3 Questions To Ask Your Date During Miami Art Week 2018

 Photo by  Laura Memory

Photo by Laura Memory

I think art gallery & museum dates are DA best! See 10 reasons why here.

But the main reason why I love art dates? It’s an intimate time to dive into deep AF conversations, to understand how your partner thinks, and understand how they interpret the symbols, colors, and metaphors found in art. Simply put, the interpretation of art is a projection of the soul.

And fun fact! I used to work as a museum educator where I learned the secret strategy to facilitating the best conversations through art. It’s called…Visual Thinking Strategies! (VTS for short)

 Photo by  Laura Memory

Photo by Laura Memory


VTS is a teaching method used in art museums to engage with groups of visitors or students. Beyond education, I believe Visual Thinking Strategies are the perfect opportunity to listen to someone, and see how they may express themselves. Especially if your partner’s love language is about spending quality time!

And with Art Basel/Miami Art Week 2018 here, I figured this was the perfect time to learn about the 3 key questions you gotta ask your art date so you can learn more about them and the way they perceive the world, while gaining a better appreciation for the role and power of art when applied to your love life (or wedding)! ;)

 Photo by  Laura Memory

Photo by Laura Memory

3 Questions To Ask Your Date During Miami Art Week 2018:

  1. What do you see?

  2. What makes you say that?

  3. What more can you say?

3 Tips for practicing Visual Thinking Strategies:

  1. Repeat the answers back to your partner to let them know they are heard and acknowledged! This can also naturally lead to more insights that your partner may want to share when they hear their answer from a different voice.

  2. Feel free to use follow up questions that are not listed above to keep the conversation going.

  3. Take turns picking artworks, switch the table and have them ask you the same questions!

Booking for 2020

Art is such a powerful storytelling tool. Imagine being surrounded by art on your wedding day through a Creative Union.

If you are a fellow art lover who likes to go on lots of art dates, then consider scheduling a free consultation with a fellow art lover like me who makes art exhibitions to tell your unique love story for your wedding, like this one! (I plan the wedding too)!

 

ABOUT ME

 Photo by  Laura Memory  (PS - I am on the left!)

Photo by Laura Memory (PS - I am on the left!)

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.


From ME, to WE

Hi there!

It's been a while. Allow me to reintroduce ma' self on this lovely Monday right after a very magical 11/11, right before the ending of my tenth year as an independent curator (and exactly one week from my 29th birthday! WTF?!)

 Marie Forleo + Oprah inspired photoshoot by  Jacqueline Bermudez !

Marie Forleo + Oprah inspired photoshoot by Jacqueline Bermudez!

My name is Michelle Ivette Gomez, I am an artist turned curator turned artpreneur originally from Miami, FL with professional roots in Baltimore, MD. One day I was at the beach, and thought...why not curate art exhibitions for weddings?! Yep, pretty cool, right?! I gave myself 90 days to make it happen, outta nothin’ (well, really it came out of ten years of Curatorial and arts organizing experiences on top + an entire lifetime of art education, with a strong desire to get paid to do what I love beyond the traditional art gallery world). And here we are, 1 year and 8ish months later :)

This work is magical AF, and it requires a lotta work on top of event/wedding planning & design! How time flies when you are having fun doing what you love. But the path to where I am now was not always easy, cuz there's so many levels to this thing called #artpreneurship. With no formal education on business from art school, I had to learn a lot about running an arts biz on my own from the ground up, and with plenty of trial and error. This involved:

  • hiring my first Brand Strategist coach for a day long workshop that taught me how to talk about this weird and niche AF wedding planning business (heeeey Gaby Guzman)

  • learning about $ and sales

  • obsessively watching Marie Forleo’s Tuesday Q&A video series

  • countless free webinars

  • joining Tuesdays Together (the coolest group for wedding vendors #communityovercompetition)

  • reading articles and books left and right about entrepreneurship

  • and a lotta mind f*cks that came outta this emotional rollercoaster called “First Time Artpreneur”

 The #MiamiisNiceteam: Carlyn Thomas of Terrault Gallery, Zachary Z. Handler, Nick Horan, and yours truly. Photo by  Tiffany Jones .

The #MiamiisNiceteam: Carlyn Thomas of Terrault Gallery, Zachary Z. Handler, Nick Horan, and yours truly. Photo by Tiffany Jones.

@creativeunions was officially born February 25, 2017, beginning with the first (and still talked about) art exhibition, #Miamiisnice which opened in Baltimore in October 2017. This Golden Girls inspired exhibit featured a private gay wedding, and attracted over 1,800 visitors with public programming, viral and glitter filled photos from the artist couple's Pixilated photo booth art installation, and tons of press all in the span of a month, to inspire a world where love wins during such a politically turbulent time. It was pretty magical stuff that happened thanks to an incredibly creative neon family/team and a shoestring budget.

Creative Unions Event Design LLC quickly grew while I was dabbling in FT corporate event planning in Miami, and traveling between Miami and Baltimore to bring forth more styled shoots, and celebratory life events surrounded by art to launch businesses and celebrate reunions (coming soon)! I started to become more and more clear about who my ideal clients were.

Right after #MiamiisNice, I was hired by an incredible couple (you will get to meet them later this month) to design their upcoming Creative Union scheduled to take place in March of 2019, in Washington D.C! Hint: it’s about how the future is female (and intersectional AF).

DSC_0512.jpg

I became exhausted! Well because, one woman can't run this ship alone. And to be honest, I was pretty good with the execution, branding, etc...but Creative Unions was not growing fast enough. Something was missing. Later, I learned...it was my mindset blocking me all along.

I always knew deep down inside, this wasn't the last thing I would launch. Honestly, I felt like there must be more, and that I HAD to learn more to keep it afloat... More impact. More ripple effects. More capital. More visionary shit beyond executing important and naturally politically charged events around art.

It’s August 2018 - I’m still working on the next Creative Union set for March 2019, but this “thing” was missing. Not sure what it was. I was depressed. I was anxious. I was regretful. I had to make major changes. Like ASAP.

 Photo by Lis Chacon.

Photo by Lis Chacon.

I finally had some downtime to myself. I was alone, breathing, and I closed my eyes…I meditated. Just like I did on the beach when I came up with Creative Unions Event Design, the first event planning company dedicated to curating art exhibitions for life’s celebrations.

I thought, if I could do what I love, then shouldn’t other women artists & curators do the same too? Why was every artist in my circle still struggling to pay the basic bills while begging for more grants to fulfill dream projects? There’s a lot behind that question that I can rant about for hours...so lemme tell you how I took action instead of just asking myself WHHHYYY? WHHYYY ME?!

I woke up from my meditation. This subconscious voice said…COACH.

My ego was liiiike...Excuse me, TF what did you just say?

COOOOOACCCCCCHHH!

Mind you, this is the same voice that flat out said in 2016...Weddings as art exhibitions!...without much explanation. That voice...she’s feisty, she’s in command, and she does not like to explain. She is my higher self.

I immediately contacted the first coach that came to mind - Julia Ford-Carther, the one that I met two years prior at a “Love Lost” Miami exhibition talk about love, and protecting your nation state of love! After meeting and reconnecting, I knew that I had to protect MY nation’s state of love, and that I also had to learn HOW to share the tools/the template that I used to launch my arts biz and countless art exhibitions with other women artists like me.

I had to level up, so I hired my first business/life coach to do it all better, and share that knowledge as a now coach. MAJOR #levelup (and sorely needed in this arts industry).

 Marie Forleo + Oprah inspired photoshoot by  Jacqueline Bermudez !

Marie Forleo + Oprah inspired photoshoot by Jacqueline Bermudez!

Since this past summer, I went through so many difficult but empowering life changes.

9 days later, on August 15, 2018 - I “shook off” what was no longer serving me: co-dependent relationships, toxic friendships, and my old money/life mindset to then launch my own coaching business. With the guidance of my new coach, I quickly tapped into my highest self and became a Launch Strategist to launch Women Artists < Artpreneurs and empower them to find their highest selves. #artisttoartpreneur

IMG_6815.JPG

Since September 1st, I have had the honor of coaching 30+ women artists, so they too can do what they love, independently. There’s so much I can talk about when it comes to this work, but I will save that for another blog post on my future coaching business website, coming soon during the Holidays. In the meantime, check it out at @michelleigomez! (And if you wanna subscribe to that future juicy mailing list all about coaching, just shoot me an email at michelle@creativeunionsllc.com with the subj line: MAILING LIST)!

Creative Unions Event Design is not just about me anymore. It’s about WE. It’s about US. That’s right, I am expanding this company, so I can stay in my zone of genius, continue being a visionary, and continue to empower other artists and curators to do what they love in this company, while getting paid for it.

