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It's ok if you picked one thing and now you want to pick something else.

If you want to be more than one thing, you can be more than one thing.

Not until I gathered and saw all the pieces of myself, was I then able to make the amazing discovery that we need to do more than one thing to flourish into who we are really meant to be- incredible humans. All of us.
 
The true life stories featured here are the evidence of the magnificence creating can lead to.
Sometimes I excavate myself. Sometimes I excavate others.

If you found this page
, it means there is a story here for you.


For all the restorations and renovations, the finished result will always be featured on the right. Click the images for a closer look.

 

New-York Historical Society Door Restoration

Can you paint metal to look like wood? That was the question even though he already knew the answer. The question didn´t come from another artist or a mentor or someone plugged into the job. It came from my husband. We cannot assume where the next opportunity is going to come from or who is going to be the link in the chain that connects you, all we can do is tell the world what opportunity we are looking for. Tell it to everyone, because you just don´t know who has a connection somewhere. And if you never say what you need or are looking for, no one is going to read your mind. I didn´t know where the opportunity would come from but I knew that if my theories were true, before the end of the year I would be painting wood and getting paid for it.

I know many couples who do not talk about their work life. They have a general idea of what the person does but they do not know the details. My husband and I know all the details of each others skills, our past and current work, and our specific goals. So when his coworker, asked him "hey, I heard of a place looking for someone who can paint metal doors to look like wood, do you know someone¨, right away he said ¨yes, my wife.¨ I didn´t know what the place was or what they were going to ask for, but I knew that 100% I could do the job. It did not matter that I taught myself. Maybe it was an office, or a fancy country club, whatever it was didn't matter to me, I knew I could paint anything to look like wood. 

When my husband finally gave me the address, my jaw all but fell on the floor when I saw the job was for a museum. But I knew, museum or not, if they just gave me an opportunity to show them what I could do, I knew I would be in. The day finally came for me to provide a sample repair. I left it all on the door. I've had so many jobs where my rewards were linked to the performance of a team, always being judged by how well someone else performed to determine if I had done my job properly. For the first time ever, I was finally being judged for the work that I alone was doing, and it was more than enough. The next day they called me to set up a contract and a schedule. 

These doors were my canvas so technically that means my art is in a museum. I don´t even mind that I came in through the back door. Because among the sea of people that flood through the front doors, few can say they spent nights at the museum.

New-York Historical Society Door Restoration
New-York Historical Society Door Restoration
New-York Historical Society Door Restoration
New-York Historical Society Door Restoration
New-York Historical Society Door Restoration
New-York Historical Society Door Restoration
New-York Historical Society Door Restoration

Molotov Cocktail De Emociones

They came to me with a list of Gods, wanting the center point to take their breath away. What is more breathtaking than the creators themselves? The visual representation of the sound of Adrian Y Carolina; a wild and emotional love of rock, latin and spanish music.

MOLOTOV COCKTAIL DE EMOCIONES

Happiness Is Just A Recycle Away - 2022 Trucks Of Art Finalist

True happiness borders on the realms of make belief and reality. A sanitation worker is secretly spreading happiness in disguise. They keep our streets clean, waving hello as they ride off into the dawn. When our environment is clean, so too it is easier for our minds to think clearly and see the beauty. Amidst the purple rubble of the street, green marble recycle tubes emerge victoriously, taking in the trash and exploding into an array of joy in the form of bright colors and sunflowers. You see as Sanitation workers emerge from the tubes, spreading joy in the form of sunflowers.

This is what recycling does, it gives us a chance at true happiness. I’ve always regarded NYC sanitation workers with the utmost respect and admiration. Do you know the courage needed to step up to a bundle of trash in NYC not knowing if there will be a rat party waiting to leap out? These people are true warriors. Nothing would have made me happier than to be the one to pimp their ride with a beautiful mural to encourage people to recycle and spread happiness. Even though I was not chosen, I am just glad someone is giving these trucks a makeover. As is stands, this is my favorite ¨Second place, hell yeah!'- Bring It On¨moments I have had in my life. Art unifies all people.

I don’t know many people who look at sanitation workers as they drive around and say “I wish I was that guy up there” but with a rocking mural on there truck- everyone would want a chance to jump on the side of the truck with pride! I think it is also a very powerful testament to be able to paint a beautiful mural with salvaged paints. One’s man’s trash really can become another person’s treasure. Scavenging and using unwanted materials, is part of who I am as an artist. We always have the opportunity to give something a new chance at life, whether we take those opportunities or not is a different story.

Happiness Is Just A Recycle Away
Trucks Of Art Finalist

Romance Your Way Home Entryway Renovation

The entrance sets the tone of a home. A couple of rolls of wallpaper can be the difference between inviting the fun or inviting the dread. A couple books, a focal art piece and some faux flowers go a long way when dressing a space. How can you make the entrance to your home more you?

Romance Your Way Home Entryway Renovation

Azul Como El Lapis Lazuli

From the earliest civilizations of the Indus River Valley, across the times and into the modern day, lapis lazuli continues to mesmerize the world with its beauty. Did you know that during the renaissance this precious stone was ground into a fine powder and used to make ultramarine paint? Due to this semiprecious stone´s high cost and scarcity, artists began immitating the look of lapis lazuli. I have decided to join the bandwagon and give this small statue a second chance at life in a more luxurious skin.


We always have a second chance, it just never looks exactly like the first. If you are hung up looking for the exact same details as before, the second chance may be right in front of you and you won´t even notice.  Maybe it is in that new outfit, new spouse, new home, new job- you will not know for sure until you give the second chance a chance.

Azul Como El Lapis Lazuli

Dante Goes To The Salon


Can you give my father some hair and repaint the name on his shirt? That was the question. People go to all types of establishments and walk out with more hair than they walked in with. What I did here with Dante isn´t any different. Using tape I was able to give Dante a crisp edge just like they do at the Dominican barbershops.

Who are we to judge if someone wants to look a certain way? Why are you getting mad if they copy your hairstyle? Is anything ever really ours? Can you blame someone for wanting to try something different in hopes of feeling more like the self they feel like on the inside?

