Local artist-turned-businessman aims to create a more artistic community through collaborative efforts
by brenda paiz
For most of us, Albuquerque is the place we call home. We get tattoos of Zia symbols, eat green chile on everything, and love to rewatch “Breaking Bad”. The people in this city are extremely passionate about their hometown and that proves to be the case for local artist-turned-businessman, Carlos Contreras, whose own passion for the city inspired him to start his own community engagement company, Immastar Productions.
According to Contreras, the event and logistics company produces events with local art and artists. Immastar aims to partner with other promoters and organizations for different causes throughout the city. “I love collaborating,” Contreras explains, “it makes me feel alive and like we are doing something bigger than ourselves. Immastar is not about ‘me’ even though Immastar sounds that way- it's so everyone one day can call his or herself a ‘star’ for something.”
Contreras’ business and philosophy focuses on using outlets such as art and expression for building a stronger community. And throughout the ten years since he founded Immastar, local businesses and breweries have joined him in these collaborative efforts to showcase art and artists. Marble Brewery, Rio Bravo Brewing, Farina Alto and Tractor Brewing have all hosted events and there are plans in the works for a few more locations in 2017.
Just last month, Immastar Productions, wrapped up their most recent event “JustSpeak, JustListen, JustMove” which Contreras says was a collaborative cross-genre show that featured 20 local and regional artists. Promising a unique performance each night, nearly 500 people over five days saw the show. And although he did not profit from this event financially, Contreras had a lot to gain by the success of this event, “It was successful in my mind, but there is always room to improve.”
With a passion for art and poetry, a love for this city, and the ability to dream big, Contreras recalls how the company got its start over ten years ago. It started with a design on the back pocket of a pair of jeans that he hand styled with acrylics that read Immastar. Soon after, he began writing Immastar all over everything. Eventually, as he got more into event promotion, he thought the name would be perfect for a business. Soon after, he got a business license and officially founded Immastar Productions.
In the early stages and as an artist himself, Contreras would reach out to local artists to participate in events, but these days he says, the artists and events, ideas and venues reach out to him, “It’s an incredible honor and responsibility.”
In addition to being an artist and the founder of his own company, Contreras balances home life, work and school. He works as a Community Engagement Strategist at ProgressNow, NM, which he says allows him to stay sharp on his writing and social media skills. “What working for Progress Now allows me to do, is be an artist and not feel bad about it,” he explains, “I have a boss and co-workers who understand that I am a ‘whole person’ and that art is my life. There are creative and fun ways for me to involve my artistic life and mind with my work.”
Contreras is also a masters student in the American Studies Program at UNM. He has taught in schools, jails and even prisons in the state. “I have immersed myself in all of the authentic and genuine gritty and pretty parts of this city- I love all of it.”
More recently, Contreras has added new father, to his long list of accomplishments. He is a proud parent of a nine month old baby girl, whom he says is bound to be an artist one day, but admits that time is the biggest challenge to balancing his busy yet fulfilling life.
In ten years the company and the artist have come a long way and Contreras has no plans of slowing down anytime soon, saying that he wants Immastar Productions to be full fledged business by 2020. And if it's one thing that Contreras has proved to himself and to those around him, he can do anything he sets his mind to.
(local artists and businesses can contact Carlos Contreras on Facebook or reach out on Twitter and Instagram @soothxsayer.
Published December 2016, ABQ-Live