Magic Maker

Meta Apparition: Miami Art Week 2017

I was really excited and nervous on September 27th. I almost didn’t go to the opening at Primary Projects in the Design District because I was by myself. But there was a plan in place, an intention. I would go and introduce myself to Typoe, artist and owner, whom I had been Facebook messaging with the month before. I had to show up even if it was just for myself. Primary Projects is such a beautiful space and the show “Impressions of a Landscape” by Magnus Sodamin was a site to see. While I was there I wandered around awkwardly, staring at the paintings on the walls. I turned the corner and saw Carlos Betancourt's “Times of Illuminations: For the Sake of Beauty” and I lit up. The funny part was that the assemblage wasn’t even plugged in. That was my moment where I felt as though the gallery was empty. It was just me and the monumental rectangle covered with Christmas stars. Massed in the center, sprinkling out to the edges, I felt like a little girl on Christmas morning and I knew I could survive the rest of the evening. I made my way outside and saw a tall bearded man adorned with tattoos, in an unrefined way I introduced myself with “Hi! I’m here by myself, my name’s Ariana, who are you?” He kindly exchanged salutations and talked with me for a bit, introducing me to the people he knew outside. 

Carlos Betancourt "Times of Illumination: For the Sake of Beauty"

Carlos Betancourt "Times of Illumination: For the Sake of Beauty"

Through the window I saw Typoe walking and for the first time all night he was not surrounded by 5 people. This was my moment, I walked back into the gallery, and up to him. He greeted me as if we had been friends for years, so kind and welcoming. We engaged in light conversation and then a gentlemen wearing a button up and slacks came up to say hello. Our exchange set in motion an opportunity I didn’t know was possible when I moved here 5 months ago. This is the moment that positively changed the course of what I would be doing for Miami Art Week. I met Kevin, Projects Director for Shulman+Associates. Our brief conversation, standing in the packed gallery, resulted in an email 2 days later. Subject line “Outdoor Installation”. I was planning on emailing him the following Tuesday. I’ve learned that building relationships with people is like dating. Be aggressive, but don’t look desperate, engage in like-minded conversation, but speak your truth. This has been part of my business model. I was surprised and intrigued by the message including one creative direction “furniture/shelter like”, and I knew we were a good fit. 

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After our first in person meeting, and 1 page project overview submission, I got the call. This was now our project. I began my planning, and result was a 14 page powerpoint presentation of the interactive indoor/outdoor sculptural art installation. The colors are bold and vibrant. The shapes are graphic. The surface treatments organic. All 10 ambitious sculptures were well received by the Shulman Team. Pre-production began at the end of October. My timeline was 5 weeks with 1 week of details. I began dying watercolor paper, material testing, designing each piece thoughtfully, knowing that it will represent myself as well as Shulman + Associates during the most important time of year for artists and designers here in Miami. 3 trapezoidal cabanas outside with 5 plinths, a coffee table, and a suspended ‘chandelier’ inside the reception area. I was told “furniture/ shelter like” and this is where my creative brain went.

Two weeks into production, I assessed my timeline, and realized in order to get everything done before December 4th, I was going to need to bring in some help. The suspended ‘chandelier’ is composed of 2000 discs made from aluminum mesh screening, watercolor paper, and metal foil. The circle punch I got worked great for the paper and metal foil but when I tried the mesh I broke 3 punchers. I knew that these were going to have to be cut by hand. One Facebook event, 32 ounces of Cold Brew coffee from Box, 3 hours and 40 minutes  and 4 friends later all 1150 mesh circles were completed. I continued to assess, adjust, and stay on schedule. Week 3 came and so did the rain. I needed to work outside to dye the curtains I tailored for the cabanas. 20 feet of canvas for each cabana. I found a window in the weather app that showed me clear skies through the night. I promptly picked up 9 bags of 10lb ice, set up the structure, and the curtains soaked the dye as I slept. Week 4 I started working on the plinths, I had some plywood donated to me, which was saving my budget. As I began working with the material, following my original plan, something felt off. I was not connecting to the shapes, or the heavy material. I couldn’t use it. I needed to adjust, be flexible, and revisit my drawings. I thought to myself “If I could change this and do anything what would you do?”. The sketch that came out of that put me in a position that made me uncomfortable. But I knew it was the right thing…remember this is the most important week for artists and designer for the whole year in Miami. I took the day to find a solution. The next day I started again on the plinths, creating all 5 in under 12 hours. These felt right. These came together as if the universe was guiding me. They make me happy. Over the last week I have been in detail mode. Refining installation processes, color story, weather proofing, and assembling as much as I can. Yesterday I took the whole day off, I spent time with my roommate developing this weeks media marketing strategy, drinking coffee, and watching mid-90s rom-coms. Tomorrow we install. 

