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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    New collaborative maker space enters the Downtown arts scene

    Courtesy of Art Lounge Productions

    Art Lounge Productions wants you to believe in something. That something happens to be Bigfoot.

    The creative brainchild of Janna Zankich and Michael Montoya, owners and supernatural visionaries, Art Lounge Productions is a Tucson-based multimedia production team, specializing in videography and general media for both commercial and artistic purposes. Founded in fall 2014, the team recently expanded their innovative work with the opening of Art Lounge, a community-oriented open space, facilitating innovation and collaboration through immersive projects.

    Housed in BreakOut Studios, a dance and fitness studio in downtown Tucson, Art Lounge came to fruition through dance. Zankich, the former manager of BreakOut Studios, and Montoya, a dancer and longtime friend of current BreakOut Studios owner Todd Wilson, began making films several years ago to promote the studio.

    “Here we were in this environment where we had a bunch of creative people, a bunch of dancers, people who were willing to play, and we took advantage of that,” Montoya said. “We started making all these little videos­—promo videos for BreakOut. Some were in a commercial format; some were in more of a documentary style; some were funny skits. We made close to 16 or 17 videos there—short films. Through that we created a really good shorthand within each other. Out of that, it evolved into it’s own thing that we started calling Art Lounge.”

    Art Lounge is a manifestation of that initial cross-disciplinary collaboration. With nearly ten interns, a new space and Bigfoot as their creative mascot, Art Lounge has developed into a burgeoning creative collective.

    “We’re just mixing everything up. There’s the words, dance, photography, painting, videography and the stories,” said Sequoia Fischer, an intern for Art Lounge Productions and a senior studying studio art and ecology & evolutionary biology at the UA. “Stories must be told with everything.”

    The constantly changing space currently features several interactive projects, including “If I could Say It Out Loud”, an ongoing piece where patrons of the space are invited to write private thoughts on slips of paper and anonymously post them. Fischer is currently working on using these confessions to write a song, which will eventually be the audio for a choreography piece, and later a videography production for the team.

    “It’s funny. It’s like a big circle coming around,” Zankich said.

    Art Lounge is also equipped with a massive chalkboard home to the musings and words of visitors to the space. Currently, guest artist Andrew Gleckler’s poetry is up on display. Another corner of the room features an ever-expanding installation of paper folded cranes. An entire wall is comprised of framed portraits of Bigfoot. Fischer calls the urban legend Art Lounge’s dream logo.

    The works of art in Art Lounge are in constant change, and the interactive nature of the space necessitates constant interpretation and change.

    “Right now we’re making our community bigger and seeing where our fingers can touch and reach into other projects,” Fischer said. “When you’re sitting there and you have people who are just excited to be working as a group, to be making something, it’s really exciting. They’re all creative, and I want to be creative. That’s my goal in life, to be around creative people and make stuff. And I’m doing it.”

    For Art Lounge Productions, the only real constant in their work is their commitment to stories, the unbelievable and now the physical Art Lounge space. Montoya and Zankich note that at the core of every Art Lounge project is a narrative, be it human or fictional.

    “From the get-go when we were creating projects, it wasn’t necessarily about what would be flashy or what would be kind of entertaining. It was more so identifying what was interesting,” Montoya said. “For Art Lounge, their work always concerns the essential nature of humanity.”

    Interestingly, this humanness is represented by the mythical icon covering everything in Art Lounge. Bigfoot pins, shirts, photographs and allusions abound. For Montoya and Zankich, the creature represents faith in the unbelievable—an inherent trait in creative pursuits.

    “Bigfoot is kind of like this mysterious creature that you have to imagine. … It’s kind of like a childish dream, I think, trying to find Bigfoot or proving that Bigfoot is in existence,” Sequoia said. “I think that’s why we have this strange image at the center of our work. It represents the potential of things still existing, even though it’s scientifically not evident—that there’s still dreaming in the world of possibility.”

    For Bigfoot sightings, creative collaboration or inspiration, Art Lounge has it all.

    For more information, or to get involved visit Art Lounge, visit BreakOut Studios at 828 N. Stone Ave or find Art Lounge online at

    Follow Audrey Molloy on Twitter.

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