Today we’d like to introduce you to Zoe Blaq, Skira Martinez, and Greg Lupu.
Zoe, Skira, and Greg, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I am a Los Angeles born writer, visual artist, and event producer. I grew up in Munich, Germany surrounded by artists and musicians. As a child, I was part of a professional dance company and tap-danced at places like the Hollywood Bowl. I also took classical piano lessons. In high school, I wrote my first play about Rodney King and the riots which lead to several awards in prose and poetry. I have an M.A. in clinical psychology from Antioch University, L.A. and a B.A. in Radio, TV, and Film from C.S.U.N.
I am the owner of Cielo galleries/studios in Historic South-Central where over the past 8 years I and many other people have held various workshops, events, and exhibits. My stories and poems are a continuum of my ancestor’s oral traditions and histories. They are story-poems.
Born and raised in LA. My background in music started in elementary school when I took piano lessons and sand in the choir. I also took art classes at that time. When I was in high school, I played football so I was less into creativity. After I walked away from playing football in my early 20’s I kinda wander around till I rekindled my interest in music by taking a singing class at SMC. I also did an internship at Polygram at the time. In early 2000, I performed in a couple of bands and recorded some original music on garage band and logic. Around 2012 I met Zoe Blaq and from there we promoted several events. I also managed a couple of music acts
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My passion is utilizing interdisciplinary art as a form of healing and empowering underserved communities. Being able to connect, listen and learn from the youth is inspiring.
Whether performing poetry on stage or co-producing a historic festival my intent is to be an artist that creates new dialogue by motivating people to become closer to their higher self. My intent is to express human relatedness and not the distortion of fear and limitation which is the illusion of human separateness. My role as an artist is to let go of societies expectations by erasing boxes that keep us from growing. I am a creative who writes, creates and produces events based on value and community. I would like to serve as a vessel for thriving relationships and human connections.
I believe an artist should imbibe all mediums which is what I do. As a singer, I would sing and create with no intention other than to let out what is inside.
As a promoter and manager, I try to keep my word, cross the “t’s” and dot the “i’s”, and never deliver what I can’t promise.
Also, you must remember you’re trying to entertain an audience so you have to make whatever you’re presenting accessible and enjoyable. Sometimes people are too anxious to reinvent the wheel and become too self-indulgent.
I believe that an artist should not look at getting paid as selling out, in LA people I feel think there is some type of romantic image of the starving artist. I think if you can get paid to do your art and be true to yourself, you shouldn’t feel guilty.
As a visual artist, I am inspired by ideas, emotions, objects, other living beings or events. My process and the techniques I use change and are instigated by intuition, curiosity and the primal need to create.
Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
Experiment with different art forms. Be intentional. Who you are as an individual will be the uniqueness people are looking for in your artwork.
Keeps your word and return calls. Don’t worry about who people know (you’d be surprised that this is the first question I’m asked when I meet an artist I’m considering managing) worry more about if this person is going to get out there an actually work for you. Just because someone may know a prominent figure in the entertainment industry doesn’t mean that they have the type of relationship with that figure that they can make something happen. If you can’t get someone to return your calls in a couple of days, then it’s probably not worth name dropping that person.
Take risks and follow your intuition. Make lots of mistakes.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I will be in an upcoming art show on September 21st at an annual event called Afro Innovators at Cielo Galleries. It’s a science event highlighting Black and Brown innovators in technology.
I am also in the midst of developing the next historical event with Skira Martinez and Greg Lupu as we continue to rebirth an annual festival honoring what was known as Black Palm Springs. It was a safe space during segregation for Blacks to enjoy recreational activities. Every memorial weekend, we make sure American history is acknowledged as we celebrate heritage and community with music, art, camping and
Everyone is invited to camp out and celebrate on a memorial weekend at Val Verde Park in Castaic, CA.
Outside of planning the Val Verde festival, I’m working as a consultant for a hip hop artist right now since nothing is set in stone, I don’t want to mention the name.
I’ve also been working on a screenplay for the past four years, it a detective story. Depending on how the experience goes, I may eventually try to turn so other ideas I’ve had for a couple of years into screenplays.
Currently, I am in the midst of planning two annual events – ‘The Afro Innovator Exhibition’ and the ‘Memorial Weekend Celebrating Black Palm Springs’.
- Email: Skira Martinez
@zoeblaq / Twitter
Urban Soul Farmer / Instagram
- Website: Urbansoulfarmer.org
- Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/valverdeparkmemorialweekend
- Twitter: @zoeblaq