Meet Shoreigh and Amir- Two Young Artists You Need To Know. by Antoinette Cauley

About 6 years ago I met a Prophetess at a church in central Phoenix. Now, I am not religious BUT when I heard there would be prophets speaking to people I was really curious on what they would say to me. At the time I was working with youth at the time and was feeling very conflicted inside as to whether to pursue a career in youth development or in fine art.

I had never seen or spoken to this woman in my life. I will never forget walking up to her that night. It was like the Universe had something to tell me and she was its voice. She grabbed my hand and instantly closed her eyes and made a face that looked as if she was overwhelmed with thoughts that hit her all at once. She began to speak:

"I see you with a paintbrush in your hand. I see you making beautiful art. I see you at the First Friday Art Walk displaying and painting in the city. Your hands are like swords that God has been sharpening. He has been preparing you for battle. I also see you working with the youth. I see you bringing your art into places like group homes and inspiring teen girls to chase their dreams. Your gifts were given to you so that you could lead people to God through them."

I was in TEARS. It was no wonder I had been conflicted for years as to whether or not I would work with youth or art. I was supposed to be doing BOTH. So, 6 years later I am proud to say that all of what she prophesied and more has come into fruition into my life. I have been mentoring and teaching art/ music to teens for the past few years. I don't talk much about my programs because I don't feel the need for public validation but I felt it was important to share this story because of some very special teens I work with.

I decided at the end of 2016 (after years of wanting to) to launch the J.A.R.R. Initiative. Through this initiative I bring free high quality arts programs into communities who need it most. So far I have been able to run an extremely successful music program as well as a new fine art program. Currently I have a group of roughly 15 teens who I mentor who mean the world to me. They are the highlight of my week and they constantly remind me what life is about- love and family! All of my teens will be helping me at my last art show of the year this Saturday, Sept. 16th from 6-10P at Dionne's Wall of Flowers. The show is all ages and is only $10 at the door!

Shoreigh Williams (17) will be showcasing a small collection of original art work and selling her merchandise at the show as my guest artist. I have been working with her to get her business together for the past few months and this girl is going to be a force to be reckoned with! She has so much hunger and drive that I couldn't help but take her under my wing. Amir Billings (18) has been a part of my Lyricism 101 class for the past year. He is a lyricist and will be preforming a couple spoken word pieces at my show. His talent is undeniable and his star power is evident every time he preforms.

These are just two of my many amazing teens who I have chosen to spotlight for this go-round. We have showcases planned for both music and visual arts for the teens in the near future. So, be on the lookout and come and support these young artists this Saturday!

Amir & Shoreigh

Amir & Shoreigh

My last art show of the year! "Long Live The Rose That Grew From Concrete" by Antoinette Cauley

I will never forget when my Dad gave me the book "The Rose That Grew From Concrete" as a gift when I was around 13 years old. I was hooked. The book featured poetry from a young Tupac Shakur. It comforted me as I navigated through my seemingly confusing life. It helped me to understand some of the issues I faced and let me know that I wasn't alone.

I have always felt that I was the rose Tupac spoke of that defied the odds and grew from a crack in the concrete. I felt that Pac was talking about me and he didn't even realize it! I often times use roses and flowers in my work to pay tribute to that notion. I even had that rose growing from concrete tattooed on my when I was 17 years old as a reminder of my own strength.

As a youth I looked at Tupac as this incredible activist and poet who made me feel like my voice meant something. His music and activism inspired me to use my voice in my art and to touch on politics and social issues. As a result I have pieces I have done over a 15 years span that all have been influenced by his life and teachings in some way shape or form. It was important to me to do this show to honor his life and memory and to show that his work still inspires artists today. I want his spirit to live on through artists like me and to remind the world that his death was not in vain.

"Long Live The Rose That Grew From Concrete:  Art Exhibition and Event"

  • Saturday, September 16, 2017
  • 6:00pm-10:00pm (All ages)
  • Located at Dionne's Wall of Flowers (3508 N. 7th st.)
  • $10 General Admission at the door
  • $25 (or 2/$40) VIP Online Only. Includes a gift bag, a rose and a drink ticket.****

**Please bring donations for those affected in Houston to recive $2 off of general admission!

Photo/ Contrast Pics, Hair/ Annie Cavanagh of Rebel Salon and Vintage, Makeup/ Stephanie Hernandez

Photo/ Contrast Pics, Hair/ Annie Cavanagh of Rebel Salon and Vintage, Makeup/ Stephanie Hernandez

I will also be featuring the art work of Shoreigh Williams, her 17 year old mentee who is an up and coming visual artist in Phoenix. The night will feature a spoken word performance by 17 year old Amir Billings who is also one of my teen mentees. Both teens are a part of J.A.R.R. Initiative programming which brings free high quality fine art and performance art programs into communities that need it most.