The exhibition is titled “Meta Apparition”. When I was developing this installation I knew it was going to be playful, spiritual, and metamorphic. I experienced all three of these things while I was producing the work, and my overall intention is for the viewer to also experience and celebrate these ideas. Meta pertains to a story, conversation or character. It describes a consciously and playful self-referential story. Apparition is the supernatural element, as if these objects have appeared from the natural, to be remarkable. This is my truth.  

This will be my first solo exhibition…and you’re invited…

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5 Years Later: Back in the Gallery

Time flies when I am making the art. I didn’t even realize how long it had been since I’ve posted in the blog and shared with you all what has been happening in the magical world of Ariana and Alchemist Productions. This post is about the spaghetti I am throwing at the wall hoping for a piece to stick. One of the pieces stuck, and it wasn’t the piece I thought. It’s really interesting because when I made the decision to leave my dream job to work on Alchemist I had not intended to do gallery exhibitions. I haven’t shown my personal work in 5 years. I’ll tell you the story…

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Once upon a time…in 2004, I moved to Sarasota, Florida to go to college. I spent 4 years developing my personal art practice. Attending Miami Art Basel every December discovering contemporary art. I graduated in 2008 and did my best to continue to make art, but I wasn’t very successful, or self-motivated. The end of 2009 to the beginning of 2010 broke that cycle when I was accepted to Vermont Studio Center for a 6 week artist retreat. In July of 2010 my mentor invited me to move into his warehouse studio space with him, allowing me a space to create larger sculptures and develop installations. He also invited me to show in an exhibition for the first time since my senior thesis. That October I created a sculptural installation with a video performance. The following year I joined S/ART/Q, the local contemporary art collective, and started doing pop up events with them around town. At the same time I began creating window display installations for a local boutique, Juno & Jove. In 2012, S/ART/Q raised enough money to go to Miami Art Basel and show at Select Fair. This was the last time I showed in a “gallery” setting. 

S/ART/Q Exhibition Installation, 2011

S/ART/Q Exhibition Installation, 2011

My personal art practice was really difficult to maintain while producing the branded content for the boutique. It just wasn’t my time, and that was okay. In the middle of 2013 I took a year off from making art. Then in mid-2014 I was hired by Anthropologie and moved to Naples, FL. I made art for them for about 3 years. At the beginning of this year, I was presented with an amazing opportunity to create something that brought my personal art practice together with branded content and granted me this magical sense of social responsibility to get back to making my own personal art. That’s one of the reasons I made the decision to leave my dream job and move to Miami.

In August I was scrolling through instagram and I came across a Prism Creative Group post promoting the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series. I had been focused making personal work. I had content again, so I submitted 3 pieces. This is really interesting because I’ve never applied to anything like this before. I’ve never felt this confident about my personal work, but at the same time this particular competition spans all of North America. I had no idea who else was submitting work, or who the judges are. All I knew was that if I didn’t try I would never know if my work was in line with other contemporary artists. 

