Crystal Daigle's interactive installation Thought Forest is featured in National Geographic's film City of Creativity: San Diego. The television series captures the vibrancy of San Diego; innovative restaurants, architects, chefs and visual artists. The National Geographic production team filmed Thought Forest at Sensorium in June of 2018, at IDEA1 in downtown San Diego.
Have you ever been around someone and found your world view improving, just by being in his/her presence? That’s what happened to me when I met with Susanna Peredo Swap, Founder and Executive Director of Vanguard Culture (VC), an online cultural buzz organization that also creates unique, in-person experiences where artists from all disciplines collaborate, play and network.
Susanna’s background provided the rich soil in which VC could flourish. “This is the culmination of my life’s work” she said, “all roads lead to here. I studied theater and I taught theater to kids, I was a jazz singer for a while and I curated art exhibitions.” Now, all of Susanna’s skills and passions merge, allowing her to serve San Diego by bringing a variety of communities together.
When I asked her what overarching beliefs kept her motivated, she responded by quoting a board member, “There’s no greater gift you can give to humanity than to bring people together.” Since she’d observed how artists from different disciplines weren't really talking to each other very much, she decided to help create connection between them. “I have a lot of love for the arts community. I understand their struggle. I know what it’s like to not have the resources to put together this big vision that you have.”
Susanna’s big vision, Vanguard Culture, is alive and growing quickly! VC informs the community about arts events through it’s website and weekly newsletter. Its up-to-the-moment articles are written by “Cultural Correspondents” who fill in the missing links for those of us who can’t get to every art event around town. VC writers also introduce us to artists’ fascinating practices which always inspire and intrigue.
“When different creative industries collaborate, amazing things happen and since I’ve seen this first hand, it’s very motivating!” said Susanna when I asked her about what keeps her moving forward, even when times get hard. Her organization produces multiple collaborative events, such as “Foodie Soirees” where scholars lecture, artists exhibit and top chefs design gorgeous nibbles inspired by the theme of the evening.
Collaboration is wonderful, but it takes leadership to bring all of the creatives together. Part way through my interview with Susanna, or more honestly, part way through reading her bio in preparation for the interview, I could tell I was in the presence of a very strong leader. When I asked her what qualities contribute to great leadership, she said, “Fearlessness. I surround myself with powerhouses — fearless people who are pushing boundaries — I love people like that so I bring them into my circle.” She learned this, in part, from several bosses who gave her broad parameters for exploring her creative ideas and now she extends that same freedom to her staff.
A leader should also have “enormous amounts of empathy… basic humanity and personal connection” according to Susanna, who grew up in Mexico City where people always greet each other on a personal level first, before getting into business discussions. She practices this in her organization, too. She said she really wants to know how her staff is doing and if there’s any way she can help them. By being personal and vulnerable, she fosters a sense of respect and trust which naturally creates community. Members are more invested in projects because they feel valued as people, first.
Whether you are an artist or patron, I recommend that you sign up for Vanguard Culture’s Newsletter, as your first step. Then put a reminder into your calendar for their annual Avant Garde Costume Gala which takes place in July. I had the pleasure of volunteering at the last one and was wowed by the unique art installations, funky costumes and chef's creations.
San Diego is fortunate to have an arts leader like Susanna, who noticed the disconnect between groups of artists and took action to remedy the gap. It’s exciting to anticipate the myriad of collaborative works in San Diego’s future that will be either directly or indirectly ignited by her efforts. With so many creatives living in this city, it’s easy to imagine our arts scene exploding into an international arts destination. If we’re fearless, it will happen. Find out more here: http://vanguardculture.com
Crystal's mixed media artwork "If 1,000 Suns" was chosen by juror Julie Weaverling, director of Front Porch Gallery, for the group exhibition "Transcending" November 19 - January 13th, 2017, in Carlsbad, CA.
"If 1,000 Suns" references a line in the Baghavad Gita, a sacred East Indian text, "If the radiance of a Thousand Suns were to burst forth in the sky, that would be like the Splendor of the Mighty One."
The 36" x 36" artwork is comprised of collaged paper and acrylic on linen.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Reverend Christian Sorensen,
minister at Seaside Center for Spiritual Living in Encinitas, CA.
I always welcome the oportunity to learn from
men and women who are leaders in the fields of metaphysics, technology, business and art.
Our conversation was very inspiring. Rev. Sorensen just published his
latest book, "Living From The Mountaintop" which "will support you as
you progress through opening the various energetic fields of your
physical body uniting you with the Absolute. " He will be teaching from
this book at Seaside, soon.
I enjoyed Rev. Sorensen's natural gregariousness; he clearly lives
his purpose easefully, since it is perfectly matched to his personality. He told me that from a very young age when his parents introduced him to theater, he felt completely comfortable on stage (important for a "preacher"!)
We also talked about his writing process and he shared something that
was a major ah-ha for me...he stays accountable to an editor or collaborator by committing to a certain number of pages per week. I also use accountability partners but his specificity gave me hope and a glimpse into what might be possible for me...like...a...book?!
I am planning to attend Seaside's "Special Season for Non-Violence" on
February 1, 2017, 7 - 8pm. It is an interfaith service with roots in dialogues Rev. Sorensen had with many spiritual leaders including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. After hearing a powerful talk from Rev. Sorensen a couple weeks ago, my expectations are high. I'm sure he'll deliver a relevant and touching message that we can all work with, daily.
Crystal's untitled mixed media collage won the Juror's Choice Award in the Art Around Adams Art Competition at Thumbprint Gallery, La Jolla.
The 8" x 8" collage on panel is comprised of painted paper and acrylic paint. It is part of Crystal's "Saturate" series; mixed media artworks that reflect her physical and spiritual travels through California and Tulum, Mexico. The collage is now included in a permanent collection in upstate New York.