The Juxtapoz Effect

I always was drawn to making art or doing creative things-Painting, writing, making music, skateboarding, etc. Looking back it is so obvious that art was going to be my anchor and the thing I am most thankful for that allows me to grow while documenting my existence. As cliche as it sounds, art has literally saved my life. Anyway...

All throughout the late 90's and early 2000's I was starting to show my work in coffee shops, weird events, and galleries. This was a super exciting time for me and for art in general. Juxtapoz magazine was started, as well as a bunch of galleries, and the internet was exploding with exciting art that made me feel like I could actually create a career, but more importantly it made me realize I wasn't alone. You know when you're younger and the world feels smaller, it is hard to not feel completely alone. When I was in high school I really started exploring art on an obsessive basis. I somehow got some random shows and actually sold some art! It was the best feeling to be acknowledged like that, it made me high.

In 2000 I was at a great gallery in Los Angeles called La Luz De Jesus. At this time I was young and foolish and would just ask a gallery if I could show there. I went to a guy behind the counter and asked who I could talk to so I could show my work there (side note: my work at this time was not ready to show and ultimately this hurt me a bit) The guy behind the counter looked at me with a mischievous face and said "Forget this place, I'm starting my own thing. Show me some work and let's do this." I had a gut feeling that this guy was special and had a unique vision. The guy who recruited me was L. Croskey, one of the founders of Cannibal Flower and Thinkspace Gallery. Before that fateful day my biggest break was a call for artists ad in Juxtapoz that I entered. The brilliant person behind that ad and the person who gave me a shot was Julie Rico. Julie is a true pioneer and visionary as well as a friend. Julie was the owner of The Rico Gallery which was the real first gallery to show the L.A. artists that started Juxtapoz and the artists who some young, and unfortunately old guy is masturbating to right now. Julie is a legend and has always been 10 steps ahead. Julie was apprehensive at first but we hit it off because I actually sold the most work. That night was so strange, it was my first taste of the art world.

Within a few months I was showing EVERY MONTH with the Cannibal Flower. I was either in the first or second show and showed every month for years. L.C. and his partner at the time Michelle Waterman were very cool to me and gave me a featured spot at some point, as well as helped me in many ways. This was a very special time in art, one that you had to be a part of to fully understand. I was completely living some of the best times with some of the best people. I finally found people who were creative and talented.

The one thing I learned years later is I was living in some fake reality. I would see the artists who were kissing the right ass and maneuvering behind the scenes, fuckers that you would swear were down for you but were only feeling out so they could use you in some self centered way. I was so blind because I bought it with one or two of these frauds. One guy in particular who I hit it off with really surprised me that he two was a robot in disguise. That one particular cat was a real eye opener for me. Don't get me wrong, I bought into the whole "Im so special because I'm an artist and I am one important asshole." I started to rise up to the next level of gallery. The shows started becoming less about family and friends and more about popularity and money. Attitudes changed and I was NOT a sober person so I got sloppy. I have a handful of loyal friends that I met at Cannibal Flower or Thinkspace, but I experienced that fake L.A. bullshit that states like New York love to reference. All of a sudden 99% of the people I thought were cool were just actors playing a role, the role of "The Artist". 

My favorite memories and authentic times were my 3 or 4 solo shows at Walled City Gallery. I can't even get into how much I love and respect Marshal Astor, Michele Hubacek, and Phil Ginder for inviting me into their lives and gallery and giving me shows that were about the aesthetic of my work. No BS directing of what I can or can't show. They believed in me and let me go nuts, therefore those shows were successful and it was so special a time for me.

I really miss some of those days but I regret some of the missed opportunities. I Wish I had more clarity then and wish I knew why some people came in and out of my life in the way they did.  Now that the dust has settled I have gained proper perspective. After events in and out of art I have come to the beautiful conclusion that I am blessed to be a creative person, more importantly, my fake dreams of somehow mattering in the art world have been replaced by doing the best work I could do (The irony is I get the most love now) I really feel you get what you put out there. I do want to find the right gallery and I am still making my career happen but I could care less about some fake scene. I have a few friends that are still chasing their big ego stroke and it always reminds me that evolving is essential.