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

 

24 Hours That Changed My Life Forever: The Phoenix Art Museum & Meeting Kehinde Wiley by Antoinette Cauley

It seems like just a yesterday I was a middle school kid laying on my bed drawing photos of all of my favorite athletes and musicians. I loved art more than I even knew how to comprehend. In a world full of uncertainty, loss and confusion it was my only constant. Life was tough as a teenager and the power to create was the only thing that gave me real purpose. It was true love in the form of liberation. But, it was just something I did. It was never something I thought could be a career, that is, up until the end of 2013. That's when the seed was planted my journey as a working artist began. I am now a full time working artist and the journey has been quite the roller coaster.

I saw a friend of mine a few weeks ago who goes by the name of PK Tha Poet. He told me something that really had me in awe of how far I have come. He said, “Antoinette do you remember the first conversation we had? You told me that you wanted your paintings to hang in the Art Museum. That was two years ago. So when I look at your posts I just think ‘Damn she’s so close.’” It wasn't until that moment that I realized where I actually am and how far I have come. Working with the Phoenix Art Museum for the opening night of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic was in my opinion the first step towards the direction I want to go as an artist.

In order to really understand the importance of this experience I need to take you back. I was depressed. I couldn’t paint. It was hard to move or to even get out of bed. It was July 2016 and I had just gotten back from Denver’s Black Arts Festival. I had a goal in Denver and I didn’t meet that goal. I felt like a failure. That sense of failure led to severe depression. One day I was sitting in my car on the phone with one of my best friends and I was telling him how I had been feeling. I was telling him how hard it was to get out of my funk. As we were talking my FB notifications popped up and told me that Kehinde Wiley commented on my painting I had done. It was a recreation of one of his pieces. I broke down. It was like the Universe was saying, “Don’t give up Antoinette. I have and will always have your back. Remember that.” What were the odds that my all-time favorite artist, my absolute HERO would leave a positive comment on my photo when I was feeling so hopeless? SO, you can imagine how shocked I was to receive an email from the Phoenix Art Museum a few weeks later stating that they wanted to know if I would be interested in facilitating life drawing at a special event featuring a collection of work from Kehinde Wiley. I was a little in shock and overwhelmed with joy!

And so, the process began! I was asked to during First Friday which was the opening night of the Wiley exhibition that he himself would be in attendance for. The behind the scenes process was so amazing to witness and be apart of. There were meetings, tours of the museums library and education centers, studios and galleries I had yet to explore. I even had the opportunity to wander the museum on a day it was closed and there wasn’t a soul in sight. Talk about incredible! One of the most memorable parts about the experience leading up to the big night was filming a short video. It was like a dream seeing myself talk about who I am as an artist as well as my favorite artist and to see it posted all over the museums social media. Talk about humbling!

After over a month of anticipation, preparation and excitement, we were down to the final 24 hours before the event began. It was Thursday and I had just arrived for Kehindes lecture at Phoenix Community College. The room was filled with people anxious to hear what this living legend had to say. I sat in the third row. I’ll never forget the moment he walked on stage and seemed a tiny bit nervous. It hit me. My hero is just as human as I am. I can do all of the amazing things I dream of and he is a living example of that. I listened to every word and soaked in every moment. He started with showing and explaining his early paintings and his struggle with his identiy as a Black man in America. He took us around the world and shared his creative experiences and processes. He was so inspirational. I left the lecture feeling so unbelievably hopeful.

The next day I arrived to the Museum an hour and half early. I waited patiently in the orientation room. He would be there soon for his show and I wanted to meet him before the celebration started and before I would be tied up facilitating life drawing all night. I remember Airi (A Museum staff) walking into the room and chatting with me for a bit. I began explaining to her how much this experience has meant to me and how life changing it has been. Her eyes welled up with tears as I spoke and then I began to tear up. It meant more than I knew how to convey. If you knew all of the breakdowns, struggles, stress over how to pay bills, confusion, doubt and fear that have existed in my world over the past year then you would know how much this meant to me. To go from feeling like a failure to being emailed by the Phoenix Art Museum...It was a break through. They saw the worth in my as an artist and so there was absolutely NO reason I shouldn't see that same worth.

