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Meet Michelle Carmen Gomez of GalleryGomez in Downtown Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Carmen Gomez.

Michelle Carmen, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in a small town in Texas, but I’ve been in Los Angeles longer than I was in Texas at this point in my career and life. My degree is in journalism, so through the years I’ve moved from television news reporter to development assistant at Disney Studios to freelance writer to actor to tutor to photographer to artist, but this odyssey to identify my artistry was always the endgame and finding my niche was a byproduct of taking risks and trying new things. What’s gratifying now is that I use everything I’ve learned through the years in my current work, which proves that you are a sum of your experiences and that what seems “off track” is more often a precursor to what you are destined to do, for me it was to create art and to help others find their voice. My gallery, galleryGOMEZ, located in Downtown Los Angeles’ South Park, is a safe, nurturing place to create art, to grow as an artist and to facilitate others’ creativity.

I started as a fine art photographer whose intention it was to always try and capture quintessential moments. I’ve always been interested in “distilled images” that capture the essence of a place, a movement, a feeling… that’s what motivates me when I shoot.

The paintings were born out of my desire to pull out the symbolism in my photography with color. I literally wanted to get my hands dirty. It was an organic progression for me since there is so much symbolism in my photography. I think it has a lot to do with my literary background. For my paintings, I use my own silkscreened images and paint onto the canvases using layers of paint and screens. It’s a process of building up and breaking down until the painting finds its voice. It’s so interesting, I always start with an idea, but it’s through the changes that a piece of work finds itself. For me, it’s almost meditative to allow my work to recognize itself, so to speak; the act of creation is always an exercise in recognizing intention AND allowing discovery.

Recent series’ have included more text and has a more elemental quality. Nature, people, and authenticity inspire me. I hope people will see themselves in my work and perhaps ask different questions. Making connections and inspiring others excites me. I hope that my work encourages people to be introspective, without forgetting to have a good time. Just give yourself credit for being wise and then enjoy the ride. Look at my artwork with the knowledge that on the surface there’s a pretty picture and underneath there’s a story, then look again, back even further and you’ll recognize visceral symbolism and language, expressed through color and placement. Basically, what I do is I try and strive for transcendence because that which is not realizable in experience, only in being, enamors me most. So see the work and make it your own because it already is.

My work is sold through galleryGOMEZ in downtown LA, ArtPic Gallery in Los Angeles and Kevin Barry Fine Art in Las Vegas and though my management company. My photos and paintings are also showcased and sold to many television shows, commercials and films, through ArtPic. The most recent is NBCs THIS IS US and the WILL AND GRACE Reboot. If you are interested in my work, you can find me at www.aboutmichelle.com. I also sell my work through my gallery, galleryGOMEZ, in downtown Los Angeles (429 Venice Blvd. LA CA 90015) 323 508-1920.

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?
This creative journey hasn’t always been a smooth road. I was offered a job as a talent assistant early on at E! and the Human Resources person, Gabrielle, offered the job with the promise that it would be a way to transition me into an on-air position. It was my first real job interview in LA and, in my naiveté, I assumed that this sort of opportunity was standard fair. I had NO IDEA how wrong I was. I had done an On-air gig in Austin for a bit and I had decent tape and solid reporting experience, so I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just do on-air work. I had no one to grab hold of my shoulders and shake me into a cognizant, informed reality-check and say, “This is how it looks, they never just offer you an on-air gig, you have to transition into the job!” So, without that, I actually said, with a straight face, to this very nice woman, “Thanks Gabrielle, but it’s not exactly what I’m looking for.” Yes. That’s right, I actually said that to her!

Cut to two months later when I had zero job offers and I called Gabby and asked her, in my super-nice, humbled voice, “Is that talent department position still available?” To her credit, she was kind and unsnarky and politely said, “I’m sorry Michelle, but the job has been filled.” For years, I tortured myself over this “mistake”. Do yourself a favor, DON’T DO WHAT I DID, don’t torture yourself needlessly because you will make mistakes, it’s normal. After all, we are spiritual beings having a human experience, it’s part of the deal.