Miami_1894.jpg

Creative Unions is not just an event planning company, it’s now quickly becoming:

  1. An Incubator for other emerging artpreneurs to get paid to curate art exhibitions, make commissioned artwork for events, for future event planners to practice event coordination.

  2. A Curatorial Framework that explores love as a political act, with a bit of a pop culture influence. (First came a Golden Girls themed wedding + radical joy, then a Dr. Who inspired wedding with a dash of intersectional AF feminism, see the patterns here?)

  3. A Platform for love, creativity, and community. It’s a mirror for those who feel left out of the dominant and very hetero wedding traditions through the eyes of a socially conscious curator with a passion for art and love.

Looking Forward


I look forward to working with Jessica Molnar of Odd Duck Press as my Assistant (aka fellow boss babe). I look forward to introducing you all to an entire team of artpreneurs who will help make the 2nd Creative Union wedding possible in March of 2019.


I look forward to getting back on track with regular IG posts at @creativeunions and regular (and juicy/inspiring/radical) blog posts here on Creative Unions Inspiration.

I look forward to continue making Creative Unions for those couples out there who appreciate art, and have a unique story to tell through art. Because with art, anything is possible.

I look forward to continue coaching women artists. Because if I can do what I love, they can too.

I’m in the driver’s seat now, and it feels so fuckin’ good.

Stay tuned. (And happy early birthday to me) :)

Con mucho, mucho, mucho AMOR y PAZ!

From the Creative Unions Event Design TEAM

5 Moments that made me cry in the 1st ever art exhibition as wedding: Miami IS Nice


Recap

7 months later, and people in Baltimore STILL talk about this press worthy show that attracted almost 1,800 people through the gallery doors...

People have told me: “This was the best show I have EVER seen in Baltimore”...“Museum quality… “My favorite place!" and much more

This monthlong art exhibition and wedding was even featured on Hyperallergic and The Baltimore Sun!

Well, what was this thing?! Lemme tell you. It was the first Creative Union that proved the power of art and it's capacity to tell our stories in deeper and more intentional ways, even in weddings. It was all made possible by this neon family in a little less than 2 years:

Miami_1841.jpg
  • Nick Horan & Zachary Z. Handler were the lead organizers and artist couple who wanted to get married in a Golden Girls inspired art exhibition. So they emailed me before Creative Unions became, well...Creative Unions! Read about the story about how it all started here (I swear, it’s like they read my mind before even meeting me).
  • Carlyn Thomas of Terrault Contemporary (aka an art angel) was the co-curator who helped me manage this beast!

Ask any wedding planner, and they will brag about the linens they chose, the outfits their clients wore, or how boho-chic their dinnerware setup looked. But this was different. Simply put, it was a monthlong art exhibition full of art that questioned who Miami is nice for, what it means to be queer, combined with art about 1980's Miami, neon, and escapism. 

IMG_3386.JPG

It was a Creative Union. A Creative Union is a specially curated art exhibition and marriage ceremony that brings people together to celebrate and express your love story.

Our mission was completed as we created a 1980's Miami escape from the struggles of being queer under today's political climate. This art exhibition was a temporary home to artworks by 45 artists (yup, you got that right - 45 :wink:), a series of public programs, a photo booth (aka Blanche’s bedroom), hundreds of pounds of gold glitter, and Nick & Zach’s wedding.

Photo 2.jpg

Miami is Nice served as the ultimate setting for a gay wedding celebration in order to inspire a world where love wins. Three public events became a natural part of the exhibition as imagined by Nick & Zach, so that the greater Baltimore community from all walks of life could enjoy the month long celebration with the help of Creative Unions Event Design, Management, and Consulting services.

There were too many emotional stories to tell. It was hard to only pick 5 (Part 2 coming soon, I guess). I am not sure how to document and capture all of it...but all of these moments will be in my heart forever. Thank you to all the artists who provided this platform for the community to shed smiles, tears, and sniffs of 80's perfume nostalgia. Oh, and thanks to the puppies that came through too.

After selling artworks with proceeds donated to two LGBTQ organizations: SAGE and Trans Women of Color Collective, I was proud but also sad to see this exhibition come down. I still think about it often, and get teary eyed sometimes, but below are more of my favorite moments with old and new friends who visited "Miami is Nice".

You can see more behind the scenes moments on my personal IG @michelleigomez and follow @creativeunions to see what is next! Hint: an afrofuturist themed art exhibition and wedding in DC, coming next year!


5 Moments that made me cry in the 1st ever art exhibition as wedding: Miami IS Nice

1. Wearing an 80’s vintage sequin shirt from Burdine’s during a conga line! (and crying in front of my Grad School Director)

IMG_5012.JPG

Besides the fact that over 500 people from all walks of life joined us for a steamy opening that felt just like a Miami summer,  I absolutely loved starting a conga line thanks to Gloria Estefan. I was wearing my Mom's vintage 80s sequin top from Burdines, dancing with friends from Miami and Baltimore in an art gallery. I was basically living my best life. In fact, that's how I always imagined my dream life. I then cried in front of George Ciscle. If you do not know him, look him up.

We also enjoyed Golden Girls inspired drag performances by Shaunda Leer! I especially loved seeing our guests interact with our various engaging activities including:

  • manicures and conversations about queerness with Porn Nail$, one of our artists who hailed all the way from Miami,
  • shuffleboard,
  • taking pictures in front of the #Lovewins backdrop by Anya Mizani,
  • taking pictures in in Blanche’s boudoir thanks to our Pixilated photo booth,
  • taking glitter dime bags home,
  • and touching other interactive installations and sculptures!

All of that fun stuff listed up there? ^ That is art. And a very fun art opening!

 

2. Reminiscing nostalgic memories of the Golden Girls during Cheesecake Conversations: An Evening with Stan Zimmerman and H. Alan Scott

For many LGBTQIA+ folks growing up in the 80's, The Golden Girls was an important symbol of strength, subversion, and profound acceptance. In light of #nationalcomingoutday, we invited folks to join us for a live broadcast conversation to discuss the past, present and future of The Golden Girls and the love it inspires with one of the original screenwriters of this iconic television series, Stan Zimmerman and H. Alan Scott, co-host of Out on the Lanai podcast. (They even sat on a vintage 80’s couch that looks just like the one in Golden Girls!)

Over 100 Golden Girls fans joined us as we took photos in our Pixilated Photo booth in Blanche's bedroom (thanks Accent Wall!), we devoured amazing cheesecakes made by Travis Marley with sparkling pink wine, talked about Stan's experiences on the Golden Girls set, shared childhood memories of this iconic television show, and discussed art making as a form of resistance in the age of Trump.

One story that particularly moved me involved a Puerto Rican gay man who watched The Golden Girls on repeat with his hardworking mother sharing laughs every day.

Also, look at H. Alan's GG tattoo:

 

3. Queer Performance Evening: Nerutrippy and Dr. 305 bring Baltimore and Miami to Miami (in Baltimore) 

I absolutely loved all of our 13 performances from our queer performance evening (and closing reception!) My favorite performances truly represented two worlds that beautifully merged the cultures of Miami and Baltimore.

Dr. 305 did some funny AF stand up comedy making jokes about her move from the 305 to the 410. She ended her skit with the line..."But Baltimore is nicer!

Neru & The Hippy Trippy Collective ended the night with dim lights and poetic rap, making us all feel reflected and at home in Baltimore.

Miami_2556.jpg

The queer performance evening ended with all kinds of age groups dancing together in Halloween costumes for the occasion! 

PS - That night, we also hit over 1,600 guests, just look at the joy in my face! Also my fly AF nails were customized just for Miami is Nice by Power Decals!

 

4. The Wedding ceremony (with a keytar!) 

The morning of the wedding, the entire team changed the exhibition, adding sculptural 80's centerpieces made by Alice Gadzinski, a white balloon installation called "3pm Showers" covering the ceiling, and Golden Girls decor. 

That evening, Nick & Zach's closest family and friends were greeted by Elvis impersonators at the door as they entered their own private art opening reception. The ceremony began with their dearest friends Sarah Beth Oppenheim & Kate Folsom of Heart Stück Bernie performing a specially choreographed dance that brought everyone to tears. Nick & Zach’s guests then contributed loving messages and secrets to the altar. :sings Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River":

Their ceremony took place in front of a specially made sculptural backdrop titled “#Lovewins” by Anya Mizani. Anyone who visited the show before and after the wedding was invited to take a picture in front of that backdrop with their loved ones too!

Nick+Zach-Wedding-96.jpg

Nich & Zach's vows were just as creative as the show itself, and included a keytar rendition of “Thank you for being a friend” by their officiant Nyugen Nyugen, some episode clips of the Golden Girls, a marinara sauce ritual, vows performed in art jargon, and Golden Girls masks worn by the audience!