After waiting in the orientation room for awhile, Christain (Another Museum staff) came to find me to let me know that Kehinde had arrived and now was the time for me to go and meet him. He walked me into the gallery and walked me right up to Kehinde. I waited paitently as people swarmed him hoping to get a word in and possibly a photo. Finally, it was my turn. He reached out his had to greet me and immediately said, “Wow! I absolutely love this (pointing to my skirt)! This is great!” I had on a hand painted skirt so you can only guess how geeked I was to hear that! Lol!

I then proceeded to tell him that he was my hero and that he inspired me so much. I told him that I had quit my job in Feburary to be a full time artist that I had been hustling my ass off. He got very serious and held my hand with both of his as he gave me words of wisdom and encouragement. He reminded me to give it my all. That moment is one I will never forget. Not only did the Phoenix Art Museum give me the opportunity to work at an amazing record breaking event, they went out of their way to ensure that I had the opportunity to meet my hero, to hear his lecture and gain more exposure as an artist.

Walking through his exhibition that night allowed me (for the first time ever) to visualize my end goal. It allowed me to see what I am working towards. I needed that. I needed to see someone who looks like me, a Black man from L.A., doing what he had done. I needed to feel that hope. I needed to soak in that experience. I think the Universe needed me to know that this is where I am headed and that through my persistence, dedication and positive projection I WILL get there. It absolutely changed my life because my end goal suddenly became tangible. It became real and it was hanging right in my face on the walls of the museum.

Words cannot begin to explain how grateful I am and will forever be for this experience. To go from a kid who used drawing as an escape to being a part of my favorite artists opening night at the Phoenix Art Museum, wow…just wow. I especially want to thank Lani, Felicia, Dawn, Airi and Christain at PAM for making this an experience I will never forget.

Statistically I am not supposed to make it. But I have. I have and I will continue to make it and continue to break through the barriers. I once met the Director of the Phoenix Art Museum and I told her that one day my art would hang in her halls. She commended me for my determination. That wasn’t my wishful thinking, that was projection. This experience was not only a sign; it was a stepping stone to the palace that is my dreams. And when I get there I will open the doors of complete freedom and weep at its beauty. I will have done all I set out to do and It will all have been worth it.

Photos by Quinton Prunty

5 People Who Helped Convince Me To Quit My Job And Chase My Dreams by Antoinette Cauley

It sounds scary af when you really think about it. Like, “Yo, I think today I’m gonna go and quit my job that pays allllll of my bills so that I can go do what I really want to and hopefully people will give me money for it because I think I’m pretty okay at it.” L! But, when you really break it down that’s exactly what I did. It didn’t happen overnight. I actually spent months plotting and planning my exit. It wasn’t an abrupt move. No. It was calculated and timed.

Almost two years ago something major happened to me and I decided it was time to take the leap and pursue my passion. I wanted to live life the way I wanted to. I wanted to quit this job that was sucking the life out of me and wonder onto a path of liberation. That liberation could only be found in the ability to live life creating and thriving as a full time artist.

Here are a list of 5 people who through their words and teachings helped me to jump and take that leap of faith. 5 people who changed my life forever.

1.       My Mother: Talk about crazy emotional support. I would go to my mother and tell her how stressed I was at the thought of quitting and abandoning a secure source of income. Her response was always something along the lines of “It will work out, Antoinette, because it has always worked out. So, it will always work out.” She never once told me, “No, Antoinette, don’t quit your job. You won’t be able to pay your bills. You will struggle.” No, she supported my decisions and constantly reminded me of all of the benefits and positive things that would come of my decision. This emotional support has been so crucial for me in my journey. Not only am I chasing my dreams but my little brother is also chasing his dreams of working with foreign cars. He works as an independent mechanic and has a car club that travels to car shows in LA, Vegas and more. How awesome is that as a mother to see both of your children chasing their passions in a world that tells people to get a job, work, pay bills and that’s life! Find someone who offers positive and reassuring affirmations consistently. It is so needed!

