Llano Art Project Set for Release

Special notice contributed by Larissa Nickel:

The rural Los Angeles County high desert region of Llano, California has historically been defined by innovative people willing to explore and define a new sense of place. “Yestermorrow Llano: An Artist’s Field Guide to Llano, California” introduces the past, present, and future narratives of Llano including its relationship to the local, regional, and global contexts of place—and their own yestermorrows.


Yestermorrow Llano: An Artist’s Field Guide to Llano, CA

Date: Saturday, July 7, 2018

Time: 10 am-12 pm (noon)

Location: Blue Sky’s Bistro

12822 Pearblossom Hwy,

Pearblossom, CA 93553

Throughout the feminist geography field guide are cultural references, historical clippings, an artist’s archive, educational prompts, and collaborative activities to activate your sensory and artistic experiences of Llano. Create perfume, form a book club, make a recipe, or discover, map, architect, and construct your looking glass connection to the high desert by envisioning a geographic imagination and aesthetic experience of place through Llano’s cultural memory, collective present, and social futures.

Visitors at this release event can stop by the courtyard at Blue Sky’s Bistro to receive a free contemporary wallpaper design of Aldous Huxley’s “Crows of Pearblossom,” discover more about Llano, including its sights, sounds, tastes, and smells, and play a speculative design game of New Llano utopography to reveal the futures of your own experimental utopian communities.

“Yestermorrow Llano” is supported by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Antelope Valley Arts Outpost creative placemaking initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council with support from Metabolic Studio.

Outpost partners include: the Otis College of Art and Design MFA Public Practice program (Otis), the Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH), the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance (GAVEA), the Department of Regional Planning, and the Office of 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

Yestermorrow is a platform for cultural innovation and collective public engagement designed by Larissa Nickel to present new museological and archival perspectives to our past, present, heterotopian, and future experiences of place. Her work can be found at larissanickel.com

This article was contributed by the artist behind the project, who has been involved in a number of projects highlighting the art and ecology of our desert region: DEHSART & Hinterculture and others.  Take a look!


Kaleidoscope Music & Arts Festival

The City of Palmdale is reaching out to local artists to participate in this year’s Kaleidoscope Music & Arts Festival – happening October 14, 2017.

Kaleidoscope Music & Art Festival

The event:

Join us for this free event featuring live chalk artists, artisans, entertainment by Grammy-nominated Lisa Haley & The Zydecats, Stone Soul, High-D Boys, Paddy’s Pig and more, visual & performing arts, Art of the Brew, Brushes & Brews, Fresh Made Market, food vendors, and more! Admission and parking are free.

What’s new this time around:

We are introducing a new component this year: Fresh Made Market, if you know anyone who produces any of the following please share the link and application with them.

Kaleidoscope Music & Art Festival is accepting applications for its Fresh Made Market, perfect for cottage industry and farmers market vendors who specialize in handmade candles, home scent products, skin and body care products, baked and canned goods, salsas, pestos, sauces and traditional farmers market products.

The info and applications for Professional Artists, Student Artists and Fresh Made Market vendors can all be found on the Palmdale Amphitheater’s website.

 Check it out. Get involved. Get your art out there!

The Land Becomes You – The Artwork of Phillip Aceves

A new show is going up at Sagebrush Cafe – October 15th, 2016.
“The Land Becomes You”
The Artwork of Phillip Aceves

Sagebrush Cafe

The Land Becomes You – The Artwork of Phillip Aceves


Join us for the opening reception of a show featuring new work by Phillip Aceves.

Inspired by his time in Arizona, these new paintings vibrate with a sensibility that feels like an echo of the spirit of the desert regions. But, as we in the Antelope Valley know, not all deserts are the same and they are, each and all, far from empty.

To find out more about Aceves and to see more his work, take a look at his Tumblr page.