Amir Billings and Shoreigh Williams

Amir Billings and Shoreigh Williams

 

 

 

They Don't Know About Those Sleepless Nights, Those Looking For A Reason Nights: A Story For The Dream Chasers by Antoinette Cauley

I have literally waited for over two years to tell you all this story. I had a vision as to how it would all play out from the very beginning and so I fought the urge to prematurely talk publicly about what happened to me until my vision fully unfolded. I chose to be patient, trust my journey and let the story unfold.

When I want something, I figure out a way to make it happen regardless of what my circumstance may be. So when I first met Nipsey Hussle back in 2015, it was no surprise to my friends and family. I focus on what I want, believe it is going to happen and then I work my ass off until it does. I have just always had hustle in me. To anyone who is chasing their dreams or maybe just want things to change within themselves or their lives, I hope that this story inspires you and opens your eyes to the possibilities within your own life.

It was December 2014 when I finished up my very first painting of Nipsey Hussle. It was one of, if not the most meaningful paintings I have ever done. It was inspired by his song “Overtime” which had gotten me through so many sleepless nights of chasing my dreams. I was working a full time job and trying to manage a full time art career. It was absolutely exhausting both mentally and physically. I would stay up until 430am sometimes and cry my way through exhaustion as I painted while I played that song on repeat. My goals didn’t care if I was tired, no. My goals kept me up at night and kept me pushing.

Antoinette holding her painting "Sleepless Nights" after it had been autographed.

Antoinette holding her painting "Sleepless Nights" after it had been autographed.

 That painting (titled “Sleepless Nights”) was for my solo show “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It” coming up that February 2015 where it would be on display for the first time ever. I decided this piece was going to be a gift for my little brother. But. I really, really wanted Nipsey to see. I HAD to figure out how to get it in front of him. So I took to Instagram to see if I could get his eyes on it. I sent it to everyone I could find who was in his circle. Producers, artists, DJs & anyone I could find who was tied to him received a DM with the photo of my painting and a quick message. Everyone loved it, some even posted it but I never heard from Nipsey.

April 2015 rolled around and Nipsey was scheduled to come into town for a concert for the first time in a couple years. I knew this was my chance. I remember laying in my bed on a Saturday the week before the concert and thinking “How tf can I get this painting in front of Nip?” and then it hit me. I came up with a brilliant plan that (little did I know) would change the course of my life forever.

I decided that I was going to draw a picture of Nipsey’s DJ. At the time I had a little crush on him and he was super active on IG, so I knew I could get him to see it if I posted it. I planned to post the drawing on a Monday as my MCM. I figured if he saw it he would repost it and tag me. I thought if he did that then I would let him know I could either ship the drawing to him or I could give it to him in person when they were in town Friday that same week for their concert. I did exactly that and it happened EXACLTY how I envisioned it. It was crazy!

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“I’ll grab it from you on Friday in Phoenix. Here’s my number. Hit me!” His DJ responded after I let him know his options. I was stoked. I remember Friday rolled around and I got a text from his DJ that they had just gotten into town. Reality set in that I was finally going to make it happen. I told him that I would let him know when I got to the venue so we could meet with him to give him the artwork.

My friends and I rolled up to the concert that night all wearing shirts that had one of my original Nipsey paintings on them. We grabbed all of my artwork and got ready to head inside. I went into the meet and greet to give work to his DJ and was able to finally walk straight up to Nipsey and get my painting in front of him. “This is dope af! You’re the one that did this? I saw this on IG!” Nip said to me. “Did you really!?” I responded, “I have been trying so hard to get you to see it!” I exclaimed. He replied’ “You did the one on your shirt too huh? I saw that one too!”

I was beyond excited to hear all of this. We talked for a minute and then I went over to chat with his DJ and give him his piece. He was so excited and grateful for it. He told me that he had never had anyone do a piece of just him and he was going to hang it right above his bed. “Let me walk you guys out” his DJ said to me. As we headed toward the door, Nipsey stopped me and told me to come back. He shook my hand and said “Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep going.”

“I will!” I said.

“ I’m forreal!” He responded.

(Right click the images below for more!)

When I left that concert I felt so accomplished. I made a plan and executed it all within a week. It really had my mind thinking… if I could accomplish all of that within 6 days then what could I accomplish with that same passion within a year? What could I accomplish within five years or even ten? I instantly felt this overwhelming sense of desperation. I kept hearing Nipsey say “Keep going!” and I knew I had a decision to make.

That desperation I felt was the equivalent of being trapped under water and my face being only inches from the surface but not being able to break through to the surface to get to the air. That air was my liberation in the form of artistic entrepreneurship. I had met Nipsey on a Friday, thought all weekend about what had happened, how it happened and what more I wanted to accomplish and then… cried on my drive to work Monday. I pulled into the parking lot in tears and told myself that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I literally sat in the parking lot and called my job to tell them I was going to be out sick. I pulled out, drove home and started to make a plan on how I was going to quit my job and chase my dream. It took me 10 months to execute that plan and quit my job and another 8 months to get through a transition plan I set for myself. I have been a full time independent artist ever since which has been over a year now.

