Love is the Solution
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March 2019 -
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The Urban Renaissance iV
October 30th, 2019
Going to first give thanks to every person who was a part of The Urban Renaissance 4. Words fail me to express how exceptionally wonderful this event was- and it's all thanks to the outpour of love, support and creativity of each and every individual who came together. Together we make a whole family that strengthens, empowers, and uplifts one another. The most beautiful, and moving part of the evening was feeling such an immense sense of community and connection from beginning to end. Together, we really created a festival right here in the middle of Union County! Its a tremendous source of joy knowing there is a safe space sharing this culture with the people I grew up with and those who grew up alongside us in the Tristate area. We all long for these places of acceptance, imagination and freedom, one where we can enjoy art in all of its expressions: performance, music, poetry, dancing, creations and crafts, clothing, jewelry, paintings, sculpture, woodwork, bath and body products, aromatherapy and essential oils, classes, one on one and group services, and all kinds of other local talent to be shared! Many people have been to markets, concerts, a show, a gallery, an exhibition, a session, or a class, but not everyone has experienced seeing that all at once! Truly my most proud moment was realizing that we have officially created a festival and from here on out as long as we keep working at it, we can build this to be better reaching more people every time!
In preparation for the event I consulted with the lists I made from the last events, of things I needed to do and have prepared ahead of time. This time I tried to plan this process so that I would be done with nearly everything one full week before The Urban Renaissance. I did a lot better than last time (Last time I didn't get everything done and what I did was running into the day of the event!) but I still only had a few days before the event that were semi-free, and they were taken up with last minute things that came up (the whole reason I give myself a week off), and a lot less meditating and relaxing than there should have been. However! I did meditate a great deal in comparison to last time (None at all) and it made a huge difference in my anxiety levels the week of and during the event. Last time my biggest regret was how anxious I was the whole time and there were thankfully things I did right this time to avoid that!
1. Everything got done ahead of time, and I did have at least a couple days to relax or work on last minute things that came up. 2. I was in consistent communication with every artist and performer to make sure that there were no mixed signals or issues at the last minute. 3. I was extremely thorough with the information given to everyone to ensure that there was complete transparency and clarity, this avoided any 'day of drama' or confusion. 4. We woke up early the days leading up to the event and at 5am the day of the event. 5. We had double the amount of volunteers as last time (BEYOND THANKFUL FOR YOU ALL!) and the help was extremely needed and valued.
Everyone was working hard the day of the event and while yes, we were ready about 30 minutes late (I wanted to be ready hours ahead of time) we still finished setting up, built a stage, got all of the artists set up, set up the sound, etc etc almost on time and everything ran super smoothly for the rest of the evening. Next time I'll do everything in my power to be finished hours ahead because I know that will make a big difference in how calm everyone will feel going into the start of the event.
El Chino Productions came out early morning with Max from We're Ghosts Now, Nick from Hot Cocca Visuals and his wife Samantha who helped us set up. The guys moved all of the gym's equipment to the spare room, built a stage and set up the sound, lights while Sara, Sam, the band Four and myself set up the space and decorated.
I'd say the improvement on smoothness and organization of the evening was more than I could ever ask for given our experience so far, and I know that the next one will be even more flawlessly. Extremely grateful that I was able to manage and host, watch performances, check out the art, interact with everyone, and help or answer any questions that came up.
Volunteers made this all possible! For all future events all volunteers will have a plus one along with a free meal, drinks and dessert. I hope that for next time we will be able to work with high schools, colleges and other organizations to employ interns who love animals, art and want to help make a real difference! Its essential that we continue to have two shifts of 2 people at the Cambria's Haven table with one volunteer available as backup incase someone can't make it and the same for the front ticket. Along with 3-4 people who are able to spend the first half of the day helping set up and 3-4 who can spend the final hours breaking down, and everyone who worked with Freddy to create the sound, visuals, lights and entire music aspect of The Urban Renaissance. Our best friend Haydee did the photography as well as Elvis and Sara Santiago. Margie did the videography and we are so excited to get that footage back! We will post it here. It's important to have someone volunteering to tell people about the different cool things unique to The Urban Renaissance. This volunteer will also give audience members a gift from our collective to remember The Urban Renaissance. Freddy and I will also be giving these gifts as we ask people to donate to the raffle.
For the raffle, we will have our biggest/most sought after prize be the door prize- meaning everyone who gets a ticket and gives us their name, number or email is entered into that raffle. We will also have our raffle giveaway with all of the other items donated. This time instead of using raffle tickets we will have people write their name, email, and telephone number and use a raffle app. Winners will be listed on the Erase board at the Raffle table at 12am. This gives everyone a chance to play throughout the entire evening and all winners not present will be contacted so that even if they cannot stay until the end of the event they can still win their prize. Some prizes went unclaimed because we used regular raffle tickets and the person didn't come back with their ticket. We didn't have as many people participate in the raffle so everyone who played won something! The donations were SO cool and people absolutely loved their raffle prizes so we want to promote and sell the raffle entries ahead of the event next time, 1 try for $5 and 3 tries for $10. This will give people who cannot attend a way to support and still be involved in the festivities.
