Feminine Touch: Chick Magnet

With Chick Magnet, local artist Lano makes a space for female artistic expression through music, art, tarot and more

Making art can be stimulating, self-fulfilling, creatively engaging, frustrating, contemplative and, often, lonely. Solo artists work alone for long stretches of time, and once they complete a piece, there is often no clear outlet. Over time, a feeling of isolation can set in.

This is where Emilie (Lano) Terrazas found herself last winter. Rather than accepting isolation as a byproduct of her craft, Terrazas, who prefers to go by Lano, chose to build a community of female artists.

"If you don't see the community you want, then create it yourself," Lano says. "We are only limited by our own imagination of what we can build together, and we don't need to wait for permission to do it. We just have to keep doing it."

The Chick Magnet Art and Music Fest is the first pillar of this developing community. While Lano admits that the show, held at 191 Toole, is her baby, the planning of it has been a collaborative process, bringing together women who work in myriad visual and musical mediums to design an experience that showcases their individual work.

Visual contributors include Rachel C. Slick, Sylvia Feliz Sewell and Mary Griffin. Gabriella Molina will be showing her video work, and Azrael Wagner will be doing tarot readings inside the installation piece that she and Lano collaborated on.

Chick Magnet also provides a unique opportunity for established visual artists like Lex Gjurasic and Linda Cato to try something outside of the more strictly curated traditional gallery world. Cato, who teaches at Changemaker High School, will be showing a collaboration that she did with two of her students.

Lano, a self-taught artist, sees events like this as an important transition mentally for an up-and-coming artist.

"It's hard to transition to the point where you're like, 'I'm an artist. I call myself an artist,' but since my early twenties, I've been exploring my own creative impulses," she says.

She put on her first show a few years ago, when she lived in Topanga Canyon.

"Choosing between art school and not art school was a very conscious choice for me," Lano says. "I decided to choose experience and self-motivated direction rather than school, so I've gotten myself involved in a bunch of different mediums."

Lano had an Etsy shop for a while, and dabbled in being an artist/businesswoman, but the business side never felt right to her.

"At first I thought, 'I'll have a brand. I'll have a product in a store. Something physical.' And within the last year, I've understood that I'm more of an internal artist," Lano says. "I didn't have the motivation to make the same thing over and over again, or to come up with a product to sell. I just wanted to do what felt natural in the moment."

Despite years of experience, Lano doesn't consider herself a seasoned artist. "I'm not going to book myself a big gallery show," she says.

That's part of what drew her to Chick Magnet. "I've been making work intentionally for over ten years, so I decided to just show it myself."

Making her own space has given Lano the freedom to house many different media under one roof—video, tarot, collage, zines and, predominately, music. Lano is also a self-taught musician and spent several years developing her skills as a songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist, alongside her partner in the band Mellow Bellow. Her solo work picks up where Mellow Bellow left off. She focuses on mostly electronic music, which is easier to produce as a solo artist. She will be debuting her first solo tape at the single-day festival.

The show opens with a free artist reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Starting at 8 p.m., the admission price will rise to $5, and bands will hit the stage. The killer line-up of powerful female-fronted groups is worth every penny and then some.

The youngest musician on the bill, Liv Conlan, is eighteen and typically plays at farmer's markets and open mics. Lano is excited to give her the chance to share a big stage with some inspiring local female-fronted acts like The Rifle, Louise Le Herr and Fawn Bones.

Adia Victoria, the only touring artist on the bill, is a southern singer and songwriter living in Nashville. Her songs are catchy rockers that slide into unsettling and evocative southern gothic motifs. According to Lano, her powerful bluesy rock is right in line with the Chick Magnet vibe.

For Lano, part of the appeal in organizing the show was getting to meet artists she'd admired from a distance. Local rock outfit Lemon Drop Gang, fronted by Steph O'Halloran, were right at the top of her list. O'Halloran—as anyone who has witnessed her gripping stage performance, complete with wild antics, fearless asides and perfect rock vocals, can attest—is a total chick magnet.

Connecting with these women has already had a direct impact on Lano as an artist.

"This whole thing is more for me than for anyone," Lano says. "It's been such a growth experience, and it has allowed me to step more fully into my authentic self."

She hopes that the show will offer a similar moment to other female artists in Tucson who might be feeling isolated in the same way she was last winter.

"That's the thing about any hobby or lifestyle choice," Lano says. "Sometimes you have to see it first in your physical reality, and then realize that, oh, it's so attainable. I'm hoping that young artists will come out and see a zine and say, 'I can make this.'"

As a collective, Chick Magnet has the potential to become more than an event-hosting enterprise. Lano sees it as a fluid entity that exists to serve its community. With the concert and art show coming up, the focus has been on highlighting as many female artists as possible, but in the future she hopes it will foster connections between women that breakdown the isolation of the artistic process.

"I would love for this to be one big annual event, but I would love to have smaller, more intimate events throughout the year," Lano says.

Though focused on making a space for female artists, Lano wants Chick Magnet to feel accessible to everyone.

"I felt that a space for women's work was lacking in Tucson. In a lot of other cities, women artists are coming out in exciting ways, and I wanted to see more of that here," Lano says. "There's not always a female on the bill. This isn't an angry rebellion against the way things are. I just saw a need, and decided to fill it."

"The choice to make Chick Magnet an all female show was very natural," Lano says. "This last year, the most important and fruitful relationships in my life have been with women. It just felt fun to make it about women...I think there's a lot of power in the female voice, and I don't think it's given its own space very often."

That voice, in all various forms, will be heard loud and clear on Saturday, June 4.

"I feel like there's a tenderness, and a sweetness, but also a really raw power that comes from women," Lano says. "I want to celebrate that."