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When I received the email that I am a regional semi-finalist and that I would be in a group show with 14 other artists in a Miami gallery, I was extremely surprised and excited at the same time. It is an honor to be selected as 1 of 15 artists in the Miami region. I am so pleased that I moved to Miami and live in a city that collaborates on opportunities like this. Yesterday I dropped off my assemblage at N’Namdi Contemporary in Wynwood. It has been 5 years since I have shown in a gallery setting. This Thursday October 12, will break the cycle again. The Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series is happening in collaboration with Artsy.net to showcase emerging artists at Scope Miami Beach during Miami Art Basel. You can vote for my work online once a day, everyday until November 7th by clicking this link. I also lined up a solo show in February in the Mitchell Gallery at the Englewood Art Center which is affiliated of Ringling College of Art and Design, my alma mater. 

The selected assemblage for the exhibition.

The selected assemblage for the exhibition.

The piece I will be showing titled "My Mother's Jewelry"

The piece I will be showing titled "My Mother's Jewelry"

Although I am still following leads to take my work outside of the gallery and create bespoke branded sculptural installations for businesses, and site specific commercial buildings, this is a great start to build relationships with the art community. It’s one of the most important things I can be doing. Building relationships. Contributing to the landscape of art and culture in my community. Giving back to the community that has supported me in the past. I invite you to join me as the cycle breaks and I share my work with the world.

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Launching: APxLV

I’m back! The last 3 weeks have been so full! Somewhere between working on this company full time, moving my entire life, and completing a small installation for collaboration with Alex of Luma Visual from Orlando, FL; Jared and I have managed to get our new home in somewhat order. We are adjusting to life in Miami and although this is one of the most important things we’ve done for and in our life thus far life doesn’t stop for us. 

The official move on July 3rd went as well as I could have expected. We had so much help from loving friends and family. We successfully moved my workshop, Jared’s production studio and all of our personal belongings over 100 miles across the state. This is the second time I’ve moved cities in 3 years and before that I was fairly stationary for 10. I am adjusting to my new space much more quickly than I had expected, which is a total blessing. That leads me to tell you all about the collaboration with Alex, a computer graphic artist and video projection mapper. 

Alex and I met in June. Jared introduced us after having a conversation with him. Jared knew right away what each of us do as artist could make magic combined. We hit it off immediately and I asked him within the first 45 minutes of talking if he would be interested in collaborating and/or going into business together. From the initial conversation we began having weekly phone calls, and shared google docs of ideas. Exchanging information from a distance. I did not completely understand his craft but I knew introducing innovative technology to my handmade sculptures would surly be interesting. Alchemist Productions x Luma Visual was born. Alex really loves the way I build forms, and currently use velvet. These are two major themes he suggested for our project. I started building hexagons and stacking them, his response was positive, so I continued making 60 of them to produce 3 columns. 

As our conversation continued he suggested a ribbon form, I knew it needed to be velvet. I mentally processed my plan of action for construction, making drawings and completed the 8” hexagons structures. Then I had to stop working and start packing. I was so excited about this project that it was extremely difficult to press the pause button, but necessary as the moving timeframe crept up on me. Then he tells me there is an annual event by Creative City Projects in Orlando called “IMMERSE”, he forwarded me the website and artist application. We are a great fit for this particular project and plot twist! The application is due July 16…TODAY, like right now. Life is funny like that. We immediately scheduled for the installation to be ready for projection this past Friday, time to hustle! 

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I spent the better part of 3 days last week, painting the hexagons, texturizing and painting the backdrop, and building the ribbon form. All while having our first house guest, managing the rest of my life, and no internet. This is my happy place, this is where the magic happens. The installation was staged by the time Alex walked through the door on Friday at 4pm. Ready for him to set up his projector and computer to layer color and movement onto my forms. Until we realized we needed more space between the physical installation and the projector. So we moved the room around and the installation to a different wall. Then we had it! The right orientation for our first collaboration. 

