First Chimera Arts Maker Music Festival blends art with craft
On any given weekend, you’re likely to find a festival with musicians performing, but at the Chimera Arts center’s first Maker Music Festival, you’ll also see some of them showing how they create their own instruments.
The Sebastopol nonprofit, founded in 2012, offers its 150 members a wood, metal and jewelry shop stocked with tools to help artists, craftsmen, inventors and “tinkerers” turn their ideas into reality, said board president Joe Szuecs (pronounced “Sooch”). Members can also get advice and training as needed.
The daylong Saturday event will feature demonstrations, how-to projects, hand-on activities and a full schedule of live performances onstage. The organization hopes to raise its own profile while showing folks a good time.
“We occasionally have crafts fairs for our members that are open to the public, but this is our first music event,” said Szuecs, 60, of Occidental. “We need the community outreach to generate more membership and create community support.”
Chimera’s facilities manager, Ariel Stone of Sebastopol, 62, a professional woodworker for the past 47 years, recently started making instruments and so far has produced several handmade items: two cigar box guitars and a cigar box bass ukulele.
While he plays at weekly music sessions with friends, he’s not sure he’s quite ready for a public performance. Nevertheless he’s committed to the process of making his own instruments by hand and he’s looking forward to the Maker Music Festival.
“I’ve been creating since I was a boy. The family that I was adopted into were builders, so I had the opportunity to be creative from the get-go. I’m a longtime craftsman. I studied music when I was kid and I picked it back up in when I was in my 50s. Music is a really important part of my life now,” Stone said. “I’m very willing to talk with people about the process of making instruments. That’s really where I come from.’
Kevin Bacon of Santa Rosa, 29, Chimera’s executive director, is a laser cutter instructor, graphic designer, digital illustrator and printmaker who also plays and makes instruments, and teaches others how to make them.
“I build things and make things. I make some do-it-yourself musical instruments, essentially woodwinds. I played the saxophone for 12 years throughout elementary and high school. I’m making pan flutes out of the very large straws they make for boba tea. I also make oboe reeds out of smaller straws,” Bacon said.
“And I make something that sounds like a clarinet, but functions more like an air horn and plays like an instrument, out of all kinds of different materials, like empty vitamin bottles, rubber gloves, irrigation tubing and ballpoint pens,” he said. “I’ll be demonstrating that at the event.”
The Maker Music Festival will draw talent not only from its own membership but from the greater Bay Area, including Mauro ffortissimo from the annual Flower Piano event at the San Francisco Botanical Garden and the Pet the Tiger instrument inventors’ collective, with its “Musical Petting Zoo” interactive musical sculpture show.
Chimera Art takes its inspiration from the Maker Faire, launched in San Francisco in 2006 and co-founded with Dale Dougherty by Szuecs’ wife, Sherry Huss. Now there are more than 40 large-scale Maker Faires - including events in New York Paris, Rome and Berlin - as well as more than 170 community-driven, independently organized mini Maker Faires in the United States and in 43 other countries around the world.
“We have a community of makers around the world,” Szuecs said.
“The movement is about bringing back the do-it-yourself spirit and learning to make things in a hands-on way.”
You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his Arts blog at arts.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.