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Husband-and-wife film buffs David Sherman and Rebecca Barten are owners of ‘microcinema’ Exploded View, combining film, music and art. Story and photos by Gillian Drummond.
“We’ve been in Arizona for ten years. We had been teaching in California, where we met, and moved to Bisbee in 2004 to raise our son. We did an underground film festival in Bisbee for three years.
“We landed in Tucson because all of three of us really were ready for some kind of a change. Our son was needing a new school and we were looking to be somewhere where we could be more socially and culturally engaged again.
“Our first microcinema was in San Francisco (where we met), where we had a derelict space. It lasted three and a half years and it ended when it needed to end. Since then we’ve had ongoing conversations about what’s going to be the next location when the microcinema happens again.
“Part of it had to do with this space on Toole Avenue becoming available. It was a reasonable rent and it wasn’t on the main drag. It was close enough to be accessible but we wouldn’t have to experience crowds of drunk students every weekend.
“It took about six months to remodel – building a projection loft, painting, electricity. We wrapped wood with burlap to make acoustic panels. It seats 40 people and there’s artist studio space at the back.
“We exhibit local artists, and put on bands. There are a lot of funky spaces in Tucson, which are wonderful. But we wanted this to feel like it was designed for what we’re doing.
“This building was owned by the Warehouse Arts Management Organization and so we felt very at home dealing with artists as administrators of the property. There’s a consciousness about what we’re doing. It’s not just commercial real estate to them, and getting as much money as they can. We feel like we’re in a city that wants to see this happen.
“Tucson is much more of an event-based city as opposed to a retail city. There’s not a huge amount of street traffic in a lot of the city. So our model is around doing events which are primarily cinema-based but also [using] music and poetry. We’ve had local band Catfish and Weezie doing a score to Tod Browning’s silent film The Unknown. We’ve linked up with the University of Arizona’s German studies department and LGBT Institute. People are meeting other people [through our events]. We’re seeing relationships developing among different artists who are going to our shows.
“We love the fact that we’re being portrayed as slightly avant-garde, but we’re really covering a spectrum, not just art films. Sometimes our films are historic, sometimes very contemporary, sometimes regional.
“Our programming also tries to engage different communities in Tucson. One show might be a completely different audience from another one. This is an art project, funded by ourselves, and with grants too, from people like the Tucson Pima Arts Council.