hules.