Cultural innovator Rachael Pazdan, founder of Brooklyn-based HYPNOCRAFT, has been organizing artistically interdisciplinary performances at a grassroots level since she was a 19-year-old SUNY Purchase College student.
Her latest project is a monthly residency called At the Inn. She also curated The Hum, the popular, hypnotic series, back in April.
This month’s At the Inn event is called the Manhattan Vampire’s Club and is an homage to Hollywood Vampires like John Lennon and Harry Nilsson. It takes place Monday, July 13th at 8:30 pm at Manhattan Inn (632 Manhattan Ave.)
Expect free performances by Nicole Atkins, Jared Samuel (Invisible Familiars), TEEN, Sam Cohen, EMEFE (with Miles Francis), Christian Peslak (Saint Rich), Adam Brisbin, Sean McMahon and more (suggested tip of $10 is encouraged). RSVP at doNYC and get there early as space fills up quickly.
Pazdan’s artistic background started in modern dance. After a traumatic injury at 18, she stopped dancing and began pursuing a degree in arts management. “Purchase College is a really fabulous art school with conservatories for music, visual art, dance and more,” she extols. “We lived in an altered reality at Purchase because you can do whatever you want and everything is wonderful and I thought that everything was great and life was going to be just like this.”
“It’s not,” she concedes. Her first post-graduation project was Vis-à-Vis, a three-day festival of panel discussions with artists in Bushwick about how to move forward in the changing community. “We talked about space, affordability of space and continuing to work in Bushwick while the community was beginning to change.”
“We had a performance at what used to be the Brooklyn Fire Proof and the old House of Yes on the third night of the festival. It was the culmination of everything and showcased different dance companies, two different films, bands and musicians, a crazy clusterfuck of stuff. I was really inspired by Sleep No More and was looking for an interactive choose your own adventure experience. Audience members could party, drink, hang out or follow performances if they wanted. It turned out great, I made a lot of connections, but I didn’t know what I was doing. By the end, I was burnt out and got a full-time job with Columbia Artists Management (CAMI). I needed to reassess what I was doing and get re-inspired.”
Following a two-year break from self-producing, last May she put together 3 to 1 with Nasrene Haj from the Creators Collective. “I thought that it was an interesting concept – three different artists in a hotel room for 24 hours making an installation. All of the artists had to work in different art forms and none of them knew each other ahead of time.”
At the time, Pazdan had been working at BRIC Arts Media for ten months and was organizing its summer music festival, Celebrate Brooklyn. “I felt excited in the arts [again]. I needed to get re-inspired and my work at BRIC and with Creators Collective did that.”
Screen/Sounds, a collaboration with art collective Destination Moon, came later that year. “I put 80% of the artists together for that. I was really proud of that show. Some really magical moments happened with the composers and the film. That show was phenomenal and everyone had a great time. That was the time that I realized I needed to start doing this by myself.”
Pazdan’s providence for music, dance, film, and video art, coupled with her enthusiasm for creating space for eclectic artist and audience experiences, gives her an advantage. It allows her to corral a consistent roster of talented artists, without charging admission.
HYPNOCRAFT pays artists what it can by dividing its percentage of the bar and what is collected via the “infamous tip jar.” Pazdan recoups minimal costs for her curatorial time, but makes it her priority to give the majority of all profits to artists. As her interdisciplinary projects multiply and her business grows, she aims to create a sustainable for-profit model that can support her time investment and provide artists with the higher compensation she knows they’re worth.
“It’s really tricky. I like to think HYPNOCRAFT shows accessible, compelling work to a community, while funding artists’ other projects, but that’s not always the case. To sustain what I want to do, I have to think about what works across the board. To me, that’s about partnerships, that’s about sponsorships. Non-profits are hard man. It’s hard to make money in the arts,” Pazdan knowingly laughs. Her first job out of college was company manager at the not-for-profit Purchase Performing Arts Center and she still works at BRIC full-time; she has also interned at the similarly designated BAM and New York Foundation for the Arts.
The first At the Inn event on June 9 and July 13th’s Manhattan Vampire’s Club are Pazdan’s first experiences putting together straightforward music shows. “I’ve never done that. So I’m seeing if that’s boring to me or what that’s like.” For The Hum, Pazdan had a specific vision of first-time musical collaborations between astral female musicians, with video projections in the background. At the Inn is not as conceptually specific, which gives the residency “a lot of room to play with, experiment, explore and try new things.” Pazdan’s forte.
There will be table service during the events so audience members can reserve a table on Open Table to snag a spot for the show. The two remaining dates for At the Inn after July 13 are August (date tbd) and September 14. The Hum will return in October for its weekly residency.
Up next for HYPNOCRAFT is a collaboration blending the “electro-acoustic and folk-pop based sounds of Cuddle Magic with [Anna Roberts-Gevalt’s] diverse visual storytelling, which incorporates elements of shadow puppetry, filmmaking, and illustration” on Wednesday, July 29 at 7:30pm at Livestream Public (196 Morgan Ave.).