We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabriel Barrera and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabriel, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I always wanted to work for myself and practice social justice as a means to influence the art world. Having my own business allows me to practice my values in social justice through my art and practice. For me the two are inseparable and I don’t have to compromise my identity in order to make my artwork.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My brand name ScenicG comes from the combination of my scenic art background and my first initial. Most of my artwork emits an emotional response influenced by current events, injustice, and identity. My art practice leads with social justice, advocacy, mentorship and provides facilitation around anti-biased conversations. I am also very passionate about providing art mentorship to BIPOC youth. It is my personal experience as artist of color that gives me clarity on how difficult it is for BIPOC youth to thrive in the arts. I spent 20+ years working for white theater institutions as a scenic artist, most notably the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. While there, I gained the tools and resources to articulate and expand upon my awareness around oppressive systems, I build my analysis around how my art and practice will be dictated by my experiences and relationships with others who share similar experiences of injustice. In my journey I learned to empower myself, mentees, friends, family and BIPOC communities. Removing myself from the white institution was key in my own growth and for building upon my business. Sometimes I feel that I learn more from the mentees than they do from me. I appreciate empowering and building confidence in BIPOC youth because I struggled finding empowerment and confidence which I still struggle with sometimes. ScenicG’s future is to someday provide a creative art space for BIPOC youth to explore, learn, advocate and thrive as developing artists. ScenicG, where creativity thrives!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I consider Long Beach my hometown but all of L.A. county is the backyard to so many good things! I like the Long Beach Pike with a stroll through Shoreline Village into the sunset to catch the Queen Mary across the way as the lights come up at night. For breakfast I like Bake & Broil in L.B. The best neighborhood cafe is Blackbird Cafe in L.B. Next, eating along pine avenue and choosing among the many places to eat but if you from L.B. Casa Sanchez is always my go to for fast, cheap and waistline worth it lunch. I love hanging out along the different beaches from Sunset to Malibu. I like the entertainment and activity of Santa Monica Pier but the gritty down to earth vibe of Venice. When it comes to inland spots It’s always hard to pick and choose but I like downtown L.A.’s Grand Central Market with plenty of variety, from Mexican, Villa Moreliana to Korean, Shiku. For really good desert there’s Bottega Louie. As far as drinks it’s endless. I always liked an evening drink along the ocean. Recreation wise I like the museums La Brea Tar Pits, MoCAA, LACMA and the arts district. Whale watching. Last but not least looking out from Signal Hill on a clear night being able to see the entire L.A. corridor. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate me shoutout to Sharifa Johka, Carmen Morgan, Freda Casillas and my wife Merilee Ford Barrera
Gabriel Barrera and Merilee Ford Barrera