We danced the night away to 80’s music with grapefruit shandy in our hands after more creative performances by their closest friends.

The Golden Girls inspired decorative remnants, the vows, and the balloons from the celebration stayed in the space for the remainder of the exhibition as an additional art installation. The intention behind this was to symbolize how quickly the saccharine opulence of the 1980s came crashing down, and reminded all viewers of the ever-present fragility of the queer experience in America while paying homage to those four remarkable female characters who played such a prominent role in their upbringings.  

There was also fresh cheesecake available in the exhibition every day after the wedding. 

5. Eating chocolate left in the gallery overnight the day after the wedding

Warning: So this moment involved eating leftover cake crumbs the morning after the wedding...please don’t judge me (I was slightly hungover)!

Nick+Zach-Wedding-1086.jpg

The next morning, I opened up the gallery so the public can see the additional art we added to the show for the wedding + the mess we left behind after dancing to 80's music all night long. Guests saw it all...confetti all over the floor (and in my hair), food leftovers, and the remnants of this cake table that had 20+ specially made cheesecakes devoured by Nick & Zach's friends and family.

Photo_After32.jpg

Guests even saw me cleaning up the mess, dragging garbage cans, and folding linens (we left some of the mess including the confetti as "wedding remnants" for the exhibition). I even gave some visitors additional confetti to throw around the gallery when they browsed the art. One visitor bonded with me while eating chocolate left on the table (which he knew was left in the gallery overnight). #youonlyliveonce 

Oh, and Reggie Wells even paid us a visit (you know, Oprah's make up artist, NBD).

So why should visitors see the mess, and the clean up process and why the day after when wedding planners typically clean up right after the wedding is over?

In this special case, the artist lead team valued all those in between moments as a part of the "art". Weird, right?! Yea. I would also add that this whole #BTS art performance just added to the whole queer AF approach to subverting wedding traditions.

My point is...The wedding industrial complex pressures us to only share the "perfect" moments of our weddings. In addition to those perfect shots of our beautiful uneaten cakes, I also find beauty in the messiness of it all.


Reflection

As a curator turned wedding planner, this was the largest project I embarked on up to date (and my first wedding). Although there were many challenges and lessons learned behind the scenes, over one thousand people benefited greatly from a show that reflected their personal stories. It's been so inspiring to see all kinds of people walk through those doors, and even more inspiring to see them open up to us with their traumas, their histories, their joy, and everything in between. It proved that art really does connect us, including strangers.  

Photo_After26.jpg

Nick & Zach told me I made their dreams come true. But in reality, they made dreams come true for those who saw themselves in this show and found a place to freely express themselves in a joyful escape. They also made MY dreams come true by believing in my vision, and trusting my advice when it came to curating and community outreach. They helped me to believe that that with art, anything is possible. Even in a wedding. 

This was not just about Nick & Zach’s wedding, it was something so much bigger. It's been so inspiring to see all kinds of people walk through those doors to see such a unique wedding that utilizes art to bring all kinds of communities together in the name of love.

It truly was a queer paradise where love wins.

Nick+Zach-Wedding-100-2.jpg

 

Thank you for being a friend!

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 12.27.53 AM.png
IMG_0088.JPG

Thank you to all the artists and performers who provided this platform for the community to shed smiles, tears, and sniffs of 80's perfume nostalgia. Oh, and thanks to the puppies that came through too.

Special thank you to Spacecamp gallery, our volunteers, vendors, and sponsors who made this unforgettable community event and space possible!

Huge thanks to our grant support provided by Free Fall Baltimore from Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts and Awesome Foundation-Baltimore! And a big hug to all our sponsors who donated to our Hatchfund!

 

Featured Visual Artists:

Akea Brown (MD), Alex Ebstein (MD), Alex Schechter (PA), Alice Gadzinski (MD), Alissa Eberle (PA), Amy Boone McCreesh, Andrew Indelicato (VA), Anne Stringer (MD), Anya Mizani (MD), April Pink (MD), Brice Peterson (NJ), Chinen Aimi Bouillon (MD), Colby Katz (NC), Colin Klockner (VA), Danya Smith (VA), Dave Eassa (MD), Diza Hope (CA), LaboMamo by Danilo de la Torre and David Rohn (FL), Devin Morris (NY), Esther Ruiz (NY), Felice Cleveland (TX), Gary Godbey, Hannah Hiaasen (NY), Jackie Cassidy (NJ), Jill Fannon (MD), Warm Brothers by Jordan Parvex (CA), Katie Duffy (IL), Leah Guadagnoli (NY), Leeanne Maxey (NY), Magali Hebert-Hout, Nick Simko (NM), Nick Horan (MD), Polly Mizani (MD), Rachel Debuque (MD), Richard Munaba (NY), Porn Nail$ by Rosemarie Romero (FL), Ryan Lauderdale (NY), Samuel Draxler (NY), Sidney Pink (MD), Spencer Meyers (FL), Hysteria by Tanya Garcia & Valeria Molinari (MD), Tiffany Smith (NY), Tiffany Threadgould (PA) & Kat Tingum (NY), Zachary Z. Handler (MD)

Wedding Performers:

Denise Green

Nguyen Nguyen

Raechel and Vanessa Nolan

Lynne Price

Andrew Sargus Klein

Maxine The Drag Queen and Zac Lawhon

April and Sidney Pink

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Queer Performance Evening Artists:

Ophelia Bones

Dr. 305

Alexander Gallagher

Lurch & Holler

Sebastian Katz

Neru from Hippy Trippy Collective

Pangelica

Brice Peterson

Little Prince

Joseph Reisberg

Sarah Strahorn

Trans Women of Color Collective

 

Special Shout Out to:

Our photographers Kiirstn Pagan, Tiffany Jones and Akea Brown who the photos on this post!

Kiirstn Pagan for all the branding and invitations

UNION Craft Brewing for the beer

Station North Tool Library for building exhibition shelves

Accent Wall Customs for the Banana leaf wallpaper in Blanche's boudoir

Pixilated for the photo booth equipment

Photofetti for the custom confetti

Catering by Copper Kitchen

Bulk Glitters for tons of glitter

The Lapel Project for those Miami Vice lapels

Bash Party Goods for our plates

Ruthlidge Costumes for the Elvis costumes

Echo Neon Studio for the Miami is Nice neon sign

Twigz and Tweed for the plant and furniture rentals!


In loving memory

"Parting gifts from Miami is Nice. Just solidifying the fact that I have found my people!" - Alice Gadzinkski

In loving memory of Alice Gadzinski.

With all my love,

Michelle


Michelle Ivette Gomez_Headshot 2018_web_cropped.jpg

ABOUT ME

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

A Letter Of Hope For My Single Mother

 A museum date with my mother at the Perez art Museum Miami admiring artwork by Firelei Baez in Miami, FL.

A museum date with my mother at the Perez art Museum Miami admiring artwork by Firelei Baez in Miami, FL.

I grew up with a single Mom.

You would probably expect my “Mother’s Day” social media dedication to sound something like this:

“My Mom is a strong independent woman…or she worked so hard to fulfill the job of two parents…etc”.

While those statements are true, and I truly do admire my Mother’s strength…I know that kind of hard working lifestyle was not always easy. It was difficult to see her work so hard without the nurturing love and support that she deserved from a partner.

 My mother and I at my MFA in Curatorial Practice Graduation at the Maryland Institute College of Art, 2014 in Baltimore, MD.

My mother and I at my MFA in Curatorial Practice Graduation at the Maryland Institute College of Art, 2014 in Baltimore, MD.

As positive as I may seem on the outside, growing up with a single mother greatly affected me and my life choices. Looking back, I realize that affected my approach to things like my past arts advocacy, only responding to what was wrong with the world. Or when I held the burden of constantly thinking: How could I work harder to make the world a better place through art and my higher education? How can I be the positive change in my family?

That’s a lot of burden to hold onto as a young individual, right?!

These expectations lead me to working out of scarcity, anger, and fear (which are legitimate feelings, but not good for my overall mental well being). This lead to holding a lot of grudges that resulted from carrying such burdens.

 Me in front of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. Photo by  Fluffy Pop Postcards .

Me in front of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. Photo by Fluffy Pop Postcards.

But what I really yearned for was more love, more positivity, more mindfulness, more responses rather than reactions when facing all the isms me and my friends experience.

Then one day it hit me. I deserve to embrace more love in my professional work! But how can I do that as a hopeful romantic curator in an art world that even discourages artists from making cheesy break up art? (True story. I went to art school for 6 years, but I made breakup art anyways cuz IDGAF).

I thought:

Why not think of weddings as art exhibitions that tell our love stories?

