Today we’d like to introduce you to Tara Gruchalski.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My first real memory of appreciating art and culture was when my father took me on my first museum outing at LACMA in the 1st grade. At the time, the museum held an exhibition on Ancient Egypt and I got stickers with hieroglyph letters from the gift shop. I then made it my mission to learn the symbols by heart and make name tags for my classmates. Art and language maintained their status as high interests of mine since.
I started pursuing art more seriously when I started going to community college in Santa Monica and realizing that it was the only area of interest that felt exciting and authentic. I ended up transferring to UCLA and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2016. I primarily worked in video, performance, and painting, meditating on possible futures of human society with regards to a dependence on technology and the seemingly inevitable fall of Western hegemony.
After university, I moved to West Hollywood with a painting peer from UCLA, Rachel Berkowitz. We became active collaborators and worked on a project called Fairfax Royalty’, documenting the evolution of the historically predominant Orthodox Jewish community, “Fairfax,” to a crazed hypetown through portraits and vignettes of people that were following their creative dreams. While active in the nightclub scene in Hollywood, we threw a few shows in an alternative space, The Argyle Nightclub in August 2017. We then threw a show for Fairfax Royalty at Daniel Raphael in London in November 2017, showcasing Rachel’s beautiful portraits and my documentary-style video of our encounters.
I took a break from art making to pursue spiritual modalities such as reiki, tarot, and yoga. In 2019, I collaborated with a Feng Shui consultant, Tracy McDowell, to create a summer pop up Tea.n.Tarot, which was what we called a “postmodern temple cafe” held at their 1-bedroom house in Eagle Rock that we opened up by appointment for tea, tinctures, readings and healings.
After that, I went to Asia for a few months to see the Okayama Art Summit and complete a 200hr yoga teacher training. When I came back to LA, Rachel Berkowitz asked if I wanted to perform at her solo painting show at Budman Studios in December which threw me back into the art scene and reignited my passion for art-making.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Life is not smooth, I think we can all agree it’s got a cyclical nature of climbing up and down in terms of having a good time or not. A lot of my struggles are related to taming my anxieties and fears around making art and whether or not I deserve to.
Also, not having the most stable finances as a creative person can be debilitating when it comes to convincing yourself that you should spend your time on your work. Work which most of the time has no short term gain so it’s imperative to learn to trust yourself while cultivating the ability to stretch the resources you do have access to. My work has always been interested in engaging with the idea of sustainability so I tend to be creative with what I can use: cardboard for paintings (it’s kinda punk too… the lack of archivability as a material), using bottle caps as adornments for performative clothing, thrifting fabrics, and trading services with other artists.
I’ve done a lot of things to help support my creativity– working in the hospitality business, working as a production assistant for another artist, as an art archivist, a designer, and a personal assistant. The good news is that although I’ve had to work different jobs to make ends meet, it’s also given me many skills and perspectives when it comes to my creative work.
I’ve also veered off the expected fine artist path quite a few times, requiring a different kind of food for my soul. Last year I went through a major shift in terms of focusing less on art making and more on spirituality and alternative modalities of healing. Yes, a very new agey notion and I resisted the concept for years but came to terms with my need to explore another side of myself. So, I became a certified Reiki healing practitioner and a 200hr certified Yoga teacher.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Tea.n.Tarot – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I’m an artist and spiritual healer, primarily a painter, I also practice in the mediums of drawing and performance. My work is about imagining how human society might evolve by exploring how the influence of technology and media on the human psyche. How might we communicate? Will the gradual decay of our civil liberties lead us to ultimate peril or will we create a technogaian utopia?
Humans have been leaning into a societal culture that has championed profit over harmony for hundreds of years. However, with our current environmental, economic, and political climate, we have been learning more about how to heal ourselves and our communities in the midst of so much turmoil.
My beliefs align with the idea that we can heal ourselves by bringing awareness to our situations that are both personal and public to then be transmuted. This is why I’ve branched out into learning more about alternative modalities of healing and created Tea.n.Tarot with Tracy McDowell. The brick and mortar dissolved for now but we are working remotely with clients and have updates on our Instagram. Our approach is to combine an encounter one would have with an old time friend with life coaching elements and playtime. We’re intuitive and work contingently on client’s needs.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am so excited for the future! I am currently making concept drawings and writings for some small comic projects that combine my interests in esotericism, aliens, sustainability, and rock n’ roll. Tea.n.Tarot is currently apprenticing a new reader! New content and events coming soon so definitely look at the instagram.
And most excitingly, I’m participating in Seraphim Dream’s first webshow on May 9th, showcasing some new characters of mine on their website.
- Website: taragruchalski.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @desmadeities, @tea.n.tarot.
Credit for personal photo: “35mm by Ashley Guo for SOVO// Magazine, 2019”; Credit for other photos: Stills from Kosi jah’s “The Love” Directed by Jess Harlen
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