It’s Been A Fantastic Ride So Far

This month is always fun for me, because it marks the anniversary of Klee and I taking a chance on the unknown. It will be about 9 years since we jumped into the Explorer and decided to go on an adventure to push our limits beyond what we had experienced.

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I’ll never forget the day that Klee looked at me seriously (it was a very dramatic tele-novella look) and said “I’m going with you”. See, I had decided that I was going to travel around the country and experience a new perspective on life. Despite the fact that my family kept saying I would probably die from eating poison berries, my mind was set.

In fact, even finally meeting the love of my life and developing a beautiful new relationship wasn’t going to deter me from taking this journey.

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I had spent my life the same way that many people do, being someone who I wasn’t. I mean, I didn’t really know who I was. I knew I liked certain things, didn’t like other things, got mad about things, and laughed at others… but I wasn’t sure if it was just who I thought I should be, or who I really was.

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I had never really taken a look at myself from the outside, or challenged my own thoughts. I just reacted to situations and circumstances in life, but never really asked the question “Why am I reacting this way?”. I think I was under the impression that I didn’t have a choice, that I was “just that way”.

As a result, my life sucked, or at least that’s how I felt. I think back then I was so far down the rabbit hole that no matter what the circumstances of my life could have been, I would have made it suck in my head.

Then I hit rock bottom… and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

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It was as if someone had reset the computer in my head, and for the first time in my life, I was questioning why I was settling for beliefs that worked against me, and actually caused me to hate myself.

Cut to 2 years of self examination and I was ready to challenge the world.

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Yup, that’s who Klee decided to get in a car and travel around the country with. Some hairy bandanna wearing guy that freaked out her mother.

A guy that she would spend weeks in the middle of the everglades with.

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A guy that she hiked shark valley with, even though we underestimated what 14 miles would take out of us.

A guy that she took turns with hugging a four and a half foot alligator named Leroy.

A guy she wrote music with and performed live while his knees gave out because he was so nervous.

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A guy that she lived in Key West with for several months while they worked out some of their baggage.

A guy that she went kayaking with for their first time and got lost in the sun for six hours and still had a blast even though they were sunburned.

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A guy that encouraged her to interview David Sheely who is the top investigator of the Florida Skunk Ape.

A guy she encouraged to show his art for the first time… and who is forever grateful.

A guy that loves her more and more every day and can’t possibly write down all the amazing things we have done so far.

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I’m so happy she did.

So, here we are still on this adventure. We may not be driving around the country but we are most definitely staying true to who we are as best we can every day. What I didn’t know back then, when I planned this adventure was that I would be sharing it with Klee… And that I am ever changing, and so is she… So no matter what, every day is a new adventure.

 

 

We Did It! We Gave Away Free Art!

So every year we try to do this little art hunt thing where we give away a lot of art with the intent to bring a smile to someone’s face. That someone is a beautiful little town named Pensacola. This year I created a bunch of art, about 80 pieces, and I created small inspirational hand painted magnets, about 100 of those… Phew.

2018 #inspireasmile Art Hunt
2018 #inspireasmile Art Hunt

As some of you know we had a YouTube contest to find the perfect name for this art giveaway thing we’ve been doing for several years, with awesome results.

Hashtag Inspire A Smile (#INSPIREASMILE) is what it’s called now, and that my friends is awesome!

2018 #inspireasmile Art Hunt
2018 #inspireasmile Art Hunt

So the date was set (March 12th, 2018) and the weather was like “hey wait a minute… I think you’ll enjoy doing this a lot more if it was dreary, cold, and windy, because that’s what all the cool kids want.”

And I was like “shit.”

But Klee and I bundled up and like the old explorers of Antarctica we braved the elements to spread our message of cheer.

(Listen, I know it wasn’t that cold, but I live in Florida the sunshine state, anything other than sunshine and warmth is unbearable.)

2018 #inspireasmile Art Hunt
2018 #inspireasmile Art Hunt

I put an entertaining video of our adventure together that morning for your amusement Below. Enjoy!

