I haven’t been sleeping much this month. It’s been one of those times where there are too many amazing ideas coming together for me to consider closing my eyes. It’s restless but in the best way possible; creating and building is an investment towards the future. Since you can’t get time back, the next best thing would be wasting it wisely.
I had a class at 8:30 in the morning. A studio class at that. A six hour block of art students that think so highly of themselves they can’t absorb criticism without making faces like they just got sandpaper to the ass. It isn’t exactly labor intensive but keeping yourself from slamming somebody through a table takes some effort. Then after a brief break, had to endure another six hours of that with even less humble peers.
I got a text from Dakota reminding me about Here&Now, an event I heard about through The City Don’t Sleep. It only occurred to me the week before that I had class all day on the night of the event. I was in a bit of a tough spot. I haven’t linked with Erick and Rich Soto since Erick’s prior venture with The City Don’t Sleep store in Brooklyn, and this was the first time I’d be able to catch them in LES. It was supposed to be easy to show love by coming through, but I had to stick to my obligations.
So here’s what’s going through my head at this point. I want to land on a flat surface, be it a table or a bed, I just want to sleep on it. Dakota is out there in the wild with no clue who he’s supposed to be meeting that night. I just got out of class. I’m dressed casual, acceptable enough. Erick’s texts got me thinking–something about that “need to link soon” message is stuck on my mind. I could be in LES in about an hour if I buck it right out of campus, so that link could possibly happen tonight. Nah fuck that, that’s what I’m doing.
By the time I arrive, I see Dakota chopping it up with Erick and Rich like they were long time friends. I always underestimate his professionalism. Notepad in hand, he gives me all of his notes from his short time being there. I can barely hear it but I get the vibe of the place. It’s dope, there’s two floors with DJ Yoo Q & PwettyGleesh in the cuddy and everyone’s having a great time despite the fact I’m only catching the end of the night.
I finish scoping the place and people and head back downstairs to check out the artwork on the first floor from Rich Soto and Sasha Scordingley. I’ve been following Rich Soto’s work for a long time and seeing his progress simply blows me away. Sasha’s work is beautifully trippy and graphically elegant. The pairing of the two worked wonders, and serving as a backdrop definitely set the right mood to the scene. I’m getting settled in now, feels like partying back home.
When I first walked in Erick said he was about to be out, but since I made it out he would stick around. Such a humble dude, I stopped everything to talk with him for a minute. As he grabs a beer, I ask him about what was new in the world of business. You want to talk hustle? This man has got that. I’ve been watching it with my own two eyes. My ears remained wide open for Erick’s wisdom and ambitions, telling me about his new plans for teaching a painting class for kids he says, “I’m trying to teach these kids fear is nothing.”
Stop right here. From this point on it’s all post-analysis of what transpired from that moment of the night. That’s the only point I wanted to make out of this article. Erick kept putting it simply, “I’m a fucking art teacher”. His plans consist of raising a generation of children that aren’t held back by the unknown. The important idea being to show them what it is to be an artist by featuring them in galleries, and giving them art lessons supplied by the wide range of artists he knows personally. Ideally, he wants to make sure creativity grows without limits, without the doubt or fear that keep things under the surface.
Little did he know, he was teaching that lesson directly to me. I went hidden for a few years. There were a number of reasons, but point is, I was barely keeping my head above the water. I was working on art but let’s say I didn’t have the drive to put it where it should have been. I wasn’t connecting with the people I should have connected with, and instead I retreated into improving my work until it couldn’t be rejected. Never have I walked into a gallery with the idea I might be shown there. It’s crazy but that’s how far fear pushed me back. Everything became about self-improvement and I abandoned the risks of growing creativity with others.
I was wrong. Talking with Erick was eye opening. Writing articles for CUTS means being the opposite of who I am on a normal day. It’s fairly new, my lifestyle is more about being in the shadows of everything. I grew too comfortable sticking with people I trust and not venturing out into new horizons–the very thought of it means zero growth. That night I randomly said fuck it and showed up. I broke out of my typical inhibitions and did something that imparted me with wisdom.
Think about it. Here&Now was set up for that very reason. When you mix good music, great people, unlimited creativity, and strong spirits- nothing but great things can happen. I was in a last minute position that night and bled Erick for whatever gems he could break off. Imagine the ripple effect that started from this single event, as my experience alone revolutionized how I handle my end of this magazine. Now imagine my excitement when Juicee tells me this is just the first one of the year…
Keep your ears open for the next Here&Now event through Juicee and check out her new website. Juicee and Monk also offer artists the chance to display or perform at the Here&Now venue for anyone interested in getting great exposure. The event brings in artists from every sect imaginable from musicians to clothing designers. I hope to see what everyone can do when we all mix together. It’s going to be game changing. I’d put my last dollar on that. Enjoy the rest of the film photography from the mighty Dakota Santiago.