That’s how I channeled my anger from my arts advocacy in curating relevant and accessible art exhibitions about community and social issues to embracing my love for people, my love for art, AND my love for love. I know that we all want more love and more connection in this world, even if some extremists believe that is a naive way to combat hate and pain.

 Photo by my &lt;3 Anthony Summers in front of  Olivia Steele 's public sculpture at  Sacred Space Miami .

Photo by my <3 Anthony Summers in front of Olivia Steele's public sculpture at Sacred Space Miami.

Sharing this as a wedding planner may seem counter productive within an industry that is all about catering to the extreme expectations of being that perfectionist, detail crazed wedding planner with that plaster smile in a wedding industrial complex that prioritizes placing perfect/childless/white/hetero/monogamous relationships on a pedestal while simultaneously ignoring the ugly realities of an oppressive society. That is not my reality as a woke curator turned wedding planner. That wedding planning bubble is not the reality for most people.

I hope to bridge these gaps and change these narratives at Creative Unions because I know that just like my mother, we all have real AF stories to tell in a world that is not always picture perfect. Art can do that in the most powerful and beautiful ways, without necessarily triggering people on one of the many special days that is supposed to be joyful. 

 Gustav Klimt,&nbsp; The Kiss.&nbsp; Image sourced from  Google Arts &amp; Culture

Gustav Klimt, The Kiss. Image sourced from Google Arts & Culture

Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” is my mother’s favorite painting. Probably because it exuberates the kind of love she always wanted. Soft, tender, balanced, and classy. (Who doesn’t love that iconic painting?)

Even thought Klimt can be overrated in the art world’s eyes, I would totally make a Gustav Klimt inspired Creative Union for my mother. Even if it’s just an artsy self love party for her and her friends surrounded by the art that tells her unique love story. I know she would love it. And I know she deserves to be celebrated for who she is rather than solely focusing on how hard she continues to work to make ends meet, with or without a partner.

 Mom visiting me in Baltimore, MD when I used to live and work there.

Mom visiting me in Baltimore, MD when I used to live and work there.

Mom, I hope you find continue to find that love in yourself. Just let me know when you are ready, and I will get started on planning your Creative Union a fuckin sap!

Happy Mother's Day!

Love,

Michelle


 

6 Fun Ways To Incorporate Cannabis Into Your Creative Union!

(And a recap of our latest cannabis infused Creative Union!)

 Michelle Ivette Gomez of Creative Unions Event Design. Photo by  Fluffy Pop Postcards   @fluffypoppostcards .

Michelle Ivette Gomez of Creative Unions Event Design. Photo by Fluffy Pop Postcards @fluffypoppostcards.

Hey art lovers and cannabis enthusiasts, happy 4/20!

Considering that this grassroots holiday is rooted in community and spreading love, I thought it was the perfect occasion to tell you about my most recent Creative Union that was all about camaraderie, community, and self love.

 A plant inspired pop-up experience and art exhibition presented by Oracle Infused in collaboration with Creative Unions X Fifth House at Grey Matter Art Space (Baltimore, MD). Photo by  Fluffy Pop Postcards   @fluffypoppostcards

A plant inspired pop-up experience and art exhibition presented by Oracle Infused in collaboration with Creative Unions X Fifth House at Grey Matter Art Space (Baltimore, MD). Photo by Fluffy Pop Postcards @fluffypoppostcards

I helped celebrate my good friendor Megon Dee-Cave (@chefmegondeecave) and her infusing talents as a pioneering woman in the cannabis industry! Although no one got married, this Creative Union celebrated Megon’s love for cannabis as she formally introduced herself as ORACLE of Oracle Infused, the alter ego to Chef Megon. Check out the photos and recap below, all these beautiful photos were taken by Fluffy Pop Postcards

Afterwards, you will learn ways to incorporate cannabis into your Creative Union!

 The lovely Chef Megon Dee-Cave who hailed all the way to Baltimore, MD from Portland, OG in front of David Herman's artwork. Photos by  Fluffy Pop Postcards   @fluffypoppostcards .

The lovely Chef Megon Dee-Cave who hailed all the way to Baltimore, MD from Portland, OG in front of David Herman's artwork. Photos by Fluffy Pop Postcards @fluffypoppostcards.

 

Creative Union Recap:

A plant inspired pop-up experience and art exhibition presented by Oracle Infused in collaboration with Creative Unions X Fifth House at Grey Matter Art Space (Baltimore, MD)

I had the pleasure of curating an art exhibition entitled Beneath the Surface by David Herman for this unique pop up experience and cannabis infused dinner presented by ORACLE, of Oracle Infused—the alter ego of Chef Megon-Dee Cave. This small and intimate Black Panther inspired dinner styled by Joseph Faura of Fifth House Events Collective brought strangers closer to each other in a specially curated experience where art, cannabis, and sound came together to transport our guests to a metaphorical Wakanda at Grey Matter Art Space in Baltimore, MD.

 My friendors from left to right: Joseph Faura of Fifth House Events Collective, Chef Megon Dee-Cave of Oracle Infused, Michelle Ivette Gomez of Creative Unions Event Design, Artist David Hernam of Grey Matter Art Space. Photo by  Fluffy Pop Postcards   @fluffypoppostcards .

My friendors from left to right: Joseph Faura of Fifth House Events Collective, Chef Megon Dee-Cave of Oracle Infused, Michelle Ivette Gomez of Creative Unions Event Design, Artist David Hernam of Grey Matter Art Space. Photo by Fluffy Pop Postcards @fluffypoppostcards.

Utilizing purple and blue colors from Black Panther’s Wakanda and David Hernam’s paintings, Creative Unions Event Design X Fifth House Events Collective combined gold flatware, blue glassware, blue candle votives, and magenta lit clear candle holders for warm, glowing, and intimate lighting. The lighting was inspired by Wakanda’s purple-blue florals that provide the Black Panther with vibranium and strength.

The luscious tropical green leaves from B. Willow connected guests to nature with green & purple foliage and ferns throughout the event, alongside gold hand lettered seating assignments on small green leaves placed on the dinner table. An ephemeral lines of red sand ran across the dinner table and around the lounge to connect us to our ancestors and bloodlines. The red line of sand met at the center of the table, where a bud was placed within a glass centerpiece.

Beneath the Surface featured the lush green-purple abstract underpaintings, landscapes, abstract paintings and ambient sound art of David Herman. While underpaintings are traditionally seen as the beginnings of a painting in progress, Herman explores the atmoshpere and colors of his underpainting as finished artworks to shine light on the emotions beneath the surface of our egos.

By activating all of the senses in this dinner through art, sound, deep conversation, and great food, we were able to experience a safe and comfortable high that allowed us to go beneath our surfaces, experience meaningful and connected relationships, and absorb a deeper capacity to love artwork, love others, and love ourselves.

At the end of the evening, we enjoyed a spontaneous jam session in David's music studio, and we all got swag bags with goodies provided by our sponsors: Oracle Infused, Charm City Medicus, and Power Decals! We even had our nails done with my friendor Charlotte James of Power Decals (with weed inspired nail decal artworks)!

 

This experience proved that with visual art and cannabis infused culinary arts, we can thrive as a collective whole beneath the cultural constraints of Western culture and the individualistic ego, allowing us to heal and become the highest version of ourselves (literally)!

ORACLEINFUSED318-287.jpg

I cannot wait to collaborate with Oracle Infused and Fifth House Events Collective on another pop up dinner, stay tuned! And yes, Creative Unions are not just limited to marriage celebrations, but other life celebrations like this one!

Read below to hear from Cannabis Chef Megon Dee-Cave of Oracle Infused on how you can incorporate cannabis into your wedding!

 

 

6 Fun Ways To Incorporate Cannabis Into Your Creative Union!

By Chef Megon-Dee Cave of Oracle Infused

 

1. Favors and Departure Gifts

With so many available products containing cannabis, gifting a cannabis infused memento has never been easier. From edibles, to pre-roll joints, bath bombs, body salves and CBD everything, you can unobtrusively encourage your guest to imbibe at their own pace and celebrate your Union, after the party! Be sure to personalize it with some art to add that special touch.

 From:  A plant inspired pop-up experience and art exhibition presented by Oracle Infused in collaboration with Creative Unions X Fifth House at Grey Matter Art Space (Baltimore, MD).&nbsp; Photo by  Fluffy Pop Postcards   @fluffypoppostcards .

From: A plant inspired pop-up experience and art exhibition presented by Oracle Infused in collaboration with Creative Unions X Fifth House at Grey Matter Art Space (Baltimore, MD). Photo by Fluffy Pop Postcards @fluffypoppostcards.