Within minutes of being done with the art hunt, inspiring happy messages started flooding in which makes freezing our buts off so worth it.

2018 #inspireasmile Art Hunt
2018 #inspireasmile Art Hunt

I think it is so important to smile. Each time you smile, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. So smile you beautiful human you!

Art Carousel Horse By Rafi Perez

It’s not every day that I get to cross something off of my bucket list. As a kid, I remember being mesmerized by the the carousel horses at Six Flags Great America. This year, I was given a blank horse and asked to make it look beautiful.

“Do what you want with it, I trust you.” He said.

Art Carousel Horse By Rafi Perez There is just something magical about them. When you are a kid, they can easily spark the imagination… Oh, who am I kidding, as an adult they spark my imagination. As an artist, I think it is such a great opportunity to tell a story using such familiar imagery.

Think about it, if you give a hundred artists the same blank horse, you will get a hundred different horses. Each one telling a unique story. A story that reflects the artists that created it.

Art Carousel Horse By Rafi Perez
Art Carousel Horse By Rafi Perez

I’m not sure if I’ll ever get the opportunity to design another carousel horse, but the fact that there is one out in the world, with my signature on it is so exciting to me.

I just had to share it with you. Stay awesome!

The Origin Of Passion

Recently I entered an international art competition. Well, first let me say, I entered an art competition, which was nerve racking for me. Yeah… Nerve racking… Weird, right?

As part of my 2017 growth as a person, and artist goal, I’ve decided to enter as many international art competitions as I can. Some of you that watch my videos, or have read past blogs, know I have an unreasonable fear of art competitions.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my fear was getting in the way of my achievements as an artist. How am I supposed to win an international art competition, if I’m paralyzed by fear of being judged inadequate? Or worse, what if I win?

Yup, the closer I looked, the more I started to realize that I was also afraid of winning.

The Origin Of Passion By Rafi Perez

Now, let’s get something straight, I really don’t care much about winning or losing. I also am not very concerned about opinions or criticisms about my art. I rather enjoy them, I love hearing the unique perspectives that the viewer brings to the work. Even when it’s negative, I learn something about people.

I mean, c’mon, one of my best friends sees something lewd or sexual in just about every piece I create – sometimes he can’t help it. If I got offended or hurt , I wouldn’t be able to enjoy his genuine reaction to the art. Come to think of it, my father is pretty much a perverted twelve year old when it comes to my art too, so maybe that’s why it doesn’t phase me.

I painted a beautiful painting of a bald eagle for a benefit event, for the Northwest Florida Wildlife Sanctuary. My dad showed up and told everyone it reminded him of a retarded parrot. I didn’t care, he’s genuine… and a little like a retarded parrot himself.

I would rather have genuine reactions, no matter how childish, than polite smiles and scripted responses because people are afraid to hurt my feelings.

That being said, I feel like competitions can be a bit cold. The human interaction between the work can easily be mechanical, because you are comparing pieces to one another and not allowing your relationship with the art to fully form.

The Origin Of Passion By Rafi Perez

But, either way, what was I talking about? Art competitions, I’m doing them this year… Why not?

So my first piece that I’ve created is based on a competition with a tag line of “Passion To Perform.”

I struggled a little with this because the word perform has such a corporate connotation to me. Your performance is evaluated at the end of the year, and the over all performance of the company, and blah blah blah.

You can imagine how the word passion just didn’t seem to fit in my mind.

Luckily, I’m married to an extremely brilliant woman, who also happened to be a vocalist for over a decade, and has a different spin on the word perform.

“It’s like, when you get up on stage and sing, or you dance at the ballet, or act on Broadway… If you are passionate, it shines through.”

Oh… Duh…

So I created this piece called the Origin Of Passion. It is the representation of how I believe the seed of passion can bloom. That contemplative moment, where you are thinking about giving up, and realize that you must move forward. Despite the roadblocks, naysayers, and dark days, you are determined.

The golden words in her hair are the reminder of the power that this passion brings you. Courage, strength, growth, determination, perseverance, inspiration, boldness, vision, and creativity.

