New multimedia, multidimensional show gets sneak preview at Civic Center

'The Spirit Coalescent' features art, music, poetry, dance

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • "The Spirit Coalescent" will be performed at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8 at the Farmington Civic Center.
  • Tickets are $12 and $15 at fmtn.org/civiccenter.
  • The show is the brainchild of local musicians Delbert Anderson and Nicholas Lucero.

FARMINGTON — To say that "The Spirit Coalescent" has traveled a long and circuitous route to becoming a reality for Delbert Anderson and Nicholas Lucero would be a major understatement.

Anderson and Lucero, two-thirds of the local jazz group the Delbert Anderson Trio, first envisioned the multimedia, multidimensional performance piece six years ago with the idea that it would include the work of indigenous artists from all over the world. After several repeated missteps that cost them both time and money, the two reluctantly put the project, tentatively called "The Masked Territories," on the back burner.

"We shot way too big, too early," Anderson recalled.

But the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year and the enforced idleness that came with it gave Anderson and Lucero the time and focus to return their attention to the project.

The Delbert Anderson Trio, left, and poet James Pakootas rehearse a segment from "The Spirit Coalescent," which will be debuted Sunday, Aug. 8 at the Farmington Civic Center.

This weekend, those years of dreams and hard work will pay off with a "sneak preview" presentation of "The Spirit Coalescent." The show is a combination of visual art — photography and painting — and original music, poetry and dancing that is centered on the healing power of land.

"It's a very serious type of project, and yet, very entertaining," Anderson said. "The message speaks to everyone and isn't just for a specific age, race or tribe."

Anderson and Lucero have modified their vision for the project in the sense that it now is more of a community-based endeavor with the participation of local artists Patrick Hazen, a photographer, and Karen Ellsbury, a painter. It also includes the poetry of motivational speaker and hip hop artist James Pakootas, a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes; and the choreography and dance of Maura Garcia, an unenrolled member of the Cherokee/Mattamuskeet nations, as well as music composed and performed by the Delbert Anderson Trio.

Painter Karen Ellsbury and photographer Patrick Hazen display their landscape of Hart Canyon near Aztec during a rehearsal for "The Spirit Coalescent" at the Farmington Civic Center on Aug. 5.

For the past week, the performers have been putting the show together during a residency at the Farmington Civic Center. The version they will present this weekend is not intended to be a finished version of the program — it likely will evolve until it officially opens in late January, Anderson said — but it is expected to be a polished, professional show.

"This is a process that usually takes months, if not years," Anderson said. "We're doing it within nine days. But we already had a lot of ideas set out."

Poet James Pakootas reads from one of his works during a rehearsal for "The Spirit Coalescent" during an Aug. 5 rehearsal at the Farmington Civic Center.

Anderson said the run time for the show will be a little longer than an hour. The performers will take the stage under eight large-format photographs/paintings by Hazen and Ellsbury, which represent some of the West's more striking landscapes. Those works include such locations as Bighorn Pass in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park and Mount Sneffels in Colorado's San Juan Mountains, as well as such well-known local sites as Angel Peak, Hart Canyon in Aztec and the Valley of Dreams on the Navajo Nation near the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness.

Those images help define the nature of "The Spirit Coalescent," Anderson said, explaining that the show seeks to connect the audience to the land.

"It's all about healing and the different aspects of the landscapes," he said. "We looked at it from different angles and came out of it with a really serious project … There's a ton of meaning in it."

Choreographer Maura Garcia rehearses one of the dances featured in "The Spirit Coalescent" on Aug. 5 at the Farmington Civic Center.

Anderson said "The Spirit Coalescent" is intended to be much more than a one-off show. The Olympia, Washington-based company Indigenous Performance Productions is booking the show at locations across the country, and Anderson said the plan is to take it on the road for two more residencies, then tour with it for two to three years after it opens in Farmington from Jan. 28-30, 2022.

After that, the show will be reworked with different paintings and different performance content before it goes on the road again. Anderson said he envisions "The Spirit Coalescent" becoming a career-defining project for his band, something it can tour with for more than a decade.

"We're expecting this to be booked five to eight times a year at major museums and performing arts centers," Anderson said.

The Delbert Anderson Trio performs one of its original compositions for "The Spirit Coalescent" during an Aug. 5 rehearsal at the Farmington Civic Center.

"The Spirit Coalescent" will be performed at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8 at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. Tickets are $12 and $15. Visit fmtn.org/civiccenter to purchase them online.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.