2. & 3.   Logic & Alan Watts: First off, let me say, if you have not listened to album “The Incredible True Story” by Logic then you need to! Amazing album! This album came into my life at the perfect time. It was the end of 2015 and I was gearing up to quit. I think I had about 3 months until the date I gave myself to quit by. This album really helped me through some rough days. One song in particular really tugged at my heart and put things into perspective. Track 18, “The Incredible True Story”, features a brief speech by Alan Watts at the end of the song that beautifully sums up what every person should be doing. I used to listen to this song EVERAYDAY on my way to work. Everyday it pushed me closer and closer to quitting. Now, I want you listen to the song and hear what I mean...

 

4.       Brendan Burchard: Brendan is an AMAZING motivational speaker and life coach. If you don’t know his story, I encourage you to look up his YouTube videos and books. He currently has over 100 motivational videos on YouTube. They range from topics like how to manage projects with excellence to how to be beautiful. I mean, this dude covers pretty much everything an entrepreneur/ dream chaser could ask to hear a little motivation about. I listen to his videos on a weekly basis and I have almost all of his books. His words definitely lit a fire in my soul and made me a lot more confident in my decisions. This is the first video that I watched of his and I would like you to watch it and really soak in what he is saying.

 

5.    Jermaine Cole: I couldn’t stop crying that day. I was SO scared. I was SO stressed. How was I going to make this shit happen? How was I going to live off of my art? I didn’t know what to do to cope with this overwhelming fear and so I turned to music to ease my mind. I played the intro and outro to J. Coles 2014 Forest Hills Drive on repeat and drove around the city and just let it all out. Those songs reminded me of something very important. At the end of the day, when all is said and done and we lay down for our final rest, the only thing that really mattered was love. LOVE. So, why not go for it? Why not risk losing everything? Why not? What is the greater struggle, being unhappy with life but safe in a mediocre existence OR risking losing it all in order to chase what you truly LOVE? Love is all that matters and I needed Jermaine to remind me of that.

ALL of these people helped me in making the tough decision of quitting. Its not easy. You have to surround yourself in motivation and inspiration. Your faith has to be strong and your hustle tight. So, find people who's words and examples inspire you to do and be better.

-Antoinette

I Am Now Looking For An Intern! by Antoinette Cauley

Yes. The rumors are true! I am now looking for an intern to work between 5-7 hours per week. Interns must be at least 16 years of age and have reliable transportation. This is an unpaid internship. Here are some of the responsibilities my intern will help with but not be limited to:

- Responding to emails

- Help plan and run special events

- Help with marketing and social media

- Managing crucial information and important documents

My intern also have the opportunity to study artistic techniques, fine art business practices and/ or anything else they would like to learn from me.

To apply please send a resume and brief synopsis on why you would like to intern for me. All information can be sent to info@antoinettecauleyart.com

I Just Wanna Be Successful by Antoinette Cauley

Success means something different to everyone. Join producer Martez Cornelius as he gives you a look into the stories of several young entrepreneurs based in Phoenix including myself. This documentary is a must watch for anyone chasing a dream!

Why saying good-bye was really saying hello. by Antoinette Cauley

“You can be anything you want to. What’s stopping you? You are the only thing keeping you from your dreams. Go for it and fight with all you have! I believe in you.”

This is often the tone of the conversations I have with the group of teens I work with at my day job. I have spent the last two years working full time for a non-profit where I get to help teens who need mentorship and guidance. It is absolutely rewarding. I can’t explain how much joy and love I receive from the teens I spend hours with each day. They are my family. We laugh together, we argue, we joke  we annoy the hell out of each other, we share life experiences with one another and we offer each other advice and words of wisdom and encouragement when we need a little push. I am a role model to them. What kind of role model would I be if I told them to fight for their dreams if I am not doing the same thing? And so, I have decided that it is time to say good-bye. This is no ordinary good-bye though. My good-bye is really a “hello” to truly living my life.

