The Vague Collaborative is an apt moniker for the fluctuating assemblage of local artists and friends who are throwing the multi-media art-tacular Vague III. One reason is that the inaugural Vague didn't actually exist.
"Well there really wasn't a Vague I event, per se," explains Vague III curator Tomas Montano. "We were filming an independent movie in Boise called The Wicked Man back in 1999 ... so I came up with this idea of doing the soundtrack to the movie with a lot of the talent in the movie. We called it the Vague Collaborative. We had the Audio Lab for two nights in a row ... we drank a lot and just made a bunch of music."
Though recordings from those two besotted Vague nights never actually found their way into the movie, the group's disparate molecules—consisting of Montano, David Colcord, Jay Nelson and many others—re-congealed four years later for the less hazy, artsy house party Vague II, or simply the Vague Collab. Roughly seven local artists showed up with artwork in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other, informally assembling the show to the thump of music by the band Morningly.
"It was so surprising last time the people that showed up. I was like, 'Who is that person nailing nails into my kitchen and putting up art?'" says host Nelson, chuckling.
This time, the group is going all out—the planning committee even posted their minutes to Google Documents—with art, live painting, belly dancing, tattooing, film and music by Hillfolk Noir, The Jacks and Taxi del Taxi. But while the event might feel more structured, its organizers are anything but austere.
"We wanted to do Vague III on Nov. 5, Guy Fawkes day," explains Montano jokingly. "Vague for Vendetta we wanted to call it."
Clustered around vintage flan-yellow furniture in the lobby of the Modern Hotel, Montano and artistic collaborator Colcord—who work under the moniker Rail V. y Tomas—discuss the upcoming event with longtime friend Nelson. Nursing various beverages, the conversation winds from the recently assembled band Tinted Windows—Taylor Hanson, the Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha and the drummer from Cheap Trick—to the event's pending layout in an old firehouse turned bed and breakfast and video-editing studio.
"We're going to open up the night at 6:30 p.m. with a short film by A.J. Eaton called The Mix Up. We're going to show his 10-minute short film with a projector on a big screen in what we're calling the Interactive Room," explains Montano. "Hopefully, if it works out, we're going to Skype Eaton in from L.A. and project him on the screen for a Q and A."
Though Eaton, local musician Steve Eaton's son and local musician Marcus Eaton's brother, describes his short film blithely as "A little bit of Curb Your Enthusiasm, a little bit of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia ... meets Being There," it has garnered considerable praise at international film festivals like the Palm Springs Short Fest and Tokyo Short Shorts. The screening at Vague III will be a unique opportunity to catch the film before it opens at The Flicks before the much buzzed about Wendy and Lucy.
"It's nice to have the film be considered as a piece of art; it's a lighthearted comedy film, and you see that with much more serious films that are much more cinematography based," says Eaton. "It's really neat to be part of the art community with a comedy film."
In the Interactive Room, alongside a few virgin canvases that audience members will be splashing with paint and a vintage typewriter stocked with blank paper, local tattoo artist Darcy Nutt will adorn a lucky pre-selected client with her take on a retro sailor tattoo. Though she jokes that live tattooing can be a "boring spectator sport," she explains that it is also a good opportunity for the un-inked to see the hum of the needle in action.
"At functions like this, I have a pre-planned client and a pre-planned design, so I'm only going to be doing one tattoo from beginning 'til end. I won't be taking clients or anything; it's just for watching," says Nutt.
In a similar structure to last year's Modern Art event, Vague III artists will hang their work in various bed and breakfast rooms that have been opened for viewing to the public. In addition to pieces by Montano, Colcord and Nelson, there also will also be work from Laura and Chad Ritzer, Ben Wilson and Bryan Moore. Art in the show will be available for purchase along with prints and commemorative gift cards, with 20 percent of the proceeds going to the evening's hostess, Julie Grant. At the end of the night, after smaller raffle items have been dispersed, bidding will open for the event's showcase piece of furniture.
"The grand auction prize is this seven-drawer chest of drawers; each of us took home a drawer and we're doing something to it," says Montano. "Alma Gomez is contributing a drawer. She's a Boise State professor, and actually taught five of the Vague artists at one time or another—Ben Wilson, Chad Ritzer, Laura Ritzer, myself and Bryan Moore."
Based on the chronological reoccurrence of Vague shows, it's difficult to know when or if Vague IV may happen—though Montano is adamantly pushing for a November Vague for Vendetta.
But that just adds to the sense of anticipation and promises of after-event "I-can't-believe-you-missed-it" conversations. With its growth and intriguing multidisciplinary attractions, the appeal of Vague III to visitors will hopefully raise enough money to fund the next Vague and force its creators to reconsider their nebulous scheduling. Montano and company may also find a wealth of local artists clamoring to be a part of such an endeavor; one that offers them something they may not find otherwise.
"It's allowed some artists to be able to say, 'Oh, here's another possible venue for me, another reason for me to keep doing what I'm doing,'" says Nelson.
Friday, March 6, 6 p.m., FREE, donations welcome. The old fire station at 710 E. State St. Visit vaguecollab.com for more info.