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AV Arts Convo: Painting and Mixed Media Work by AJ Currado

AV Arts Convo – featuring painting and mixed media work by AJ Currado

Presenting Painting and Mixed Media Work by AJ Currado

SATURATION 2.0: The Arts in Conversation project at Antelope Valley Arts is an ongoing, weekly publishing series. Local artists (painters, poets, photographers, fiction writers) have been invited to submit art and partake in a conversation on artistic influence and inspiration as the print arm of Antelope Valley Arts goes digital.

Painter AJ Currado has described herself as “creating little villages of art” and she has certainly had a hand in doing that off the canvas as well. A youth art teacher substantially inspired by travel, Currado is also a founding editor at SATURATION: Antelope Valley Arts Publication. Back in 2011, Currado helped to launch an annual series of print volumes showcasing the prose, poetry, painting, drawing and wit of local artists (and at this very moment that project moving into the digital space).

Even as she looks to help others shine, Currado has herself continued to grow as an artist, winning awards, embarking on projects of increasing scope, and pushing herself into new areas of expression. Currado’s work will be on exhibit at the MOAH juried show in June and at MOAH Cedar’s LVAG show in July-August. Seek out her work. You’ll be glad you did.

Who is your favorite writer? How does he or she influence your work?

GK Chesterton is one of my favorites. He explores everyday life with an optimistic twist, leading from content seemingly fluffy and cleverly twisting it into some thousand pound gem. I love his optimism and cheerful sobriety.
I like to think that I achieve something similar in my painting. Anything on face value can be simplistic, but you have to pause and think a moment to get at humor or depth. I present simple imagery in my paintings but I see them as portals to an immense web of ideas. A stack of books is not merely a stack of books, it is the thirst for knowledge being simultaneously satisfied and unquenchable. It is achievement in educational goals. It is preparation for travel. It is centuries of humanity past. It is the unending landscape of adventure inside the mind.

What artist or writer from the past would you most like to meet and why?

Vincent van Gogh. My work is nothing like his but I’ve always loved his style and been intrigued by him as a person. I admire his tenacity to keep working and creating so many beautiful paintings with so much pain in his life and so little encouragement. He is a maverick. I was fortunate enough to go to the south of France this past year and spend some time in Arles where van Gogh lived and worked for many years. The terrain is rugged and really inspiring, even in the winter. Easy to see why he painted the area.

CelloScroll (Small)

Track AJ Currado down at her website – www.ajcurrado.com.

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AV ArtConvo: Poems by Tino Garcia

HAPPENING NOW: Antelope Valleys Arts new initiative, the AV ArtConvo, featuring poems by Tino Garcia.

Presenting poems by Tino Garcia: “Predators” & “Rap and Bone Shop of the Heart”

SATURATION 2.0: The Arts in Conversation project at Antelope Valley Arts is now live: Local artists (painters, poets, photographers, fiction writers) have been invited to submit art and partake in a conversation on artistic influence and inspiration as the print arm of Antelope Valley Arts is going digital.

This week’s featured artist is a musically inspired and intellectually playful poet, Tino Garcia.

Tino Garcia: “I am a teacher, artist, and writer who currently teaches at Antelope Valley College. I grew up near Santa Fe, New Mexico and then attended high school and college in Moorhead, Minnesota. I studied English and Spanish and then taught English as a Second Language in Mexico City for a year, before earning a Master’s in Religion (Philosophy of) in Claremont, CA. I studied further in that field at UCSB, while also teaching ESL. I started teaching English at AVC in 2015.”




I lie on my back on a yoga mat

on my patio in Ventura,

land of good fortune,

on a Tuesday morning,

stretching my body and supine mind

into contemplative poses

and prayer recitals,

in the hour after I awaken.

Noticing the rich green

of the pine tree as it babbles

with birdsong, a faint plane

crosses my sky,

draggin in its wake

across my mental sky

an indelible image

from an magazine ad:

a model in a snow-white bikini,

and black stilettos,

lounging near a chic LA hi-rise pool,

cocktail in hand –

airbrushed goddess

of Californicated imaginations –

a Skyy Vodka bottle perched

on the her side table,

luring us into her posh privilege

and luxurious repose.

