Just off Central on Carlisle is a small art gallery named Stranger Factory. You have to keep an eye out as you drive by or you might miss it. It is far from a typical Albuquerque or Santa Fe art gallery. Brandt Peters and Kathie Olivas operate Stranger Factory. It’s part of a group of artists that formed Circus Posterus. This collective of fine artists, illustrators, gallery curators and collaborators is bringing the strange back to art in New Mexico. Every month, the gallery offers a new show with a new-featured artist. The artists range from painters to sculptures, all with their own characters.
If that was all Stranger Factory offered, it should already be a monthly destination of yours, but it’s not. With most new exhibitions, the artists come in opening weekend to give a workshop on his or her expertise. The workshops run from two to four hours and are usually on a Sunday afternoon. They are very affordable, and, if you pay really close attention, you will learn things you’d never thought possible in a very short period of time.
I have taken a number of workshops from Stranger Factory. The most recent on Character Development. It was an eye opening look at how animators, illustrators, and people like me can now build a character that really relates to the audience. The hardest workshop I took was one by Travis Louie. He taught a workshop on rending to make graphite drawings look like black and white photos. I’m going to be honest, I hated the workshop, not because he wasn’t a good teacher, he was, but because I could NOT do it at all, not even a little bit. Over the next few months – ok more like twelve – I worked on the techniques when I could, until one day, it just clicked. I’m not good at it, not by any means, but now I understand it and have used it to improve other areas of my art. If you give these artists a chance, they will open your eyes to worlds you didn’t even know existed.