I was very active in the NY club scene when sensual Bachata hit the dancefloors. People from all over became intoxicated by it and started dancing it. Many began teaching it, even though they were not Dominican. And that angered a lot of Dominicans. To see people that were not Dominicans dancing and teaching Sensual Bachata everywhere. Let me remind Dominicans that it was because so many people took an interest that Bachata spread like a virus and is now everywhere. This was a dance that originated on one side of a tiny island in the Caribbean and it´s now known all over the world. Why are you trying to hoard the goodness of your culture only to yourself? If someone else falls in love with it and that love manifests into a business, you should be proud that someone is showcasing it. It does not take away from you being able to showcase it too.

No one is ever going to show off what you love like you are, because only you have lived your life.

Dante Goes To The Salon

Daddy Daughter Cakez

Once upon a time there was a man in need of a birthday cake for his young daughter. His regular baker, my mom, was unavailable to take his order that year. He searched for days for the perfect cake, going to all the bakeries around his  town. Too dry, too sweet, too plain, no cake seemed to be good enough. So he decided to make it himself with the help of the internet. 

 

The cake turned out spectacular! And it awakened something in him, that he was not expecting. A passion for baking with his daughter that he didn’t know was there. He made another cake, just because. This is what happens when you truly find something that fills you. You do it because it amazes even you that you are capable of making something and it makes you feel incredible inside. He then made one more. Each time, bettering his tecnique and increasing his desire to bake. After a couple of classes with my mom to point him in the right direction, the man has been his own teacher. 

 

He didn’t intend on starting a cake business with his daughter but one cake order from a friend led to another one and another one.  His cakes were so delicious that the orders just started coming in on their own. That was the beginning of Daddy Daughter Cakez. Did I mention this man is doing this all in addition to having a very thrilling and successful carreer with the law? The young daughter was so excited to start a business that she hand wrote their first business cards. I just had to feature her work in the design.

Daddy Daughter Cakez Business Cards
Daddy Daughter Cakez Business Cards

The Blue Room

I knew that I wanted to paint one of the walls of my studio but I had no plan. I looked at all the leftover paint cans and saw that I had more blue than any other color. I mixed the 4 different blues I found and on the roller it all went. After laying that first coat, I felt like I´d made a mistake. All I could see was Cookie Monster´s blue face staring back at me. It was just too blue. So I did what I always do when I make a mistake, I add more paint to it.

 

After the hand drawn leaves came on, the wall looked completely different. I had no intention of having that white couch there, but it just complemented the delicate trees perfectly. It was only until I saw the room dressed that I remembered that when I was little we had a blue living room and white couches. I still remember my dad removing the tape off the edge of the wall. So crisp. Blue walls with a navy border. My father Andrickson, is an excellent decorative painter. None of my friends´ apartments were painted like mine so it made the apartment feel even more special. How could I not become enamoured with transforming spaces, witnessing my father working like Houdini. It wasn´t just the painting. He knew how to install all the elements that made a room a room. Any type of light fixture, chandeliers even. He could rewire any room. Whenever anyone in the family wanted to install new floor tiles, they´d call my dad. Whenever anyone wanted anything home related, my dad was the one getting those phone calls. I wanted to be able transform a space. Oh and the amount of parties that blue living room saw. My dad was definitely one of the main party planners of my childhood.

 

Thanks dad for this wonderful time in my life. This is the impact of those early years of magic.

 

We are always trying to go back to the first time we felt the most loved, whether we are aware of it or not. The remnants of the life we had when we were happy. This is what we spend our lives trying to recreate. For a lot of us, those first moments of love were in our childhood. I remember how we´d all squish together on the couch and watch novelas. The living room floor could transform into both the battle station for our Pokemon cards and a one level Barbie oasis, complete with a cardboard box beds,  a fridge and an assortment of shoes, clothing and fake food. My parents would even roll around on the floor with us. That floor was my first stage. And for sure my very first art studio. We were just children but we knew that it was it meant to be alive. In my home the blue room is for sure the room where we do the most living. You don´t need a lot of space, you just need a space that lets you do the things that make you happy. I present to you my Blue Room; art studio, gaming station, dance space, learning zone, dining area and spare bedroom all in one. Why else would it be called a living room if not because it´s where we are supposed to do the most living?

The Blue Room
The Blue Room
The Blue Room
The Blue Room

Good Bye Catsle In The Sky

Had I listened to people when they told me not to look for apartments on Craigslist, I would´ve missed out on these views. Why limit yourself from looking anywhere if you know how to check if something is really made  of gold.

I couldn´t just go off what I saw on an ad online. Yes, it looked too good to be true. An apartment walking distance from the beach, dishwasher, washer-dryer unit in the apartment, elevator, front desk with attendant at all times, live in super, parking on the premises, private cabana area for the residents, and in the price range of a normal one bedroom in the city. My husband and I agreed we would have to go check it out in person. There was no other way to know for sure. Even after speaking to the agent over the phone, I more than anyone knew a kind voice over the phone could be faked; people do it all the time in call centers.

I looked up the building online and everything looked legitimate. There were reviews of people that had lived there. At least we knew for sure the place existed, whether or not it had our dream apartment, we did not know.

 

Worst case scenario, we took a trip to the beach and found a new area that neither one has been to. Best case scenario- you´re looking at the pictures.

Good Bye Castle In The Sky
Good Bye Castle In The Sky
Good Bye Castle In The Sky
Good Bye Castle In The Sky

Let´s Get Gilded

I was in California for my brother´s graduation when I got the message asking if I was available to work  as an Industrial on the Gilded Age: Season 2. One of the scenic artists I met while working on Law and Order recommended me to the right person. I responded yes, detailing when I would be back in NY and they sent me a date, an address and the contact information for the foreman on the job. That was it. No need to jump through 10 pages worth of an application just to be interviewed. No asking for my job history. I did not even have to send a resume. Because the person who recommended had a remarkable reputation as an artist, and if he was recommending me then they believed him when he said I was good. That and my work spoke pretty loud for me. I have always seen my reputation as an additional arm. You take care of it. The foreman made sure I didn´t skip her job interview.

