We had the good fortune of connecting with Kalee Choiniere and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kalee, how do you think about risk?
Some time back in 2009 I was absolutely obsessed with Third Eye Blind. I was an angsty young girl, age 15, edging on the manic artistic virtue of pop punk— I *felt everything*. Stephan Jenkins came out with his album, Ursa Major— the lyrics of this album surged through my veins— specifically the track Bonfire, “…we could live like Kings if we take a risk, or we could live in doubt”. Nothing felt more true, as I scream-sang the line with my best friend in my bedroom (walls covered in a mural we painted together, the messiness of art supplies and random lyrics to songs we wrote on scrap pieces of paper littering the floor). It’s funny because when I think of the word “risk” or the times I’ve done something “risky”, I hardly think of it from my own perspective. My brain immediately goes to all of the times I’ve told someone what I’m doing or have done, and their reaction “OoooOo that’s risky!”, and instantly feel like “…oh really?”. The situation often didn’t feel risky to me…more-so it’s felt like: potentially the stupidest thing I’ve done; what my heart/intuition needed to experience; what was nagging me in the middle of the night and kept me so wide awake that I had to act on it or I’d explode. Some people like to say things like “no risk, no reward!” and I’m like…heck! It’s true! Except…”what’s your risk is my reward” feels more right. Isn’t it riskier to be driven insane by the wading of “should I or shouldn’t I do this thing I really want to try…”. Going insane from your own doubt feels like the biggest risk you could take in a life that (unfortunately no matter how stealthy you are to evading death), will eventually end. I like to see my life as a little map. Scream-singing back in my art-filled bedroom at 15 was the most fulfilled I could be, and here we are— still doing the same thing 14 years later. So I’ve continued it. Is that really that risky? To be aware of what makes you light up and follow that same vibe forever? Some things that I’ve done specifically, that people have deemed risky: moving 3000 miles away from home, hiking from Mexico to Seattle on the Pacific Crest Trail, moving into my car, quitting my bartending job to sell art out of a van on the beach, making cringe-worthy Instagram stories of me singing haphazardly in a manic rush…the list goes on. Maybe it is risky? Maybe; More-so it feels like scratching a giant itch, then basking in the pleasure of the relief until the next itch comes to the surface. With all that being said, I would like to add— having the ability to take “risks” is a privilege; it comes from having the emotional support from community, from knowing yourself, and from having trust and faith in your life purpose (which, in my opinion, takes heap-loads of attention and self-exploration). We should be loving, encouraging, and celebrating each other in the excitement of risk-taking; If not for the act of celebration, then for reminder that: even if things don’t end up the way we *hoped*, the act of bravery that comes from stepping into the unknown is a giant feat. Anyways, when I was 18 I got that Third Eye Blind lyric tattooed on my body and vowed to forever live in the sentiment. 1) because I can’t afford tattoo removal and 2) because I think our younger selves hold the key to our future.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Ah! I’m most proud of the series I’ve been working on for the last couple of years— Seeing Double. Every painting seems to unlock another layer of myself, and in that layer I find a deeper way to relate to the world. I want to make art that feels like a hug for the brain and gives people a moment to reflect on what it makes them feel and why. I’m most excited about all of the live painting opportunities I’ve had this summer with other psychedelic visual artists…it’s been awesome to connect with other creators who are sharing their unique ways of telling a story we all can relate to at some level.

I remember like 6 years ago being like “Wow, I really want to be a full-time creator” and feeling so overwhelmed at the idea of… how the heck am I supposed to get there? It’s been quite a surprising road but looking at it from moment to moment…there’s never been quite a huge “aha! I’ve done it!” moment…everything has unfolded one small, yet golden nugget at a time. I’ve learned to trust the lulls. Life is full of ebbs and flows and as much as you think you want a life full of highlights, the mundane is quite beautifully placed for a reason. My biggest challenge is that sometimes I’ll get so obsessed with my commitment with a project or painting that I’ll be taken out of the magic of it—I think this is more normal for creators than most people think. I highly suggest taking long breaks in nature, time away from your phone, and a few close friends as a support system who know how to make you laugh and keep you grounded— they mean the world to me.

My biggest hope with sharing my own work is that it encourages other people find the magic to create vibrantly, strangely and unabashedly.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Follow Your Heart for drawing and hanging out and coffee, roller skating then drum circle at Venice Beach, local DJ set at the secret spot, Dance Church Sunday morning in Silver Lake, ice cream at Big Softee. My favorite part of exploring the city is one thing leading to another, usually involving music and dancing.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
John Behr, my friend-family in Seattle, anyone I’ve lived with and shared space with (especially Nick, Karissa, Rose), Annamarie and her life-changing work through Work Your Wild, my friends and family in Rhode Island, anyone I’ve met traveling, Diana and Vermillion Art Bar, Gilby at Steve Gilbert Photo Studio for giving me my first art show, many, many more.

Website: www.barelyawakekalee.com

Instagram: @barelyawakekalee

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.