From left, Erica Putis, Kate Batsford and Emily Ignacio
Kate Batsford is crouched on the floor, carefully piecing together a large wooden puzzle. The puzzle is one of the hand-carved woodblocks that she's created in her pursuit of the art of printmaking.
Like any artist, Batsford has struggled for years to publicize her work and connect with other artists. This came up often throughout the years in conversations with her friends Emily Ignacio and Erica Putis. Ignacio had her own dreams of becoming an event planner, along with an interest in food and drink that led her to become a chef's assistant at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.
Putis, for her part, is a bass player and singer for two local bands, Recordable Colors and The Mashtis, and manages her own clothing label, Nuclear Clothing.
About a year ago, the trio decided to fuse their passions and create something for the benefit of their community (they all live in the vicinity of Balboa Park, so they focus primarily on the adjacent neighborhoods—at least for now). Thus, IndieGo Park, an event-hosting collective, was born.
“We figured, instead of doing everything separately, we could do it together, and we could help each other,” Ignacio explains.
The three women's talents intersect as seamlessly as the pieces of one of Batsford's woodblocks. As IndieGo Park (www.indiegopark.com), they hosted their first two events in 2009, both at The Casbah in collaboration with 94/9 deejay Tim Pyles. Batsford scouted out artists to showcase, Putis worked with Pyles to bring in bands, and Ignacio oversaw the planning of the event and the food.
Their most recent event, last August, featured the bands The Gift Curse, Mutant Space Boy, John Meeks and Meseta; artists selling everything from found-object jewelry to photography; plus free food from Lucha Libre and sweets baked by the members of IndieGo Park.
No one aspect of an event gets more emphasis than any other.
“It's all important,” Putis stresses. “When Tim Pyles first saw it, he said, ‘Now this is an event.'”
Ignacio cuts in, “If someone is into a band, they'll come see the band, but they'll automatically go to the art and the food, things they might not have otherwise gone out to see.”
The members of IndieGo Park view this fusion as vital—and beneficial to San Diego's art community as a whole. Their events not only give artists some needed publicity but also provide a venue for creative types to meet and network.
“Now that I'm involved in not only the art scene but also the music scene,” Batsford says, “it's interesting to see how supportive everybody wants to be to each other.”
Putis nods, pointing out how much work is done for trade within the art community. This is largely because nobody, she says, has any money. But this doesn't seem to worry the members of IndieGo. They don't charge admission for events or even booth fees for the featured artists. For their first two events, bands donated free CDs and digital downloads for schwag bags.
They've even received support from the competition. Jon Block, co-founder of “Sight & Sound”—a monthly arts and performance night similiar to IndieGo—was so impressed with the first IndieGo Park event that he suggested a future collaboration.
Block's offer is an example of the positive feedback IndieGo Park has received from San Diego's creative community, which is often criticized for being too loose and transient. Putis brushes aside this criticism.
“San Diego is transient, but there's nothing wrong with that,” she says. “If [musicians or artists] move away, they say, ‘Oh, well, I got my start in San Diego.' They still put us on the map.”
Ignacio adds that this also provides a rotating group of new artists and fresh inspiration. But Batsford, the more cautious and quiet of the three, notes that the art community still needs a solid base to rest on, and it ought to be easier for emerging artists and musicians to plug into the scene.
“That's why we're doing IndieGo Park,” she says. “Because it is a chance for people doing creative things to get together and network with each other, and also check out what everyone else is doing.”
The last piece of her woodblock in place, Batsford smiles. Out of the disparate pieces, she has created a single, cohesive image. IndieGo Park is planning to do its next event during the first quarter of the year, probably in March.