We're also going to make tickets to the entire event $20 next time. All artists can keep half of ticket or raffle sales made ahead of the event and in this way pay themselves. We will also will be giving free entry to all performers along with a plus one if needed. We will no longer be taking refundable deposits because we realized we can put together a wait list of performers willing to step in if someone can't make it, so last minute cancellations are not as problematic as they used to be.
The blog process was so much better this time, now that we are emailing and receiving responses to the questions directly! For the next one we will send the questions and ask artists to write their own biography in third and first person, which will help us greatly as this event expands and adds more and more new artists. I also want to post blogs 3-4 months ahead of the event instead of 2 months. I'd actually like to be done with the blogs 1-2 months ahead of the event so that I could use that time for event related work.
The change of the rooms worked really well! Everyone really liked the set up of the vendors and artists, as well as having music back in one room again. The classes were really fun and I am happy that each instructor was able to teach several new students! One thing I'd like to change about the classes is I want to make the back room into a room for more vendors, and have the classes be in between performers in the performance room. People will be more inclined to attend the classes since that room is the most populated, classes and performances don't have to feel like they're competing because they won't be happening at the same time, and the large back room space isn't left empty and unused when classes are over. This will allow for more vendors and will give us another extra room that we can dedicate to all artists who are also live painters/expressionists.
It was really helpful to draw out a layout and give it to the artists ahead of time. Samantha, Immortalis Memoriae helped us a lot with that! Next time we will tape a piece of paper to the wall indicating where each artist should set up since some were still a bit confused and it's difficult to direct artists at the time that they set up since so much is happening and so many people are coming in at that time. It's going to be really relieving to have the other huge room to work with for vendors next time!
The live painters and expressionists of the evening made so many people's night! We were in awe at the amount of talent displayed on the spot, and hope to have each and everyone of you back again in April! The live art aspect of the evening is definitely something we want to encourage and make a centerpiece to The Urban Renaissance. Seeing a blank canvas become a masterpiece before the night was over was something truly special and inspirational- and its something the community needs to experience more!
Every vendor had lovely setups that were so unique and different from what you would typically see at an artist market. We are overjoyed and honored to have worked with every vendor and to be a space that displays ethical, cruelty free, handmade, local crafts and creations by the community for the community. Each artist has a story and an origin to their tremendous passion that so clearly pours out of them and into their craft. Seeing all of these wonderful people together, sharing their passions with the world and making connections with others who are interested in what they do is what this movement is all about!
Two Que's made delicious vegan food as ALWAYS, and Jersey Juices provided healthy and tasty juice for everyone. We took care of the sweet tooth with Vegan Treats' yummy desserts and coffee. We're happy to say that everyone seemed to love the food options at The Urban Renaissance.
The performances were mind blowing! So so so so SO PROUD to have all of you on this lineup and to keep working with you in the future! I got emotional so many times by the raw and extraordinary talent shared that evening. The compliments that the audience made all night made my night. We hope to keep evolving and developing into a resource for performers of all kinds to gain exposure and share their craft with the world. We want The Urban Renaissance to be associated with raw and real expression, all genres, diversity and depth. We want to encourage artists to Dig Deep with us and to share their truth, their heart and soul with a community that is craving connection. The people who attend The Urban Renaissance are there to discover music and creators making work they enjoy and its been a pleasure to help create lineups of performers who make that possible.
We will have a shorter set list next time and go into the time sheet planning to start at 7:00pm with the drum circle instead of any earlier. This time we planned to start around 5:30/6pm and it didn't actually start until around 6:30/7. Because we had so many bands this time, giving 5 minutes in between each act was also not accurate as many acts needed 10-15 minutes for breakdown and setup. Next time we will have classes and dance, comedic, or other performances that don't require any setup during that time. Hopefully this will help our schedule be more accurate, artists can expect to start and end at a specific time, and we won't run over our time. We ended at 2am instead of 1am! Lucky the gym doesn't charge us if we run over :)
The flow artists Katelyn, Julia and Alex were incredible! Next time we will have a space that is specifically set up for hooping and flow arts, just to make it a bit easier for them to find space and move around freely. It got so crowded at certain times that there was a need for a section and we'll make sure to have one next time. It was wonderful seeing people watch them flow with huge smiles and wide eyes. Many people have never seen these kinds of props or talents and seeing faces light up and stare in disbelief was definitely a favorite moment.
