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Photographer Molly McClintock started a collective last year, creating a way for artists to work together to make art and open new venues. The result is Maxed Art, which has become a player in creating a downtown arts scene. On Friday, Jan. 16, the collective wants all artists to join them for Zine Night, when they get together and make zines, with each page a work of art. On Feb. 7, Maxed Art co-founder Jaxun Doten will curate Playtime, a show with 25 visual artists at LuluBell Toy Bodega. For more information, call 622-5858, or visit the Maxed Art Web site.

What kind of art do you do?

Photography and some bookmaking.

What's it like being a working artist in this town?

For me, I have a lot of support from friends. I've found that it's easy. Studio space is inexpensive, and living expenses are easy. ... Being from Tucson, I know where to find the resources I need. I'm comfortable here. But there's not a lot of outside influence, which can be good and bad, depending on what you're looking for as an artist.

Is that why you started Maxed Art?

I know a lot of talented artists, but it can be hard to know what to do with your art, where to show it or even have a reason to show it. I worked at Dinnerware Artspace and had some experience setting up art, but I also have a lot of my own ideas. ... My goal with Maxed Art is to go about mixing the mediums of music, writing and visual arts. I'm really interested in collaboration right now, and seeing all three of those mediums come together.

How many people get involved in the projects?

For Sound of Paint (held July 29-Aug. 2, 2008), a lot of people got involved. We had the five nights of musicians playing, three every night, and eight to 10 artists working while they played.

What was your first event?

Before Sound of Paint, we did one of the murals on the Rialto wall with the zombies on it. It was temporary. Then we did a project called Write and React. Fourteen writers and 14 visual artists came together. We invited writers from all over the United States. We picked out our favorite piece from each writer and randomly gave them to the visual artists, and they had a couple of months to respond. In May, we had a show with the artwork and a broadside of the written work displayed together, in the Arts Incubator Gallery ... for two weeks.

You've also been doing zine projects. How did that start?

We started getting together in October. ... We haven't really brought them to public attention. Really, it's been a reason for us to get together and make art. We also created two editions of the Plume Zine, where we sent out a call for local themed submissions from all over the community and then created publications that we bound by hand.

It seems that if you're going to be an artist, it's best to do it yourself. Is that part of the philosophy behind Maxed Art?

Yes. It is definitely important to start things yourself and not wait for people to come around. For me, it's easy to do. I'm an organized person, and it's been helpful to have some experience working in an art gallery. But it's also important to be in a group as an artist, and not hole yourself up in your studio. Artists can be important influences on each other. Artists can be very supportive, even if they don't like your work. It's also just important for people who are looking at artwork to see new things and what the local community is producing.

I imagine it's probably great for the musicians and writers, too, to be part of that influence.

It's really great to see what those mediums can do and how they can influence your medium. But what we've created for everyone is independence. There's an independence in having an artists' collective. ... You don't have to worry about a gallery showing your work.

Is it important that Maxed Art be part of what's going on right now in downtown Tucson?

It is important to Maxed Art to be a part of what's changing about downtown, mainly because we all live, work, party or otherwise spend time down here. We are what makes downtown. It feels like Tucson is finally waking up, and all lively cities need a good cultural grounding in the arts.

More by Mari Herreras

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