The Origin Of Passion By Rafi Perez

I remember back when I quit my corporate job and was reevaluating my life, and wanting to be more creative, a lot of my friends and family were not supportive. In fact, not supportive is an understatement, I’m sure there were a lot of concerned conversations, judgement, and name calling.

But I didn’t care, because I was, and am passionate about my life, creativity, and spreading a positive message into the world. I think if you are passionate about something and you practice courage, strength, growth, determination, perseverance, inspiration, boldness, vision, and creativity… You become unstoppable… Even when your aunt thinks you’re crazy.

 

 

What Is Even Going On?

So, you might think that I’m having a bad week after reading the title of this article. Nothing could be further from the truth, I’m actually having a pretty awesome week.

So good in fact, that I found myself pausing for a moment, staring blankly into the studio and asking myself “What is even going on?”

Rafi Perez Best In Show Artel Gallery
Rafi Perez Best In Show Artel Gallery

Sunday, after a facing my unlikely fear, of people relentlessly pointing and laughing at my art, I entered my art into a juried art show. Later that evening I received a phone call that would determine my fate.

It was Artel Gallery, telling me that two of my art pieces got into the show… and that one of them, won best in show.

I was like “Whaaaaaaaaaat??” Needless to say, I was excited.

Rafi Perez Best In Show Artel Gallery
Rafi Perez Best In Show Artel Gallery

Then, earlier this week I was able to finalize some art clothing designs. I’ve been working on these for a while and didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off. I wanted something new to offer before the end of the year. They look so awesome, and the response has been great so far. Let me know what you think, I’ll be releasing new designs in November.

Clothing By Rafi Perez
Clothing By Rafi Perez

Then, today I found out that I was voted “Best Of The Coast 2016 Artist” by inweekly. Which is so awesome to me, and I am so grateful to all the people that voted for me. I literally froze in disbelief, so amazing.

inweekly Best of The Coast 2016
inweekly Best of The Coast 2016

Then, I got an email telling me that my book has been approved for national distribution. It is now carried by Barnes & Noble, Amazon Books, and other national book retailers. Check it out!

The Art Of Rafi First Edition
The Art Of Rafi First Edition

So, basically it’s been a pretty awesome week. Thank you so much for your continued support, I appreciate you so much!

I’ll write a little more about these exciting things in detail at some point. For now, we are getting ready for a two day festival, and the studio is electrified with energy.

But, I just couldn’t help myself, I had to share with you.

Gallery Night In Pensacola

This Friday (3-20-15) Klee and I will be doing Gallery Night in beautiful downtown Pensacola. If you ever find yourself in the Pensacola area on a Gallery Night, you are in for a treat.

Palafox Street is closed to traffic to allow for visitors to walk the streets enjoying music, food and entertainment. All the local businesses have their own form of entertainment that pours out into the street.

Government Street is also closed and that’s where you will find us, at “Artist Row”.

Time: 5:00 PM TO 10:00 PM

Where: 130 E. Government St.

Pensacola, FL 32502

Phone: 850-434-6211

 

Seville Quarter invites over 70 award winning Local Artists & Vendors to showcase their skills, crafts & artwork in the street in front of the historical complex.

The Seville Quarter’s “Gallery Night Artists Row” has that “Arts Festival Feel” that we love so much. It is seriously a fun time. 

One of the really cool things about Gallery Night is that every event is different. When Pensacon was doing their thing, we had all types of superheroes and storm troopers walking the streets.

 

During the running of the bulls, Seville Quarter had tough girls on roller skates previewing the run.

They recreate the “Running of the Bulls”.  This annual event, made famous by author Earnest Hemingway, has participants chased by angry horned bulls. The Pensacola Roller Gurlz oblige all of us as the “Bulls”.

Klee and I also use the event as an opportunity to debut some of our creations. Mostly we get excited about the opportunity to hang out and have a good time. So if you find yourself in Pensacola this Friday or any other Gallery Night, come out and have some fun with us.