It was here that I met one of the most extraordinary artists I have ever met. This woman has design contracts with Disney, Broadway´s Phantom of The Opera, she has worked on tons of major productions, she was even the one who designed the Keebler Elf Treehouse! Yes, for the cookies! A glorified art career, skilled in watercolor, acrylics, metal welding, sculpture, digital design- the list is long folks. A healer among many circles,  she was also able to build a beautiful family. When I met her, she was mentoring like 60 artists on how to successfully navigate being a scenic artist and help them get into the Union. The amount of skills this lady has under her belt is very impressive. Meeting her was the proof I needed to know that it was possible to be all the things you wanted to be. You do not need to sacrifice one thing over the other. It´s just about finding the right combination of all the things you like. I needed this artist, who was also the foreman of the job, to see that I too was already many things.


When I was on the Gilded Age I wasn´t allowed to paint because I had come into the job through the door of the Industrial. Even with my superior painting skills, I was not allowed to touch a brush except to clean it. Are you really seeing the person in front of you or are you looking at the job title? Are you giving more value to the time that someone has been doing something, or to the demonstration of that something? And what about people who learn something wrong and practice it mediocrely for years? This is how things were set up, not just here but in a lot of places. Here the Scenics were the artists. Many, but not all, Industrials come from the construction world, and those that chose to become scenics spent several years  to build up the fine art skills to become a scenic artist; they needed to learn to draw and paint. It did not mean this was everyone´s story. Some people didn´t believe me when I told them I could already do the job of a scenic. Despite what was coming out of my mouth all they heard was that I had only been in the Union as an Industrial for a very short time. All assumptions were dismantled when I showed them my website with my digital portfolio. In truth, it did not matter that I was not allowed to paint while I was at work, because at home I was Davincha. The foreman on the job did see my talent and my skills from the beginning, and pushed her boss whenever possible for me to jump on-board as a Scenic. The last couple weeks I managed to slide through the cracks and worked as a Scenic for real. And along the few scenic artists that were still on the job at that time, we helped each other and all did the job of the Industrial.

This experience confirmed to me that I already had the skills. To have the incredible Dana Kenn as the foreman,¨jack of all trades¨ artist extraordinaire- for her to say I already had exceptional eyes and hands, gave me the certainty that I had what I needed to build my mountain. But before that I wanted the wood.  I wanted to paint wood like the scenic artists on the set. Not because someone told me, but because I knew I could. And I was not going to wait for someone on set to tell me when to do it. I was going to place my order directly with the world for an opportunity worthy of my greatness. Until the opportunity presented itself, I knew I just needed to paint and keep my eyes full.

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I Am Sailor Moon And Here Are Some Of The Other Scouts

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then these other scouts are Sailor Mars and Sailor Venus. And I of course Sailor Moon. We come to you in peace as the champions of love we truly are.

 

We never hid who we are and because of that we´ve been friends since the first day we met, in middle school and high school proper. Trust me when I say your people are out there, it does not matter how weird, eccentric, or complex you think you are- there are people out there just like you. You will not find them and they will not find you if you don´t show who you are. 

The day we dressed up as colorful rollerdancing unicorns, we were stopped by two elderly men on the boardwalk. Seeing Sailor Mars in his very queer attire, one of the men was in tears of joy, as he recounted how he had to hide his true self in his youth, when being openly gay was out of the question. He looked at us like we were superheroes as he praised us for dressing up like this and promoting diversity, just because. He even took pictures with us. We may not have been famous forreal but that day we definitely felt like celebrities.

 

I did not intend on recreating the life I saw in the Sailor Moon cartoon, but looking around me I just cannot deny that I married Tuxedo mask and I have been getting counseled by my two cats.

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Copy of Untitled (11 × 5 in)(43).png

Cat photography by Berta Recinos

When You See The One You Love

When the opportunity arose to take part in this project, I could not say no. Love is something that so many consider a mystery, but in reality all it is, is seeing someone and allowing yourself to be seen. Not just physically, but internally too. Are you showing the person all the parts of you? Are you trying to get to know all the parts of them?

When I revealed the piece to the couple, it proved to be even more meaningful to them than I could have ever known. They are health professionals who met while working in the same hospital during the pandemic. Due to all the Personal Protective Equipment they needed to wear, the only parts of themselves they could see were their eyes. And even then, they fell in love.

When You See The One You Love.png

Free Yourself Fashion Show

What would you like to do this year for your birthday? In past times my answer was always the same- let´s order food and invite the family over to chill at the house, maybe play charades. But no, I was no longer that person afraid to do the things I really wanted to do because no one else was doing them.

When I gave thought to what I wanted to do, I knew that I wanted to feel free. And I wanted anyone that came to also share in that feeling of having the freedom to be absolutely whoever they felt like being, no matter how absurd it may look to other. So I said ¨Let´s have a fashion show. A Free Yourself Fashion Show¨. Had I not hosted this out of the fear that people would think I was absurd, I would´ve never known that this is exaclty what everyone needed- the opportunity to show off who they are when they feel free.

It was not enough to ask the guests to come dressed as their best aristocrat. The day of the show, I had them write a short introduction that I read as they were about to take the runway. So many times people assume who we are based on how we are physically presenting ourselves, but that interpretation is solely based on what that particular person has seen, which sometimes is not a lot. Imagine if people could walk around with an ¨about me¨ screen with the things they liked, I´m sure people would be surprised by how much we all actually have in common.

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The Loves of My World

He wanted to show her how much he loved and appreciated that she had been with him for the past three years. A list of her favorite things: pandora charms, make-up, marijane, cooking, the color green, and the fella himself. He wanted to make sure she was the shining star of the piece and requested I add him in the corner somewhere. And that is where he remains to this day, faithfully in her corner.

The Loves Of My World

We Flow Like The Water - Watercolor Healing Therapy

So many people are afraid to try watercolor, believing they will not be able to control the flow of the paint. Why go in feeling like you need to control anything? You don´t walk into a dance studio after never having danced and say, ¨I will create the choreography today¨. You go in and allow yourself to be led by the instructor. So why not let the paint be your instructor in watercolor? I like to wet the paper, get it really saturated with water, then dab a brush that only has paint on the tip. You can see how as soon as the watercolor paint touches the water it expands and blooms into a colorful fire dancing. Sometimes I picture tiny little clear people joining hands and becoming colorful as they touch those who are already colorful. Depending on the type of paper it can look like an explosion of fireworks.