The scene sizzles in a sexy, blasé

devil may care kind of way.


Oh how lovely it would be

to bask with her under that sun

forget schedules, obligations, calls:

pour some Skyy into us

and just chill…

chill until we feel

a flood of numbness

a rush of inertia

sweep our minds clean

of this dirty world

at least for a little eternal while.

But as I blink and squintingly drink

in the ad’s imagery again,

I notice a plane’s shadow pass

over her oblivious repose,

with an elongated, phallic nose

and wings with protrusions:

not engines, but bombs.

Suddenly she’s cast not

in the city of angels,

but under the hijacked plane

and gaze of predators.

Their shadow and eyes invisible,

except their embeds

in the splay of her lustrous,

raven black hair:

I gaze and am gazed at

by the unblinking,

unmistakable head, beak, and eye

of the black bird of death.

Why is this predator eyeing me, us?


I look again to the sky and see

across it a 15 year old

lying on his patio,

stretching his body and supine mind

into contemplative poses

and prayer recitals,

in the hour after he awakens

on a Tuesday morning

in a foreign land:

in al Majala, Yemen,

in Waziristan, Pakistan,

in Nangahar, Afghanistan.


The boy, the woman, and I

all haunted by homeland insecurities

and their predators: I spy




predator soldier-criminal-complexes,

and a dove-colored Predator drone

flying invisibly over his house

at 5,000 feet

haunting his entire sky.

And on a Tuesday morning as he prays,

it buries that boy’s prayer

in a missile squawk as hot

and haughty and eternal as the hell fire

for which it is named.

And in a control room in Vegas

and in the Pentagon, if you listen

you can hear the brass squawks

of Pyrrhic victories,

as a whole world heaves and







Interview Part 1:

How does music influence, shape or fit into your work?

Music bears an intimate relationship to my poetry: intimate in the sense that they seek to speak the unspeakable to each other. They turn to and turn into each other and I can never separate them, as if they are divine twins, or shadows of each other. Most of my poems are meant to be spoken out and I often set them to music. Music is a many-voiced muse whose rhythms and sways and beats I aim to channel into my words as I speak them, whether the poem is accompanied by actual music or not. I also rap, so many of my poems are essentially raps and vice versa.


Who or what are your major artistic influences?

My major artistic influences come primarily from three forces: music, especially rap; literature; and diverse intellectual traditions (philosophical, religious, political, etc.). The figures I draw on most tend to blend these forces. In terms of rap, who comes to mind are Mos Def and Kweli, Immortal Technique, Brotha Ali, Wu-Tang, Common, the Roots, and many others. In terms of literature, diverse figures such as Sherman Alexie, Langston Hughes, Jimmy Santiago Baca, David Whyte, Junot Diaz, Rumi, Walt Whitman, Julio Cortázar, Nikos Kazantzakis, John Fowles, Herman Hesse, and others. On the intellectual tip, Nietzsche, Socrates, Jacques Derrida, Cornel West, Frantz Fanon, Enrique Dussel, and others.


Rap and Bone Shop of the Heart


I crack the question open from the start to you:

What if rap is a rag n bone shop of the heart too?

What if it were true?

Would it sound different to you?

Cuz like Hughes the classic forms it may eschew,

But it too hews and drops innumerable jewels

Cuz rap did not come here to do tricks with rhymes, no –

It came to reproduce the human soul:

To lay stun hew and shake its peers’ ears.

But too many still don’t hear, so to be clear:

Rap’s best should be appreciated as peers

Of master creators like Shakespeares.

Huh! You may jeer,

Thinking they’re not on par,

But peer again, ask yourself who’s the bard:

Quote “The most benevolent king

Communicates through your dreams” unquote –

Is this the yearning of Elizabethan tragedy

Or a 21st century soul activist MC?

