Discovering Ones Art Taste and Style(s)

A while back, I spent time with my friend Lauren helping her to choose new art pieces for her home.

She has a wonderfully decorated 4-story townhouse with perfect spaces and nooks to display her variety of different styles of visual art from illustrations to landscapes.

I often work with people who are convinced that they don’t have “an eye” for art. How can I blame them? The art world is intimidating and has been intentionally been closed off to lots of people for centuries. My job is to pull back those long curtains and show each person that art exist to set all of our hearts on fire! I take that job very seriously. I know that there’s literally “something for everybody” in this vast field.

Once Lauren and I set out on her art discovery adventure- purposefully wandering through aisles of paintings, photographs and sculptures- nothing caught or held any of my friend’s attention. This only affirmed her belief that she was not “artistically inclined”. All I could think was, “Patience, grasshopper! You’ll find the piece you’re looking for!” (***Spoiler alert***: She did.)

Everything changed when we happened upon a simplistic painting of a barren tree with a bright green wren in its branches.


To my joy, my friend’s eyes lit up and she finally exclaimed, “I think I like this one!”


We found the artist and her partner present and engaged them on the artist’s work, past and present. Lauren then found another piece to the first painting in the same size: a similar, simple tree with bright red foliage.


“Do these look too much like christmas?”

I knew these shades of red and green were perfectly complementary after reading this helpful post from T. Espinoza’s post on “What Colors Look Good Together”.


When using color, Espinoza suggests:

  • Choose any three colors that are side by side on the wheel for a fun play on the monochrome trend

  • Complementary (or contrasting) colors are any two colors that are directly opposite each other on the wheel. In this case, opposites balance each other out

  • If you’re not ready to dive all the way in, add just a pop of color to neutrals. Like cobalt blue with gray or fuchsia with olive green

This advice is very helpful in choosing both a wardrobe or an art collection that compliments ones style. [Read: 5 Reasons to Make Art Collecting a Priority.]

As you see, this shade of red of the tree in one painting and the green or the little wren are perfectly complimentary of each another. My friend walked away with not just one new piece, but two that were complimentary!

I live to help others cultivate a taste for art and discover their art styles. Then all that’s left is to curate pieces that match their styles, taste and budget perfectly.

Are you ready to discover your art styles? You don’t have to go at it alone, take my hand, I’ll be your guide…



The C in Chelsea

We took a quick trip to New York recently and wandered our way to the galleries and art spaces in the Chelsea neighborhood. Indoors and out, art abounded… and surrounded. It was a fantasy.

A few photos of the beauty outside:






Read more about these mesmerizing  Eduardo Kobra murals @

When was the last time you went on an art adventure? What did you discover? 

If you can’t remember the answer to those two questions, stay tuned…



Thanks for reading! If you enjoy whatartevokes, follow like and share with other artsies… spread the art love.

“Always let your art be the statement”: Three artists using art for activism

I’ve started this creative endeavor, Art Evokes, in a time when most areas of my social life are inundated with tragic stories of innocent people being murdered and an entire community and generation screaming “WE ARE HERE” and “WE MATTER.”

Through this project, I will promote light over darkness, love over hatred and very importantly, beauty over all. I’m inspired by those who use their voice and influence to call attention to love, light and beauty. I do not believe that an artist is obligated to have views that are explicitly political but I do think that she should always work to uplift society as a whole through their creation. These three artist have used their artistry to not only show their opinions but to promote powerful uplifting messages.

Erykah Badu erykah I’ll always hold a very special place within myself for Ms. Badu. Her fifth album, “New Amerykah Part 2: Return of the Ankh” was released in 2010 when I was struggling through the onset of an illness– later diagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis.

The album reminded me of my own inner strength with lyrics saying, “But if I get off my knees, I might recall, I’m 20 feet tall.” The entire album inspired me to summon inner strength and face my reality with staunch courage. I remember leaving the hospital and taking my first breath of fresh air with “Window Seat”– the lead single from the album– blasting in my ear buds.

