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

Hi Mauricio, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?

As Founder of an innovative and engaging organization in the arts called The smArt Collective, what pushes success for the group and myself can be summed up in an unspoken motto, as a prevailing attitude amongst the members, best expressed through the old idiom, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”; meaning as a collective group of professionals in the arts we understand that success comes from sticking together.

With the ensuing pandemic, the arts have been drastically hit, with many institutions closing and the ever increasing competition for work amongst artists and art professionals rising; The smArt Collective was created to combat the economic hit the art world has taken. We do this by bringing artists and art professionals together to work as a collective, with the sole aim to provide opportunities.

One for all, all for one!

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?

Overall, The smArt Collective promotes the work of every member of the organization equally. We are a Los Angeles based arts collective made up of a group of artists, curators and supporters from across the nation. Our mission has been to foster, maintain, and develop relationships with artists, curators and supporters. Usually this is through shared workspace and materials, marketing and promotional efforts, advocacy, and collaborative works. Everyone who is part of the collective jointly shares costs, benefits and risks.

Notably, with the effects of the pandemic squeezing the financial sector further, there has become a bigger increase in competition for work amongst artists and art professionals.

Historically, exclusivity and competition amongst professionals in the arts is not a new phenomenon. This is reflected in the art market and can’t be changed unless we adopt a different approach. I imagine we can start by addressing the systemic barriers that restrict access to who is creating and working in the art markets.

To rebuttal these effects, I teamed up with like-minded professionals in the arts to create The smArt Collective. Our objective since being established has been to work together as a group, in order to create opportunity for ourselves in a way that we feel engages audiences in a critical way. The smArt Collective looks to continue networking and collaborating with like-minded people who wish to push the envelope on what art can be when professionals come together to promote their work!

Generally speaking, I am very proud of the collective movement we have started. It really is all the unique and personal connections we develop that make us different. My particular job as Artist Manager and Curator is to promote our in-house artists in different and exciting ways, making lasting connections along the journey. Considerably, I have professional expertise in the museum industry, encompassing a broad background in Curation, Collections, and Exhibitions.

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.

Monday – Pick up my best friend from LAX at the Tom Bradley International terminal. The first place we go to is In-N-Out for a burger and milkshake. Then to the Airbnb rented out in Culver City to relax. For Dinner we have Tito’s Tacos and some beers at a local bar called Backstage in Culver City.

Tuesday – We go to Muscle Beach via the Metro Expo Line after having breakfast at the Airbnb. We workout, go in the ocean, freshen up, and then end the day at the local bar for some food and drinks, specifically Cabo Cantina.

Wednesday – On hump day we eat at home for breakfast and dinner, except for lunch which we have at The Broad Museum. That night we invite friends over for game night and pizza.

Thursday – Start the day at the Mexican based restaurant El Cholo for some mimosas and brunch in Santa Monica. Then we hit Santa Monica Beach for the rest of the day. End off with a movie on Third Street Promenade and Wetzles Pretzels.

Friday – Relax most of the day by riding around Venice Boardwalk on electric scooters, maybe getting some sandwiches from Fat Sal’s later. At night we go to the Santa Monica Pier and then to a bar crawl in Downtown Santa Monica.

Saturday – Breakfast at the Airbnb and later go check out some galleries in the Culver City Arts District. In the evening we visit the food truck in the area called Tacos Super Gallito and have their burritos with the signature orange rice.

Sunday – Breakfast at Roscoe’s Chicken N Waffles with a goodbye to my friend at LAX sometime in the afternoon.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?

On behalf of The smArt Collective, I would like to thank all of our members and supporters who are willing to put in their time and effort to sustain us, believing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This includes our followers on social media who have promoted us, collectors who invested in our work, art professionals we have collaborated with, consultants that advised us, and organizations that we have teamed up with. The collective in essence cannot function properly without our members and supporters being the foundation of our work. Without them The smArt Collective is like a car with no engine parts, or a paintbrush with no bristles.

Furthermore, The smArt Collective would like to give a special shoutout to our in-house artists who continue to create and share amazing work with full dedication to what we are doing as a collective whole.

Gratitude goes out to contemporary artist Anton Franz Höger who was born in Munich, Germany and currently lives in Canton, Texas. He is a student of the Viennese School of Fantastic Realism, founded by five writers and painters, including Ernst Fuchs. Anton has recently fully dedicated himself to painting. His work deals with social issues, such as the present position of women in society, or the attempts at the destruction of man manifested by low-quality TV programming. Höger’s paintings are the mirror of our present existence. He is the winner of many international art prizes and his works have been exhibited in numerous cities around the world.

A special thanks also goes to contemporary urban photographer Erik Zuniga. As a freelance photographer based in the San Francisco Bay, photography for Erik is not only an art that captures a moment in time, it goes beyond that and creates a story. Erik can create a desired visual narrative in a way that is captivating to potential audiences. He believes people, places, and things are the central aspects of a visual narrative in photography.

Additionally, The smArt Collective would like to recognize the artist Íñigo José Guzmán based in Brooklyn, New York. He paints in a traditional oil glazing method. This was the main oil painting technique in Western art from the early Renaissance to the post-revolutionary period. By looking into the spirituality of Roman Catholicism, Guzmán takes inspiration from traditional iconography and biblical narratives. In some pieces they are revisited by including people of color into the roles that have traditionally been dominated by white people. It is the representation of cultures stemming from western colonialism that are under or not represented.

To conclude, a final shoutout goes to the most recent smArt Collective in-house artist, Keeks93! She attended Yale Norfolk in 2015 and received her BFA in Painting from California College of the Arts in 2016. She currently lives and works in San Francisco, California. Keeks combines different styles and elements to create something new in her paintings. The combination of established art styles and techniques used by Keeks (Minimalism, Geometric Abstraction, Neoplasticism, Pop Art, Op-art, Orphism, and Bauhaus) come together to create an original style that is unique. Keeks93 is actively involved in spreading the value of community and believes art is for everyone.

Website: https://www.thesmartcollective2021.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_smart_collective/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mauricio-velasco3005

Other: smartcollective2021@gmail.com

Image Credits
Anton Franz Höger Erik Zuniga Íñigo José Guzmán Keeks93 Termeh Behbahani Jairo Melara

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