They said hip-hop was much ado about nothing:

Not to be thought of as true sound conducting.

But Shakespeare too was born under a rhyming planet

And a stork dropped hip-hop into the pocket of iambic

Pentameter, so you could rock “Shall I Compare Thee”

At 80 b.p.m.s or 140, get it really racing!

Open up the Bard’s unique vocab and let its canon blast

But I heard he busts fewer unique words

Per first 35,000 words in his oeuvre

Than the Wu-Tang Clan, who drops science like WMDs.

So Socrates’ philosophies’ hypotheses can’t define either of these

Griots, custodians of alkaline knowledge from parallel streets;

Peep the Rag and Bone epigraphy:

“Those masterful images because complete

Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?

A mound of refuse or the sweeping of a street

Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can

Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut

Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone

I must lie down where all the ladders start,

In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.”

From this foul place excavated by W.B. Yeats

Comes the profound base of rap’s heavy weights.

For who quipped, “Maybe it’s hatred

I spew, maybe it’s food for the spirit”?

Was it the haunted Lord Hamlet

Or the sarcastic Marshall Mathers

A.k.a. Eminem? Well it was the latter;

But that’s just to say affinities resound, even if

Shakespeare ever redounds to peerlessness,

Cuz stripped of our contextual lenses

The lyrics begin blendin

And raisin conditional questions:

What if it were an unwrapped heart

Right from the slavish start?

What if its core were soft not hard?

What if it embarks on largest arks?

What if rap reveres the currents of King’s dream?

Channels the rivers of America’s dream stream?

What if that’s what it breathes and bleeds?

What if we need to ink it into our creeds?

Need to sing its poems into our Odysseys?

So it too can return home to its Penelopes.

Maybe we need its unseen visions

Like Odysseus needed Tiresias

And like King needed Jesus.

Cuz rap’s a nomad enlightening the lands

Tree of life black every hue rattled

By its solar alma dura

From the concrete jungles to la casa de la luna:

It blends ascents toward vaunted peaks

With descents beneath conscious streets.

See, I dive into rap’s marrow stock

Dig, it’s my rag and bone shop.

So hell yeah it’s full of rags and bones

Shady like Hades so it has soul,

So much soul it overflows

Cuz it’s known rivers, grown deep

And not knowing me you could know me.

Learn and explore my soulful currents

By observing raps flows and disturbances

What if it could help us learn to grieve?

Help heal the wounds burning internally eternally?

What if its strong tonic were truer than

Fine wine, bomb chronic, and juice and gin?

What if it could shake and bake you

Back into earthen clay to remake you?

What if it could bend your tree of life

Along the arc of justice over time?

What if it begins as unwanted grit

Trapped in a mantle of darkness within

A shell, and through slow devotion

Pearls grow in from those deep oceans?

Pried open their beauty blesses our skin,

The grit now covered in sublime rhythms

Manifesting divine wisdoms;

Refined over time the jewels shine on

The priceless light of a daimon

So bright got the cosmos sayin right on

Big bang your beats while we rhyme on!


You ever burned with the warmth of Mahatma Ghandi?

You ever heard the heart of Brotha Ali?

“A man may see how this world goes with no eyes

Blind in the eye so I see you with my heart open wide.”

Who is rapping on the door in the dark?

Is it somebody who wants to do us harm?

No, no it is three strange angels

Open the door and be thankful

Rap is a secret that not all understand

But many blues bears and jazz cats can;

Its lovers grasp its heartfelt beat

And “whoever’s not killed for love is dead meat.”

As coffins rest on coffins in worldwide fields of war

Mos Def cries and Funerals March

And Immortal Technique blasts a Third World manifesto

Like Talib Kweli’s Ballad of the Black Gold

And rap dances with the devil, it is true,

But also with gods, and I hope you do too.

