Months ago I found myself at a restaurant in the Meatpacking District while a waiter made small talk with me. "Waiting for a old friend?" he asked. I paused before answering.Do you describe a person you only know through Instagram as an acquaintance or a good friend? Some would say I met Tracy Memoli and Laurance Rassin merely by chance, but in a small world made even smaller by social media, I don't think there are any coincidences.

My path crossed with Laurance Rassin on a beautiful summer day in Manhattan last August. I spotted an artist busy at work along the High Line and I stopped in my tracks. There is nothing better than seeing an artist standing at his easle, completely absorbed by his craft. I snapped a photo of the artist and posted it to Instagram with the hashtag "#ArtistAtWork".Before I finished my short commute from Chelsea to the East Village,my phone beeped with an Instagram notification."Great shot",the comment read."It's artist Laurance Rassin."Just hours after strolling the High Line,not only could I put a name to the face of the artist,I had a phone number and had an interview scheduled with him.The digital shift in the art world is undeniable and Rassin is riding the wave of social media.

Laurance Rassin is an artist whose talents know no limits. His works create "a sumptuous and color filled world, enveloping his audience in signature large scale impasto oil paintings, bronze sculptures,ceramics,film,tapestries,and textiles..." Beyond the canvas, he is "the first contemporary artist to preside over the closing bell at NASDAQ"and is the artistic director and founding member of The New Blue Riders (along with David Noah Burliuk).

 A scene from "Mr.Background". 

A scene from "Mr.Background". 

Rassin's lastest venture has him drawing in audiences with his Youtube series "Mr.Background" and "Wine-1-1". It's this very endeavor that proves an artist's education never ends. Rassin and Memoli,an Elite Daily contributor and on-air correspondent for Dessert Professional, stood up to the challenge of mastering social media and how to use it to their advantage. The couple began taking classes at Google in Manhattan to learn the ins and outs of Youtube, how to build a channel and find the right audience.

Rassin's Wine-1-1 is a humorous spin on wine tasting. Rassin's writing and skits make the wine world less intimidating for viewers.What is even more appealing about Wine-1-1 is you don't have to be a wine drinker to enjoy this series. I can't tell a merlot from a zinfandel to save my life, and yet I found myself unable to turn this series off.

Memoli and Rassin are a modern digital couple that seek opportunity rather than waiting for it to knock on the door. They have built their audiences from scratch using social media and stand as proof that if you want it, you can do it. Gone are the days of needing a fancy studio or full (and expensive!) production team. Here is a passionate couple that took their talent and ran with it. The result is enthusiasm, humor, great material and entertainment served directly to viewers' digital fingerstips.

To learn more about Memoli and Rassin, check out their social media channels and subscribe: Instagram and Youtube.

Oh, and a very Happy Father's Day from Wine-1-1.

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Be Rewarded: Memories and a Thank You Note

As I was running through SFO to catch my flight to Los Angeles, something caught my eye. Always a sucker for quotes, when I saw a few words painted along the ceiling of a terminal store, I had to stop to see what it said.

 

 "Love what you do, put your heart into it and you will be rewarded"

 

I smiled to myself and sighed after reading this. 30 minutes prior, I was in the back of a cab, cursing myself. I rummaged through my wallet as the cabbie waited to be paid. I looked at my credit cards and wondered which one would self-destruct in protest if I swiped it one more time. I could hear my Mother saying, "Art doesn't pay." 

It's funny how the dreams we had as children never die. They may simmer, but the flames of those dreams seem to continue to burn for a lifetime. "I want to be an artist" was my answer to the classic question "What do you want to be when you grow up?". My answer never received much applause. "Don't you want to be a teacher or a doctor?", my Mom would ask in response.

I remember being overcome with jealousy when I would walk by the Ottawa School of Art. I chose to study Politics in university. I didn't hate my major, but what I liked most about it was how "safe" it was. My degree would help me get a cushy office job with great benefits and an early retirement. Yet the thought of being in a cubicle made me feel sick to my stomach. I'd fantasize about dropping out of university and going to art school. That never happened. My bravery was much more inflated in my daydreams than in reality. 