Empowerment, love and consciousness are the focus of all of Badu’s music and this music compilation proves it.  Aptly named, “FEEL BETTER, WORLD!… LOVE, MS. BADU”, the artist shares music that inspires her– harmonies that promote love, light and harmony. About the project, she writes:


To me, this compilation is a call to stand up, stand tall, stay bright and continue to love. The tracks also reminds me that loving oneself is always the place to start. Because after all, if you can’t love yourself, how in the Hell you gonna love somebody else?

Prince prince Hail to the Purple One! As if his prolific discography of ingenious compositions was not enough, Prince answered the call show support after Baltimore, MD’s Freddie Gray was killed while in police custody. The “Purple Rain” singer released a tribute song, “Baltimore“, and organized last-minute “Rally for Peace” concerts in Washington, DC and Baltimore.

To match the urgency for advocacy, his action was swift: the Baltimore show was pulled together in just 5 days. And there’s more. According to activists, Prince also had about 170 people moved from the arena’s $22 seats to the front row.

Alice Smith


Possibly my favorite of all time, Alice Smith’s unique and strong vocals lace powerfully over this track. Of all the tributes here, her was the most pleasantly surprising to me. Alice is known for show stopping performances and a closely- held personal life. She rarely does interviews and when she does, they’re strictly about her music. That’s one reason why hearing her release her sorrow on the ills of our society on this record was a special occasion.

In an Instagram post debuting the song, the singer wrote:

I’m not sure what to say. It’s unbelievable what’s going on. @davesitek and @sam_dew wrote this song, and we recorded it the other night. Tonight, with all that has been happening with the police, we decided to put it out. Kind of a release. Shell Shock…

Listen to “Shell Shock” here.

Inspiration abounds, folks. Just look around and listen. Fight the urge to get bogged down with negativity and instead use your energy to create, promote and perpetuate light, love and beauty.



P.S. What artistic expressions of resistence have you notice lately? Maybe you’re heard a song, read a poem or seen a piece of visual art. Let’s talk about it in the comment section below!

My art collection: Beauty beyond the pane by Adrian Blake

Adding pieces to an art collection provides a thrill like no other. It’s like finding that perfect pair of shoes– you just know you have to take them home. I recently found my latest buy on Facebook! Artist Adrian Blake posted his latest creation in a closed art group with caption:

“Just completed! Still wet.
Oil on canvas”

My latest acquisition!! (claps hands and smiles like a kid)

It was love at first sight.

I was struck by how Blake achieved such dimension and texture in the painting– a beautifully interpreted black woman’s body submerged in water. You can see the movement as the subject appears to dive, feet first in to the water as the artist captures the moment her torso is fully submerged.

I imagine the freedom of swimming naked in a local lake, carefree and radiant.

I also imagine diving for a different type of freedom– that of resisting captivity on a ship by jumping into the sea as one’s final act of defiance.

Blake later entitled the piece “Beauty Beyond the Pane” stating:
Beauty beyond the pane has two meanings. The word pane is meant to be used as a pun, where the canvas surface acts as a pane of glass, and the viewer is looking beyond that the to the beauty behind it which is the figure. The figure itself is beautiful, but each person has their own pain, but their pain is overshadowed by the outward beauty we see as we lay eyes upon each other.
Artist Adrian Blake in action

Talented artist Adrian Blake in action

As I enjoy this original piece for years to come, I’m sure it’s meaning to me with morph and evolve. You can share in that joy with me by supporting the artist’s work here.

Starting is the hardest part, so start with The List

Delving into a new interest area is overwhelming mostly due to one question– where on Earth do I start?!

To overcome this challenge, one of my favorite and most eccentric English professors in college gave me a life changing piece of advice that I still employ today. I’ve been leaning on this advice for years, it’s my secret formula for figuring out where to start studying any topic.

That advice? Don’t overwhelm yourself with all there is to know about a topic. Instead, take basic elements of that topic and create a “List of things I own”.

Here’s how it works: Instead of jumping from subject to subject, pick one subject to study per category. Immerse yourself in all things related to the people/things on that list exclusively–attend talks, lecture and performances by/about them, read or listen to  all of their works, and pay attention to what’s said about them. Once you’ve become an expert, he suggested, move on to a new person, movement, etc.