2. Cannamocktails instead of alcohol

PARTY ON! Introduce the concept of cannabis consumption through ingesting as opposed to inhalation. Cannabis-infused “mocktails” in place of alcohol will be gentler on your guests providing no hang-over when consumed in moderation. Easily make any beverage infused with a cannabis tincture or CBD powder.

Infusing with 1:1 part THC and part CBD, allows for guests to experience a psycho-active experience while feeling in control and balanced. An ideal microdosing for a consumer ranges from 2.5-5 mg of THC/CBD. Given that everyone has their own unique ECS – Endocannabinoid System, your guest will experience cannabis differently.

 Image from: Plant Miami  @plantmiami .

Image from: Plant Miami @plantmiami.

3. Upgrade your wedding cake

Offering guests a cannabis infused accent sauce is a sweet and discreet way to provide a lifted element to your special day. Try a cannabis infused chipotle caramel-chocolate ganache, guava lime syrup, or lavender lemon curd on your wedding cake.

4. Budtender

Imagine…HIS and HER ∣ HIS and HIS ∣ THEIRS and THEIRS ∣ HERS and HERS signature cannabis bud bars highlighting your individual favorite strains. Hire a budtender to help ensure that your guests will gain cannabis knowledge and experience cannabis in a fun way while responsibly consuming. A professional budtender can educate and entertain while serving you and your guests.

 

5. Tossing the bridal bouquets is so Y2K

Toss a fresh Ziplock bag of premium flower and watch the hopeful single ladies in house try their hand at grabbing the prize! It’s definitely a candid picture worthy moment to be talked about for a lifetime…(“Remember that time when so and so caught the bag of herb?!” :giggles:)

6. Creative cannabis décor and embellishments

Just imagine...artist made Bong vase centerpieces, hanging Purple Hindu Kush air plant glass displays, Silver Haze bud laced bridal bouquets, Blue Dream boutonnieres, or an updo or side ponytail hairstyle adorned with cannabis fan leaves.

Placement of various plant parts can be aesthetically pleasing for all your wedding décor. Contact a dispensary or cannabis farmer for more information on how go about buying in bulk for décor purposes.

Hope you are having a safe and happy high (with love),

Michelle and Megon


 Image by Laura Memory

Image by Laura Memory

ABOUT ME

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

A Day by Day Guide to Experience Miami Art Week 2017

In this Miami Art Week guide, you will find art that inspires Creative Unions. It’s the kind of art that is participatory, immersive, and intentional...the kind of art that is essentially an experience.
— Michelle Ivette Gomez, Founder of Creative Unions
  Image:&nbsp; Michelle Ivette Gomez, Founder of Creative Unions Event Design LLC in front of a mural by artist, Jose Mertz

Image: Michelle Ivette Gomez, Founder of Creative Unions Event Design LLC in front of a mural by artist, Jose Mertz

As a Miami native, I have had the privilege to grow up around the arts ever since I was a teenager dreaming of becoming a curator while at New World School of the Arts in Downtown, Miami. Ever since those high school days, I have seen Miami nurture my local artists community, seeing this city transform ever since Art Basel Miami Beach debuted in the early 2000’s.

I know we have great art all year round beyond Miami Art Week, but now is the time of the year to soak up the biggest arts phenomenon right here in my own backyard, how exciting! With SO much going on, I have carefully planned my adventures for each day of Miami Art Week, and compiled them into the perfect guide for you.

Whether you are an art lover that just got engaged, are thinking of planning your next anniversary, or celebratory event, then you have come to the right place! In this guide, you will find the art that inspires Creative Unions. It’s the art that is participatory, immersive, and intentional...the kind of art that is essentially an experience. Whenever I look at art, I imagine it in the context of a celebratory event or marriage ceremony, and I am reminded that with art, anything is possible.

See my Miami Art Week adventures on Instagram by following @michelleigomez and the hashtag,  #Creativeunionsinspiration to see what I see, and feel free to leave me comments on the artworks you love best!

PS: there are TWO Creative Unions artists listed below who participated in the highly talked about Creative Union that just happened in Baltimore this past October, “Miami is Nice”! I am so proud of them!

*Oh, and look out for these asterisks next to each event below. This means the event or exhibition requires a special RSVP, badge, invitation, or paid ticket. Remember to pace yourself and have back up plans, because not every event during Miami Art Week will always guarantee you access. Ugh, I know...the art world can be pretty inaccessible sometimes, but I found many free and public things below too! And don't forget to drink plenty of water and carry granola bars!

Enjoy, and you’re welcome!

Michelle


 

WEDNESDAY 12/6

I will jumpstart my Miami Art Week with an exhibition that redefines the white cube. I always had a complicated relationship with the white cube. From completely criticizing it’s traditions, to lovingly embracing it as a clean slate for events and life’s celebrations, I am excited to see what a graphic 3D cube looks like, without walls. Because with technology, anything is possible, literally ANYTHING!

My friend and exhibition designer, Simona Uzaite that I met from my days consulting and writing for Quatrefoil Associates invited me to the VIP Preview for Hakanaï Miami 2017, which features a solo dancer that takes guests through a visual journey a 3D cube space between dreams and reality. Dance, visuals and accompanying music are all performed live, ensuring a unique experience each time. AND you get to experience this cube after the performance! Congrats on being involved with this incredible project Simona!

  Image:  https://www.hakanaimiami.com/events/press-vip-preview-hakanai-by-adrien-m-claire-b-2

Image: https://www.hakanaimiami.com/events/press-vip-preview-hakanai-by-adrien-m-claire-b-2

Exhibition: *Hakanaï Miami 2017 presented by Artechouse and Canvas Miami (VIP and Press Preview event, RSVP required)

Time: 6 - 11pm (Doors open at 6pm, live performances 7pm and 9:30pm, followed by an interactive session “Experience the Cube” 10:30pm)

Location: Canvas Miami 90 NE 17th St, Miami, FL 33132, USA


 

THURSDAY 12/7

As a proud New World School of the Arts alum, I always support NWSA student exhibitions (which never even feel like student exhibitions because they are so talented). Every year, these students curate an exhibition of site specific sculptures, installations and performances in Miami’s only urban garden art space, Casalin. It’s the one morning during Miami Art Week where I feel like the curators get me (well, because we are all natives) when they serve Cuban cafecito, pastelitos, and Jamaican pineapple/ginger drinks while I think about what an art wedding may look like in an urban garden oasis escape. It’s a local favorite for Miami natives, shhh - don’t tell too many people.

Then I will head to the newly opened ICA Miami for a talk at 2pm about the future of Miami’s Culture Track. I will spend the rest of my day working on Creative Unions, although it is so tempting to go to EVERYTHING AT ONCE! But I gotta pace myself...it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the busiest one too, with lots of traffic.

  Image:  by Michelle Ivette Gomez from NWSA @ Casalin 2016

Image: by Michelle Ivette Gomez from NWSA @ Casalin 2016

Exhibition: New World School of the Arts @ Casalin

Time: 9am - 12pm

Location: Casalin 55 NW 30th St, Miami, FL 33127


 

FRIDAY 12/8

On Friyay, catch me roaming around Downtown Miami, Wynwood, and the Design District to see a couple of fairs and get my social justice themed nails done by Rosemarie Romero (Rosemarie Romero, aka Porn Nail$ was a featured artist in the Creative Union, “Miami is Nice”!). Then I will head over to Wynwood to find inspiration from Wynwood Walls for couples who want to get married in front of murals, followed by Locust Projects for a couple of immersive exhibitions featuring inflatable sculptures and fiber work. I will then end the night in a phone free party hosted by Adidas to let loose with some hip hop and dancehall reggae. This phone free party brings up a few important thoughts:

  1. Going to that phone free party will give me a taste of what it’s like to be in the present moment without documenting everything for my friends on social media.
  2. That party may influence me to encourage my clients to consider a phone free wedding or event. (especially when they pay professional photographers to do the job with a much higher resolution camera that takes way better photos than your cell phone).
  3. I looooove hip hop and dancehall reggae so much. It’s super Miami bro. Just sayin’.

Pssst… don’t rely on google maps to find addresses for fairs. Google Maps has outdated addresses as the fairs have recently moved!

Art-Miami-International-Contemporary-Modern-Art-Fair.jpg

Fair: *Art Miami | Context (Ticket required)

Location:  1 Miami Herald Plaza at NE 14th St, Miami, FL 33132

Artist Spotlight: Goya Contemporary featuring Joyce Scott and Soledad Salame

 
  Image:&nbsp; http://www.thewynwoodwalls.com/walls/maya-hayuk

Image: http://www.thewynwoodwalls.com/walls/maya-hayuk

Exhibition: Wynwood Walls

Location: 2520 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami FL 33127

Artist Spotlight: Maya Huyuk

 
  Image:  Creative Unions artist, Rosemarie Romero aka Porn Nai$ performing in a Creative Union “ Miami is Nice ” for Nick &amp; Zach’s month long wedding celebration and art exhibition in Baltimore, October 2017. Photograph by Tiffany Jones.