Sharonfit Dance Studio was there and were teaching people to hula hoop right at their table! They also graced us with an absolutely beautiful belly dance performance and taught a fun belly dance class! We can't wait to see them again in April and I'm definitely going to get over to take a class with them soon! Thank you Izzy the Goddess for teaching a Sensuality Empowerment class! We hope to work with you always in the future, we absolutely love everything you do! Andrea hosted her Flow, Sip and Let Go class as well as a group meditation with Ashley and gave our audience a chance to slow down and be present.
Individualized poetry by Emi from the Poetry Brothel was a stunning experience that I only hope to develop into a relationship with the organization. Cambria's Haven hopes to create events with The Poetry Brothel and to have individualized poetry by them be a staple for every Urban Renaissance! It was heartwarming to talk with people who sat for Emi's poetry and received similar awe inspiring reactions to such a one of a kind style of performance art.
We are so thankful to the audience, who made the night perfect. We were told over and over again about how awesome the vibe was the whole night, how peaceful, loving, respectful, and happy everyone was. Everyone came out and supported one another from a place of real, genuine love and you could feel that throughout the space. Thank you for making the night everything that it was.
I'm sure I'm missing something but I am going to end it here and just say another HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE!! We were able to raise $2,000 towards the Cat Cafe which we are going to NEED because we have FINALLY FOUND A LOCATION! Our next blog will be an official announcement and update of all things Cambria's Haven that I have been dying to share already! STAY TUNED AND CHECK BACK SOON! THANK YOU A MILLION FOREVER, WE LOVE YOU!
All of the Love,
Urban Renaissance 4 Artist Highlights
Nocturnus Valle Mentis
Ash Nichole Burton was born on June 24, 1993 and raised in Toms River, New Jersey. She is in the developmental stages of establishing and developing her craft as an artisan, a potential healer and teacher, as well as working towards attaining a degree in agricultural and environmental engineering. Her craft is ever expanding and evolving, growing and blossoming. As an artist/ artisan she produces an array of original art pieces and authentically designs a plethora of handmade metaphysical goods; including candles, soaps, bath bombs, sprays, tonics and tinctures. As a certified yoga teacher and a student of massage therapy and reiki energy healing, she practices, shares and teaches those who seek to learn the holistic principles of wellness, and the naturalistic approaches to healing ones' mind, body and soul.
"As I overcame life's brigade of self inflicted and externally imposed, trials and lessons, and how to cope, maintain, handle, and prevail over these said events and experiences I found that everything I ever truly wanted was already present." Her business and brand is much like her life's 'love child.' "Nocturnus Valle Mentis (nVm) came to life and like a seedling burst through the soil, almost simultaneously to that of my own personal metamorphosis into what I find is my true authentic self."
To Ash community means "To grow together. Not only in the sense of a physical presence, but also within the push towards a communities' or group of peoples, intrinsic connection to one another through the conscious awareness of compassion and empathy, in the direct pursuit of understanding one another in order to inspire adaptivity to an ever evolving world and cultivate the aspiration of each members journey through a lifetime of personal growth. This is the first step in facilitating positive change within a society." Overall nVm is designed to act as a portal for connectivity. Ash seeks to share the knowledge she's discovered to help those around her with their own personal journeys to self care, healing and authentication.
Some of her goals are attaining both her reiki and massage therapy certifications. In terms of nVm, she wants to continue to help it grow and evolve into a more well known catalyst for sharing, spreading and providing all natural, organic and vegan metaphysical goods and knowledge pertaining to naturalistic health and wellness of all aspects of the human experience.
In five to ten years Ashley seeks to finish her masters in both agricultural engineering and entomology and possibly begin working through a doctorate program. In this time she will attain a career within the field that will allow her to study and help reform the various issues involved with the agriculture industry including the use of pesticides, the regrowth of pollinating insect populations native to North America, as well as delving into the ethical issues involving animal rights and our consumption, production and facilitation of the slaughter/meat industry. This is all in hopes of the reformation and protection of our planet and how we interact with our environment, alongside how we treat our bodies in terms of nutrition and overall health. Nocturnus Valle Mentis is fully incorporated within this idea of creating awareness and change in all sects of the well being of the world. "Human and Nature act as one, and therefore, should be cared for in unison; with the same ferocity and compassion that we love and care for ourselves."