Since my focus was mostly on literary arts, my list from college is geared toward that realm. Here’s my “List of things I own” from college and the memorable things I’ve done to try and conquer it:

Novelist: John Steinbeck
In his novel East of Eden, Steinbeck composed the most beautifully descriptive passages I have ever read. The story haunts me still and I look forward to reading it again.
Dramatist: August Wilson
I saw a production of Wilson’s “King Hedley II” this year. I found the production boring overall and the acting over exaggerated (think almost 3 hours of dramatic yelling… eek.) but hey, I made it gave it a shot.
King Hedley II, Arena Stage 2015

King Hedley II, Arena Stage 2015  (Photo: C. Stanley Photography)

Poet: Wallace Stevens
Often acclaimed as the greatest American poet of the 20th century, I’ve only read one one of Stevens works. This is it:
The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Essayist: Camille Paglia
Paglia’s Break, Blow, Burn is still my favorite book of poetry explications. I especially loved her interpretation on Jean Toomer’s “Georgia Dusk”.
breal blow
Literary Critic: Harold Bloom
I have a couple unread Bloom’s books on my shelf including:
Painter: Salvador Dali
The depth of color Dali achieves in his works is remarkable. And I enjoy the “what does it mean?!” feeling his work leaves me with.
Swans Reflecting Elephants by Salvador Dali 1937

Swans Reflecting Elephants Salvador Dali 1937

Art Movement: Surrealism
My interest here spawn from my interest in Dali. Still much work to do in exploring here.
Literary movement: Transcendentalism
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” sparked my interest in Transcendentalism. I wrote an essay in college exploring the short story including the homo-eroticism between the title character and his male… companion.
Literary Journal: Callaloo
I haven’t done mush with my curiosity around Callaoo. I remember being excited to hear about it’s history as an African American literary review and planning to subscribe to the publication. It’s never too late!
Musician: Kanye West
There are few pop artist who I follow as much as I do Kanye. He is one of my biggest inspirations. I love his story of growing up a middle class kids in Chicago, studying art a fashion to school only to discover a passion and gift for producing music. I love to hear him talk about how he went from obscurity to studio time with his idols and many musical titans wanting a “Ye West beat”. I love how he’s continued to pursue his passion for creating music and clothing to advance humanity.
Quote displayed during set changes- Yezzus Tour 2014

Yeezus Tour, Washington DC 2014

Though I usually find myself forgetting this wisdom and instead floundering and wading through every subject I can get my eyes on, I always bring myself back to this important principle. Save yourself from some stress and try it out.

So, what’s on your list? Add topics that interest you and share in the comments!
Literary Critic: 
Art Movement: 
Literary movement: 

CurationDC: The art of party

I’m a huge fan of daytime activities.  Anytime I can take in a show, exhibit or party and be home by 9PM, I’m thrilled. So when my good friend invited me to join her at CurationDC, a day party turned art show complete with live music and drink specials, I was happy to join her.

CurationDC, hosted by Washington-based event planners Marshall “Britt” Wright and Jarrett Walker, seeks connect young party goers and art fans with visual artists and musicians. In the room I found 20-somethings hoping for a good Saturday “turn up” with artistic flair as Johnny Graham and The Groove, a collaboration of talent from Philadelphia, Baltimore and DC, serenaded the crowd with musical selections from Michael Jackson to Drake and Fetty Wop.


Lovely young professionals decked out in their finest summer sundresses and top-siders mingled around the sun-soaked room with ceiling to floor windows overlooking downtown Washington talking politics, pop culture and, of course, art.


Three visual artists were featured at this edition of CurationDC including Delaware-based painter, Alim Smith who paints as YesterdayNite. By painting portraits of pop icons like Snoop Dogg, Spike Lee and The Fuguees to name a few, and remixing their images with bold colors, brush strokes and angles, Smith creates a nostalgic appeal that resonates perfectly with the “80s babies”. Since I typically shy away from adding portraits, stylized or otherwise, into my personal art collection I bought a book containing prints of Smith’s work instead.


CurationDC has the potential to invigorate the art scene in DC by cultivating a space for the budding art enthusiasts to collide with emerging talent, even if only in brief encounters. Best of luck to Wright and Walker on continued success with this event.

In our brief conversation, YesterdayNite gave me a sneak peek of his upcoming project. This young artist is one to watch, follow him on Instagram @yesterdaynite.