Artist Interviews 2021
By Johnny Otto
I know you from the gallery that you ran, Radiant Space, is not longer a physical gallery since the building has been torn down and will most likely be condos that nobody can afford.
Is Radiant Space still a thing and just not a Brick and Mortar space, or what is it’s evolution? And when did it start?
Yes Radiant space closed its doors January 1st 2020 before the Pandemic began, and in hindsight it’s the best thing that could of happened. It would have sat closed for months had we still had it.
As of now the company is on a hiatus, who knows when it will be back or if it will. In April 2021 it would have been four years since starting to remodel and plan to have the gallery.
Tell me about Performative PopUps. Is that a response to not having a gallery space that is permanent or is it more of a natural evolution that sprung from things you were doing even when you did have a gallery?
That’s a great question, I started as a dancer and have always been a freelancer, and creating a company that is Pop-Up based versus in a permanent space
feels more in line with who I am as a person. I love to travel and having a brick and mortar can limit that. Performative Pop-Ups can happen anywhere and encompasses my
love for all the arts is the same vein as Radiant Space. I like to think about creating experiences that feel multi dimensional activating all the senses and sparking curiosity for the visitor.
In some ways we haven’t fully launched yet and won’t exactly until the Pandemic ends. The few small gatherings we have had have been extremely intimate gatherings, that feel very special,
but in the future they will be larger to have more guests and to have ticket options available for people of all walks of life.
You are also known as a Dancer and Choreographer. Can you tell us a bit about how you began and the dance films that you are involved in? How did the LA Dance Shorts Film Fest start and how did you get involved with that?
My mother was my teacher, and I began dancing as a toddler. She was a performer on Broadway in NYC and toured the country. My whole life I wanted to be a dancer in NYC, and I was. A shoulder injury led me to move back to LA and transition into working in the gallery world. I still choreograph music videos, commercials, and have a full length show called “Toolbox” that would have been touring this year. I would love to choreograph for TV and film in the future.
I’ve always loved film, and growing up in LA I spent a lot of time in front of the camera and off screen. I began making dance films in NYC when I wasn’t sure how long I would live there; I created a film with Jett Cain called “Temporal” to capture the four seasons to have an en everlasting memory of the seasons, as an LA native this was quite the experience. Nicole Manoochehri started Los Angeles Dance Shorts Film Festival four years ago, and two years ago asked me to come on board to help grow the festival. We had met through good old craigslist a few years prior and worked on a dance film she was creating. This year we held the fest digitally after many attempts to find drive in options.
Everybody gets this question is one form or another…How has Covid changed the way you conduct your shows? It’s been a year now. Have you gone crazy?
I’ve lost my mind at least five times for sure. I’m a fighter for in-person experiences and have had a hard time letting them go. I love meeting new people, and with no events I’ve definitely turned to Club House and webinars to stimulate my mind. When Laurie Shapiro and I were able to have a few small events in the Fall, we also made a short film called “Take Me To The Color.” This was one of the best things we could have done to have new artwork exist in the digital space. The film will be screened at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art in March and other films festivals.
I’ve had a return to working more in production, partly because small shoots were still able to happen when events and gatherings weren’t. It’s also been a great time for me to grow and envision what I want Performative Pop-Ups to be and to return to my dance foundation. I had to put a pause on dance and acting when I was all consumed by the gallery. I’m always trying to find a balance between my own personal artistic expression and collaborating with other artists on theirs.
Who are some of the stand out Artists that you have worked with in the last decade or so?
When I graduated from UCSB in Dance, I started working with a choreographer named Rebeca Hernadnez who I ended up dancing with for many years even when I lived in NYC. We did several projects in Mexico. One of my claims to fame was choreographing and doing back up dancing for singer Mayer Hawthorne. If you look up “Green Eyed Love” that’s me. In NYC I danced for many choreographers some fo them include Jon Zullo, Svea Schnider, Unjin Kim and Toni Rene Johnson. I’ve also always danced and acted in commercials for brands such as Pepsi, Levis, Facebook, Hulu, Redbull, and several medical ones.
As far as visual artists go, I met some amazing human beings at Radiant Space and still work with some of them including, Laurie Shapiro, Alexandra Carter and Ibuki Kuramochi. I got to work with Peter Mars there as well as Chad Muska!
What is coming up for you or what do you hope to see happen in the next year or so?
I’m curating an all female group show in March at Laurie’s new space. We are planning performances that will happen hopefully soon. I’m choreographing and working on some commercials that hopefully shoot soon too. Before the Pandemic I was looking for ways to take “Toolbox” to Mexico, and hope to still do that. I’ve applied to countless grants and opportunities, so hopefully those lead to some exciting new avenues.
What advice would you give to Artists who want to work with you or get their work shown in a gallery type of setting?
Make organic real connections. I only want to work with dedicated, hard working, kind people and that’s the same for so many creatives. Find people you can grow with and help each other out. At the end of the day it’s your life, it’s short, it’s long, but who you spend time with becomes your life. Reach out to people you think you can see yourself spending lots of time with. Put it out there, submit to everything and try not to get upset by the rejection. I think actors and dancers face more in your face rejection than visual artists, but don’t take anything personally. I read every email people send me, not everyone does, but if you send me your artwork, I’ll look at it. I may not go back to it for a few months, but I have a “connecting the pieces” type of brain, and if you fit what I’m looking for, maybe it’s a match. Everything lines up when it’s supposed to, and sometimes you have to get to know someone for a few years before you actually start to work together.