We had the good fortune of connecting with Scott St.James Cardona and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Scott St.James, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’d say that taking risks has played a very important role in my life. I remember when I was younger I didn’t really want to do much but stay inside and be a recluse and paint. My parents bought me a skateboard one day to encourage me to go outside and enjoy life. I started out in the parking garage and soon wanted to cruise faster since my backyard wasn’t cutting it. I grew up on Echo Park Avenue and if you ever been on that particular avenue you can drive up and be on a gradual incline until you reach the end. Id skate to the top and try to go as fast as I could to the end where Echo Park meets Sunset Blvd. I’d take the risk and sometimes make it down in one piece but other times I would wipeout and stumble home battered and bruised. Tomorrow I would try again because it was worth the risk every time. I started doing this so often on my way from Sunset Blvd back to the top of the hill that I started meeting and talking to people on my way up. At this time there was many art galleries on echo park avenue. I’d stare through the glass or in the door to catch a glimpse of what was going on inside with the artists painting or art on display. I finally had the courage to go inside and take a risk by introducing my self and wanting to meet the people inside. Mind you I was a lot more shy then I am today. You’d be surprised by the interesting and humble people that were behind some of these doors. Sometimes I’d skate outside and the gallery owners would come out and chat and sometimes even skate with me. By taking the risk of wanting to know these people and meet them as well as take interest in what they were all about brought a very accepting atmosphere to learn. I eventually was able to showcase my paintings in some of these galleries which made my confidence grow and my reserved self start to fade away. Risk taking for me is having the courage to try even if you fail That you have the ability to say that you at least made an attempt because it would be a shame to have wondered what was behind that window or inside the door. For Example Peter Shire had a studio across the street from my house. And I’d always see them doing these wild metal sculptures and crazy projects. The gate to his studio was always open and from the street you can peer in and it looked like a metal wonderland. It was very intimidating to say the least. I was very interested and wanted to be apart of that so I decided one day to walk on over and take the risk of meeting these people and taking interest in what they do, and wanting to implement my self in that atmosphere. I met Peter Shire and he gave me a tour of his studio and explained to me what he did with his Art. Peter was a jack of all trades he had a metal, ceramic, and paint studio operating out of this old mail center, which was a huge place! I explained that it was an awesome thing and it would be cool to be able to take part in it. He told me to come back tomorrow and that was it I was apart of the crew. The first job I did was help fabricate metal medallions by painting them, and then silk screening the different symbols for the Chinese New Year celebration. These medallions still are on display in Chinatown today among many other public work we did in his workshop all across Los Angeles. Through this I met and helped many other artist and fabricators along the way and working on different public art. If I never had taken the risk I would of never been able to explore the large range of artistic abilities that I was capable of. With all that being said the role that risk plays is never all that negative unless your to afraid to take it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve always had a love for the community that I reside in. I started out by restoring murals in Echo Park that were constantly painted over in Gang Graffiti. I was tired that many of these beautiful murals were being defaced and neglected. So I brought it upon my self to restore them with the permission of the building owners. I used my own money to pay for resources to restore these murals. The city had taken notice and added me to there mural restoration project which fueled my love for Los Angeles Public Arts Department. I then worked for Peter Shire and helped create many different public art that is on display for the City Of Los Angeles. Then Followed by Ball-Nogues Studios and there Amazing Air Garden on display at LAX as well as the Proscenium at Portland State University. I’ve most proud of taking the risk of wanting to meet certain people and not being afraid of trying something you like. This was all hard work but it has always been fun for me regardless. I want everyone to know that being apart of your community is important and in a time like this we need to be together metaphorically more then ever and that little gestures that you do can really brighten someone’s day, it can range from anything art to just a plain hello. Take interest and love your neighborhood and community because that is what inspires me and my creativity. Which in return encourages me to put that love and creativity back into all our communities.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hands down first place you got to hit is the Grand Central Market. It has many different places to eat ranging from tacos to sushi. After you’ve had a few drinks and dishes you can walk in any direction and be in the presence of historic Downtown Los Angeles Architecture as well as many public artwork on display. You could spend all day in Downtown and be inspired by every corner you turn. Once it becomes nighttime I always love to go Perch which is a bar/restaurant on top of a beautiful building where you can hangout and see the whole downtown skyline from an amazing view. I don’t know of a more perfect way to spend your time In Los Angeles.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Shoutout is to all the wonderful and caring people I’ve met through the Los Angeles community. My success comes from the love and kindness of others.
Peter Shire Theresa Powers Ricardo Mendoza Frank Lloyd Gallery Ball-Nogues Studios Michael Amescua