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Spiderweb Salon spins together a web of creatives

Spiderweb Salon spins together a web of creatives

Spiderweb Salon spins together a web of creatives
January 15
16:29 2019

Walking into Dan’s Silver Leaf last Saturday, one would find it packed with performers and audience members, many adorning masks, suits and dresses, bathed in soft, color-changing lights.

The event, dubbed “New Year’s Revolution,” is held by Spiderweb Salon, a creative collective entirely comprised of around 130 artist volunteers. Since its creation seven years ago, the collective has worked with around 400 artists and creators of all mediums and produced nearly 100 large-scale productions of the variety-show type. 

According to the Salon’s website, the organization is “a group of artists, writers, musicians, dancers, makers, bakers and dreamers.” Its goals are simple: “to create and collaborate constantly, to curate places, events, and publications where folks can share their work, and to strengthen friendships [and] have fun while supporting one another.”

This mission comes in many forms, such as recording poetry for radio, hosting cooking sessions along with a baking blog, running a workshop series, publishing zines, fundraising for causes and designing large-scale visual art. Created by co-founders Courtney Marie and Conor Wallace seven years ago, the collection had humble beginnings.

“[We] had friends that were in a similar boat of creating things that didn’t fit into the scene that is Denton, which is mostly bands playing music,” Marie said.

The first show was in June 2012 at Wallace’s parent’s backyard, with 10 performers and a plus-one for each. Attendants were allowed six minutes to perform, a rule that is still integral to Spiderweb Salon’s shows.

“[That show was] an actual salon,” Marie said. “The traditional term is having a creative gathering by an inspired host that’s bringing people together.”

The first show inspired the name “Spiderweb Salon.” The show’s positive response inspired Marie to host a new show every three weeks.

“Everybody who came as a plus-one was like, ‘Whoa, this is cool. We should do this again, and we want to be on stage,’” Marie said.

Quickly after that, Spiderweb Salon evolved to host a variety of house shows. Word-of-mouth and private Facebook events helped Spiderweb Salon draw larger crowds during its start. Now, bigger shows like New Year’s Revolution are hosted at Dan’s Silver Leaf, which has supported Spiderweb Salon for nearly six years. More intimate showcases are hosted at Wine Squared or Paschall Bar.

“The idea behind it [was that] we’re here to support each other,” Marie said. “It’s not like a house show or a party where you socialize and talk throughout the whole thing.”

After each show, Marie makes sure that people are able to talk to each other and the performers.

“At the end of it, that’s where all of the energy gets to disperse itself in the crowd,” Marie said. “[It’s] like going to a theater. You’re here to experience something that you wouldn’t if you were drinking a beer and talking to someone.”

Marie also prides herself on having Spiderweb Salon shows start on time and creating house rules requiring respect for everyone on stage.

“Having house rules to respect the people that are on stage is a super easy [and] a super powerful tool for building community,” Marie said.

Marie does the majority of the booking for shows which are often themed. For the first time in its seven years, there are official members of Spiderweb Salon who have signed up online.

“Until now it was all in my brain and in a stack of notes that I have that are completely indecipherable to anyone else,” Marie said. “Now we have a real directory, and we have had people who have said, ‘Yes, I am in this for the long haul this year.’”

Anjelica Fraga watches others preform at Spiderweb Salon: New Year’s Revolution. Fraga had presented a poem, “Hoops,” earlier that evening to the crowd at Dan’s Silver Leaf in Denton, Texas on Saturday, January 12, 2019.

At New Year’s Revolution, poets, dancers, musicians, comedians, fashion designers and more attended. Hosts announced each artist ready to come onstage. A visual design team decorated masks, costumes and props ahead of time, including a human-sized spiderweb for people to take pictures in front of.

“We tend to make a lot of weird stuff, and I think that’s something we’re going to lean on a bit harder this year because we have so many visual artists and designers that want to be a part [of Spiderweb Salon events],” Marie said. “It’s something that keeps evolving with every person that comes into it and sees some value in working with [Spiderweb Salon], and I think that’s nice because it’s never quite the same.”

Chicago-based language artist and events producer Chelsea Fiddyment performed a piece with a working title of “Mirror House,” in which she asked audience members to watch her performance through the camera on their phone.

“There’s always something wonderful and special about [performing on stage],” Fiddyment said. “You’re in front of a room of people who are very generous with their attention and their care, and you want to be able to do right by the people who are all there to experience those things.”

Marie volunteers her own local residence in Denton for Spiderweb Salon members to work on their own pieces, props or costumes or to work on the collective’s zine.

“Everybody introduced each other and talked about what magic is [to] them because that’s kind of the theme of the zine,” Marie said. “Then we all broke off, and some people were drawing, some people were typing, some people were just writing.”

Co-director of Spiderweb Salon and teacher Nina Chantanapumma then compiles all of the pages into a zine using Adobe InDesign and puts it together by hand.

Although Spiderweb Salon produces many things, it is still a volunteer-run organization. Chantanapumma and Marie sometimes dig into their personal funds to support Spiderweb Salon, so they now have a Patreon, a crowdfunding site that allows people to donate money through a subscription-type service.

“Our Patreon has helped a lot, so we’d love for anyone who wants to support the creative scene in Denton to check it out,” Chantanapumma said.

Spiderweb Salon is hosting “A Way of Writing: Revising Your Work With New Eyes with Sebastian Paramo,” a writing workshop on Feb. 10 at Dan’s Silver Leaf. Visit the Salon’s website and follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to find out more.

Featured Image: Matthew Sallack performing a song at Spiderweb Salon: New Year’s Revolution at Dan’s Silver Leaf in Denton, Texas on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. Emily Olkkola. 

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Emily Olkkola

Emily Olkkola

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