Along your journey you will find that there will be a handful of very pivotal moments that shape and mold your path. This was one of the most important moments along my journey to full time artistry because it was the final push I needed to commit to give my dreams all I had. I told myself that one day I was going to meet Nipsey again and that I was going to thank him for that day and tell him what he helped me do. There was never an inch of doubt in my mind that our paths would cross again, I just had to wait and trust in the Universe to make it happen.

So, fast forward to now! August 2017, almost two and a half years later. The amazing Jazmine Nash had recently asked me to display artwork at her event, The Cluture Show Phoenix where she had booked Nipsey Hussle to preform. I jumped at the chance! I briefly told Jazmine my story and asked her if she would be able to let me give Nip a painting and tell him thank you. She wasn’t sure if she could but let me know she was going to try! Even if she couldn’t, I was just grateful that she was even willing to look into it.

I had a painting ready to give him. I will never forget sitting at my booth at the Phoenix Convention Center with all of my art that morning while Nipsey was 100 feet away on stage for sound check. He was wrapping up and I knew it was time! I sent a text to Jazmine and said “I have my painting to give to Nipsey if you can make it happen. If not I am just grateful to be here!” Not more than two minutes later I hear Jazmine yell across the room to me, “Do you have it ready!?”, “Yes I do!” I yelled back. She went to walk Nipsey and his entourage off stage and brought them straight over to my section.

“I’m Antoinette” I said as I shook his hand. As soon as I started talking I immediately noticed how present and focused he was on what I was saying to him. I told him about how I had met him a couple years ago and reminded him of what he said to me. I told him how I left that day a changed person and how I credit him for sparking something in me. I said to him “That was such a pivotal moment for me and my journey and I appreciate you so much.” I told him. He genuinely seemed so touched by my story. I told him how after that day I knew I had to quit and go for it and that I have been doing this full time for over a year. He instantly smiled and laughed a proud laugh and exclaimed “You’ve just been doing it huh!” I said “Yup and this is all of my work!”, as I pointed towards my set up. He then had a chance to look at all of my art. He told me that my giant Outkast painting was amazing and that it caught his eye from across the room. He said he had seen a few more of my pieces like my Kobe and Dom painting online and that it was all amazing!

 I then was able to finally give him the painting I did of him. “This is my thank you to you and my way to say I appreciate you!” I said. “This is so fucking dope! I’m hanging this up in my house as soon as I get home!” He said. His whole crew loved it. I asked to take a picture and he said of course! Afterwards he gave me a big hug and told me to keep going and then thanked me. It was a surreal moment that had been over two years in the making. Not once did I doubt that moment would happen and once it did my heart was overflowing with gratitude. I didn’t want anything from him, not a post or a tag. I didn’t care if he bought art from me or not or took a business card or not. All I wanted was to express my gratitude and  let him know what that day and his words meant to me. And I did.

(Right click the images below for more!)

After the event I was outside waiting to load up my paintings when Nipsey and his crew were leaving the building to head out. “Bye Nipsey!” I said. He walked over to me with his hand raised for a high five and said “Keep doing what you’re doing!” “Always!” I responded. It was in that moment I was able to close the chapter on one of my biggest personal accomplishments to date.

I felt so unbelievably thankful and fulfilled that day. The power of projection is real. The power of knowing it will happen even if you don’t know how is real. It will happen if you trust in your ability to figure it out over time and you hustle. By all means, statistically I should not be in the position I am. I am a young woman of color who was raised in a single parent household in the hood. Statistically I shouldn’t be where I am today. But I made choices that shaped my life into what I wanted it to be. It took sacrifice, dedication, loneliness, investments and patience to accomplish what I have. But the only difference between me and the average person is that I made the choice to go for it with all I have.

Within the past year I have been able to accomplish more than I could’ve imagined as a full time artist. I have been able to build relationships with some of the leading art organizations in the state including the Phoenix Art Museum and The Phoenix Center for the Arts. I have been able to help raise over $5000 for the Boys & Girls Club alongside the legendary Evander Holyfield. I had the complete honor to launch the J.A.R.R. Initiative (In honor of my late Aunt Julie Ann) which brings free high quality fine art & performance art programs for teens into communities that need it most and work with dozens of teens who fill my heart with so much joy. I had the honor of creating album art for Olympic medalist and artist Will Claye and have begun to build a following of celebrity clients. I was recently awarded AZ Foothills Magazines Best Local Artist of 2017. I have accomplished more than I have room to type in the blog and watched my community support through it all! My gratitude honestly cannot be measured in words. 

I say all of this not to boast or brag, but to show you what “taking that leap” opened up room for in my own life. These accomplishments could not have entered my life if I didn’t create the space for them to inhabit by removing things that weren’t meant for me. I want you reading this to know that if I can do it so can you. I literally had a dream and not a thought in my mind on how exactly I was going to make it happen. BUT. I still went for it and I am still climbing. There is no better time than now to take a chance and make that choice. Just make sure to believe in your ability to figure it out, work hard, project positive thoughts and emotions and most importantly (in the words of Nipsey Hussle), keep going!