Alex jumped right in. I admire this. He was so excited about the details of the forms, the textures I produced, and the soft nature of the whites and creams. He began drawing the silhouettes on the computer, masking out each form individually. I watched in excitement. Like I said before I really had no idea what his process took from a skill and craft standpoint, I just knew it was going to be interesting. He worked for several hours before we needed to get some sleep and be ready to have a complete collaborative installation by Saturday night for the IMMERSE submission. We were up and working bright and early yesterday morning finishing the mapping, and playing with different projection textures, color, and motion graphics. We needed it to be dark to record video and get the full effect. We took a long and necessary break, relaxing, eating, and filling out the application proposal details. 

As soon as it was dark in the room, we began sorting through footage, and images. Pairing and placing color theory, textures, and movement onto my static forms. Art magic in every way. We recorded each combination we liked, making decisions as a team. This is a beautiful experience. I’ve collaboratively worked with people in the past but not to this level. This project has pushed the art I construct further and Alex says it has done the same for him. The experimentation and exploration of my sculptural installation with his projections have collided in a way I didn’t know was possible. We completed our submission to IMMERSE last night at 11pm. We made it happen on a tight timeframe, little budget, and a lot of hard work. I’m thrilled to share this with everyone and from this experience we have conceptualized more projects for the future. Imagine with funding, more space, and some time what we can accomplish. We are officially for hire! Check out our test/submission video here!

Making Connections: Support Local FL

I sit here surrounded by half filled brown corrugated cardboard boxes. The dining room table is stacked with framed photographs, clocks, and a crystal ball. My bookshelf is empty. The walls are bare. My coffee is warm, and my heart is full. If you know me personally then you know a few major things that I hold dear; 1. coffee 2. working together for the greater good of our society and culture; community and 3. the preservation and elevation of ethics and morality. Let’s get right into it. I’ve said it time and time again, community is what builds and grows the cultural experience of an environment. It is typically an underlining theme in my blog. I talk about it a lot. After living in Sarasota for 10 years watching that city grow, being part of an art collective with the mission to share contemporary visual art with the community and continuously supporting small local businesses. They have always supported me right back. The last 3 years have really shown me what I stand for as a person and artist. It’s what makes me more authentic. My truth. And one of the many reasons I am so attracted to Miami. I have attended Miami Art Basel since 2004. I have watched, from a distance, the city grow and realign itself with what matters the most. Becoming a hub for creative entrepreneurs and pushing the boundaries of how people interact with businesses and artists. Support Local is the brand in front of the movement carrying that mission for Miami. 

I was able to catch up with Janel from Support Local FL. Janel is the liaison for the brand. She oversees the partnerships, manages the social accounts, and on-boards new businesses. I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect with her over the phone and really dig into what Support Local stands for and how it operates. The mission is clear. Build relationships and support collaboration. Janel said it beautifully “transform the process of opening businesses in Miami”. Janel gets to know the brands and builds the direct relationships with each founder and their mission. She mentioned that they have always worked with makers and businesses, through the parent company Prism Creative Group, an agency dedicated to elevate culture in Miami, and from that sprung Support Local. Support Local is the platform that provides a curated directory of local businesses, taking action and alleviating pain and pressure of starting a business in the Miami area, and how to find the treasures. 

Janel, Chief Social Alchemist for Prism Creative Group and Liaison for Support Local FL

Janel, Chief Social Alchemist for Prism Creative Group and Liaison for Support Local FL

Support Local is mindful of the brands it supports, obviously it must be local, and SLFL takes the time to get to know the story behind the business as well as the product. Support Local stands with the brands it represents, they too are a small business. They understand the pain points for new small businesses and makers alike. They are currently connecting on a project with the City of Miami that is going to take work and time to scale but it’s incredible that its happening. The relationships are being built. Through the SLFL website businesses are able to showcase their brands becoming a resource for anyone visiting and living in Miami. Through the website you can find an array of fresh visionary companies. There are hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, a variety of makers, markets, and coworking spaces. By dropping the Support Local name at the business you can unlock a perk, which is listed with the company on the website. This perk is a driving force, it’s the connection point between the businesses that are bred in Miami with the people searching and wandering for the best coffee, yes I went right for the coffee. 