A chorus of laments rages cries and rap knells

Landmarks left behind like mines and shrapnel

The ruins, the unexploded




The unfinished sentences of war




So Tupac held the ashy hand of the Lord of death

Walked the road of children of fire obsessed with it

Gravitas in his gait because he carried graves

His art a refusal of gravity and his own grave

Until its embrace created his fate as an image graven

Crafted rap rosaries that grew in concrete vases

Prayed for shade and havens over raw street beats

And chased chaste Hail Mary: Dear mama save me!

Rage gave way to wailing gave way to graceful sleep.


So what if we call raps prayers and blessings?

Poems of our daughters and sons confessing

What they feel needs raising, holding, protecting

Wishing they knew how it feels to be free

Like Nina Simone – like you and me:

Rap is grateful to what comes

Amazingly faithful to other drums

Incredible fidelity to the same mother

Indelible fidelity to the same sun.


Interview Part 2:

What musician, visual artist or writer would you like to do a TED Talk on and why?

I would love to do a TED talk on the contemporary writer Walter Mosley because he is new to me and I am loving being held under the sway of his genius. I am reading some of his works (Rose Gold, Little Green, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, etc), one of which I am also teaching and, though I do not know that much about him, I feel like I know him through his characters. Through his style, themes, and characters, such as Socrates Fortlow and Easy Rawlins, he fires my imagination and takes my wonder on walkabouts, while also stirring and discharging the sacred outlaw and deep outrage within me. As an illustration of this sway his works have over me and which I would like to share, I am currently working on an essay and also a song about Socrates Fortlow. Mosley’s references to historical and literary events and figures would provide amazing material to analyze in a TED talk, as would the screenplays he has helped turn into films (e.g., Devil in a Blue Dress). Additionally, from what I gather about political and social thinking, I think it is worthy of sharing and discussing. There is so much food for thought and soul food in the works I have encountered that a TED talk would offer an impetus to eat more of what he’s serving up and to crystallize what is currently cooking as a result of his food.

Arts Blog






Paris: A Living Fantasy – a photography exhibit featuring the works of Hannah Wilson

Event: Paris: A Living Fantasy – a photography exhibit featuring the works of Hannah Wilson

Location: Sagebrush Cafe | Opening Reception: Saturday April 30

Hannah Wilson is showing photographic works at Sagebrush Cafe in Quartz Hill. Those of you with keen eyes and extended attention spans will remember that Wilson has been featured on the AV Arts Blog in the past under a different name – Darla Dear.

Sagebrush Paris Show Poster final

Back in 2012, we caught up with Wilson for a little interview and we thought we’d dust it off now to celebrate her new show of photos. In the intervening few years, Wilson took her camera and moved to France.

If you would like to meet-and-greet and pick the brain of this Parisian-American, Sagebrush Cafe will be hosting an opening reception for the new show on Saturday, April 30th at 5 p.m.


A Few Questions for Darla Dear

Hannah Wilson is an Antelope Valley native who has taken her camera, her sensibilities and her computer to Long Beach where she studies and produces a blog on fashion and fine art. Her blog and Etsy page go under the name Darla Dear and you can find a link to her page on our side-bar here at AV Arts Blog.

 I had a chance to interview Wilson about her new blog and her inspirations. 

Darla Dear Fine Art Photography & Design  |  Interview


iPhone case by Darla Dear on Society6

What films, if any, have inspired or informed your photography (your aesthetic)?

The french film Amelie is not only one of my favorite films, it has inspired my photography greatly.  Aside from being really entertaining and quirky, every single shot in the film is art.

What inspires me most directly is the use of color.  I’m pretty sure that every single frame in the entire film contains the same distinct shades of deep red, green, and golden yellow. Seriously, the next time you watch that movie, look for the colors!  I very rarely take photographs in black and white, I love color too much.


Are there any favorite…objects, places, people, types of people, landscapes, cities, times of day…to photograph?  

