NEW YORK CITY: In my book, Kristin Marting, the founding artistic director of HERE Arts Center, is a visionary.
People today see her frequently with Kim Whitener, who runs HERE along with Marting (together they won an Obie Award), but I retain a vivid memory of the fresh-faced New York University director who in 1993 started HERE as a space-sharing marriage of convenience, a merger between HOME for Contemporary Theatre and Art and Tiny Mythic Theatre Company. At the time, four people were running HERE, and they produced one another’s work, until a kind of natural attrition happened, and the rest started leaving. The only one left was Marting, who continues to stage innovative, fascinating hybrid works at a rate of one or two shows a year.
Marting is a model for the kind of New York artist/entrepreneur who has seized control of her once-precarious artistic destiny. The upcoming April 16 benefit, called MIXTAPE and dubbed “a customized playlist of pop-up performances by HERE’s Resident Artists,” is a testament to the longevity, persistence and beauty of this artist’s vision: this is how new art is supposed to be nurtured and created and then promoted in New York.
A backstory: Marting founded Tiny Mythic in 1988. She started directing soon out of NYU; she was probably 21 years old at the time. When she co-founded HERE in 1993, she told me: “We found we shared a lot of the same ideas about what we thought were our problems as art groups. We thought that if we have three theaters and a space that can do vastly different types of theater, there will be tons of space for other companies.”
That essential vision has not changed. Then and now, HERE’s entrepreneurial/artistic approach carves out a work-and-exhibition space for developing, emerging, neglected or boundary-breaking artists. It was always a “theater-mart,” although nowadays that moniker has morphed into the “Culturemart” festival in January and February. And the cavernous space that was once a merger arrangement among struggling collectives is now a freewheeling arts center with a distinctive personality.
Even in 1993, the core of Martin’s vision was its residency program, a space whose eclecticism was established by Tiny Mythic and HOME. Dance, theatre, music, multimedia, puppetry, visual art, everything in between, and anything that mashes up these disciplines — these forms have played off one another from the moment of this arts center’s establishment. That dynamic persists in HERE’s unique producing residency programs HARP & Dream Music, which commission and develop cross-disciplinary performance work through long-term relationships (1-3 years) with mid-career artists. While in residence, artists test out ideas through work-in-progress showings until they reach the Culturemart phase, where they present more fully developed, beautifully produced workshops in a festival setting. Over the years, that method has produced a back list: Young Jean Lee, Taylor Mac, Lisa D’Amour, Faye Driscoll, Erin Orr, Troika Ranch, Corey Dargel and Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf.
In 2005, after an initially under-financed renovation and two years of negotiations, Marting led the successful renovation and purchase of HERE’s longtime home on Sixth Avenue below Spring Street. Two years later, she came full circle by returning to her directing work: the fashioning of a multi-disciplinary dance theater which speaks through a gestural vocabulary (actions that, to use Marting’s words, are both “an emotional signifier and choreographic element”). Numbers alone tell the difference she’s made: Marting has constructed 24 works for the stage, including 10 original hybrid works, 8 adaptations of novels and short stories, and 5 classic plays. Some of her best works include ORPHEUS, a collaborative alt-musical; James Scruggs’s solo work DISPOSABLE MEN and his recent new play (RUS)H; SOUNDING and DEAD TECH, both of which are collaborative hybrid works inspired by Ibsen texts.
And that SoHo neighborhood west of Sixth Avenue that was once so desolate is today a path-finding lab and destination for the kind of performances that make New York the alt-art city that consumes our waking dreams and our theatre’s play-lists.
HERE is located at 145 Sixth Avenue (entrance on Dominick Street).
For tickets & info, call (212) 352-3101 or visit www.here.org.
A customized playlist of pop-up performances
Monday, April 16
VIP Kick-off Reception at 6:30
Pop-Up Performance Party from 7:30 to 9:30 with drinks and small bites from The Bubble Lounge, Murray’s Cheese, Hooker Beer, Brooklyn Oenology, herb-n-peach, Georgetown Cupcakes, Lupe’s, Ba’al Café, SoHo Wines and Spirits, and The Wine Hut. The evening continues with an Open-Bar, All-Out Dance Party starting at 9:30.
Hosted by Dennis Diamond, Louie Magic and Daryl Hannah of Elephant Room
Featuring a compilation of spontaneous hybrid performances by steam-punk opera composer Kamala Sankaram, choreographer Ximena Garnica and video designer Shige Moriya, puppeteer Lindsay Abromaitis-Smith, mezzo soprano virtuosa Hai-Ting Chinn, and visual performance artists Jake Margolin and Nick Vaughan.
Limited Quantity Ticket Deals:
2-FOR-1 DEAL FOR ANY PURCHASE OF A $100 TICKET, use the code “JAMFOR2”
This gives you TWO “Slow Jam” $100-level tickets to the pop-up performance party at 7:30 AND open-bar dance party at 9:30 for the price of ONE!
Or - $35 Artist Tickets for the Open-bar, all-out dance party at 9:30, use the code “ARTYPARTY.” Regular Price for dance party tickets is $50.
Just click here: TIX & MORE >>