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I Come Alive When I'm Close To The Madness: Living As An Artist With Depression And Anxiety. by Antoinette Cauley

I absolutely love to laugh and smile. I love to make people laugh, feel good and remind them how important they are and that they matter. Being a source of positivity comes so naturally to me because I am always myself and always prepared to give those around me all I have even when I feel exhausted. Despite doing my best to be a ray of light to the world as I know it, there is a darker side of me very few get to see in person.

Sometimes the waves of emotion feel too high and too frequent to function properly. It’s like they come crashing down all at once and it feels like you physically can’t go on. Medicine doesn’t help. I tried that but stopped taking it 3 years ago and decided to learn to work through it on my own. The pills just numb you and make you unsure if you even exist at all. That’s no way to live and I was determined to beat it naturally. I know my triggers and that keeps me a little ahead of the game. I also started seeing a counselor about a year ago. She helps me more that anything really. The depression and anxiety seem to just have a mind of their own. They bang and my front door until I open and they refuse to leave until they’ve done some real damage.

The emotional pain always starts in my heart and manifests into physical pain that moves from my chest down my arms and into my fingertips. When I feel it, it’s hard to hold my paintbrush. It makes if physically difficult to do the thing I love most. It’s quite poetic sounding to most. To be honest, I’ve noticed that the picture the world paints of the stereotypical depressed and lonely artist hidden away in their art studio making masterpieces seems to be revered as almost a thing of beauty; “The tortured soul who bares the pain in their heart for the world to see through their art.” People eat that shit up. But the reality is that it’s not beautiful when you are the one living it. It’s not poetic when you are the one forcing yourself to get out of bed, put on a smile and step out into the world to try and make somewhat of a difference.  

When I was fifteen years old, I knew what my purpose in life was. I knew that my destiny was to inspire and motivate those around me and I knew that I was supposed to do it through my art. I was always super advanced artistically for my age. I knew that wasn’t a coincidence and that my purpose was so much bigger than myself. I never thought that as an adult I would inspire as many people as I have. I have fans that stretch from the grey and rainy countryside’s of London to the gritty and fast moving streets of L.A. They all keep up with my comings and goings, they watch for new work and they listen to what I have to say with the utmost attention. I don’t take that lightly. It is an honor to have been put in such an inspiring and motivational position and I do my best to fulfill that roll each and every day.

Between you and I, the only thing that keeps me going at times is knowing how much of a positive influence I have on those watching my journey. The only thing that keeps me pushing is knowing that people are watching me and finding the strength they need through all that I am doing. It doesn’t make dealing with the depression and constant anxiety any easier, it just gives it purpose. It lets me know that my struggles are not in vain. It makes figuring out how to work through it worth it.

So, in my mind, I have no choice but to press forward, put on a smile and give love. After all, that’s what I was made to do- to give love through my art, through my words and through the work that I do with youth in my community. I will always do that because, my purpose is so much bigger than myself or any emotions I may feel. Despite feeling like I can’t push through it at times, I remind myself that I will. I always have and I always will. I have learned throughout the past year how to work through the downs, take time to rest, channel the emotions and create masterpieces full of colorful, vibrant and mesmerizing… pain.  

I am grateful for the highs that allow me to laugh, smile and see life clearly and it its most free and beautiful form.   I am also grateful for the lows that, while difficult to cope with, allow me to enter into the space I need to be to create the works of art that will ultimately be my legacy. I haven’t quite learned how to get rid of the lows all together so for now I am choosing to use them the best I can. The madness in my mind seems to breed life through my brush and so I allow it to deliver. I feel that’s what the world expects of artists anyways… To roam the earth as the tortured soul who bares their broken heart for the world to see through their art.

 

 

That Time I Almost Got A Deal With Motown: The Story I've Never Told. by Antoinette Cauley

So, I am pretty transparent about all things pertaining to my art. But, I typically don’t share the struggles or setbacks I experience as a working artist hustling each day to bring their goals into fruition. I, just like everyone else, experience disappointments and take losses here and there. So, all of that said, I am going to share a story with you that I have never told before.

It all started when I ran into my friend and independent artist Touré Masters at the First Friday Art walk in January 2016. I had recently designed and painted the artwork for his “King of the Chill” album which he had used to create some merchandise. He handed me some stickers that he created with my design and I remember thinking they were just so dope. SO dope in fact that I was like, “I need to repost this on my social media like right now!” So, I did. I had no idea the adventure that this picture would lead me to.

A day or so after I posted the photo on Instagram, I got a message on from a group of my favorite producers whom I had been following for a couple of years. They mentioned to me how much they loved my art and wanted to chat with me about doing some work together. These producers have done work with some of my absolute favorite artists so I was beyond excited!

The next day I chatted with one of the producers via phone to go over a few specifics. I will never forget that conversation. It was inspiring and so encouraging. I remember him asking how I was doing and I said “I am great! I am on my way to a meeting that right now, how are you doing?” He replied that he was doing well and that he was actually on his way to a meeting also…. with Nipsey Hussle. Anyone who knows me knows how much I LOVE Nipsey Hussle! I seriously had to fight not to have a fangirl moment.