As absolutely amazing as my teens are, I knew that I couldn’t stay here if I wanted my dreams to be my reality. There were days I would drive to work in tears because I felt so close to my destiny but it felt so out of reach every time I pulled up to my job. So many times I would sit at my desk before my teens arrived and think about all of the paintings I could be working on instead of spending 9-10 hours a day away from my studio. I'd think about the galleries I should be visiting, events I should be planning and networking I should've been doing in that time spent at my office. Soon I was having emotional break downs every two to three weeks because I was NOT where I knew I should be. I was also trying my best to balance full time work with my art career which proved to be very difficult and often led to sleep deprivation and other health issues.  I was not living my passion and it was taking a toll on my physically and emotionally. I found myself feeling depressed and unhappy and I knew that only I had the power to change that.

I am so happy to now say that after giving my resignation last week to my full time job, I will finally be the full time artist I have until now only dreamt of becoming.  While I work as a full time artist in my home city of Phoenix, I will teach fine art to youth part time to help maintain my connection with my community and the children and teens that need mentor ship. I will also begin teen fine art workshops in the summer of 2016.

I hope that you reading this right now won’t wait as long as I did to go for it. You can never fly if you never jump. There will never be a perfect time, you will never have enough money and it will never feel perfectly right. That’s when you have to leap. Don’t be that person who 20 years down the road says “I wish I would have…”. No, be the person who says “I am so glad I did.” 

I had a plan. I spent all of 2015 building and preparing to say “Hello” to living in my purpose.  I was a woman on a mission and the things I set out to do last year have now come into fruition.  But, this is only the beginning of what has already proved to be such an overwhelmingly exciting journey. What’s next for me? I have some big plans and big projects in the works. I am looking forward to sharing my journey with you on my road to living my dreams.

-Antoinette

Love Yourz by Antoinette Cauley

 

Rap music has been one of the best medicines I have EVER received. Through it I have found healing, self acceptance and love, insight on what it means to be happy and most importantly, the strength and courage to pursue my dreams whole heartedly.

Listening to Rap Music takes me through a full spectrum of emotions and through all of these emotions I find inspiration for every piece I create. Whether I'm listening to Kendrick reminding me to love myself or Nipsey reminding me to hustle my ass off and get shit done, every bar I hear paints a picture in my mind. I then take that image and throw it onto a canvas to share with the world. For the first time ever through my new collection of art I am giving you a glimpse into my unique process.

So, why did I choose to use my J. Cole painting as my signature image for this show? If I had to sum up what rap music has taught me it would be to Love Yourz. Might sound a little cheesy but its absolutely true. You just always, no matter the circumstances or situations you find yourself in, you have to cherish and appreciate the life you've been given. Its precious and should be treated with unconditional love and care.

Every person has a chance to make an impact on this world. Your life is yours to mold and you only have one so don't waste it on meaningless things. Too often do people spend their lives searching for things they already have. They search for love when the most important love of all lives inside of them. They search for happiness when happiness is birthed from within. They search for financial gains when true wealth is not monetary. STOP searching for what you already have and start living. Give a little more, love a lot more and make your dreams happen.  Anything else is a waste of time that someone else wasn't lucky enough to have.

If you don't take anything else away from this post just please remember to always Love Yourz.

I will see you on Feb. 20th!

P.S. Happy Birthday J. Cole! 

 

 

 "Love Yourz"  24x24"  Acrylic on Canvas  For Sale on Feb. 20th at the Barz to Brushstrokes Exhibition

"Love Yourz"

24x24"

Acrylic on Canvas

For Sale on Feb. 20th at the Barz to Brushstrokes Exhibition

Solo Art Exhibition- Barz to Brushstrokes by Antoinette Cauley

I am SO excited to announce my 3rd annual solo art exhibition titled "Barz to Brushstrokes"!

This exhibition will take place on February 20th, 2016 from 7-10PM at Rebel Salon and Vintage. This is a free/ all ages event. I will be showcasing 15 never before seen pieces of art as well as new exclusive merchandise. Join me for a night of music, food and dope art!

I am looking forward to sharing what I have been working on for the past several months. See you there!


-Antoinette