What inspires and motivates Ash the most are the people around her, not only friends and family but also members in her community. Some of her favorite artists include Dromsjel, Salvador Dali, Glustav Klimt, HIeronymus Bosch and many others including a plethora of local artists! Ash finds patience, empathy, tact, drive, forgiveness, restraint and compassion among the virtues she holds at the highest regard. Moralistically, she lives by, 'Harm none, do as you will.' "Or rather, in practice this means to me, that by seeking to do good by yourself and others you will in return reap the benefits of living life in a positive manner. Although I do see that this world is consciously shifting in a more positive aspect of connectivity and communication, I find that what the world is missing is our connection to what it isn't missing. In its essence, all that we could possibly hope to understand or seek to know is attainable, it is just a matter of opening our eyes; Removing the noise of the seemingly monotonous humdrum of everyday life and really embracing ourselves as individuals and the world around us as a whole. When we learn to connect on this level, everything that we think we are missing, we find, or was right in front of us all along. We just have to dig deep, look within ourselves and others, within nature, within the secret beauties of the world around us. This is exactly what I wish for Nocturnus Valle Mentis (The Nocturnal Valley of the Mind) to express and to share with the world."
Elick Blondel was born on July 15th, 1994 and raised in Roselle, NJ. Growing up in Roselle he found his first passion which is music production. He started as a
rapper and later began producing and vocal engineering. During his late teen years, he and
a friend began to get into spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, crystal healing, clean eating and more. Elick also discovered the wonderful benefits and uses of holistic herbs. "You can use them to heal ailments, as essential oils, to make bath and beauty products, and most importantly you can make a variety of herbal teas to provide your body with vital nutrition one would usually not consume in everyday meals."
As Elick's love grew, he became more health conscious, which eventually led to a vegetarian lifestyle. Along this journey he enjoyed trying many kinds of organic foods and beverages, and researching the benefits of what he consumed. Herbal tea was his favorite of them all. "Once I began the process of creating herbal blends, brewing and drinking the tea, I started to realize the life changing benefits it came with." The experience he felt was so wonderful, he had to make it a goal to share it with the world- especially those who have yet to experience the full value of quality herbal teas.
This was when he stumbled upon the idea to launch a small business selling herbal teas and smoothie
granola bowls. Elick chose to name his creation 'Bliss Cups.'
Venus Envy is an Asbury Park based group, and the many talents that breathe new life into their music are Jenny Santa Maria as the guitarist and song writer, Kenny Schlattman (keys), Adrienne Haberl (cello), Cody McCory (synth), James McCaffery (guitar), Nicole Scorsone (violin) , Jules Murtha (vocals) , April Centrone (drums) and Sean Polk (bass). Jenny was born in Point Pleasant Beach NJ and played in many bands throughout her life, having devoted her early years to bass guitar. Growing up, there were always bands practicing in basements and garages, and the mid/late 90's continue to have an influence on her songwriting. In addition to musical interests Jenny currently teaches art in a small private school for boys in Tinton Falls. Through music and arts she promotes creativity, originality, and honesty in all media. Cover bands and competition is still very encouraged in music scenes around the country, and Venus Envy cares only to connect, console, and teach through lyrics and the thoughtful crafting of music. "We're borrowing and mixing some of the atmospheric brilliance of Radiohead, romantic vocals of current female fronted acts like Hannah Cohen, all with the energy of the 90's grunge in mind."
Natalie Megan Farrell was born on March 19th, 1994 in New York, New York, and raised in New Jersey. When she lived in an apartment complex in Brooklyn, New York with her parents, sister, grandmother, aunt and uncle, they would always have get togethers and enjoy dancing and singing to music. Her parents loved the classic Motown and Rock music the most, but they also introduced her to much more like Jazz, Latin, Blues, and so on.
She originally had a passion for dancing that began at 3 years old. The feeling of freely expressing her emotions through dance was an outlet for her. If she was upset, angry, confused, frustrated, she would just dance. When she turned 7 years old, she moved to the suburbs in New Jersey which was a huge transition for her as she was no longer able to see the rest of her family as often as she once did. Because of that, she was determined to keep herself occupied and find a new outlet.
She tried gymnastics, drawing, running, basketball, anything that could help her adjust to her new environment, but nothing was working. She was starting to lose hope until one day while listening to music alone in her room she found herself singing. She began singing around the house and her parents reacted very positively. She joined talents shows, choir, voice lessons, and eventually picked up the guitar at 13. “It wasn’t an outlet anymore, it was my life. It opened doors for me to express what I was feeling and who I am as a person. Just the thought of being able to share that with others motivated me to want to help others express their own thoughts and feelings.”
As she became more determined she started to perform at open mics, leading her to eventually book shows at some of the most historic and popular places at the Jersey shore like The Stone Pony, Wonder Bar, Langosta Lounge, and more. “I hope to influence others through my music.”
Some of her music influences include Etta James, Janis Joplin, Hayley Williams, Halsey, Alanis Morrissette, and Amy Winehouse. “These powerhouse songstresses inspire me to be just as vocally powerful and lyrically pour my heart out onto paper.”
