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Meet Erin Stone and Addy Gonzalez Renteria of 11:11 A Creative Collective in San Fernando Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin Stone, Addy Gonzalez Renteria.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Erin, Addy. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Having grown up in the valley, we had been conditioned that in order to see live music, attend art shows, connect with local creatives, or do anything “cool” we had to go over the hill. It hit us that night in 2009. As we stood in a Hollywood club, watching Mike Watt and the Missing Men, art filling the walls around us and a warehouse filled with our friends, ALL of which were from the valley, we looked at each other and said, “Why did we all drive the 30+ miles from the 818 to fill a room with our neighbors?!” It was that night when we realized the valley was starving to be redefined; from a sprawling artless suburbia to a place where artists live, work, party and connect. It was that night we decided to throw our very first art show.

Both of us (Addy and Erin) having backgrounds in the arts, both creating and organizing, arts activism and grassroots efforts, we quickly realized that the valley was not only NOT a small suburb anymore, but lacked the creative community and arts resources any town of 2.5 million people should have. We began our mission to make the SFV the type of place we wanted to live in, and see the San Fernando Valley thrive as art-filled, community-driven and innovative.

11:11 ACC began with a pop up art show which hosted over 45 local 818 artists and saw an attendance of close to 300 people. There was need for this and these numbers proved it. Since then, we have gone on to acquire 501(c)3 non-profit status, producing over 4 dozen art walks and street festivals, over 2 dozen professionally curated themed art exhibits, 15 murals and public art installations and have worked with over 685 local visual artists, musicians, poets and performers all covering 125 square miles of the San Fernando Valley.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not always been easy, that’s for sure. We believe that our struggles are common growing pains that passionate people turned business owners go through.

How do we stay driven and motivated? Especially when a passion has become a job?

How do we successfully adapt to changes around us? Political changes, personal changes, people joining our mission and leaving to pursue other endeavors?

How do we balance our personal lives with our professional lives and hope that they don’t effect each other negatively?

How do we ensure we are reaching our independent professional aspirations and potential through the company we’ve created and are so passionate about?

As we’ve grown and learned through the years, we find that we measure our success, especially through adversity using 5 guiding principles:

-Be authentic in our pursuits and intentions
-Be inspired and have fun
-Communicate healthily
-Work our asses off
-And ALWAYS have fulfilling our mission as the first priority.

11:11 A Creative Collective – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
11:11 A Creative Collective is a San Fernando Valley based arts non-profit with the mission of creating a cohesive and collaborative, multidisciplinary creative environment for artists and the public. With this mission, we have created 4 main programs:

1- Art walks and street festivals
Our annual art walks in Canoga Park and Reseda bring thousands of people onto the streets of otherwise pedestrian light areas stuffed with strip malls and eateries. The local communities convene to enjoy live art, interactive art installations, handmade goods, art displays, live music, breakdancing, cars shows and more. Through the arts and giving creatives a platform create with their neighbors, the sense of community is palpable, inspiring and colorful.

2- Education
Through weekly and monthly art classes, workshops and college preparatory portfolio building with our partners Valley Art Workshops (valleyartworkshops.com) along with after school programs, 11:11 ACC provides resources for creatives to learn and grow professionally.

3. Murals and public art
Our Fill in the ____ program has facilitated and produced permanent/semi-permanent public art installations and murals which add a sense of beautification, liveliness and civic pride to our public streets.

4. Pop up galleries and art exhibitions
11:11 ACC’s professionally curated art shows not only offer exhibition opportunities to emerging and professional artists, they serve as a safe and inclusive space to make a show art, to form connections and participate in dialogue, creatively.

Until 11:11 ACC, these resources for creatives and the youth were not as readily available and in the forefront of Valley communities. We’re proud to say that we have made huge strides in helping to change the valley landscape into something a bit brighter and art friendly.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
We have had so many moments in the last 8 years that prove over and over that the work we are doing is necessary, that there is a need for it and that the community appreciates what we’ve done.

Whether it be an independent artist that began showing with us at the very beginning of their career going on to show in major galleries around the country or world expressing their thanks to us for taking a chance on them and their artwork, to working with at risk youth helping guide and channel their energy through graffiti art and mural programs. Every project we do has such a huge benefit to the individuals and the community. The arts can change lives and we are honored to have a small hand in effecting the world we live in.

There is usually a moment when we are knee deep in event day (opening night of an exhibition, peek time of an art walk or festival) where we find ourselves in a certain type of a trance. It’s a moment when the gallery is filled with 300+ people or the streets are swarming and we look at each other with tears swelling in our eyes. It’s a moment where people of all kinds, all colors, socio-economic statuses, backgrounds, education levels and interests come together with the same purpose- to celebrate their community. All the differences disappear and we’re left with two commonalities; Each other and art. This is a moment that continues to fuel us to do what we do and makes this work so valuable for us personally.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All images provided by 11:11 A Creative Collective and Erin Stone Photography

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