By HANNAH HATCH
What makes your art unique?
I work with multi-media. Primarily, projects I have been working on for the last few years are pencil graphic and charcoal portraits.
My organization Muzick Communication Arts Media Organization, (http://www.themcamo.org) is to create a positive change through the arts.
“A mind is a terrible thing to waste” – I want to encourage that vision and make that a truth more than a proverb. All you have to do is create an opportunity for people to get involved.
My motivation is to connect through the arts. If we do that, as simple as it sounds, I do not think we would be in the hole that we are in. Young people are not addressing anything but tech. With the respect of tech and education, you are not learning to approach or appreciate the values of human contact. We are literally breathing drones, and it is driving us away from abilities to connect to our fellow man. It costs you nothing to smile at someone. Why are we so far away from those things?The public is very important to me. I have created what I call the “nomad” gallery. I go out into the community, set up my gallery, and work on pieces with the allowance of the public engagement. It is very therapeutic for me, as well as user friendly for the community, allowing laymen to approach the artist. I realize a lot of people are intimidated by the artist, that it is “out of their realm.” From a street/urban/community perspective, it is important for me to educate the public on the importance of buying original artwork, rather than spending their money on a Walmart print.
How and when did you discover your talents?
Photography has been a passion of mine since high school, about 40 years ago. It was always about artistic photography for me.
There was no digital photography and I mostly developed black and white. I had to process my own film. I dodged and burned my own prints. It was truly hands on in the development of creative photography. I am speaking from old school; dodging and burning is a whole lot different than digital photography/pixel shifting.
Catching that sunset, that perfect lighting, is different than using a green screen and using files to overlay.I am a behind-the-scenes guy. I grew up processing film in the film industry. All of the theatre movie promos were stills from the actual production. We used to print the stills. I would go to work at a commercial studio processing facility. It was funny – it would be dark going in early. I would literally be in the dark all day. We were in a maze all day. When we came out it was dark. I was like a vampire, literally.
Music has also been a driving force. I can remember in high school I developed my first “brain child” company called Program Real Systems. I programmed seamless music that linked hours and hours of mixed and blended melodic music that would be user friendly. It could be used in a retail store for the public interaction. It was something that would take you on a journey.
Being urban and growing up in a circumstance where opportunities were not there, I did not flourish to the way I could have been.
Years ago I wanted to create three-dimensional art into fashion shows, where models could walk around pedestals and get a key light on the art. I was always kind of out there like that. With the concepts I had, and to see trendy magazines come into evolution and development, I just could shake my head at some of this stuff that I saw. Been their done that, ya know. I just never had the network support to make it click, but I have always seen things ahead of the time.
What projects have you been working on?
Last year, my project was called Our Children. Paying a homage to children and focusing on their honesty, trust and unconditional love. My focus is capturing expressions of children – they are so moving. I am passionate about this project, and amazed from the response of the public’s excitement. I always approach parents and ask if I can take a photo and turn it into art. I do portraits for people, but do not allow myself to get into caricatures. You can tie my art pieces into an exhibit that could work in the medical field, that could host various services towards children – workshops, health services, etc. – but I have not been able to secure any hospital. There are a host of things that could run during the exhibit and still inspire.
Who or what is an influence on your work? What inspires you?
Performing artists being captured in the moment of delivery. It really motivates me.
I have so much work over the years that everything is in a category. I have a literary series including Terry McMillan, Maya Angelou, Bell Hooks, etc.
I have comedians, from the classics Redd Foxx to Katt Williams and Cedric the Entertainer.
I have a series called “Community Voice,” with a lot of politicians and people involved in the civil rights movement, like Angela Davis and Malcolm X.
This is the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party. A lot of information that is misunderstood needs to be put out. I dislike the willingness to brush things under the covers, and to just ask me to move on. We are not moving on – there are things still happening that people have blinders to. I can forgive, but do not ask me to forget. It is in my face everyday, I grew up with it. I see things today, direct racism if you will – it exists. I do not walk around with a chip on my shoulder, but at the same time I am not naive. It is not about me, it is about human decency. I am open to anybody who is able to create a better quality of life for all people. That’s simple, and that is my heart. We are all in this together. That is really the motivation and foundation for me being in the arts.
In what ways have you supported Black History Month?
I am involved with the Rotary Club in Hercules. I was frustrated at first with their lack of activity. All you have to do really, is reach out. I wanted to donate myself to programs such as Black History Month that they did not have in the community. I was the first person to present a Black History Month exhibit in Hercules, in 2013.
I have been downtown (in Martinez) since 2010, working for Cathy Riggs at “I’ve Framed,” as the gallery consultant. Cathy invited me to do an extension of my Black History Month exhibit and I was excited to see the positiveness of the potential my exhibit had.
Do you have ideas on change for Martinez through the arts?
I live in Hercules now but I am from Southern California. I had a cultural art center in Pomona back in the day. It had a multi-track studio and a full photography lab. Yet I had no support from the community.
The only reason I stumbled upon the East Bay area is because I came up to take care of my Mom who was ill at the time in 2010. My whole draw to the city of Martinez was seeing the potential of what could go on downtown.
Downtown is off the beaten path, but it could be a gold mine. A lot of places do not have a natural Main Street. You have a train station in your downtown – there are cities that would kill for that. You have an amphitheater that is going to rot. I heard that there was Shakespeare theater there years ago, which sounded really cool, but it just faded out due to lack of funding and lack of promotion. But that is the kind of thing that gets outside interests to say, “Hey I am going to catch the train and go to Martinez,” because they have performances, theater and good restaurants. You have a comedy place! Good Times! You have the galleries! Coffee shops! There are a lot of active participants who are here, and people who “get it.”
From the main drag off of Highway 4 onto Alhambra, people from out of town get lost and cannot easily find downtown. It would be a fantasy to add beautification of that strip from the freeway with a nice marquee that would excite and direct people to downtown. It takes money, but that could be something the community could work for. It would sustain and support everything else that is down here.
The minute Daylight Savings starts, we should have street performances. You have all of these opportunities for people to stroll and enjoy the evening. I met two cats from the high school the other day who were playing Blues. It was so cool, they were good and I appreciated it. You need to encourage that.
I would love to help with Jazz Appreciation Month, which is in April. The Campbell Theater and the amphitheater could definitely be used for Jazz Appreciation Month.
True Jazz aficionados definitely appreciate real jazz. Jazz is deep, it is not for everybody.
My ultimate dream venue for Martinez would be a “symposium lounge” where you just get people to talk. You are actually connecting with people and discussing.
It could all be sustained with poetry – real words that people can relate to and that will “re-ignite the nostalgic properties of life,” which is one of my key phrases.
A lounge has a funk and a feel, which is incorporated into the programming, but delivered in such a way that you are vibing and listening to music that you have not heard in years.