Fireworks of magnificence is what I was hoping to ignite in my family the day they tested the pilot for my Watercolor Healing Therapy class. That´s the good thing about having a big family. Someone is always down to try something new in the name of good, clean fun.

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Copy of Untitled (11 × 5 in)(50).png

The War Within Hits The Stage

Maybe you should do a live painting while you do your talk since you´re an artist? That was the question that came up while on a conference call with the team from The Red Talk.  It´s not that it was a bad idea. In fact, I knew they were going to suggest it. Many people thought ¨artist performing, oh live painting.¨ But I didn´t want to be immersed in my art while on stage, I wanted to seep into the minds of everyone there. I wanted to be able to look at people in their eyes. For the kind of talk I wanted to do, I needed the entire stage and I could not afford to be concerned if I was going to spill my water or dip my brush into the wrong color. That performance would be saved for another time. I had other visual aids  and I knew people would know that I was an artist.

 

¨No, I will not be doing a live painting. ¨ I said confidently. The reality is that for me, this was my opportunity to prove to myself I had vanquished my longtime enemy ¨Fear of Public Speaking¨: I was no longer the girl who stood at the podium during a college debate, frozen, unable to find the words, trembling in fear being up there. Oh yes, even after bellydancing half naked all over campus, there I was fully clothed even more stressed. Somehow the confidence from one arena was void in another. It wasn´t so much the fear of being up there, it was the fear of not knowing, of people seeing that I didn´t know something. The amount of pressure I put on myself growing up, to know. I´d avoid full blown conversations with people because I was afraid I wouldn´t know what they were talking about. And the truth is that it´s ok to say you´ don´t know. Accepting that is what gives you the opportunity to then learn.  We need not be embarrased if we don´t know how to do something. Since when are we supposed to be walking encyclopedias? The one thing I did know, is that every time I had to do a presentation for school, I excelled because I did my homework and I went up there with my notes to make sure the flow was smooth. Initially I was going to try to memorize what I´d written, but even I was not going to pressure myself because I was working long hours doing heavy art lifting.

I had already planned on wearing my husband´s two face costume as the black and white suit fit perfectly with my theme. The outfit did not fit me properly so I was going to have to operate. Unfortunately in my haste , as I was doing this the night before, I made the pants too small and they ripped at the crotch when I put them on. I had no idea my small trunk was capable of such damage. Well, now we really had a problem as I could not show up crotchless. That was not the only wardrobe malfunction of the evening. I had planned on wearing a dress underneath the suit for a reveal halfway through the talk, but after stuffing the dress inside, the velcrow straps that were holding the back of the jacket closed suddenly ripped. There was little time to make the needed adjustments. I hot glued a piece of fabric to the crotch and made a note not to forget my underwear. I could not let this distract me from the real purpose of the talk. This was not a fashion show. All I needed to do was talk.

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Photography by Inka

Llego El Gato

A cat always returns homes. She wanted a portrait of her beloved to show him how special he is to her. Even when the seas are between them, their love does not waver. Love of baseball, love for his motorcycle, lover of the color red and an added touch not on the list- the outline of the family in the lines of the bat, to remind him of his real homerun.

Llego El Gato

The Anatomy of My Fibroid

Uterine fibroids are muscle tumors that develop in or on the uterus. I find that when I say abnormal growths people don´t take fibroids as serious. While in most cases, women have no signs or symptoms, my fibroid was killing me.

 

Three years before my surgery, I was already having pelvic pain so bad that I stopped partaking in regular physical activities. Even bending over to tie my shoes was  a chore. There was an increase in menstrual bleeding and pain, so much pain.  I started having severe gastrointestinal issues.  By the end of 2019 , things got really bad. I had diarrhea every single day.  I was nauseous all the time. So much, that I just stopped getting hungry. I was withering away by the day because consuming food had become the bane of my existence. Every single day I woke up to an odyssey of pain and stomach acid. Because even when it was empty, my body insisted the stomach needed to be purged. I grew so weak, I needed assistance just to walk to the bathroom where I spent most of my time.

Despite the hell I was living everyday, getting a fibroid removed was classified as an elective procedure, meaning it was a surgery I could choose to have for a better quality of life but not for a life-threatening condition. Under the conditions I was living, my life was being threatened every day. I thought it was obvious that any doctor seeing the scan would think ¨well it looks like the organs are getting squished, gee that looks like it hurts, makes sense you´re having all these gastric issues, it´s trying to share a room with your intestines.¨. Unfortunately for me, I started dying right in the middle of the pandemic. All the doctors saw was Covid. ¨Someone with a ball dangling on their uterus?- They are fine,  they can wait.´ Not one of the 4 doctors who treated me wanted to sign my medical leave papers from work because according to them fibroids were not a reason why someone would take a leave from work. They did not think my severe symptoms were related to the fibroid at all and were instead relying heavily on different medication to manage my symptoms . They bled my insurance and my pockets dry and they couldn´t even give me a letter for work. And because of that my job, heavily dependent on the paper trail, had no choice but to say ¨we can´t guarantee your job will be available when your leave is over, nor will we extend your leave past one month.¨ The fibroid was taking everything I loved away from me and for a while I thought it would also take my life.

 

Fibroids are common, yes. But just because they are common does not make them any less menacing and destructive. The first time I went to the Emergency Room because my symptoms had gotten unbearable, it was early June 2020. I did not get my surgery until February 11th, 2021. The fun was the only thing I had to manage my symptoms when by mid July the doctors ran out of medications to try because all the rest had failed. I thank my loved ones, Dr. Anthony Sayegh and his staff from the Thrive Hollistic Clinic for helping me get excited for life again. When no one else saw that I was dying, you were the only ones that did. You saved me. The night I woke up after my C-section was the first time in over three years where I felt no pain, no nausea, no stomach cramps, no pressure and I finally remembered what it was like to be hungry. Really hungry.  And that was all the confirmation I needed to know that my theory was correct and the theories of 4 doctors were not. This is the impact of having people trying to do their jobs when they are drained.  Doctors all over were being worked to the bone during the pandemic. When people are drained they are not able to see the obvious. They will not be able to connect the dots that seem so logical to others. And they will just not see you.

