"The mindset of punk rockers, artists, hackers -- it all boils down to the same thing: Critical thinking," says Concoctory founder Mar Williams. Her hackerspace recently fused with Cabal Enterprises, a nine-person art cooperative supplying South Broadway with hyper-local art, creativity, and DIY, which is more than a mere hobby. "It's an ethic," Williams says.
Cabal officially takes over 1875 South Broadway Friday, October 3 at 6 p.m., and the members are throwing down for art lovers with a free exhibit featuring live music and comedy by Chris Charpentier and Greg Baumhauer. Sons of Scullery, that beloved gourmet BBQ truck, will be serving up fresh-smoked goodness.
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Williams opened the Concoctory as a retail space that would be big enough for housing classes and workshops, too. "I'd already done the hackerspace thing with denhac," she says, explaining that she wanted to bring hacking to a much wider audience. "A lot of people are turned off by hackerspaces because that's not an environment they are used to strolling into," Williams continues.
But consumers like us are already quite familiar with how to stroll in to a retail space. Williams used that to her advantage and crafted a place where would-be hackers might stumble in, hang, out and start a dialogue about, well, anything from the other Apple guy to the concept of infinity.
Last fall, the Concoctory went "full hacker," as Williams puts it, and morphed into a member-run nonprofit. Tomorrow things "come full circle," she says, explaining that Cabal will offer retail, classes, and an art gallery.
Entrepreneur Jim Norris, owner of 3 Kings Tavern and Mutiny Information Cafe, who's now in charge of the space, came up with Cabal and thinks of it as an incubator -- a place for sharing stories and sparking new ideas.
"When the Concoctory opened, I was really jealous," says Norris, who had been thinking about an artist's co-op for a really, really long time. "Like, when you are twenty-one and don't have any resources...I've been waiting for the right people to come along since then," he says.
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When the Concoctory was looking at closing, Williams rolled into Mutiny and asked Norris if he wanted the place. It was the perfect time for Norris. He was looking at other properties and loved Williams' space -- and all of the fancy machines and gadgetry.
Norris dabbles in lots of things, but says his strongest point is "bringing creative, motivated people together." Through Cabal, he's united Christopher Hosey, FAIM, Cheap, Girr, Joshua Finley, John Baxter, Mar and Michelle Scheffer at a location where they'll be capable of capturing "that spirit of the old 13th," as Williams puts it. "Music, counter-culture, community -- it's the vibe that I love about Denver," she says.
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Inside the retail shop, you'll find shirts, hats, original art and prints, toys, buttons, stickers and embroidery, among other things. Concoctory's most beloved classes -- Lock Picking, 3D Printmaking and Soldering -- will remain, and other educational offerings are coming soon. There's been talk of Screen Printing and a Zine workshop, and Norris expresses interest in reaching out to area high schoolers. He also promises a couple of music shows each month, and says tomorrow's shindig will be a sampling of everything the organization will be doing under its versatile roof. For more information, check out Cabal Enterprises on Facebook. Keep reading for a sneak peek of some of the Cabal work that will be on display. Follow Jamie Siebrase on Twitter.