Now, I recognize that it was probably a blessing in disguise because all of the women I would have worked with at E! are now my age and trying to compete with what they view as the “youth demographic”. The women who entered the on-air television “fray” are now trying to act 20 years old and I fear I might have fallen into the trap of the false societal norms of beauty and youth culture; truth be told, I work with a ton of young artists and business people and I adore them and I feel welcomed and embraced because I’ve gotten very good at being my authentic self, without being molded by external standards. I’ve also been told that I am appreciated for my ability to stay connected to my authentic self; that ideal would have been harder had I stayed on another path. That’s in no way a disparagement of social norms, I just feel like the path I’ve chosen, or the path that chose me informs my work and MY life in a more impactful way. But, now for the lesson: Looking back I realize that I would be a very different person had I taken that job at E! I would not have challenged myself to develop as an artist. I would have, most likely, fallen “in line” and bought the preconceived notions of beauty and, most likely, not evolved as readily as a businesswoman and creative. Every move or “misstep” has led me here. I am a businesswoman, a philanthropist, a teacher, a dreamer and someone who likes who she has become and, at the end of the day, that’s all anyone can ask for.

Interestingly enough, the struggles have been part of the creative process. Yes, normal stuff has gone “wrong”, while in Los Angeles, I’ve had my car stolen, twice; I’ve struggled to make ends meet; I’ve had jobs that I’ve hated and jobs that have changed my life… but I am lucky that I am inherently positive in my outlook on life and I tend to define “obstacles” as opportunities. And the bonus is that the older I get, the more I realize that the notion of “winners and losers” is so far off the mark.

It’s a misconception that, when you don’t get what you want you have lost in some way. That’s not always easy to see when you are “right on top” of the experience. It takes time to see how it will unfold. Now I understand that I use ALL of MY PAST in my present and that THAT is the gift. So often it’s the “losses” that have led to my greatest successes because you only lose when you quit. It sounds like a sappy greeting card, but it is the cold, hard, slippery-sweet truth; it separates the people who are happy in their work/life/ dreams (those who choose to lift others) and those who tend to be envious of others’ success. What I do now is remind people who come to me for advice of the phrase that I wish I’d heard when I was starting out: Things won’t be like this forever; whatever you are experiencing will inform you and will lead you to the next step, just stay thankful and conscious of every step. You’ll use it all! Your experiences, “good and bad” are the “colors” that you will paint with. Promise.

And, as a side note, be aware that sometimes the creative life can be lonely. Try and connect by attending other artists’ shows and support other artists as well; I think that’s a good way to feel less alone. But let’s face it, creating art is often a solitary endeavor, the “voice” that resonates once the work is shared, is not solitary, it’s communal. Go check out art; be present and participate. Watch it inspire you… In the same way that history doesn’t “travel in a straight line”, so too does authentic work. If it speaks to you and is an extension of a deep-seated belief or a vision, trust that. The rest isn’t any of your business. Trust that the “downs” are just as helpful, revelatory and monumental as the “ups”; look up! You are never really alone.