Image: Creative Unions artist, Rosemarie Romero aka Porn Nai$ performing in a Creative Union “Miami is Nice” for Nick & Zach’s month long wedding celebration and art exhibition in Baltimore, October 2017. Photograph by Tiffany Jones.

Fair: *NADA (Ticket required)

Location:  Ice Palace Studios 1400 N Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33136

Artist Spotlight: Rosemarie Romero’s “Rise Up” Nail Bar Friday, 12 - 3pm (Creative Unions artist in “Miami is Nice”)

 
  Image:   Nancy Davidson &nbsp;at Locust Projects

Image: Nancy Davidson at Locust Projects

Exhibition: Nancy Davidson and Pepe Mar: Man of the Night

Hours: Wednesday, December 6 through Friday, December 9, 10 am to 6 pm Sunday, December 10, 10 am to 1pm (These are their extended hours for Miami Art Week)

Location: Locust Projects 3852 North Miami Avenue, Miami Fl 33127

 
https-%2F%2Fcdn.evbuc.com%2Fimages%2F37580430%2F88690176627%2F1%2Foriginal.png

Party: You Had To Be There (RSVP, get there early)

Time:  11pm - 5am

Location:  1306 North Miami Ave Miami, FL 33136


 

SATURDAY 12/9

After too much dancing the night before, I will begin the afternoon wearing my bathing suit under my dress to one of my favorite historic museums, Vizcaya (a popular museum for weddings too)! Vizcaya features CAP Overload and CAP Lab which are two exhibition programs that explore the concept of immersion at Vizcaya in order to activate the senses and alter the experience of Vizcaya. CAP Lab features a Creative Unions artist, Nick Clifford Simko who was a featured artist in the Creative Union, “Miami is Nice”, a month long wedding celebration and art exhibition in Baltimore, October 2017!

After Vizcaya, I will head back to the beach to check out Untitled Art Fair. There, I will chill out under AMLgMATD’s “Suncatcher Pavillion”, as I have always dreamed of doing a beachy Creative Union with their furniture and installation designs for an outdoor wedding. Then I will check out one of my friends from Baltimore, Amy Sherald who is commissioned to paint Michelle Obama’s portrait. Talk about my friends shaping art history!

I am especially excited to engage with the installations by Faena Art, including an art installation that also serves as a roller skating rink! This whole day is about dipping in the water in between public art sightings, and finding inspirations for couples who want to get married or have an event in front of a public sculpture or installation (during Miami’s winter season of course)!

Then I will relax on comfy bean bags on the lawn in front of the New World Symphony for Art Basel at Soundscape Park to listen to sound art, watch abstract projections, and a featured film.

  Image:  Artwork by Tanja Smeets

Image: Artwork by Tanja Smeets

Exhibition: *CAP Lab Overload at Vizcaya Village (RSVP/Ticket required)

Time: 11am - 2pm

Location: Vizcaya & Vizcaya Village 3251 South Miami Ave Miami, FL 33129

Artist Spotlight:  Nick Clifford Simko (Creative Unions artist in “Miami is Nice”)

 
  Image:  by  AMLgMATD  at Untitled Art Fair

Image: by AMLgMATD at Untitled Art Fair

Fair: *Untitled Art Fair (Ticket required)

Location: Ocean Dr & 12th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Artist Spotlight: AMLgMATD and Amy Sherald

 

Exhibitions: Faena: Miami Art Week includes  myriad public sculptures and programs listed here.

Locations: Faena Beach Between 32nd and 36th streets Miami Beach, FL 33140 & Faena Forum
3300 Collins Ave Miami Beach, FL 33140

 
_inline-wide_art_basel.jpg

Exhibition:

Art Basel Sound and Film Program

Time: 7pm

Location: Soundscape Park 400 17th St Miami Beach


 

SUNDAY 12/10

Sundays are my lazy beach days, but this Sunday, I’ll be in Miami Beach with my towel in my tote bag wearing my bathing suit under my jean shorts and chanclas at the Design Fair, then will spend the rest of the day engaging with public art works at the public sculptures at Collins Park!

After all of that, I will wrap of Miami Art Week 2017 reflecting on my experiences, imagining the future of Creative Unions, and practicing gratitude for living in an art capital like Miami that gives me inspiration every single day. Art IS everywhere.

  Image:  From Design Miami’s Facebook page: Perrier-Jouët digital installation series

Image: From Design Miami’s Facebook page: Perrier-Jouët digital installation series

Fair: *Design Miami

Location: 1809 Meridian Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

 
  Image:  by Michelle Ivette Gomez from Art Basel | Public 2016, artwork by Ugo Rondinone

Image: by Michelle Ivette Gomez from Art Basel | Public 2016, artwork by Ugo Rondinone

Exhibition: Art Basel | Public

Location: Collins Park 2100 Collins Avenue


Thank you for joining me. Be sure to join my mailing list so you get next year’s guide. See you at Miami Art Week 2018!

 


Main headshot.jpg

ABOUT ME

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

Making Miami Nice

 Michelle Ivette Gomez - Founder of Creative Unions sitting with Creative Unions’ pioneer couple Zachary Z. Handler (left) and Nick Horan (right)

Michelle Ivette Gomez - Founder of Creative Unions sitting with Creative Unions’ pioneer couple Zachary Z. Handler (left) and Nick Horan (right)

Hey fellow art lovers and lovers of love!

I AM SO EXCITED! I just flew in from Miami to my second home, Baltimore, and I brought all my neon powered Miami energy to help bring Creative Union’s first celebration to life! I’m typing this from a folding table in Spacecamp gallery watching the “Miami is Nice” curatorial team transform this white wall gallery into a queer paradise where love wins. From October 7-28, right where I’m sitting, this 2800 sq. ft room will be home to 45 incredible artist’s works, 3 public events, and Zachary & Nick’s Golden Girls inspired wedding. It’s been a day of painting, sweeping, and reflections on this 2 year journey. I actually had a bit of an epiphany earlier when I realized that we are featuring 45 artists from around the country at the same time as we grapple with the current 45th President’s attacks on the LGBTQ community. Talk about creative resistance, right?!

“Miami is Nice” is more than just a private wedding that takes place in an art gallery. So much more. In fact, I suggest heading over to www.miamiisnice.com for details on the exciting series of programs for the greater Baltimore community. Hint: one of the original screenwriters for the Golden Girls is joining us for a discussion! And there will be cheesecake! You can also stop by the gallery during gallery hours to play Atari video games or watch Golden Girls episodes with me in your PJs. ;)

I can’t believe it’s been a year and a half since Creative Unions began WERKing on our first art exhibition/wedding. Personally, it’s been a rough month. I’ve dealt with the world’s natural disasters and had to evacuate my home in Miami. Fortunately, my house and family are safe but I constantly worry about my family in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria. Returning to Baltimore this week has proven to be the most wonderful gift. It has lifted my spirits and allowed me to laugh again, despite the gun violence, climate change, and everything else wrong with this world. I came up with Creative Unions because I wanted to bring more love into my life and this world.

Nothing else brings me as much joy as working with Creative Union’s pioneer couple, Zachary & Nick alongside co-curator Carlyn Thomas of Terrault Gallery to make this art exhibition, series of programs, and gay wedding a dream come true. As I look around me right now, I am so excited to introduce the world to all of this excess :)

Check out my top 10 favorite behind the scenes moments from this past year while working on the #miamiisnicesxhibition below!

IMG_3422.JPG

1. N&Z screen printed hundreds of shoulder pads with their wedding logo as part of their wedding invitation (packed in gold envelopes)!


21728312_1852812334939530_3004170817439376408_n.jpg

2. Seeing the postcard and invitation for the general exhibition and wedding! This was the first “IT’S REALLY HAPPENING” moment.  


3. Ok here’s a mini list. These artworks got me way too excited from the moment I first laid my eyes on them, and this is just a tiny fraction of the entire art exhibition. (And yes, that is a glitter toilet seat that will be featured in the gallery’s bathroom! #artiseverywhere)


4. This Miami is Nice sign is everything.


IMG_1941.JPG

5. No Golden Girls themed wedding is complete without Elvis costumes and accessories!


6. I met Sebastian from The Lapel Project here in Miami (yes the guy that was featured on Shark Tank!), and he gave me the “Miami Vice” lapel set for the groomsmen, so sweet of him! Check out the video below to see how the his lapels work. These lapels are so great, you can stick them onto any suit to customize your look so your suit is as unique as you! Thank you Sebastian!