Coming from the Asbury Park music community is a blessing for Natalie. “These people support and respect one another. I have never felt like I was competing to be better than another person and vice versa. Community to me means that we support one another, build each other up to accomplish our goals, appreciate, respect, and grow together as a whole.”
The musicians in her community work hard to try and get to the next step in their careers. When she looks at them, she feels motivated and wants to push herself harder to accomplish more. Thanks to them, she finds herself working towards her goals and dreams. “They’re like my team that cheers me on when I want to give up, and because they push me to succeed, I find myself putting all my energy and passion into my music.”
“I believe those who are afraid to ask for help try to look in other places that might not be the best option for them. I would love my music to impact them in such a way that they find someone to relate to and make positive differences in their own lives. There was a time in my life where I was climbing out of rock bottom and I too was afraid to reach out and ask someone for help. So I turned to the musicians and artists who influenced me the most. I listened to them every day and found ways to enjoy my life again and work harder than ever to accomplish my goals.”
Music continues to get Natalie through the day, and she hopes to do the same for others and for her community.
Natalie wants to learn to play more instruments, and how to produce and mix her music. She hopes in the years to come she will perform on bigger stages and open for some of the phenomenal musicians of our time. She hopes to have a bigger platform to influence listeners positively and connect emotionally to music.
“I believe that you can attract whatever you want in life. As long as you’re picturing it in your mind and keep a positive outlook, anything is possible. Of course that comes with hard work and dedication, but I believe that if you accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, greater things will come your way. This inspires me to see the bigger picture and bring that picture to life.”
Faith Elizabeth was born in Livingston, NJ and raised in Orange, NJ. She is a college student working towards her Bachelors degree in Visual Arts. Her primary focus is curatorial work in African-American art. Faith works with Henna, a plant grounded into a thick, paint like paste. The paste stains the skin with a natural color of orange brown and reddish brown. She also works with Jagua paste which is a naturally produced blueish black ink like product. All of the products that Faith works with are natural. She can create all kinds of designs ranging from simple to very elaborate. She tends to work more often on aesthetic designs rather than larger pieces that feature animals or words.
Faith began doing Henna in January 2017. She tried henna for the first time on herself. As she started to get better she began practicing on legs or on her own arms and hands hoping that people would notice and they did!
After about two months she began to receive messages on Facebook to do events and in May 2017 Faithful Henna was born. As she established a technique she began to master her craft.
"I continue to learn new things every time I work. Over the past few years I’ve developed so much as an artist and I’m very happy with what I do."
During her first year of her business venture Faith was hired to do a lot of events. "My work has always brought people together and I think that really benefits my community. I have this art form that gets people to sit in a space and enjoy themselves for a little while."
Faith is also working towards a PhD in African-American studies. She is working to grow in her career along side her company. "My hope for Faithful Henna over the next few years is possibly branching out to a skincare line, as well as curating and hosting workshops for people who want to learn henna. Her younger cousin is interested in working with her and she is someone who will be very important to Faithful Henna in the future.
Faith tries to challenge herself with different and complex designs. "I’ve done a jelly fish, koi fish, dragons, octopus, and more. I am continuously trying to do something different so that I can learn other unique designs, as well as new methods of applying henna. One of my next designs I’m working
on is a small geometric wolf. Stay tuned on my Instagram to see it when I post it!"
Clint Newman was born on April 16th in 1986 and raised in Farmingdale. He is a Carpenter and creator, learning from his family from a young age.
Clint describes community with the saying “No man is an island.” He believes in the wealth of union and that there is inspiration all around us. “I travel the world learning about people of different cultures, only to understand we are ultimately all one. This has brought my mind and music to a place of compassion. We want our music to be a treasure of experience. A sonic gift!” Clint says that the characters in his community help build the character of his community, and he hopes to give them all “A radiant moment, if only for a moment.” He is really proud of his band mates and the great shows they’ve played this year.
“I try my best to embrace the now. Not only is that hard to do; 5 year plans change every year. So try to excel right now. We are all here to grow. If I wake I am forced to comply. I feel we are in need of lofty thoughts so we can design a beautiful future while we are still in the drivers’ seat.”
Virgil Walker was born in Oregon on September 27th where he was raised until later moving to New Jersey. He is an RN, primarily focussing on wound care and disease management for diabetics. He is also a lifelong musician, having his first piano lesson at 4 years old. His family fled Europe at the turn of the century, so he identifies with immigrant culture.
To Virgil, community means Interdependence and love in action. His community reflects strongly in his work and he intends to help it by improving the quality of life for the people he encounters.