Another part of the Support Local mission is to connect the businesses to each other. This is where support meets collaboration meets better business and more opportunities. The first event they did was themed for this, meet and greet style with consumer interaction. The second event which happened in June was themed “Collaboration”. At the most recent event, Support Local had a collaboration board, one side it said “What do I need?” and the other “What do I want?”. The attendees were able to share their information and Janel is the business to business match maker, making the connections, forming the partnerships. Pairing together the makers, graphic designers, market gurus with different local companies, creating the opportunity to utilize the talent that makes the community vibrant and healthy.  She also mentioned that these themed events are going to keep happening. The next event is scheduled for July 19 at Made at The Citadel themed “Creativity”. All are welcome and you’ll be able to find me there; supporting, connecting, collaborating and being creative.

Photography Credit  Mac's Pub

Photography Credit Mac's Pub

I gush over all of this. My demeanor has transitioned from stressed about moving to pack faster.  It’s so much of what I’ve been craving for the last 3 years all rolled up into this beautiful dusty seashell pink with black, teal, and chartreuse accented website with an authentic mission. Adorned with the tribe I’m looking for, believing in the same things I believe. Creating and driving a community that works together for the greater good of the society and culture, preserving and elevating the ethic and morality. Being authentic. Although the movement is currently based in Miami the goal is expand throughout the state. If you believe what we believe, I encourage you to check out the curated directory of local businesses next time you are in Miami, grab a coffee, head to a museum, enjoy the culture, and give back to the people that create the experience. 

Undivided Attention

It has been 30 whole days since I left my 6a-3p to give undivided attention to my personal art practice and Alchemist Productions. Over the last month I have been busy, making progress and truly living my why. Here are a few real entrepreneur moments and art thoughts for you. You know I love coffee and I figured I could have it whenever I wanted because the accountability of showing up somewhere is completely and solely on me. Well, that resulted in me staying up until 2 am like I did in my 20s and then not being able to get up in the morning until 9 o’clock, which is late for me. Understanding my personal boundaries has been eye opening. 

Every part of my daily routine has changed, except where I make art everyday. At some point I’ll dedicate a post to the idea of rituals. But for this one I want to talk about where and how I’ve been spending my time. My lifestyle has shifted towards what I need to do to directly support my personal objectives, not the objectives of someone or something else. That might sound a little selfish. I believe the best way for me to grow as an entrepreneur and artist is to clear away things that I can no longer serve and no longer serve me. I started making, taking from older sketches of things I've been wanting to construct, and just doing it. 

This is the beginning of creating content to contribute to others and develop content based on my personal practice. I’ve been having meaningful and constructive conversations with other creatives that believe and support the same core values and ethics as me. Its a beautiful thing when you start to find your truth and your tribe. Jared and I finalized the details on our move to Miami. This is both exciting and terrifying. I am excited because I know the arts community is vibrant and welcoming. I am excited to build relationships with people who have the same values of art and life. I am excited to contribute through the work I do with Alchemist. I’m scared because its something new, and different. The culture is one that will take some time for me to get to know. The best part is that I know I’m more than ready to take on the magic city. I just hope it's ready for this Magic Maker. 

In our culture, imitation-based experience dominates reality-based experience. I find this an awful thing. But there are artists who know from the bottom of their souls that art is about the experience of reality. The reason we have art is because you can’t get a real experience from the world.
— Richard Tuttle

I may sound a bit like a pollyanna but I do believe that you get back what you put out into the world. I will continue to put out the positive ideas and attract the people who relate with those ethics. I am an optimistic artist and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. Being optimistic has served me both mentally and spiritually. Without it I don't make the best work I know I can and I don't give myself the opportunity to overcome fear. These next 3 weeks are very full. My undivided attention is going to shift again as I tie loose ends with the current pieces I am making, moving, and continuing to develop relationships where I can serve communities I believe in. This adventure is about experience. Its about making the art that challenges how we perceive the world around us. Its my experience that I want to continue to show the world and thats what makes it art. 

The next blog post will be getting to know other people who contribute to their communities. Keep your eyes and ears open! Its getting real.