DSC_0775.JPG

7. A Golden Girls Wedding? YES! Here is a photo of that time we heard Nick & Zachary’s interview on “Out on the Lanai: A Golden Girls Podcast”! (PS- H. Alan Scott is one of the co-hosts and GG superfans for this podcast...he will be moderating a talk with one of the original screenwriters for Golden Girls on Oct 18th! (See www.miamiisnice.com for event details)


8. When Carlyn drove to NY to pick up artworks from artists and took selfies with (most) of them! Oh how I loved getting these in our Whatsapp chat group.


Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 11.10.55 AM.png

9. I have weekly Skype sessions with Nick & Zachary. Sometimes I take screenshots of them when they show me the deliveries they get in the mail for their wedding, like this beautiful martinique wall paper donated by Accent Wall Customs for our Golden Girls inspired photo booth, eeeeek!


 Left to right: Michelle Ivette Gomez of Creative Unions, Zachary Z. Handler, Nick Horan and Carlyn Thomas of Terrault Gallery

Left to right: Michelle Ivette Gomez of Creative Unions, Zachary Z. Handler, Nick Horan and Carlyn Thomas of Terrault Gallery

10. When the whole team got together in Baltimore to take this 80’s neon glamour shot!


If you are around Baltimore or DC, I hope you can stop by the opening for “Miami is Nice” on Oct 7, 7-10pm at Spacecamp to say hello, enjoy drag performances, and get your glitter nails done. See you Bmore, miss you.

Yours in 80’s excess and shoulder pads,

-Michelle


ABOUT ME

download (1).png

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

A Quick Update

DSC_0550.JPG

It is with great excitement that I announce three things during this very busy month:

  1. I am now a full time wedding planner and curator for Creative Unions! It is such an honor to dedicate my life to doing what I love most...making art exhibitions designed around your love story!

  2. I am in the midst of working hard on Zachary & Nick’s wedding and art exhibition, “Miami is Nice” to imagine a queer paradise where love wins. Stay tuned as we are hard at “werk” making it all happen. Mark your calendars for “Miami is Nice” opening October 7, 2017 at 7pm in SpaceCamp, located in Baltimore, MD. You can visit www.miamiisnice.com to see more details and also learn about the exciting programs we have up our sleeve!

  3. I am looking for art loving couples who are planning their Creative Unions for next year. Remember, you are the tastemaker. You know how to reach me!

Stay tuned for an exciting blog post later this month highlighting one of my favorite artists who happens to work in the wedding and art industries, just like me!

 
You betta WERK!
— RuPaul
 

With love,
Michelle


ABOUT ME

download.png

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

Top 10 Reasons for a Museum Date

 #TBT to that time Anthony and I went on a #Museumdate AND SAW ANDY WARHOL at  the baltimore museum of art  in baltimore.

#TBT to that time Anthony and I went on a #Museumdate AND SAW ANDY WARHOL at the baltimore museum of art in baltimore.

I will never forget the moment I met my partner for the first time at the Guggenheim museum.  It was 2013 and I was a busy graduate student getting my MFA in Curatorial Practice in Baltimore patiently enduring the monotony of OkCupid dates at bars when I stumbled upon Anthony’s profile. I was hooked on Anthony, aka “Intellectualguy”. After exchanging some long winded life essays I told him I was going to be in New York during Spring Break for museum research, to which he replied “I’ll be in New York visiting my family for Spring Break too!”. YES, perfect!

Fast forward to a chilly New York weekday in March: I’m sitting in the marble lobby of the Guggenheim anxiously twisting my blue scarf fringe around my fingers next to some older ladies taking a break from all the art. He’s running two hours late. I’m totally OK with this as he later explained his Puerto Rican grandmother made him stay at the house longer to finish eating her lunch (I get it)! Suddenly he walks through the lobby doors, and that typical cliché love at first sight moment happens: the world around me blurs and slows down as my eyes dart straight to a tall, dark, and handsome young man. “Get it together girl. This is it, this is it, this is the one.” My heart is racing out of my chest and my brain is tumbling through images of our future together all in the blink of an eye. I confidently walk over him to give him a hug. It’s a brief, tight, and tingly embrace that feels like it lasts for three minutes. Yup. This is it. We walk through the rounded walls of the art filled Guggenheim so comfortably together. It’s as if we’ve known each other for years as I talk about the Gutai art like a typical curator would. The art sparks conversations about our tastes, phenomenology and suddenly we’re telling stories about our families and childhood dreams. We didn’t leave each other’s side the rest of the afternoon. The museum was the perfect place for us to discover ourselves and eachother.

That #museumdate story brings me to this blog post to further explain why museum dates are the best dates to spice up your love life or propose to that cutie you have had your eye on in the OKcupid app. We even found these adorable #museumdate pictures on Instagram from other fellow creatives who agree that museum dates are the best dates, check em’ out!

 

1. Obama says, “Art...it impresses people...”

Museums are a great place to have intellectual conversations, like Michelle and Barack did! Hear them recall their first date at the Art Institute of Chicago on Huffpost and “take tips gentlemen!”

 Photo by  Pete Souza

Photo by Pete Souza

2. Museums are a great place for conversation!

You will never have a moment of awkward silence, even if you don’t feel like an art expert! Take an art professional’s words of advice: Use the Visual Thinking Strategy questions below to spark conversation and get to know your date. They work on museum tours too, believe me!

 Photo by  @insidemuseums  at the home of Mondrian  Gemeente Museum  in the Netherlands

Photo by @insidemuseums at the home of Mondrian Gemeente Museum in the Netherlands

What do you see?

What makes you say that?

What more can you say?

Or you can just mimic the sculptures so you avoid the fact that you are anxious af...

 Photo by @denisefosua “That time I went to a museum and spent the whole time impersonating statues and sculptures to distract me from being nervous on a date 😂🤦🏾‍♀️😂”

Photo by @denisefosua “That time I went to a museum and spent the whole time impersonating statues and sculptures to distract me from being nervous on a date 😂🤦🏾‍♀️😂”

3. You can learn a lot about your date from way they perceive art.

And while you're listening to your date answer the above questions, you get to learn about how your date thinks about art, which can give you hints on how that person perceives life.

 Photograph taken at the  Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden  in DC by award winning photographer  @kenpakphotography . PS - Ken Pak is the kind of photographer you need for your future creative engagement shoots in museums, check out more of his work  here !

Photograph taken at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in DC by award winning photographer @kenpakphotography. PS - Ken Pak is the kind of photographer you need for your future creative engagement shoots in museums, check out more of his work here!

4. You can look at art, and eat too!

Museums are a one stop shop for eating at the café for brunch mimosas AND looking at art! It’s also a great opportunity to see how your date treats their server...20% or it’s over! Check out this adorable art loving couple at Café Sebastienne inside the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City! PS - Cafe Sebastienne was named Top 10 Best Brunch Restaurants in America for 2017 on OpenTable). #lifegoals

 Photograph by Designer &amp; storyteller,  @jeani0

Photograph by Designer & storyteller, @jeani0

 Image source from  The Pitch

Image source from The Pitch

5. Museums host parties too!

Museums have a ton of after-hours programs that make great introductions to those dates who would rather go to the bar or club every weekend. My favorite one is Miami’s Poplife Social at the Perez Art Museum Miami which was named Best Art Mixer by Miami New Times Best of Art & Entertainment! See? Miami isn’t ALWAYS about clubbing on South Beach, but we go like to go hard, even at museums!

6. Museums are Instagram ready.

Museums make great backdrops for cute selfies like this one by @danymoc at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico. After 5+ years, make an artful scrapbook with these bold and colorful photos so you can reminisce outside of your phone screen…(and save those museum admission tickets for the scrap book too!)

 Photo by  @danymoc

Photo by @danymoc

And when you post those #museumdate pics on Instagram, you seem pretty cultured too, like Queen Bey and Jay Z:

7. You get to soak up some AC!

Tired of long walks on the beach, sunburns, and displaced sand? Try a museum! Museums can keep you cool like this couple right here at The Museum of Ice Cream in LA (#relationshipgoalsaf). Haha, “cool”. PS- make sure you buy your tickets early to check out this gem!)

8. Museums can be fun to play in.

Not all museums are stuffy! Sometimes, they feel like playgrounds as fellow creative @champaige explained to The Museum of Ice Cream: "Surprised my BF with tickets... needless to say we are more in love after going and feeling like kids again 💕💃🏾🤓

 Photo by  @champaige

Photo by @champaige

9. Surprise your date with a gift from the Museum shop!

At the end of your date, you can go to the museum gift shop to buy a souvenir! Here’s an idea: surprise your date with the postcard of the art they liked the most as a romantic gesture at the end of the day so they can treasure it on their bedroom corkboard until it fades as a result of sun damage.