My favorite time of day to photograph is when the sun is beginning to set, when the light turns golden.  The warmth and the indirectness of the sunlight at this time of day make everything look more beautiful.  My preferred subjects are nature or inanimate objects.

I tend to shy away from portraiture, probably because photography is more of a personal creative outlet for me, and interacting with another person takes away that element.

Where does the name Darla Dear come from?

In a small way, I chose Darla Dear because I used to know an amazing woman named Darla who influenced my life in a positive way.  I also chose it because I thought it would make a very whimsical pseudonym for me, as the photographer.

Fun and Art at Tipsee Artist in Lancaster


If you know a good idea when you see one, you will want to know about Tipsee Artist.

In their own words, “The Tipsee Artist is an entertainment bring your own beverage paint and sip studio. We offer sessions for adults, teen and children. We also host birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, bon voyage, club meetings and team building events. We believe that art is an expression and everyone is born creative. We take our painter through a 2 hour fun step by step paint experience.”


MOAH: Cedar – Smaller Footprints

The art spaces run by the city of Lancaster continue to cast a wide net, inviting in artists from Southern California and beyond to show and share their work at the MOAH and in the gallery space at Cedar.

The current show at MOAH: Cedar, Smaller Footprints, addresses the issue of climate change, promising “to leave larger imprints upon the sensibilities of all viewers.”


JAN 28 – MAR 27
Opening Reception: January 30, 2016, 6 – 8 PM

Smaller Footprints showcases work that reflects the life-altering effects of climate change and its impact on water, food, human health, social justice, and species loss. The exhibit was curated by Linda Weintraub, WEAD member and prominent American ecoart writer/educator; WEAD cofounder/chair Susan Leibovitz Steinman; and MOAH/Cedar administrator/curator Robert Benitez.. Smaller Footprints is a celebration of the 20th anniversary of WEAD’s distinguished history. Of the inspiration behind the exhibition, Weintraub states, “Impending climate calamity impinges upon all humans and all forms of life. Smaller Footprints promises to leave larger imprints upon the sensibilities of all viewers.”

Smaller Footprints Juried Artists:

Celia Anderson, Krisanne Baker, Laura Spalding Best, Lisa Breznak, Sandra Camomile, Reenie Charriere, Katie Craney, Nicole Dextras, Pascaline Doucin- Dahlke, Danielle Eubank, Nancy Gesimondo, Angela Gonzalez, Gina Herrera, Elizabeth Kenneday, Water Kerner, Artists Formerly Known As Women, Laura Larson, Olga Lebedeva, JJ L’Heureux, Joanne Mattillo, Sandra Mueller, Leslie Morgan, Aline Mare, Christine Neill, Anna Olsson, Paula Ortega, Katharine Owens, Meike Paniza, Bonnie Peterson, Alice Raymond, Robin Repp, Yolanda Reyes, Fabiola Rodriguez, Ilse Schreiber-Noll, Soraya Sharghi, Jessica Stalvey, Lorna Stevens, Suzy Sureck, Ruth Wallen, Riva Weinstein, Tammy West, Elizabeth Wood, Shai Zakai.

Biscotti Pottery – Open House – Quartz Hill

One more Saturday open house tomorrow 11 AM to 4 PM.
We have a few dino mugs.  Come over, have a cup of tea or coffee, visit and choose a free ornament just for coming over.
Just park out front and come down the driveway to the back house studio.  If you don’t see us, ring the bell near the tree.
Mike and Melinda
4260 W. Ave. L-4
Quartz Hill
We are on facebook:

An Interview with Michelle Navarrete

Michelle Navarrete is BLVD-famous as the host of the weekly Open Mic nights at Cedar. She is an artist and now a published writer, actively engaging with the arts and artists in the Antelope Valley. She’s a person you should know about. She’s a person I’d like to know more about, anyway, and so…that’s what we’re doing.