In trying to understand the reason for its development and as a way to make peace with my own body, I decided to build a life size model of my fibroid. Seeing it, holding it, knowing my body made this is both incredible and terrifying. Our bodies never create these things by chance. When the cause of something is not known, as it is the case with fibroids, we must ask ourselves, what was my body trying to tell me so badly? Was this created in an attempt to stop me? Has my way of living been sustainable for my body? Has it been sustainable for my mind? Or was my body simply trying to plug a drain?

The Anatomy of My Fibroid
The Anatomy of My Fibroid

The Law, The Order and The Industrial

After surgery, even though my mind felt strong, my body did not. I had lost a tremendous amount of weight I was just not eating enough. I was frail and I felt it. I honestly didn´t know if I would be able to be as physically strong as I was before my ordeal with the fibroid. I knew that if I was serious about my art, there was more I needed to learn I just didn´t know what. As confident as I was in my abilities as an artist, it did not change the fact that I had never even been in a real artist shop before. Until Law and Order.

¨Don´t get too comfortable, you´re only going to be here for 2 weeks.¨said my new coworker and lifelong friend from high school. He said it with such certainty, it sounded like a law. I knew why he was saying it. He didn´t want me to get my hopes up about being there longterm as I was only there to cover for the Industrial who had gone on vacation. The Industrial is the person who washes the brushes, preps the paint cart for the artists, preps the set for paint, organizes the shop, maintains inventory and orders the supplies.  My dear friend reassured me there was no way I would be able to stay beyond that.  I didn´t need to get into an argument with him about how I was going to prove him otherwise. He had not seen me in action since my discovery of how we are able to manipulate our overall experience in any environment. When we are full we see the world differently, we see solutions that were not there before, and we have the energy to take action. This would also be one of my biggest experiment yet up until this point.

Could I by contributing towards a more enjoyable work experience, be able to stay beyond two weeks? I knew that I was going to kill it at this job. I had a hunger for art that was fueled by over 30 years of desire. I had worked painting and doing home repairs with both my parents, so doing this kind of work was a source of fuel for me. I felt connected to my family even though they were not there next to me. I didn´t know how strong the other person´s fire was, but I knew mine. It did not matter to me that I was not even going to get a chance to paint, at least I would get a chance to be around it. The second part of this experiment involved the Industrial I was covering for. Once he returned, if I was still there he could feel threatened. Why was I still there if he was back from vacation, unless they were planning to replace him? I needed him to see that I was there for him too. I needed to make this man my ally. No matter what assumptions were circulating, I needed him to understand that I would not be stealing this job from under him. And the last part, was there a world in which the Industrial and I could coexist? Even if just for one day. Those were the questions.

When thinking about the things that make a work environment more fun, I first look at efficiency. The shop was massive and keeping it organized was the biggest challenge, and the primary job of the Industrial. We don´t realize how much time we waste just trying to find things that are out of place. So that was the first thing I tackled after seeing how everyone functioned in the shop. They already had a good system, they just needed someone fast. And lucky for them organizing was my thing. Didn´t matter what it was- a stack of papers, a pile of books, 1,000 files, the refrigerator, a closet full of supplies- I had found the way to make organizing fun by removing how not fun it is when you can´t find what you are looking for.

How can cleanliness contribute to a more fun environment? The question should really be, do you think you are worthy of a clean space? We tie a person´s worth to their cleanliness all the time, why shouldn´t that same logic be applied to the work place? Whether it is said or not, a dirty space is not going to make you feel good about yourself. There was a bathroom in the shop but it looked like it had not been cleaned in a long time. I didn´t blame the crew for not cleaning it- how could they? They were always operating at speed level 1,000. It was so remarkable to me, to see even the two department charges getting down on their hands and knees to finish these sets. Because of this it was easy for me to get on my hands and knees and clean their bathroom for them. Yes I even scrubbed the floor. Because they deserved a clean bathroom. Not just because of how hard they worked, but because all of them, every single person on that crew, from the first day I was there took me under their wing and shared all the knowledge they had at their disposal. They shared their stories of triumphs, of failures, of fears and glories. They gave me the art schooling I desperately needed but could not afford. For the first time in my life, I finally felt like I had found my comrades in arms against the fear that tries to stop artists in their tracks. I was never alone. And neither are you.

When the Industrial I was covering for returned from vacation, we not only became allies, we became friends. Because that is what happens with the people you meet when you are able to see things through their perspective. And something even I was not even expecting- the crew was so happy with my performance and they were willing to move earth and sky to keep me, that they helped get me into the Scenic Artists Union as an Industrial. I only needed two letters of recommendation, but the day I asked for them I left the shop with four. One of which was written in such a way that before I knew it I was crying, right there in the middle of the shop. I have received a lot of recommendation letters over the years from executives, psychologists, accountants, healers, writers- but it was the letter written by this quiet artist that moved me with such intensity. To the letter´s author: I felt it necessary to keep you name anonymous to respect that you are a very private person, but if you want me to, I will gladly reveal who you are.

 

Our work is always speaking for us, especially in the moments where the conditions are not favorable for the exchange of words. People are always observing and sometimes they only get a to see a small window of what it is you are doing. If all they get is that window, that is what their entire perception of you will be based on. If you are always giving your best then it won´t matter when they look, you know they are always going to see your best. We are only able to give our best all the time if we keep ourselves full.

 

With regards to the remainder of the experiment. I worked with the crew, including the Industrial, from the beginning of February until the end of April,  when the season began wrapping up for the summer. Every day I went in for work, I was provided with a wristband. I only needed 15 to answer my initial questions. How many can you count in the picture?

The Law, The Order, And The Industrial
The Law, The Order, And The Industrial

We Come Alive For Your Food

He came to me with the pieces of himself, wanting to see how they all came together. His love for cooking, his love for 4-20, his cat Maya, music notes, a hint of abstract, and a rolledex of his favorite animes- DragonBallZ, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Bleach, Yuyu Hakusho- which also happened to be some of my favorites. How could I say no?