He then told me how much they love my work and that they really wanted to do several projects with me. He asked me about my work and my process when it comes to making album art because working with a painter was new to them. I told him a little about myself, how I work and my goals as an artist. At the time I was still working a full time job and feeling miserable. I told him how I was going to quit my job in a little over a month and take that leap. He then told me his story, about how he woke up one day and decided to leave his home city and move to L.A. where he knew no one. He told me how he ran into a new, up and coming Nipsey Hussle on the same day Nipsey had left a record label and become independent. He talked about how they partnered and built an empire with each other over the course of 8 years. How he is now signed to Motown records because… He didn’t give up on his dreams, he took that leap. “You have to take that leap.” He told me. “There’s no other way”.

The conversation continued and he told me about their group, what they do and that they were interested in having me create album art for two of their artists as well as their group. He proceeded to tell me that they had a budget set aside through Motown and all they needed to do was have me come to the studio out in L.A. to meet them as well as their artists and then we could get to work. “Be prepared,” he began to tell me. “You never know who will be in our studio on any given day.” I remember him saying “let me know when You’ll be in L.A. again and we’ll make it happen. We’re looking forward to working with you!”

When I got off of the phone with him, I immediately called my mom and I cried. I cried so hard. Tears of pure joy! I reflected on the previous year and how I would wake up everyday and go out and live a life I knew I wasn’t meant to, I would drive to a job that drained and stifled my true creative capabilities. It was EXHAUSTING. I was ready to be done and this opportunity seemed to be my way out.

I was absolutely elated. I mean this was it! This was that one thing that was going to push me from local Phoenician artist into the big leagues! This was my BIG break! This was what I had been searching for… that thing that would catapult me to the next level in my art career.

January 30th, 2016 was the day we scheduled to meet. January 2016 (coincidentally enough) was also the month that I had told myself I needed to quit my full time job no matter what and take that leap. So this was like the Universe sending me exactly what I was asking for. It seemed as if it was all starting to fall into place and I was so ready for it.

It was January 29th , the day before I was driving out to LA for a day trip to meet with the producers at Motown. I had been texting on of the producers (who was my main contact) and trying to get an address to the studio from him all week. I was having a hard time getting a hold of him. It was frustrating. Something felt off… So, I decided to book a tour with an art gallery out in LA for the same day I was scheduled to meet with the producers. I figured that if the meeting for whatever reason didn’t happen, at least I wouldn’t have wasted a full day away from my art studio by driving 6 hours to another state.

 That same day, January 29th, I kept texting back and forth trying to get an address. He was trying to figure it out. “I’m sorry. We have three albums in two months to finish up so it’s been hectic but I will figure it out.” He told me. I asked him if we should reschedule because they were busy and I was coming from another state. He said no, that he was going to make it happen!

I was feeling so uneasy and uncertain about the trip. But I wanted it sooooo bad. My friend Stephanie was going to be riding with me to L.A. for the day so I asked her how she felt about it. Was it worth the risk of driving to L.A. for a day? This was a busy time for me as I was preparing for my biggest art show of the year so any time away from my work was potentially detrimental to making sure I met my show deadlines. We went back and forth over the pros and cons and though we both felt extremely uncertain we decided to do it. No matter the outcome we felt that the reward was worth the risk.

We woke up at 4 a.m. on the 30th and headed to LA and to what I hoped was my big break. We get there  and I literally play phone tag all day with the producers. We would get ahold of each other and schedule a time to meet and then it would change. Finally around 3PM I told them that I had scheduled a 5PM meeting with an art gallery in L.A. to possibly show there and that we could meet after that at 630. They said that was perfect and to call when I was done.

Stephanie and I arrived at the gallery a little before 5P (after 7 hours of trying to kill time in LA) and walked inside. We were greeted by a worker there who told us we could wait in the lobby. We waited. 20 minutes passed. I tried calling the owners of the gallery with little luck. Finally at 6P Stephanie and I decided to leave. It was at that time I received a call from the owner who said he didn’t realize that the 30th was the day we were supposed to meet and he wasn’t going to make it but that he could still email me rates to rent the gallery… It was like a slap in the face! Despite knowing we were coming from out of state to view the gallery, they didn’t show. I was so disappointed.

Once we left the gallery I gave the producers another ring around 615… No answer. I then got a text that they couldn’t do 630 and that they would have to get back to me with a time. Keep in mind, Stephanie and I needed to leave in a few hours to head back to Phoenix because we didn’t have extra money for a hotel room and my family was out of town. So we had only planned a day trip.