In my last year of university, I had a hell of a time finishing my final paper. I sat down one morning before sunrise to write my essay. By the time the sun set that day, I had maybe written 5 paragraphs. Instead of writing about the theories of Aristotle, I researched how to create a website. Coding and linking domains were foreign concepts to me.

I also poured over photos from my travels and recalled all of the artists I had met abroad. There was the stain glass artist who I chatted with at the art school (Academy of San Carlos) in Mexico City, the clay artist I met at a marketplace in Gothenburg, Sweden and the abstract painters in Havana, Cuba who invited us into their homes and studios to share their work. This was the world I wanted to be in.

I walked by an empty gallery that night while doing a coffee run for my inevitable all-nighter. I snapped a photo, posted it online and wrote "May 6, 2011: I saw this space and got excited. One day I'll have a space like this covered in art". 

These are the memories that I play on repeat in my mind when I have moments of self-doubt. My self-doubt in the back of that cab was suffocating. I asked the driver to roll down the windows. I have fond memories of my Grandmother rolling down the car windows during long car rides, sticking her hand out and slowly twirling it as the wind gently brushed against her skin. When I need to get out of my head, I roll down the window, twirl my hand in the wind and think of my Grandmother. She is my rock. She always told me I could do anything as long as I was willing to work hard and never look back.

This quote I saw at the airport blew out the flames of my self-doubt that day. Everything I had envisioned years ago while ignoring my term paper, unfolded during ArtCrasher's Los Angeles gallery show. There we were, over 300 artists and art lovers celebrating and supporting each other's work. I met Nina Parys from France, Ank Draijer from Costa Rica, Kaillee Coleman from Seattle, Lyn Pacificar, Nora Novak, Greg Anka and Todd Silver from Los Angeles, Rachel Goldsmith from NYC, and many, many other artists from all corners of the US and the world. 

The way I felt that night surpassed any corner office or job title I could have received if I haven't changed my life path. A huge thank you to all of the artists who participated in the Los Angeles show. I am so grateful for your support. That night I was reminded why I love what I do. I am so happy to share and celebrate your work. Continue to work hard and you will be rewarded 

 ArtCrasher Los Angeles Show. Photo Credit: Nina Parys

ArtCrasher Los Angeles Show. Photo Credit: Nina Parys


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From LA With Love: ArtCrasher at Venice Arts

 Photo credit: Nina Parys

Photo credit: Nina Parys

ArtCrasher kicked off its Los Angeles gallery show on June 28th. Over 350 people walked through the gallery doors on opening night. The show and its crowd were electric. The crowd was supportive and loved the show's work.

The featured artists who made it out to the show put a face to the work and reminded me exactly why ArtCrasher was created; To establish connections between artists, expose their work and create a supportive community within the art world. As we unwind from the show and settle back into San Francisco, we will continue to post individual blog posts on each featured artist. A big thank you to artists Ank Draijer, Lyn Pacificar and Nina Partys who took the photos featured below.

*Those photos only show a fraction of the featured artwork. More photos to come!

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ArtCrasher Kicks Off First Show in San Francisco

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ArtCrasher's tour kicked off February 7 in San Francisco. Our opening night drew nearly 200 people to SOMArts' Bay Gallery. Viewers got a look at the work of over 80 international artists from 12 different countries. Our show knew no limits. It featured work in four different art; Illustration, Mixed Media, Painting, Photography and Street Art. We also had San Francisco's Pete Doolittle as the show's live painter.

This first show was an experiment for us. It was a learning experience, a series of trials and (some) errors to see what works and what needs a bit of altering. The show did exactly what we had hoped. It created a night of inspiration and celebration for artists and all forms of Art. 

While we are still buzzing from the first show, we are getting back to reality to get our Los Angeles show underway. We will be releasing more information about our Los Angeles show tomorrow, February 18. Stayed tuned! In the meantime, let's relive our SF show a bit. Check out photos below. 

 


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