I thought for a moment about what story I wanted people to know about chef David Haze through this piece. I thought about his food and how he cooked it from his soul, keeping the traditions of our beautiful culture alive. Nothing puts the life in you like some Dominican rice and beans con chuleta.  And this chef´s food is so good, that people come alive for his food. Oh if you could get a waft of the kitchen when this man is working his magic over the stove. From there the design for the piece came out on it´s own.

We Come Alive For Your Food.jpg

Your Body Is A Paint Brush

It was during a woman´s retreat hosted by Creative Healing by Mari Vega that I had the opportunity to paint with a body part I had been at war with for the better part of my life, my breasts.

Maybe it was the animes I watched, or all the comics I read, the fact is that most of my bestfriends got melons during puberty and I got fried eggs. I was not the only one disappointed. So were some of the guys I dated. And I could see how some people showed special preference to the ladies blessed with the cushion up top. I was mad for years, not at them, at myself. At my body for not cooperating. In time I came to realize I was mad because the expectation I developed of what my breasts should look like was never met by my body. What if I´d gone into puberty without that expectation? Would I still be mad?

 

I´ll tell you what did happen. Since I ¨had no breasts¨ to woo the masses, I made sure I was funny, athletic, daring, charming, and sensual. I learned to seduce without having to show cleavage because frankly there was none. Can I just say, having small breasts gives you so many advantages! Any bra, even the really good ones start to feel like a mini straightjacket after a while, but with small breasts you can go braless all the time. My breasts are never going to be a reason why a shirt does not fit. And I have no back pain as a result of my breasts, a suffering all too familiar to my best friends. If you have large breasts and you read this YOU DESERVE A MASSAGE. If the person you ask refuses, invite them to wear one of your bras and fill it with small sacks of rice, and see how they feel after a couple of hours of what you endure on a daily. I´d be surprised if they didn´t ask you for a massage by the end of the day.

When the artist Inka presented us with this art workshop for us to be able to free ourselves, I knew this was the opportunity I had been waiting for since the day I made peace with my breasts years before. Before we began, I inquired if I could paint with my breasts and her face instantly lit up as she was hoping that was the  direction the workshop would go. I was the first one to start the chain reaction. By the end of it, we were all topless, covered in paint, tears of joy streaming down our faces and we were free. Some of these women had never had the courage to be topless outside of a dark bedroom with a partner. This was an incredibly healing experience for me and everyone that took part in it, especially my breasts.

Your Body Is A Paint Brush

The Green Goddess Of Love

Can you make me into the embodiment of love with Mother Nature vibes and leopard print? That was the question. This is who she was. She didn´t know how all those could work together but that is what she liked. Oh and green, she loves green.

Where some see a burning piece of sage, I saw a heart collage of flowers. In my darkest moments where people saw me as a red flag, a drain, a problem- this is the person who always saw me as a human. And that was the thing that saved my life, not once but three times. All people really want is to be seen through the eyes of love.

Thank you my dearest sister Rosandri for always seeing me. Especially when I had not the strength to see myself.

The Green Goddess Of Love

Love Is My Legacy - Castro Perez Family

Can you make something that represents our family and our culture? That was the question. They both loved the beach and wanted the flags of their neighboring homelands to be represented. They asked if I could make it more personal by including their names. All the while I´m thinking, what is more personal than a portrait? But they did not want to know what I had in mind for the design. All they wanted was my best work, no matter how long it took.

This was the painting that taught me how to really paint. In the months I spent working on this piece, I researched techniques, I tried different types of paints,  I conducted experiments with mixing mediums, I painted using natural light, bright lights, dim lights, white lights, skinny brushes, thick brushes, soft brushes, long brushes. This 40 in. x 30 in. canvas gave me the chance to really explore acrylic painting with wreckless abandon. By the end of it, I was so enamored with the work, I wanted it for myself! Honestly, that is the indicator for me that I have done a good job, when I want to keep the painting.

The family was absolutely blown away, as the last thing they imagined was that I would paint them and their pets, and all the elements that represent their heritage on it. They wanted my best work and I gave them a window in the magnificence that is already their life, because they have each other.

Love Is My Legacy_ Castro Perez Family.jpg

The Fountain Of Abundance - Rosa La Maravillosa

I know many find it hard to believe that there are people out in the world that are always happy, but they do exist- world, meet my mother, Rosa La Maravillosa.

 

You want to talk about extraordinary? When Rosa was just eight years old she taught herself how to cook just by watching her mother. She was so short she had to stand on top of a bucket to reach the stove. My earliest outfits were all handmade by Rosa. All our elementary school teachers had their colorful suits made by Rosa. I remember watching as she stretched her measuring tape over different areas of the body. They brought the fabric and the magazine with the design they liked, Rosa would do the rest.

 

I remember the excitement she felt when she came home with the story from her first official job interview. It was for a waitressing job. Rosa had never waited tables before, but she ran our household and had hosted a number of large scale parties. She went in there and while they were giving her a tour of the place, she observed what the other waitresses were doing. When it came time for her to demonstrate her skills, she blended in like a chameleon and was hired on the spot. And I noticed that no matter where Rosa went with her happiness, the people became enamoured and mountains moved on their own to make space for her.

This really is the key to a life of abundance. Learning to become abundant inside so that it can spill over into our surroundings. When you are sitting in the quiet of the night, what stories about yourself are you replaying in your mind?  Are you  highlighting stories of triumphs within yourself? That is where your strength will come so your eyes can see the evidence of your greatness. And when you do, you will feel so good about you that you will walk into any scenario with a heart full of joy and strength.

Mami, thank you for being who you are. You always saw me as the evidence of your greatness and you showed us that it is possible to become a fountain of abundance just like you.

The Fountain Of Abundance - Rosa La Maravillosa

Roots of Greatness

People out here trying to save the human race and they can´t even look at a homeless person in their eyes. Are you one of those who looks at them repulsed, like that could never be you? All it takes is one thing and that could be you. It was almost me.