It’s now around 8:30 p.m. and I still haven’t heard ANYTHING. At this point and we are both really tired. I felt like it was over. I was feeling so hopeless so naturally we did the one thing that makes me kind of feel better… we went and got ice cream! LOL! We stopped by this super hipster looking ice-cream shop somewhere in Hollywood. We sat and ate and talked about what we had gotten ourselves into. Both tired, we got in the truck to leave. I sent the producer a final text telling him that I was heading back to Phoenix and that we would just need to reschedule. He immediately called me and told me that he has been stuck in the studio all day and hasn’t been able to leave because they’re with a client. He asked me to wait while he checked if he could leave to come meet me. We got off of the phone and about 20 minutes later he sent a text to let me know that he wouldn’t be able to leave and meet me because they were in a paid session with a client. I let him know we could reschedule during a time they were less busy. I’ll never forget the last thing he said to me was “You need to just join our team!” I told him that was what I wanted. From the bottom of my heart that was what I truly wanted. That was what I expected to call my mom and tell her when I left LA. I was going to be an artist working with producers and musicians from Motown.

But that day would never come. I left feeling so defeated. I drove 6 hours to L.A. not knowing what was going to happen and I left feeling like “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” Two important and potentially life changing meetings, both didn’t happen.

On the drive home from L.A. I was so exhausted that I was seeing things. We had been up for almost 24hrs and I had very little to show for it. I remember getting home and walking into my apartment and just crying. I was devastated. I am willing to sacrifice so much for my dreams. I hustle SO hard. I go out and take what I want through hard work and dedication. I make things happen… but this was out of my control and that was tough for me to swallow. I didn’t want to speak to anyone for days. I avoided any questions about my trip to L.A. because I didn’t want to explain that the meeting never happened. I was embarrassed and a little depressed about the situation. Eventually I lost touch with the producers and we never ended up working together.

I felt like I had been defeated. It took me awhile to realize that in reality I hadn’t lost anything that day. I thought I came out on the losing end but I really didn’t. The big picture was this- some of my favorite producers who work with my favorite artists liked my art so much that they reached out to me to work together. How many painters can say that? That alone is a huge accomplishment. That is a testament to my reach and quite frankly validation to my hustle. I didn’t use that disappointment as an excuse to give up. I used it as fuel to do and be even better. I bounced back and did some major things last year including ending the year by winning Best Local Artist from AZ Foothills Magazine.

Antoinette being interviewed on Power 98.3 in February 2016 for her annual art exhibition. Photo by Malakai of Malakai Creative.

Antoinette being interviewed on Power 98.3 in February 2016 for her annual art exhibition. Photo by Malakai of Malakai Creative.

The moral of my story is this: Obstacles will come throughout the road to your dreams but you have to learn to climb over them and keep pressing forward. The life of the dream chaser is not an easy one. It gets lonely and confusing at times. You’ll spend days unsure of yourself and your goals. You’ll get tired and break down. At times you may even want to throw in the towel. But the thing is, your dreams depend on you never quitting. Your dreams die the day you give up. I once heard Russell Simmons say, “You can never lose if you never quit.” That statement has always stuck with me. Life is waiting for you to grab it and make it into exactly what you want. So, next time you face a setback or obstacle, remember to climb that wall of disappointment so you can get to the blessings on the other side!

 

I Can Never Make Him Love Me: What Really Happens When An Artist Falls In Love? by Antoinette Cauley

I remember texting him around one in the morning. “You feel like going on a random adventure?” I said. “Let’s go!” He replied without knowing what I had in mind. It didn’t matter to him. He was up for the spontaneous trip. We drove together towards South Mountain in the dark of the night and he explained how the road to the mountain reminded him so much of home, back in Cali. He said one day he would show me and he kept that promise.

We got to the South Mountain Park entrance around 2am only to find the gates closed and no real way to sneak in. So, we ended up at Kiwanis park instead. I remember we sat by the water and talked about everything. We laughed, joked, talked about our dreams, told childhood stories and just vibed until around 5:30 in the morning. He made me feel something so beautiful inside. It was something unique that no one had made me feel before. That night was perfect and after it we spent countless hours together, always as friends, always bonding, always holding our real feelings inside.

One week I accompanied him on a trip back home, Pasadena to be specific, where I got to meet his mother, his father, his family and all of his close friends. They were amazing. He was amazing. At the time there wasn’t anything I wanted more than his heart and to be able to give him mine but I had been holding my feelings in. After 3 days in California, our true feelings finally came out and man was it a huge sigh of relief.

I’ll never forget the night when he first told me how he really felt about me and when I was able to finally tell him that I felt the same way. I will never forget the first time he kissed me. I will never forget the way he made me feel. I will never forget when the thought of committing to a relationship with me started to scare him. I will never forget him telling me that I could find a man much better than him and that I deserved so much more. I will never forget when he told me we needed a break from one another. I will never forget the next twelve months that I didn’t see him and how angry and confused I felt. I will never forget seeing him again after those twelve months and how the feelings were even more intense than before. I’ll never forget when 3 days later he told me that he was seeing someone and that he was scared to tell me because… when he saw me he suddenly didn’t know where his heart was anymore, that he didn’t expect his feelings to be so strong. I will never forget the pain that caused and having to fight back the tears at my desk at work. I will never forget telling him that was the last time I would allow him to let me go and that I was done.