A long time advocate for young performers and artists, Navarrete has been instrumental in keeping the Open Mic going and creating a space where musicians and other stage performers can get up in front of an audience and give it what they’ve got.

The Cedar Centre for the arts, to me, is a great example of artists grabbing at a chance opportunity and running with it (even sometimes against pressure to stop). Putting on art shows that give visual artists a chance to show their work in addition to the Open Mic nights, Cedar is one of the most vibrant (and embattled) art spaces in Lancaster. Located right on the BLVD, Cedar has been the eye of the storm in many public and private scuffles over leadership and use of the space. As of now, the city has taken over the gallery space at the Cedar Centre for the Arts and created Cedar:MOAH, but the space remains partly independent.

Through it all, Navarrete and a group of active artists have kept producing art and opportunities for others in the space. I had the opportunity to speak with Michelle Navarrete when we were both showing pieces at a Bravery Brewing art event a while back. In my humble opinion, her dark-&-coal-colored entries in the show were vivid and immediate and showed a great fusion of skill with sensibility.

And that is one of the first things you notice about Navarrete – she puts her sensibilities out front. And, in doing that, she encourages others to do the same.

Recently, I reached out to Navarrete when I heard that she was set to have her writing published at Elephant Journal. This seemed like a great time to get some of her thoughts on Open Mic night at the Cedar, on the local art scene and on her writing.

Interview ———

What happens at the Open Mic nights at the Cedar? (Or, what is the best thing about the kind of open mic that takes place at the Cedar every week?)

On some open mic nights, visual artists also bring their art work to showcase. This makes open mic feel like a complete world of raw, creative self expression, and it’s beautiful.

Performers simply arrive early to get a spot, sign up, and they get 7 minutes of stage time to utilize to their potential. However, it’s not the performances alone that make it what it is, but rather, it’s the communal support. There are never hecklers, and the crowd cheers on every performer, especially if the performer is noticeably nervous, or pausing during an act. We take care of each other, nurture one another’s talents, and act almost as if we’re family.

Who are some of the artists that you have had a chance to collaborate with and/or who have inspired you in the Antelope Valley?

The most amazing artists that I’ve collaborated with are hands down, my “We Are Cedar” crew. There’s Gary Jones, Megan Simpson, and Steven Fiche. They’re all incredible and immensely talented people with giant hearts and unstoppable spirits.

Before I met them, some other local artists that I found inspiring as I was growing up were Frank Dixon, Ulrica Bell Perkins, Judith Burnett, and a few others. I’m 32 now and first entered our local arts scene when I was 18. Frank Dixon’s art stood out to me because it was so fantastical, original, and every painting told a story. Ulrica and Judy are both very strong and cultured women, and as a timid young adult; I felt that they were good demonstrations of the characters that I could only hope to be at some point. Honestly, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with many wonderful artists over the years, and each inspires me in their own way.

Beyond the AV, who are some of your artistic inspirations?

Because surrealism always spoke to me so much more than traditional forms, I always admired Robert Williams, H.R. Giger, Mark Ryden, and a few others. As I was growing older, the more politically driven artists began to stand out a lot more to me. There’s a Chicano art collective led by an artist named “Artemio Rodriguez” entitled “La Mano Press” based out of East L.A. and many of the artists including Artemio, focus on struggle, history, and revolution. Street art is also hugely inspirational to me, especially with a withering economy, and the many communities that take “beautification” into their own hands to create hopeful, and thought provoking grand art pieces.

In your time running the Open Mic nights at Cedar, what kinds of changes have you seen in the local arts?