His goal is to simply make music while having fun while he enjoys being with other musicians and artists. “It’s okay that it’s simple.” He would like to improve his technicality and grace. “It's easy to just go hard when such beauty lies in subtleties “
Some of his favorite artists are Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Chuck D ATCQ, Vulfpeck, Hiatus, Kaiyote, Beastie Boys, De La Soul, Dizzy Gillespie, and Benny Goodman. He is inspired by his spouse and partner, his band mates, and good surfers. He is proud of the friends and family he is blessed with as well as his work and the bands’ music in the Godlings. “Our music is our reach toward uplifting and entertaining people, and that brings people together.”
He believes in life it is most important that we do No harm. “All things are in fundamental motion. Life is short, so live it well. To be known and yet loved is a profound privilege and the finest thing in life. Be grateful.”
Jay Hanlon was born on April 10th 1975 In Jersey City NJ and grew up in Brielle NJ. He taught himself how to play drums at a very young age and started playing in a band in his freshman year of high school called 'Lunatik Parade." The band opened for some great bands like The Black Crows, they played lots of shows at The Saint and Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and recorded their first 10 song record in 1994. Jay also played in a few cover bands before joining The Godlings and played all the local hot spots on the Jersey shore. He has a passion for his instrument because it gives him tremendous joy to be able to make great music with his band mates.
TC on the Violin
Musical artist, TC, is a violinist, composer, producer, and educator. She began playing the violin in elementary school in the Franklin Township School District, and participated in the school's string orchestra continuously through high school and in college. After graduation, she became a Teacher of Music in the NJ school system and has taught music theory, history and instrument instruction to students for 17 years. TC has also taught the violin to children, teenagers & adults in performing arts schools in northern/central NJ.
Prior to playing violin in elementary school, TC played the keyboard as a young child. When she was in middle school, she began writing her own music. In college, she began composing music for other musicians, started a 6 piece band, and eventually began producing her own beats and compositions for independent films and other musical projects. Those experiences enabled her to become a dedicated performer and entertainer.
As a performer of the violin, her involvement in the community through the performing arts is especially vital to her daily lifestyle. TC has been active for years in community events and outreach programs for the youth and different age groups. She has contributed to programs for the elderly and their families, religious and various organizations throughout the NJ/NY Tri-state area. TC continues to offer her services in the performing arts throughout the country. Her inspiration is created from the ongoing appreciation she receives from audiences of all ages.
Naja's American Tribal Style Belly Dancing
Maria Richardson was born on October 19th and raised in Brooklyn NY. Her craft is American Style Belly Dance that began when she opted the class over a step class. Her parents are from Dominican Republic and music was always played in the house which heavily influenced her and the culture she identifies with. Maria believes community is a sisterhood that uplifts and builds confidence. If you’re a part of her community it means “You can never be alone no matter where they are in the world.” Her costume is derived from many cultures, countries, and traditions. She teaches women to build strength and confidence through her dancing classes. She hopes to help as many people as she can, and she’d love to one day open her own dance studio. Some of her favorite artists are Prince and Eryka Badu. One of her greatest accomplishments has been her professional career and seeing her students excel in dance while conquering their fears. One of her favorite quotes is “Positivity, Confidence and persistence is key in life, so never give up on yourself.”
Stephen Xavier Garcia was born on July 4th 1996 in Queens, NY and raised in Clifton NJ. He is a server who also raps, sings and learning to become a mixing engineer. He started writing raps at 6 years old and began taking it seriously at 13 years old after realizing it was all he ever wanted to do.
Stephen is Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian and identifies with Latinx and rap/hip hop culture because he was raised to be heavily influenced by both. “I connected with Hip hop like nothing else and it has affected my whole outlook on life. I’m always told I have a very Jersey sound, and I’m very proud of that.”
When people are a part of the same community it means they are in constant communication while they live and work together. “At the end of the day one of our common goals as artists should be to elevate the community for our future generations. By getting the right messages out in music, artists can guide the youth towards the correct direction to make better choices than those who came before them, and in that way we can all improve the community.”
A typical day for Stephen starts with work and ends with him coming home to put his daughter to sleep and work on music until as late as possible. “Sleep really isn’t a part of it.” Stephen’s short term goals are to build his fan base and make it to 10k followers on all social media. His long term goal is to have his own record label so that he can help nurture and advance unique talents.
Stephen is grateful and excited to be learning how to mix his own music. He is proud to have created a unique sound that has gained a following through his hard work. His peers in music are a huge inspiration for him as well as the artists he looks up to such as Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Anderson .Paak, Daniel Caesar, Smino, Tobi Lou and Saba.
"I would like for everyone including myself to care about others more. I think this world has become too cynical and quick to expect the worst out of everyone which harbors so much negativity. I think we can easily change that if we all choose to look up instead of down. The only way to bring that about is to lead the way."