That experience changed me. It felt as though he had taken a hammer to my glass heart, shattered it to pieces and then handed me a broom before turning his back and walking away. No matter how well you sweep up the pieces of your heart, there will always be some that slip through the cracks and are lost forever. It will never be whole again.

We were young, around 22 when we met and the reality is neither of us were ready (even though I felt we were) and had we committed to one another, I would not have had the space I needed in the coming years to learn and grow. I honestly would not be the woman or the artist that I am today. I needed to learn a lot about life and myself and that required me being alone.

There is a saying that if an artist falls in love with you then you will live forever through their work. It’s so romantic when you really think about it; the fact that your love will inspire this artist to create a beauty like no other. But how true is that statement? I can only speak from my own perspective and my reality is when I am in “love” I don’t really have as strong of a desire to paint. Love to me, feels so much better than the feelings I experience when I paint. It’s this crazy high like nothing else in this world that you can’t help but chase.

It’s not falling in love that gives another soul immortality through my own work, it’s the opposite. Heartbreak is the catapult to the creation of some of my most dynamic and soul capturing artwork. It’s the pain of a love lost that gives me the inspiration to create.

Photograph by Antoinette Cauley

Photograph by Antoinette Cauley

Within the past couple of years, I have learned how to channel the hurt deeper into my art than ever before. I forced myself to learn how to truly feel it, paint through the disappointment and the sorrows and then release it through the completion of a piece. ­This has become such a necessary part of my journey as a full-time artist especially recently with having experienced some horribly painful heartbreak while I was preparing for my 4th annual solo art exhibition mid-2016. I couldn’t allow myself to stop painting and so I had to channel that pain into my collection of work and be more vulnerable than ever before. Though heartbreak gives me so much inspiration, I hope that one day when the right man enters my life and feeds my entire being with his love, that I will find a new type of inspiration that I never knew existed.

So, what happens when an artist falls in love? I can’t speak for every artist but I can say that falling in love is often a ride that will forever change and shift the creation process for better or for worse. That decision literally lies in the hands of the artist.

3 Tips on Throwing An Art Show As A Newly Independent Artist by Antoinette Cauley

With the announcement of my 4th annual solo art exhibition, “On 3, Let’s Jump Off The Roof”, taking place at Rebel Salon & Vintage on February 10th-11th, I received quite a few questions from supporters on how to throw their own solo art shows. I thought it would be a great idea to give 3 very important tips on throwing your first show in hopes that it will help an aspiring artist somewhere! I think it’s important to understand that while it seems like a simple process, it takes a lot of work, dedication and communication. Some shows may not be as successful as others in the beginning and that’s okay. You learn from those shows and you apply that knowledge into future shows.

To date I have done 3 of my annual solo exhibitions and 3 summer pop up art shows. It has been such a great learning experience. Prior to these shows I had no knowledge of how to plan events let alone an art exhibit so it really has been a learn as I go type deal. I always like to give artists as much advice as possible to help them avoid a lot of the struggles I faced along the way. So, here are three things you need to make a priority if you are wanting to throw your own art show or art event:

1.       Build a team: Anyone who wants to achieve big dreams will eventually need to have help from trusted people in order to help them achieve that next level of success. Whether you have one, two or even ten people to help you, make sure that you find proper support. It can be a spouse, friend, family member or even someone you hire. Just make sure that you can trust them and that you are on the same page.

When I did my very first solo art show, I was fortunate to have been able to plan with my friends Annie and Miles (the owners of Rebel Salon & Vintage) to put together a successful art show. They had just opened their business and I was still contemplating ever pursuing a career in art. None of us are event planners and none of us had ever thrown an event like this. But we all shared the same end goal and that’s what kept us focused and on track.  It has been a lot of trial and error but we have been able to grow and learn together.

A few amazing people who make my even possible including my photographer (@contrast_pics) my hair stylist and co owner of Rebel Salon and Vintage, Annie (@anniec3po) and Alex- another stylist at Rebel (@superhairo87). All we were missing in our photo was Miles! (@lakme72)

A few amazing people who make my even possible including my photographer (@contrast_pics) my hair stylist and co owner of Rebel Salon and Vintage, Annie (@anniec3po) and Alex- another stylist at Rebel (@superhairo87). All we were missing in our photo was Miles! (@lakme72)

 

2.       Find the right venue: A lot of times when artists think of hosting an art show they automatically think art gallery. Galleries are amazing and it is important for an artist to aim to show work in them whether alone or in a group exhibition. That being said, it is totally doable to have a show in an unconventional venue as well. Some examples of places would be clothing boutiques, salons, restaurants and even a home or large back yard. A lot of times, different businesses are looking to bring more traffic into their establishment or to let the community know that they are there. Art shows are a great way to achieve that goal.

The venue I host my solo art show in each year, Rebel Salon and Vintage, is half hair salon and half vintage boutique. The awesome thing about using Rebel each year is that they are a locally owned business from my home town. So not only am I able to use this awesome venue in the city that raised me, I am able to bring new people into their shop and expose them to potentially new customers.

