The Abiquiú-based Some Serious Business residency makes space for freedom and connection. This summer’s diverse roster includes Elijah McKinnon, a BIPOC artist who showcases films on Friday at Beastly Books.
When Some Serious Business (SSB)—an itinerant nonprofit hub for art and artists—rebooted in 2015, founding director Susan Martin knew that this time around would be different by necessity.
With DIY roots established in the 1970s, the current iteration was guided by conversations with a new generation of artists, many of whom found themselves depleted by the “professionalization” of the art world.
Martin explains that a need for generative space apart from the demands of that other art world was the impetus that quickly set Some Serious Business Away into motion. SSB Away residencies, which take place in Abiquiú (where Martin resides) and Tuscany, Italy, stay close to the organizational motto of “the artist always comes first.” These residencies “have no cocktail hours and no fixed outcomes,” Martin writes in an email.
“Artists do not have to produce work or fulfill any set obligations… some artists work on projects during their stay; some take walks, read, and nap—or combinations thereof.” It’s an acknowledgment that rest, time away from work and routine, and the “atmosphere of freedom and connection” in a place such as Abiquiú all have a role in the artistic process. And they are worth creating space for.
So far this summer, SSB Away has hosted inter-generational archivist and writer Susan Morgan; painter and printmaker Tony de los Reyes, whose recent work investigates low desert borderlands and notions of how boundaries are drawn; and Delbert Anderson (Diné), a sought-after jazz trumpeter who performed a quartet concert in the Northern Youth Project’s outdoor garden on July 24.
Elijah McKinnon is another artist who has made a temporary home in Abiquiú in 2021. McKinnon, who uses they/them pronouns, is a Bay Area multi-disciplinary artist currently residing in Chicago. Their work addresses gender, race, sexuality, healing, wellness, and the power of storytelling.
Liberation, new media, and space-making emerge in varied forms across the gamut of McKinnon’s work. They’re the executive director and a co-founder of queer, trans, and artist of color platform OTV-Open Television as well as a co-founder and development director of the Humboldt Park queer exhibition space Reunion Chicago.
“The only reason we do what we do,” Martin explains, “is to foster a connection between people and art.”
One such offering is a Friday, July 30, 2021 showing of the Brave Futures showcase presented by McKinnon at Beastly Books (418 Montezuma Avenue) in Santa Fe. The short films were created during the Brave Futures Film Race in locations around the globe, including Berlin, Johannesburg, Oakland, Brooklyn, and Atlanta. The race challenged artists to create an entire short film in forty-eight hours using one intersectional theme, one prop, and a singular action.
This time around in Santa Fe, that locus of connection that Martin mentions goes further to also emphasize the natural next step following connection—”dialogue,” Martin says, “a civil conversation about the content and context of creative process and the impact creators have on the social, cultural, and political landscape.”
In creating these dialogues, “SSB takes part in the continuum of living history that informs where we’re at—this very moment—and actively acknowledges its agency to create a world where mutual understanding and respect prevails,” writes Martin.
Meet artist, organizer, and activist Elijah McKinnon and contribute to the conversation yourself this Friday at the Brave Futures showcase. The free event starts at 1 pm.
Disclosure: Southwest Contemporary news editor Steve Jansen was an SSB Away resident artist in 2020.