Gabrielle Vera was born on November 24th in Brooklyn, NY. She is a professional Hairdresser and creative spirit who started BONE&thistle. Focussed on items made, found and inspired by nature, her handmade and handcrafted jewelry line is based out of Asbury Park, NJ. She has been making her own jewelry for many years. Encouraged by friends and many admirers of her work, she begin her small jewelry business in In early 2019 that has grown by word of mouth.
Gabrielle is heavily influenced by art and literature, especially gothic fiction writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley & Bram Stoker. “The emotion & drama of those reads fueled and stoked the fire for my inspiration and brought my ideas to life.” In the future she will expand her work and incorporate metal working. She plans to draw inspiration from historical events and cultures to be displayed prominently throughout the line.
She sees a great community in Asbury Park, filled with tons of art and musicians that consistently work together to make living there a better experience for everyone. From festivals, to venues and restaurants, the community really comes together to show each other support. Asbury Park is a place where art and creativity is valued and respected, and living there has allowed her to embrace her individuality and showcase it to the world.
Gabrielle’s craft speaks volumes about being an individual and shows that you don't have to follow societal norms to feel comfortable in your own skin. “We can embrace life and death as equals and it allows people to see the beauty and respect in both.” Her goal is to one day expand to an outdoor workspace that would allow for her to work and experiment with other types of media.
“Being kind and aware of the world around us is a valuable principle. We as humans need to respect our planet and all the creatures that live on it. We need to be better as individuals and learn how to live as clean and green as possible. Recycle, Reuse and give up the notion that we need everything to be shiny, new and easily accessible. There is beauty in minimalism.”
Matthew Cunha aka Onnist was born on May 21st 1996 in Newark NJ and raised in Elizabeth NJ. He is a Full-time Student at Kean University and currently a Walmart Sales Associate. His craft is Rapping and Song Writing. His interest in making music began when he was 17. He and a few friends decided to write to some well-known instrumentals in hopes of releasing a project. He found himself enjoying the writing aspect and chose to continue on making his own original music.
Matthew is Portuguese and Brazilian. The lively music of Bossa Nova and Samba that his mom introduced him to has affected his music taste. He was also heavily influenced by HipHop, R&B, Punk Rock and Alternative Rock among other music genres.
"To me, community means family. A group of people focused on a common goal, a positive result, the betterment of the whole.” He sees his community as a place with many hard working individuals who do what’s right for them and their families. "We have a lot of work to do but I have faith that we can make progressive actions towards a stronger community.” Onnist is a reflection of the community he grew up around. He represents where he is from and tries to bring light to the issues in his community. He hopes for a better tomorrow for the youth of his city. "I believe that my work can help to inspire resiliency within my city. I hope to be a role model that will make others aspire for greatness."
Onnist starts his day by reflecting on everything that he is grateful for in his life, breakfast of a freshly pressed juice of fruits and vegetables, work, coming home and unwinding by having a full meal, and taking time to write music or taking other steps towards his goals.
He wants to continue performing more often so that he can become more and more well known throughout his community. He will release a new music project soon and would eventually like to go on tour in order to spread his message of authenticity and positivity. He also looks to improve all aspects of his life as well as his craft; his delivery, sound quality, stage presence and clarifying his message.
"One accomplishment that I’m extremely proud of is creating and designing the logo for my brand 'BeenGreat' I struggled so long with deciding what words I wanted to represent myself but finally figuring it out and following through with the design that I created to represent it makes me feel like I’m taking a meaningful step towards success. I’ve also performed many places and met so many people who I was lucky enough to reach with my music. That shows me that I’m not crazy or disillusioned in doing what I do. I know I’m here to do something greater than the world expects of me. I’m motivated by many things, becoming successful in my field and reaching my full potential, becoming financially free and being able to provide for my family, becoming self-actualized through my art, and making an impact on the world with my message by touching the lives of as many people as possible."
Matthew looks to find qualities in himself and others like compassion, open mindedness, healthy skepticism, kindness, honesty, discipline, a positive attitude, a sense of justice, curiosity and perspective. He believes the world is missing love, connection and understanding. "A lot of people can’t see things from the perspective of another and that is one of the major causes of the worlds problems."
Onnist knows that he can help by talking about the things most people don’t feel comfortable speaking openly about. "The important things rather than the same harmful messages we are bombarded with daily. I can be the change I want to see in the world. Change starts within, so if I put forth ideas and virtues that will help the world in my music as well as representing my experience in an authentic way, then I believe that the world will be influenced and changed for the better.”
Ines Rivera was born on October 28th and raised in Brooklyn NY. She creates paper crafts such as cards, journals, altered books, banners, scrapbooking, and crafting with recycled materials. Her goal and focus is to encourage others to feel the excitement and vivaciousness of writing with pen and paper, sending mail via the postal service, and keeping journals. She was about 20 years old when she began collecting stationary sets and pens.