After my first engagement left me with a black eye, bruises and a police report, I saw no option except leaving the home that I had created for myself over the span of 3 years. And that meant leaving my job, the city I was in, and anything that didn´t fit in my car. I remember the 7 hour voyage leading up to my brother´s doorstep that night. If he refused me, I would have nowhere to go. You think I had energy to do anything after having to walk away from the life I worked so hard to build? The physical pain was bad but it was nothing compared to the gaping black hole in my heart that was now swallowing me whole. I wasn´t thinking about applying to new jobs or looking for a room to rent or programs for the needy. I wasn´t excited that I had a chance at a new life. All I had were questions for the one person I could not contact.

 

My brother met me outside the building as I was walking with one of the many black garbage bags that had the remnants of my life. He didn´t know what had happened until he saw my face. I looked at him and jokingly said ¨Surprise, you have space for a new roomate?¨ He pulled me in for a hug just as I could no longer hold back the tears. As he pulled back. I could see his glazed eyes were also holding tears. ¨Yes bro, of course you can stay here. No matter how long you need¨.

Not everyone has a lifeline. Not everyone has a brother like mine. Not everyone had all the blessings and good fortune you have had. If you really are as a great as you say you are, then plant the real seeds of life, with a smile, with a nod, a good morning, or simply with some eye contact to those who need it the most. Luckily, the homeless are not everyone´s kyptonite. I would be remiss if I did not mention the person who inspired this piece. Champion to all those without a home everywhere, she dedicated years to working on the frontlines helping the homeless. On so many occasions, she was the difference between a person having food for the day. One time I went to visit her, she surprised me with a trunk full of goodie bags that she made with food and water for the homeless. ¨Let´s go change some lives. People need to know there are still good people in the world.¨ Ladies and gentlemen, my sister Rosalias.

Roots Of Greatness

Let Music Be Your Rock

In times of solace, let the melodies guide you through you. Allow the harmonies to anchor you back into your wisdom. Be it through a ballad, a bachata, or some good old- fashioned rock, let music be the rock that stabilizes you during the storm.

Homage to my brother Adrian, who was sitting right there next to me with his pencil when I was drawing DragonballZ as a child. Amidst the art, you found the guitar and I´m so glad you did. Because even though I continue to enjoy the days we share the art table, there is nothing like creating art while listening to your music.

Let Music Be Your Rock

I Am The Fear Eradicator

There is within all of us a warrior, capable of standing up to any adversity. Find your strengths. Fill yourself with courage. And go on a hunt for your fears. Because the reality is that the fear never leaves. It waits for moments of weakness to infiltrate your mind and take advantage of your vulnerability. You must always be ready for battle. This is the true battle of a lifetime. It’s always just you versus your fears.

If when you are full you are courageous and strong, then when you are empty is when you are weak and cowardly. Some people live on empty and then they mistake the attributes of being weak, forgetful, clumsy, and a whole other slew of negative characteristics as who they actually are. But I am here to tell you friend, you are only that way because you need energy. This is what affects everything.

Once upon a time I became traumatized when a family friend told me I looked like a boy at just 7 years old. When you are empty, you seldom have the energy to say anything to anyone about the story you are really telling yourself. That is when your mind takes you into a hole. And when it came to that subject, it was a hole in my side draining me all the time. Because it wasn´t so much that I was constantly thinking about it, it´s all the daily actions I started taking in an effort to prevent me from looking like a boy. The 20 years I spent putting on makeup every single day. The 20 years I spent doing my hair. The years of wearing heels. The tight clothes, the bras suffocating my ribcage. Everything because I felt  needed to be extra feminine.  I am grateful for all the training in beautification I gained in those 20 years, but I just could not ignore all the time I was dedicating just towards plugging this drain. A drain that I created, because I was the one that gave it importance in the first place. And I was the one that was feeding it all these years.

 

You know what I realized when I finally looked at everything while I was full? That the only one that I thought I looked like a boy my whole life was me and that it wasn´t the world that was judging me for it, it was I. I was the one putting all the pressure on me to look feminine. And I was so afraid that someone else would judge me as harshly as I was, that I didn´t tell anyone. I didn´t tell my family nor my friends that I felt this way about myself. Not until my talk on the Red Talk, did my own siblings find out. So what if I look like a boy! I like that I looked like a boy. How I got away with walking through the Bronx in the night was by looking a boy in my hoodie and sweatpants. It´s the ultimate camouflage for a woman. Being able to see how people act towards you when they think you are a different gender. It makes me laugh. Because whether I´m dressed like a woman or a man, there is only one me underneath it all.

When the great Missouri , CEO and Founder of Styletainment, shared her idea to have us recreate New Edition´s ¨You´re Not My Kind Of Girl¨ original dance performance, I knew this was the chance I had finally been waiting for to let my manly side shine. And shine we did.

I Am The Fear Eradicator
I Am The Fear Eradicator

We All Have The Power To Transform

Transformation is a choice. It starts with a simple decision- to do something different. To try something new. To finally listen to your idea. To live as fiercely as possible. Because you deserve to thrive. You have always been the catalyst waiting to be ignited. Walk through your fears and make the choice to be magnificent. You have the power. We all have the power to transform.

If we all have the power then why don´t we? Because not everyone has the energy. The energy directly linked to how confident you feel in your abilities. The energy that holds the fear back when it´s time to act. The energy that fuels actions. Without energy, you can have the most magnificent ideas and desires but you will not be able to act on them. This is the differentiating factor between those that succeed and those that do not. If this is how the body behaves with regards to concious actions, how do you think its going to behave with regards to its automatic- unconscious functions? The same. You body will not have the necessary energy to maintain proper function. If you don´t have the energy to take an action, so too your body will not have the energy to do what it needs to do to maintain itself in optimal health.

We All Have The Power to Transform
We All Have The Power to Transform

Strut Over Your Fears For You Are The Doctor

You can be immune to your fears when you discover where they are born and what keeps feeding them. Your protective mask as you go looking for your demons? Love. Breathe it in and breathe it out.