Please tell us about galleryGOMEZ.
Now, my business is my brand (aboutmichelle.com), my non-profit (GOmezARTS.org) and my gallery, galleryGOMEZ. I also have a YouTube Channel, a vlog where I share resources, showcase aspects of my bi-coastal life and interview inspiring people who are realizing their dreams and ambitions; for the most part, it’s a light-hearted, informative outlet that shoots at galleryGOMEZ, but it also explores our internal landscape in a way that is inspiring and personal. Everything I do is focused around creativity and healing and creating with purpose. I realized very early in my life that I was born to create art and that I am a communicator. I have always remained faithful to this insight and today I can say that I’ve begun to reap the benefits of my single-minded focus by sharing the spotlight through galleryGOMEZ; I am able to ‘pay it forward’. Since arriving in Los Angeles, I’ve established a loyal group of collectors/clients/friends who continue to invest in my work and, as I mentioned earlier, my work and art have been featured on television shows such as THIS IS US, BALLERS, RAY DONOVAN, and countless others, so this exposure, which I’m so grateful for, has allowed me to showcase new and emerging artists whose work I admire and introduce artists to a larger audience as well. Many of the artists, whose shows I’ve curated in our space, have gone on to larger shows on the East Coast. This always thrills me to no end. I’ve also established cherished relationships with community leaders, educators, and artists with whom I admire, so I am always exposed to new ideas, techniques and viewpoints. In terms of my own work, I try to paint every day, but even if that’s not possible, I spend my time preparing, planning, and envisioning new works. I live my art. My subject matter derives from what I love and admire in my world. Each word, each image, has a profound meaning to me and, when brought together on a single canvas, intensifies and expands its solitary significance. Art can be mysterious, evocative; I strive to achieve this in my work, achieve a magical essence. My aim is to create work that people can revisit and rediscover, work that fuses itself to the viewer. Art should serve the psyche in the same way that music serves the listener.

My business, aboutMICHELLE is an acronym for Merchandising Images. Creating. Helping Effect Lives and Locales Exponentially. It incorporates two of my passions: art and philanthropy.

The non-profit that I founded with artist/collaborator Lauren Freeman called GOmezARTS is also a passion of mine and is based out of my gallery in South Park, in downtown Los Angeles. The gallery serves as a community space where I curate artists shows, I rent the space to artists and clients, I use it as my art studio and, of course, Lauren and I create and implement creative workshops for kids and adults in underserved communities from this location. The YouTube channel also highlights our work and serves as an additional platform to help like-minded creatives and people who are interested in participating and learning about the creative process find a hub for information.

What sets us apart is the continued refinement of our mission statement and the part that we play in the whole “creative mechanism”. I am as much a student as I am a leader and a teacher. That is what makes galleryGOMEZ and what we do, different because we engage the community and we welcome ideas as much as we implement creative workshops. In my view, to be a part of something requires a listening ear and a desire to act. That said, I am most proud of the students and kids that our work has impacted and my goal is to extend our reach to include more art therapy programs and work with vets and the senior living community. I also hope to expand our social network and collaborate with more people, both here in Los Angeles and on the East Coast. And lastly, our goal is to grow our brand and, ultimately, do more to help others by sharing our programs.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I would say that most of my favorite memories from childhood are the moments I shared with my then single-mom. We sort of grew up together in Corpus Christi, Texas. She was a teacher and we would go to the Spanish Movie theater on Sundays. I’m convinced that that is where I developed my understanding of the Spanish language, watching movies in Spanish, with her. To this day, I can understand every word and follow conversations, but I can’t speak Spanish fluently. Mom and I were always together, at least till she remarried when I was five-year old. I was left to my imagination a lot of that time. She trusted my voice and I believe that’s where I began trusting my “creative self” above all.

Most of my childhood memories were impacted by strong, creative, independent women. It’s probably where I developed some of my personal characteristics. I guess we are all products of our environment to some degree. We affect each other. It’s inevitable, our perception and experiences transform your experiences into art.

I also remember a neighbor, Becky, she was a young art teacher who shared an observation with me one afternoon. We sat in her cute little hippy apartment with crotched plant holders and Carole King albums next to her record player and she had a small plant, a succulent, in a ceramic pot and she shared that she could take a small leaf from one pot and transplant it to another pot and it would grow more plants. As a five-year old, I remember my imagination was sparked by this. I was mesmerized by the notion that something had the life force to be plucked from one source and have the power to grow and flourish and create more of the same natural beauty.

It is fascinating to me now, the simplicity and complexity of that moment… how simple and poetic that gesture became for me. As an adult, I understood that a spark of creativity can be born and shared and expanded. I’ve been very lucky in my life. I was always surrounded by creative observers, teachers, and givers who have shown me so much kindness, patience, and love. I guess that’s why I value these traits above all.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
@mistermikeborzage, @michellecarmengo, @ericminhswenson, @farahstop

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