New venue, DIYMCA, champions accessibility in the arts


Easton Thompson

The south interior wall of the DIYMCA venue holds a signable support banner. DIYMCA is an all-ages, inclusive environment which holds support and acceptance highly.

Pink balloons adorn the floor, noisy experimental music blares and a friendly middle-aged woman offers you vegan sushi it’s another typical night at DIYMCA.

It may not be much more than a streamer-strewn stage, a chalk wall, and a narrow hallway, but this 18th St. venue packs a punch.

DIYMCA, a sober, all-ages art gallery meets music venue is blazing into its third month of operation.

Co-founders Doug Horacio Holguin Lynn, Mary Alexis Wirths and Levi Morgan have created an accessible space that features artists of diverse stature while donating the majority of door fees to charity. The venue doubles as a residence for its co-founders and operators.

Holguin Lynn, Wirths and Morgan share a long history as collaborators and friends.

Their chemistry and mutual regard contributed to the momentum that culminated in DIYMCA.

“That’s what made me interested in starting something with these people specifically,” said Holguin Lynn, “because they were both super hard working artists.”

All three co-founders are active in the local art community.

Morgan and Holguin Lynn play in numerous local bands while Wirth, a Wichita State University Fine Arts student, works at ShiftSpace and is the creator behind “Human Car Wash.”

Their combined connections are invaluable to the success of DIYMCA.

“Working with them has been great, we can make ideas happen a lot faster,” said Morgan.

The inspiration for DIYMCA grew from all three co-founder’s experience with their respective scenes.

DIYMCA sheds the elitism of the art world, and the impenetrability of the music industry.

“Our top focus is being accessible to people who don’t know how to get into bigger galleries or book a show. They can come to us and we can put on a full event that brings people together who will like their art,” said Holguin Lynn. “Recently we had two high school students in shows but they were among two really established photographers in town. I think that’s really cool to see.”

The music and art scenes in Wichita are distinct, and present different challenges to new-comers. DIYMCA attempts to make all mediums available to young artists.

“Our approach to booking music, art shows or poetry readings is the same,” says Wirths.

DIYMCA seeks to build on the already present connection between the Wichita music and art scenes.

“There is a lot of crossover,” said Wirths. “A lot of musicians make art and a lot of artists make music, [DIYMCA] is a way to bridge.”

That bridging has yielded unique and wonderful results thus far.

“Getting all the art kids to come to the show and getting all the band kids to go and see an art show is really cool,” said Morgan. “You see a dude with a shaved head and leather jacket looking [at art] for a good minute. Everyone appreciates that kind of stuff, but if you’re not in an environment that promotes it, it’s easier to pass it off.”

Accessibility at DIYMCA goes one step further. Beyond their openness to new talent, the co-founders believe that the venue’s sober, all-ages policy is of vital importance to the community at large.

“21-plus shows, even if you are 21-plus are uncomfortable,” said Holguin Lynn. “We created a space where people of all ages and walks of life are talking to each other, and they don’t have to worry about drinking to be like everyone else.”

Besides the general difficulty presented by 21-plus shows to underage patrons, Wirth suggests that there is a gendered element for female performers as well.

“It’s hard as a girl in a band to have respect in a bar,” said Wirth. “This is a spot where everybody gets the respect, appreciation and acknowledgment they deserve.”

Despite their fervent belief in DIYMCA’s sober and all ages shows, the co-founders have no objection to the local bar community.

In fact, they’re not even competing with 21+ venues, as DIYMCA shows are usually over by 10:00 p.m.  in time for patrons to attend most bar shows.

Operating since early July, DIYMCA has already hosted several successful shows.

The venue is booked for months in advance, is hosting part of the ever-growing ICT Fest and is poised to branch out into professionally catered, full vegan meals.

By all standards, DIYMCA is a triumph for the Wichita art scene.

As the co-founders laugh and talk like the old friends they are, the conversation turns to the future  what’s next for DIYMCA?

“The grand mission is to have a space that is big enough to have a full staff,” said Holguin Lynn.

Riffing off of each other, the co-founders paint a picture of a grant-funded non-profit store front that is bigger than the three of them.

Whatever the future brings, DIYMCA is a special place as it is right now. A place where young people can create, appreciate and connect safely  a place where opportunity is rife, and enthusiasm abundant.

When asked to pose for a picture, Morgan, Wirth, and Holguin Lynn pile on top of each other in a big orange chair and smile ear to ear.

They are joyful and giggly  and have every reason to be.

“The whole thing is a dream,” said Holguin Lynn.