Visual artist Mollie Bryan's Mokedo arts space is celebrating its first anniversary Saturday October 21 with a party featuring a live performances, DJ sets, and a light show by Bryan herself (she's also the curator of the Lusio series at Volunteer Park Conservatory).
Situated in an inconspicuous building near I-5 in SoDo's industrial zone, Mokedo has become one of Seattle's key afterhours spots for underground dance music (as gigs by Voices from the Lake, Juju & Jordash, and Bill Converse attest) and myriad multimedia events and music-making workshops. It also recently hosted a fantastic pop-up record sale by former Seattle musician Timm Mason (Master Musicians of Bukkake, Mood Organ). Such versatility, reflective of Bryan's open-minded, adventurous curation, has enabled Mokedo to thrive in a competitive nightlife environment—even in its obscure location. Bryan talked to The Stranger about the highs and lows of running a DIY space, Seattle's arts scene, what's on the horizon for Mokedo, and more.
The Stranger: What important lessons have you learned about running an arts space and about humanity in general during Mokedo’s first year?
Mollie Bryan: I've learned that people crave safe spaces to produce and experience art. That the community is more supportive and giving than I imagined. I experienced first-hand how art is vital for humanity; it's a part of our lives that heals, releases, bonds, and elates. Some of us would go nuts without experiencing it on a regular basis. Running an arts space and being the conduit for art has allowed me to see exactly how important art is to humanity and our well-being as a whole.
Is there anything you’d do differently with regard to throwing events? What sort of things are working and which ones—if any—aren’t?
I found that there were a few events that got great feedback but low attendance, like free meet-ups, open studio sessions, and yoga classes, so I nixed those. Mokedo is a very morphable creative space, so a lot of types of events work well here; like the Conclave Sessions or Sight Unseen, which focus on light art and sound through classes and relaxed experiences. The workshop with Kangding Ray was a big hit, too! If I had the right funding, I would bring in more progressive light art experiences and artists and turn Mokedo into a Seattle version of Gray Area Art + Technology.
Which event do you think came off best, and why?
Noisy Kids was probably the best day at Mokedo. [It's] where Monster Planet, Patchwerks, and Modular on the Spot all bring in modular sound equipment for kids to play with for the afternoon. The first Noisy Kids event happened right after the election, so seeing these kids come in and discover the joy of making sounds really helped pull a lot of us out of that post-election funk. Kids are so much more intuitive and expressive when it comes to this stuff, and the nerdy parents love the gear play, too, of course. We have another one coming up on November 5, and it's going to be a blast.
Do you feel optimistic about the music and art scenes in Seattle right now?
I do feel optimistic, but Seattle is a music city, not so much an art city. I think Seattle has a long way to go before it really embraces every part of the art and music culture in a way that sustains and supports its artists. Supporting yourself as an artist is still pretty impossible here, but the art is out there and we're all creating opportunities for each other every damn day.
It would be great to see the city support these scenes and spaces more instead of just allowing it to happen. Funding for artist programs, retreats, education and business support shouldn't just revolve around the mainstream arts. Our scene is so robust and filled with creative talent, it would be amazing to see what would happen if we had the support in Seattle like Red Bull Music Academy provides, for example.
What’s on the horizon for Mokedo? Any major changes planned in policy or the physical space?
[Saturday October 21] is Mokedo's One Year Anniversary party! We'll have multiple light art experiences to explore, a live short set by Randy Jones on his Soundplane, a collaboration piece between Cyanwave and me (which will be ambient sounds with a low-tech live light performance), Ed Bier DJing, and a silent auction to help raise some funds to give Mokedo a much-needed facelift.
My landlord will inevitably raise my rent when my lease is up next year, so I want to make use of the time I know that I have with more educational and community driven events that spread happiness and inspiration through sound and light. I've started to work with a few non-profits who will be using Mokedo for regular events and fundraising. I've been working with the Volunteer Park Conservatory curating Lush Sounds and the Sylvan Series, and we have Iluna Flora on October 29, so producing Mokedo-type events for non-profits might become a thing at Mokedo and other beautiful venues. Ultimately, I want to use Mokedo and my Mokedo powers for good and to help people. We need this now more than ever, and Mokedo seems to be a great conduit for happiness.
As Mokedo, I also produce and curate events outside of the space; bringing the Mokedo vibe to other venues for good causes. I've curated a show on October 27 at Re-bar called Belle Nuit, with Sassmouth, Miss Shelrawka, WALA, and a live set from Raica to support the new Amplify Her documentary that screens the night prior at SIFF. Amplify Her [focuses] on female electronic music artists and their passions, journeys, and personal tribulations that many women in the arts experience. The lineup reflects a powerhouse selection of women who have been ferociously building the scene with stellar techno for years.
Gel-Sol's VR-enhanced album-release party for Horse Head Bookends happens Friday, October 20 at Mokedo.