For not having planned to pursue a career in art, Brandon Hill and Peter Chang have done pretty well for themselves. They're two of the brains behind No Kings Collective (the other is a man named Francisco Esteban), the entity which has created, produced and/or curated some of the best and most memorable pop-up exhibition events in the city, including Activation 2719 and 440. And after such success it's probably no surprise to learn these men are in demand, by both artists who want to collaborate with them and regular folk like ourselves, who just want to have a good time in an extraordinary environment.
Which brings us to their latest project, Submerge. No Kings Collective have taken control of an unused space at 7th and New York to create a three-floor multimedia “art happening” that’ll feature performance and installation art, wall murals, music, fashion, food and more. It opens Thursday and will be part of next Saturday’s inaugural Art All Night event, and oh yeah, they’ve also agreed to let Scoutmob host our blowout there this Friday. (You’ve RSVP’d, right?) I caught up with the Hill and Chang in the early morning hours (so, like, 10 a.m.), last week to talk more about this particular event and some other stuff, too. We met in the space, and let’s just say, after catching a glimpse of their proposed vision, this is an exhibition you don’t want to miss.
SCOUT: So how long have you guys been working together?
PETER: For about six years.
BRANDON: Yeah, some combination of either myself and Peter or Cisco.
PETER: Brandon and I actually met each other senior year of college and ever since then, it’s kind of…
SCOUT: Kind of…?
BRANDON: Sorry, I’m just waking up. I slept upstairs.
PETER: Yeah, these projects take out a lot. Not only are we participating as artists, but we’re also administration, management, procuring sponsors…
BRANDON: Plus, they’re nonsensical. They don’t fit formally in a category. It’s not a gala, it’s not a music showcase, it’s not just an art exhibition. It’s kind of a little bit of everything. We don’t actually even know 100 percent what it is, but we’re always attempting to do something gallery caliber.
PETER: In an untraditional space. Working in a space that we technically can control everything that goes on in gives us this freedom.
BRANDON: It’s refreshing to do stuff like this.
SCOUT: Well, this space truly is spectacular. How did you score it?
PETER: The people who are organizing Art All Night and Shaw Main Streets asked if I was interested in curating something. I was like, OK, let’s take a tour of the spaces and see what they had. Brandon and I had been staring at this space for, like, two years, ever since Garment District did an event here. It’s an amazing space that’s been almost impossible to get. So when I found out it was available, I just jumped on it immediately. And with (e)merge [art fair] coming up, we thought why not extend our days to match theirs so we get the maximum amount of time, instead of just the one-night event, we have this four-day extravaganza.
BRANDON: Yeah, once we locked down the spot, we realized this space is too big and our concept is too big for just one day.
SCOUT: So, what’s gonna happen here?
PETER: We paired up with two non-profits to do two benefit nights, we have so many different musicians and talent. Two chefs are going to be doing a special menu…
BRANDON: It’s an odd mix, but it makes sense here. If we wrote this list for anywhere else, it’d seem odd, like, why or how all these people would be showcased on the same platform, but it makes sense in the end, when you’re here. All of this happens because we sit down at a table and are like, “Damn, it’d be cool if we had…” And we just take it from there.
SCOUT: Just looking around at sort of the beginnings of some of the installation work, is it easy to convince artists to come in to do, you know, weeks of work for just four days?
PETER: We know pretty much everyone on that roster.
BRANDON: Yeah, everyone’s down. They understand what we do. Everyone realizes it’s a lot of f@#king work, but it’s also a legit opportunity. We do things the right way. Like, we’re not just throwing a cool event with wallpaper. The DJs aren’t just background. Everything we put into this is important and everyone who’s in it understands that.
PETER: The creative community here really sticks together and you can keep bouncing work and ideas and different projects off of each other and it just keeps growing.
SCOUT: Do you mean beyond the confines of the creative community?
BRANDON: Yeah. Just by doing what we do, like events like this. I’m really glad you asked this question because what we noticed when we first started throwing events, we were getting the art crowd, plus this whole other crowd. We don’t know how the hell they found out about it, but we knew they liked it. And we liked it.
PETER: We want people to have a good time. Art doesn’t have to be stuffy. We thought we could do a professional gallery-caliber exhibition, but at the same time have a DJ or some feature to provide entertainment. People can come, converse about the art, buy art, dance, have a drink…
BRANDON: And we’re talking about everyone, obviously the art crowd and musicians, but also contractors, lobbyists, lawyers.
PETER: Because they like to have fun, too.
And that's a fact. Fun does not discriminate, so let's all have it together this weekend at Submerge, OK? OK.