When I made this, I remember looking around and seeing that a new black plague that had overtaken the world. Fear. And the feeling immediately after, was that I wanted to go in like the plague doctors of the 1300´s and help the fearful. I didn´t just want to work with the people that were already in the light. I want to help the people that are in the hole. The people that feel that they were born into a life of fear and that was how it was going to stay. The people that don´t know their lives can be meaningful and fun. I want to help the people that think they were born with no gifts when the reality is that gifted you will be when you wrangle your fears.

I knew in this moment I was a doctor, I just didnt know of what. Plague doctor sounds a bit morbid. Doctor of Therapeutic Fun on the other hand, that has a nice ring to it.

Strut Over The Plague Of Fear, For You Are The Doctor
Strut Over The Plague Of Fear, For You Are The Doctor

His Son Jimmy

Can we draw Jimmy the gecko as a boy that looks like me because he is my son? That was the question. 

 

I drew the picture while my nephew Adrian told me about all the things he does to take care of Jimmy, including feeding him worms. He painted the picture while I told him about how I never liked worms growing up and how at one point it was even a great phobia.  And then while I outlined it, he told me that I did not need to be afraid because I was so much bigger than the worm and the worm could not hurt me. By the end of it, we had a collaborative painting and I was one step closer to getting over my fear of worms. 

His Son Jimmy

Alejandro The Great

It takes someone great to SuperLike you on Tinder.

 

It takes someone great to meet you in the hood of the Bronx for a first date. Even greater still that he already lived there.

It takes someone great to get a place together after only one month of dating.

It takes someone great to say, ¨this space right here is perfect for your eisel, if you already have it set up it will be easier to paint.¨

It takes someone great to get excited when I show up with really short hair after a week earlier he said he loved long hair. Even greater that he said ¨so what if it´s short, one day I´ll see it long. For now we can enjoy having the same haircut.¨

It takes someone great to let you glue fake teeth on their chest so that we can be matching monsters for halloween.

It takes someone great to buy a ring and hide it inside his dress shoes for a full week and not tell anyone a thing, until he got down on one knee in front of my entire family on Thanksgiving.

It takes someone great to stand next to you in the lobby of the building, the night before the wedding, practicing the 8 minute long first dance choreography, that we only made up 3 weeks before.

It takes someone great to buy you flowers, set up bubblebaths and hide little love notes on random days to make up for the fact that we didn´t have the money to go on a honeymoon.

It takes someone great to dress up as you for halloween, after you left wearing his work clothes as your costume in the morning and said ¨You know what you need to do.¨Even greater still that he even wore my heels.

It takes someone great to drive 2 hours north into the woods to either meet the cat adoption agency you found online or our impending doom. We are both here so clearly we did not find our doom.

It takes someone great to come with you to your home country to meet your father and, even after over 100 mosquito bites, fall in love with the land you were born in.

It takes someone great to take me halway across the world to Spain to meet his entire family for the first time, even after the one piece of advice they told him was not to date a latina. Even greater that by the time I made it to Spain, the family had long since fallen in love with me because of all the stories he shared of my kindness and love towards him.

It takes someone great to sit with you in the ER for over 12 hours in observation while you sit in fear hoping the inflamation in your lips doesn´t crawl down to your throat and choke you.

​It takes someone great to sit with you before bedtime, when you are covered in hives and gently dab Caladril on your back while you are dabbing it on your legs.

It takes someone great to make sure there are always baby wipes and AD ointment in the house, because even the softest toilet paper feels like sandpaper when you have diarrhea everyday.

It takes someone great to hold your hand while you stand on the balcony contemplating your life in the middle of the night after you´ve woken up to puke stomach acid for the 5th time that night.

It takes someone great to sit by your hospital bedside and hold your hand while you are half asleep. Because even though your eyes are closed, the feel of his  warmth in your hand is all too familiar.

It takes someone great to become a one man call center and filter through the many calls of family members and friends, when all you could do after getting home from surgery was sleep.

It takes someone great to put a chair inside the bathtub so that you can bathe, because you are so weak you can only stand for 10 seconds before your legs start to give out. Even greater when they get inside and bathe you, making sure to be extra careful around your chain of stitches.

It takes someone great to gently untangle your hair when you realize it´s all become one big dreadlock.

It takes someone great to say, ¨don´t worry about getting a job, it doesn´t matter how long it takes, I know you are going to do something incredible, I got us.¨

It takes someone great to buy you your first set of fine detail brushes, because they understand that for quality work you need quality materials.

It takes someone great to rollerblade the entire boardwalk of Far Rockaway in celebration of the fourth of July,  knowing not even the strongest sunblock would prevent him from becoming a lobster.

It takes someone great to help you hang up all your art, prepare a whole menu and co-host the opening of your home gallery.

It takes someone great to say ¨how bald do you want me to go? Well I assume you are going to be Anacksunamoon, so that means I´m going to be Imhotep¨when you tell them the theme for halloween that year is ¨Escape From The Mummy´s Tomb¨

It takes someone great to say ¨what if we empty my closet and you can turn it into an interactive art room?¨ when you tell them the theme for halloween that year is ¨Halloween Squid Games at Dracula´s Castle¨.

It takes someone great to have an amazing 2 hours a day, because he works overnight and you started working during the day and that´s all the time you have in a day when you are both physically together.

It takes someone great to hold you on Valentine´s day while you cry because you´ve arrived home after a 14 hour work day of heavy lifting to court papers taped on your door to evict you.

It takes someone great to wear matching suits to the courthouse and sit there so confidently they mistake you for being an actual team of lawyers,  because you found the money to pay and intimidated the landlord´s lawyer so much she never showed up. That´s what happens when your law is the truth.

It takes someone great to think of you when they hear someone is looking for a woodgraining painter, because they have seen you painting wood in your very kitchen until late hours of the night for weeks.

It takes someone great to hand over their gaming computer station when you tell them you need it to write your book because your computer has turned into a snail.

It takes someone great to support you when you say, ¨I don´t know how I am going to make us money with all this, but I genuinely believe it can change the world¨. Even greater still for him to hold you with pride and say ¨You already have¨.

Thank you Alejandro, for being this great. None of this would have been possible without you. Ailoviusoumach.

Alejandro The Great
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