My 3rd Annual Solo Art Exhibition "Barz To Brushstrokes" at Rebel Salon and Vintage in 2016.

My 3rd Annual Solo Art Exhibition "Barz To Brushstrokes" at Rebel Salon and Vintage in 2016.

 

3.       Plan! Plan! Plan!: This one may seem pretty self explanatory but in all actuality there is SO much that goes into an event like this. I typically spend a minimum of 6 months preparing for my annual solo show. Annie, Miles and I usually begin planning around August and throw the actual show in late January or early February. Some of the things you will need to consider when planning are, if the show have a theme, what type of marketing you will use, what type of promotion you plan to execute, whether or not there will be refreshments or music and how you would like the work to be displayed. This is when your team comes in super clutch. You are bound to forget things or get stuck on ideas that may not be the best route to go. It’s important to have people to brainstorm with and to give you constructive criticism when you have ideas. Give yourself as much time as possible to plan and adjust things accordingly.

(Click the images above to see photos from my last solo art exhibition "Barz to Brushstrokes")

I hope that you found these steps helpful! I will be starting artists workshops in the Phoenix area in the very near future that will break down things like marketing, promotions, merchandising & the overall business of art for new artists or for people on the fence about taking that leap into a full time art career. To be the first to know about my workshops please make sure to sign up for my mailing list!

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On 3, Lets Jump Off The Roof- An open letter from Artist Antoinette Cauley About Her 4th Annual Art Exhibition And Her Battle With Mental Health by Antoinette Cauley

 

I hope this message finds you in good health and a space full of love and hope.

I share a lot of my successes with my supporters via social media in hopes to inspire, encourage and motivate people to work hard and chase their dreams. But, the truth is that I face a ton of obstacles and a ton of struggles that I am not vocal about outside of a very tight network of friends and family. I have laid out one of the biggest struggles I have ever faced in my new body of work.  In order to begin my journey towards healing, I have decided to create a collection of paintings, drawing and photographs of work centered around my struggles with mental health.

I have never publicly spoken about my struggles with mental health because like many others, I’ve always felt that the stigmas often associated with these issues would make others view me in a negative light. The reality is, these issues are all too common and it is time that we create a safe space for people to begin a dialogue about it.

 When I was very young, I lost my aunt to breast cancer and watched my mother begin the fight against breast cancer only a few months after my aunt’s death. It was more traumatic that I realized. My mind immediately went into survival mode. Anxiety kicked in and over the next year or so it turned into OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). The compulsions lead to spouts of depression that come and go in waves and can be triggered by a number of things. Though I have struggled with these disorders since I was a child, I was clinically diagnosed at the age of 19.

The compulsions that came with the OCD have by far been one of the hardest things I’ve dealt with personally. While I don’t wish to speak in detail about it, I can say that it’s kept me from doing a lot of things including building friendships, attending events outside of my work and has made me hesitant to pursue any type of romantic relationships. It has caused a lot of emotional and physical pain that sometimes leaves me feeling isolated and depressed. I often turn to my art as an outlet. It has always been my way of screaming out to the world for help without having to say one single word. I have masked my pain in vibrant colors & dynamic patterns for years without anyone knowing.

Artist Antoinette Cauley pictured with her painting titled "Love Can Make A Bitch Go Crazy". Photo by Dontae Tubbs/ Hair by Annie Cavnaugh/ Makeup by Stephanie Hernandez

Artist Antoinette Cauley pictured with her painting titled "Love Can Make A Bitch Go Crazy". Photo by Dontae Tubbs/ Hair by Annie Cavnaugh/ Makeup by Stephanie Hernandez

My 4th annual solo exhibition is titled, “On 3, Let’s Jump Off The Roof” and was named after the Vince Staples song “Jump Off the Roof” which also inspired the entire collection in early 2016. This show, taking place on February 11th, is not only reflective of my struggles with mental health but also features stories of several minorities who face mental health issues ranging from PTSD to Bi-Polar Disorder. The show is free, all ages and open to the public. Tickets will be available for a limited space VIP Preview of the show on the 10th where I will be hosting a cocktail hour and walking you through the collection in a very intimate atmosphere.

Naturally my love of hip hop also plays a huge roll in this collection as well. Along with models who I handpicked to share their story, I will also be showcasing paintings of several musicians who have dealt with mental health issues such as Amy Winehouse, Kid Cudi and Kanye West, to name a few.

These issues have affected every aspect of my life and I know that one day soon I will find true healing and inner peace. Below is a short film I directed and starred in to illustrate the inner turmoil these mental health issues have caused in my own life. I hope you take something away from the work I have created even if it’s as simple as knowing that you aren’t alone.

-Antoinette

Film Credits:

Shot and Filmed By: MCP

Directed By: Antoinette Cauley

Edited By: Irin Daniels

Actors: Dietrich Rashad, Stephanie Hernandez, Joy Kendrick, Antoinette Cauley

Styling: Tyler Jackson

Hair: Annie Cavanagh

Makeup: Stephanie Hernandez