As with the natural state of things within most artistic communities, cliques and groups form. Open mic was never an exception. I’ve watched indie rock performers and supporters, walk out during hip hop based performers, and vice versa. The same goes for the art community, everyone has their own opinions on what art is, and often times it’s hard to view a style different from yours, with the same respect given unto what you are familiar with. I personally feel that whenever there’s an emergence of social struggle, like there has been lately, artists are quicker to fall into familiarity. When open mic first began, there was a stronger sense of unity, and over the years, that sense has come and gone. I appreciate and value our large spectrum of artists and musicians, but I often wish that it was easier for others to do the same.
There’s a strong feeling of fear out there within the creative realm, more so now than I’ve previously noticed. People shouldn’t be so afraid to showcase nude art, just like they shouldn’t be so shocked that open mic is uncensored.
We’re going into our eighth year at open mic, and it’s only been recently that I’ve really had to press for our youngsters to not be afraid of openly expressing themselves, whether on stage, or in showcasing their art, and that’s sad.

What are some venues that you would recommend to artists doing work in the Antelope Valley? Where should people look to show? To perform? Where do you turn for literary creative arts, in print or online? Are there any local zines being published that you know of?

As for local venues, we’re kind of at a stand still, with the more well known gallery settings being facilitated by government, it’s very hard to get out there and show. Some local businesses such as Bravery Brewing, Sagebrush Cafe, Perkies coffee and waffle house, Butlers, and a couple other shops are trying very hard to help house our local artisans. Every now and than The Moose Lodge will showcase art, as well as some other community based gatherings.

What’s so extraordinary with our arts scene, is how these businesses work with our artists, and how our artists look out for each other in showcasing. In terms of literary art, I know there’s “Mouse Print” publishing, and a couple other local publishers that try to incorporate our local writers into publications.

Personally, I’m pretty old school and I’m extremely taken by the smell of books, I’d love to see a much more community based publication that goes out regularly. “Zines” are like a golden goose out here, we all know that we need more, and we get super stoked when we come across them. As a matter of fact, if you know anyone that’s serious about publishing a regular zine, I’d be happy to utilize my resources and help out in any way possible.

Your writing is being published in an upcoming issue of Elephant Journal. What kind(s) of writing do you do? And can you say a few words about the process of getting published?

My writings are vast, in the sense that I write poetry all the time, but I also try to get my own personal writings off of my journals and out into the public. The article for Elephant Journal was based on dealing with mental health issues on a more personal level, as that topic has always been a huge concern of mine, next to art activism. The process of getting published is difficult if you’re impatient. There’s a lot of editing, a lot of drafting, and a lot of theme formation. Before the article was published, I had to do a couple drafts and some re-writes. If you’re writing about a topic that you’re passionate about it, absolutely every draft is worth it.

Is there anything arts-related happening now or coming up on the BLVD or in the Antelope Valley that you are excited about?

Pertaining to The BLVD, I’m actually very excited about We Are Cedar’s next showcase. We’re not official with the dates yet, but we’re shooting for October. Now is the time where most of The BLVD’s bigger events are kicking off for the holiday season, and even though it’s a pain because I also work on The BLVD, it’s wonderful for the community, especially the kids. There should be more arts related activities available to the public, and I wish I had more to share, but hopefully; soon enough, there will be.

What does art mean to you?

Art to me isn’t only about making a name for yourself, or providing a body of work that sells. I feel as though art is also about utilizing your voice and skill set to provide a therapeutic outlet in dealing with everyday adversity. Whether it’s stage performances, or visual arts, I believe that self expression will help you manage, deal with, and create a world from which you are comfortable, and can thrive. Art is the ultimate support system.

Would you like to give a shout-out to anyone who may be reading out there? 

I’d like to give a shout out to the artists that have always wanted to showcase but have never had the outlet without being asked to alter their works, or alter their themes. I’d like to give a shout out to the tons of original bands out there that have to fight for a paying gig, and take what they can, just because they love what they do. I’d like to give a shout out to the people that ran the legendary “fallout” festival, for giving artists and musicians alike, a place to simply be who they are. I’d like to give a shout out to anyone that believes any single person, or community collective can’t make a difference, because you make us fight harder.