We had the good fortune of connecting with Anjelica Monet Vargas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anjelica Monet, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
A mantra I picked up a few years back is a quote from the late Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” This phrase offers grace for all ages and stages in which I have ever been and will ever be. It is easy to consider alternate ways of handling past situations, knowing what I do now. The grace comes in knowing that where I was and with what information I had at the time, I made the best decisions for myself and toward my goals.
Growing wiser means accepting that not all plans are successful, and that life throws many-a-curveballs. It can be difficult being in liminal spaces, towards dreams actualized. Still, there is grace for the now. These words free me of regret and remind me that no matter how imperceivable progress may seem, I am moving forward, always, through curiosity and risk-taking, These words support me in staying in the present, being proud of the journey thus far, while building and dreaming forward.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Recently, I have found myself to be most proud of the way my art is received and supported. I still find myself in disbelief when a grant is approved through my arts based nonprofit, Come Alive Long Beach, for an idea I have to make art accessible to under-resourced students and their families.
As long as I can remember, I have had a knack for creating fun, and now, I have people invested in these ideas. They give of their time, their talent, and their finances to help me bring life to these concepts. Excitement takes over and anyone involved in the dream making process comes alive with inspiration. There is something truly special seeing people offer their time and resources so freely to join in a vision that is constantly pushing the boundaries of imagination.
Anymore, it seems like the response is, “Why not? Let’s do it! Say less. I’m in!” The trust and belief in me to execute these musings brings a joy and thrill that is entirely other.
I am not a trained artist. I have no education in the field, and I learn on the job. However, I can spot quality, and I am great at identifying what will be well received by our students. I like to think my inner child helps me in this regard! If there is something I would have enjoyed as a kid, I feel confident that it is something worth exploring for future lessons and events.
Although I am figuring things out as I go, I continue to be surrounded by incredibly gifted, trained, professional artists, and they remind me that even though my trajectory can be considered non-conventional, that is part of the artist experience in itself.
I enjoy most developing relationships authentically. For me, it has been worthwhile inviting others into this dream who share the same values and catch the vision of why our programs are focused on some of the most vulnerable student populations in the city. We continue to grow on a grassroots level in an incredible beautiful way. We continue to do amazing things for countless students flying a bit under the radar, if I’m being honest.
I am making my own path, our own niche for Come Alive Long Beach, through the types of programs we offer, the populations we serve, and the heart behind this organization: To inspire the next generation through creative experiences, teaching them to explore and dream beyond limitation. I believe we will only continue to expand and do so in the ways that are true to our culture and values. We serve quietly, but make big noise.
There are definitely more ideas I have, that near to my heart, and ready to come alive. I know some of these ideas will require new strategic partnerships for additional funding and resources, and I am also trusting that it will all come together as it should, when it should. If there is one thing I have learned, it is not to force anything. There should be a sense of ease that comes with the pieces coming together and setting in place. That being said, I am always open to collaborating and welcome the inquiries on how to partner; how to be dream makers together. It has been a fun, hard, beautiful ride the last five years, and it’s only the beginning.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ll give a few new recommendations than I did the last go around, and maybe repeat one or two, cause Long Beach is really one of the greatest places to live. Food: The 4th Horseman in downtown, Handel’s Ice Cream across from The Hanger at LBX, El Sauz on Anaheim. I haven’t tried El Sauz yet, but I keep meaning to! The reviews I hear make it a must try!
Activities: Paddle-boarding around the Naples Canals, cruising on your choice of wheels along the beach bike path, and checking out whatever festival or local event is taking place that weekend, it could be art, food, music, or even pet related. You already know, “There’s always something going on in the LBC.”
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I dedicate this Shoutout to my ancestors. I come from a lineage of indomitable women, many of whom I have never met, and many who are now gone from this life. I am the legacy of their love, prayers, and sacrifice. Their fortitude was gifted to me, their wisdom, their joy, and their wealth of compassion. It is their unfinished love stories, told to the world through their displays of generosity, that will live on through me. Their generosity will live on in my creative dreams for my community, in the way I build relationships with others, and in my healing, both myself and for that which they left behind, that was never intended to be mine. Thank you, pamilya. I love you, I carry you in my heart, and honor you with my life’s beauty.