She still has letters from friends back when postage stamps were about 29¢. Ines returns to her craft room every night after work to unwind. Her day begins at 4:00am and she has to remain extremely focussed at work so by the time she arrives home she prefers to be around her paper, glitter and glue. Sometimes when she crafts with friends she will be inspired by something funny they say or a new technique that they teach her, and it will help her create something new.
She also gets inspired by everyday things. “I might see an empty cereal box and start thinking of ways to make a book or journal out of it.” She also appreciates brutal honesty. “I prefer to be around people who are not afraid to speak up.” One of her goals for the future is owning a destination crafting business. Ines hopes to help others to engage in tangible creative activity more often by teaching others how to use simple everyday items to create cards, journals and other crafts.
Alyssa Lopez Artist
Alyssa Lopez was born on August 16th, 1992 in Hackensack NJ and raised in Monroe Township NJ. She is a Pharmacy technician by day and an art instructor at night. Her art is very detail oriented. She would describe her style as a unique balance of being illustrative and realistic. She loves the idea of being able to capture different textures and patterns in her pieces. She also loves a good challenge which is one of the reasons she chose to work small. She enjoys being able to see how much detail she can get into a piece without it becoming crowded or convoluted.
Alyssa calls herself a “Cultural Mutt” being Italian, Puerto Rican, Spaniard, French, German and English. Growing up it was hard to identify with one culture or another. “I hated standardized testing because I could only check one box. I felt like I always had to choose being Hispanic or White when I was a true mixture of both.”
Alyssa got started with art when she was little and has been holding a pencil or paint-brush in her hand for as long as she can remember. When she showed interest in the arts her mother who was also an artist made sure she could explore all creative avenues. “I loved it all! Painting, drawing, photography, fashion, interior design, automotive design... literally all aspects of art and design had my heart.” She remembers being very small and waking up at 5 in the morning to watch The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross or Fashion shows streaming live from Paris. From the age of 7 until middle school she took art classes and then continued in high school by enrolling in FITs precollege classes to refine her skills even further. But when it came time to choose an art path she panicked. Stuck between fashion, photography, and automotive design, she ultimately chose fashion and attended FIT for fashion design and illustration. Unfortunately, shortly into her first year she realized how much she hated the industry. She couldn’t take the cattiness and unnecessary standards everyone held you to as a fashion major. So she dropped out, started fresh and majored in Fine Art with a concentration in Photography.
“Community means your team.” Alyssa describes her community as extremely diverse ranging from all ethnicities and working communities. “The thing I love most about my community is the love, acceptance, and open ears we all share. I like to think my work is as diverse as my community. Some pieces are extremely disciplined and tight in terms of detail and subject. Others are loose, wild and free... and I never know which way the piece is going to go which is all part of the fun!”
Alyssa plans to work less and less hours at the pharmacy. Her hope is to finally work as an artist full time. “I’ve always wanted to live a life where my passion is my career. In 5-10 years I hope to have an established art career and one less job!” She also plans to travel more often by purchasing her very own tiny home to roam the earth with a wild and wanderlust energy.
Alyssa can be her own worst critic and wants to cultivate a stronger sense of self confidence without having to scrutinize every detail. Ending a difficult relationship and dealing with serious family issues brought about some dark times but Alyssa has since then gotten some of her zest back and is focusing on loving herself and constantly improving. She is proud that she is still standing after what’s been thrown at her the past couple of years- “I was juggling 4 jobs, my dad had a massive stroke, 3 weeks after that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and about a month after that I cancelled my wedding. In the last 2 years I left my fiancée for good, moved 4 times, and worked hard the entire time. I am amazed at how much I’ve had to overcome and I am most impressed I am still standing today!”
Some of her favorite artists are Frida Kahlo, Vincent VanGogh, Banksy, Vermir, Dalí, Monet, Olivia Fayne, Ryan Ashley Malarkey, Bob Ross, Bao Pham, Dain Yoon and Elizabeth Toledo. Her grandma has always been one of her biggest sources of inspiration. “Everyone gravitates towards her. She has the biggest and kindest heart, always has the right words to say, endless wit and sass, and she’s always been in my corner no matter what.” Her sisters also inspire her. When the stock market crashed her dad lost his job and struggled to keep himself employed for long periods of time. However despite her family’s struggles, they have blossomed into phenomenal, focused, determined, strong women.
Alyssa thinks the world could use more communication, love, acceptance, fun, exploration and freedom. “There is truly a lack of kindness and acceptance in today’s society and I’m hoping by putting myself out there more with my art and it’s free and warm energy will inspire others to be the same. I just want my art to invoke pure fun, start conversations, and encourage question what is the meaning of life!”