 Photo by  @jackieullustrated  (And check out Jackie’s beautiful illustrations  here  - they make for great custom post cards and wedding stationery!)

Photo by @jackieullustrated (And check out Jackie’s beautiful illustrations here - they make for great custom post cards and wedding stationery!)

Or get a silly $1 souvenir from SIDESHOW, my favorite museum gift shop in Baltimore! It's inside the American Visionary Art Museum!

  Image source from  Sensible Stylista

Image source from Sensible Stylista

10. You can preserve memories by adding a museum catalog to your library collection!

If you reaaalllyy like them, take my advice and buy the catalogue for the exhibition you two saw together. And when you are having a rainy day, pull out the book to reminisce the artworks that you talked about on your first date! I so wish I bought this Guggenheim catalog for that Gutai art show me and my partner saw in 2013. I guess it’s never too late?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 Photo by  @septembers_issue  at the gift shop at the &nbsp; High Museum of Art  in Atlanta

Photo by @septembers_issue at the gift shop at the  High Museum of Art in Atlanta

And there you have it! Those are the reasons why Creative Unions endorses museum dates! It brings my heart such joy when I see these adorable pictures of couples in museums, reminding me of that magical time I first laid my eyes on Anthony in a museum. That date at the Guggenheim set us up for a life full of intellectual conversation and creativity.  

Ever since then, Anthony and I talk about out of the box wedding ideas. He often says, “Knowing you, you’ll end up curating our wedding”. Fast forward four and a half years and I’ve DIY’ed my own dream job that combines my passion for art and love into the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into weddings for creative couples like us. I guess I owe it to him and more importantly, that time we met at the museum, which set the tone for a life full of art and love.

Stop by the blog later and check out why Creative Unions thinks museums are the best places for weddings (and engagement photo shoots)!


ABOUT ME

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

Creative Highlight: Jermaine Táron Bell

  #TBT to that time I went to Baltimore to see Jermaine and we checked out “Take Me Away To The Stars” a solo exhibition by Stephen Towns. Image by Anthony Summers.

#TBT to that time I went to Baltimore to see Jermaine and we checked out “Take Me Away To The Stars” a solo exhibition by Stephen Towns. Image by Anthony Summers.

I am so honored to introduce you to one of my favorite Scorpios, and arts leaders, Jermaine Táron Bell! Jermaine is the first to be featured in the Creative Unions’ “Creative Highlights” blog series meant to highlight some of the incredible creatives in my community who inspire my work everyday!

Jermaine Táron Bell holds a B.F.A. in Graphic Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art. He is a visual designer who creates kick ass stationery, prints, and pins inspired by the African diaspora. In addition to his visual designs, he has had his hands in the advertising, marketing, and branding worlds doing everything from planning programs that broaden community outreach, to helping artists brand themselves through curatorial projects and social media.

Jermaine and I met at a fellowship program for arts administrators in Baltimore a few years ago. We knew we were going to be friends and #Scorpiosiblings from the start when we bonded over our shared goals while collaborating with our own communities to create art spaces for people of color designed to represent themselves beyond traditional methods. In facing these challenges, we learned it is important to be true to ourselves and not get caught up changing who we are, or silencing ourselves to fit into dominant molds that institutions are comfortable with.

 Read below to see what he is up to, and get a deeper look into his thoughts on Black Queer  Love, art, the institution of marriage, and the importance of intersectionality in LGBTQIA+ spaces. #Blackqueerlovestoriesmatter

 Standing next to a piece by  Shani Crowe  at MoCADA museum in Brooklyn, NY. Image by Lauren Van Slyke.

Standing next to a piece by Shani Crowe at MoCADA museum in Brooklyn, NY. Image by Lauren Van Slyke.

Michelle: Hey Jermaine! Thank you so much for talking to me today! I am so excited to get real with you and ask a bunch of questions about art, love, marriage and more. I bet you haven’t talked about relationships on a blog yet, right?

Jermaine: Sure! I guess there is a first time for everything, let’s get real!

Michelle: In my world, all of those things intertwine! But before we dive deep AF into those things, lemme start off with one question...Have you seen any powerful movies lately? I haven’t stopped thinking about Moonlight ever since I saw it. I also just saw the SunDance movie called KIKI, which is about New York City’s underground voguing ballroom scene, and the importance of creating our own systems in a heteronormative world. Both of these movies blew my mind!

Jermaine: I obviously loved Moonlight! It actually reminds me a lot of my friend and frequent collaborator Kirk Shannon Butts’ film Blueprint in that it features beautiful talented black leads and sexual tension, but no actual sex. Powerful!

I haven’t seen KIKI yet, but, I LOVED Moonlight because It’s rare that I see a story that could mirror me or my friend’s lives on a big screen.

KIKI sounds a lot like Paris is Burning. Which is controversial of course because some people feel that Jennie Livingston exploited the people in the documentary, but it’s also instrumental to any young black gay person’s development because the subjects in the film are LEGENDARY!

Michelle: Yes, it is so important that we see ourselves not only in the visual arts industry, but also on the big screen to feel validated, and be heard. The way popular media tells our stories has a huge influence on how others may perceive us. And yes Livingston’s methods were HIGHLY problematic, but the creative team for KIKI seems to have taken a very different approach and actually partnered with Twiggy Pucci Garçon, one of the members of the ballroom scene, to develop the story and guide the process. I’d say the film has a very different and far more socially conscious tone than Paris is Burning. Both Moonlight and KIKI proved to me that it is so important for us creatives of color to tell our stories in new ways, and to keep fighting for seats at the table so everyone can benefit, even if it feels tokenizing in a mostly white industry, like film.

Although you are not involved in film, you do have the power of creating visuals and advertisements as a graphic designer. Other than your role as a designer, how do you define yourself as a creative in the broader sense?

Jermaine: I heard from Leslie King-Hammond, my former African Studies professor that in most African countries there isn’t a word for “art”. And, I’ve had conversations with other creatives of color that felt art school only complicated their relationships to art. Since graduating I’ve worked in advertising, but I also have had several community organizing roles like my current one as an Open Society Fellow where I am working with a local black artist to broaden his programming and marketing at his arts and community centered event space. This all grew from the marketing work that I did alongside my friend Kirk Shannon Butts of Flickeria to help get my partner’s foot into the contemporary art market.

 Jermaine wearing his  “Respiration” pin . Image by Stephen Towns.

Jermaine wearing his “Respiration” pin. Image by Stephen Towns.

Michelle: Back to Leslie King-Hammond’s point about how there is no word for art in African countries...I found that to be such a beautiful way to remind us that art is everywhere, art is a part of our daily lives, and that we are all inherently creative (even those who did not obtain an arts education). It seems like every aspect of your life is a work of art, including your relationship to your partner, Stephen. If love was a collaborative work of art, how would you describe your relationship?

Jermaine: I think about Stephen as a sensitive, caring person with a range of feelings and emotions. So, it’s more about respect and tenderness than anything else. With black gay men there is no blueprint for love. We have to define love on our own terms, the same can be said about our art practices. I make mistakes all the time, so does he and we learn from our mistakes and we mend them. We both learn on the job together!

With black gay men there is no blueprint for love. We have to define love on our own terms, the same can be said about our art practices.
— Jermaine T. Bell

Michelle: How long have you two been together?

Jermaine: This July will be 8 years!

 Jermaine and Stephen installing Stephen’s 2014 solo exhibition, “Co-Patriot” at Gallery CA in Baltimore, MD. &nbsp;

Jermaine and Stephen installing Stephen’s 2014 solo exhibition, “Co-Patriot” at Gallery CA in Baltimore, MD.  

Michelle: Sometimes I go to parties, and acquaintances just straight up ask me, “So when are you going to get married?!” Or my Latina friends tell me that their abuelitas or tias come up to them at Thanksgiving and Christmas asking them why they haven’t gotten married yet. Do you ever feel that kind of pressure to get married?

Jermaine: HA! I think that happens far less frequently with gay couples. I feel pressure to “be an adult”. Marriage is not something that really concerns us. Our intersectional lives as black gay men face several challenges before marriage can even be considered. There’s our physical bodies as black men that frighten people. There is being an outsider in the “LGBTQIA+ rainbow” which is largely centered around wealthy, white couples interests and needs. I think when people close their eyes and picture a gay man they see a sassy, fit, wealthy, white man who may not even date a person of color. My personality, partner, and body type may not be what comes to people’s minds when they hear the term “gay man”.

I believe it's because LGBTQIA+ people are still fighting to be seen as “normal”. So all of the other things outside of that scope like an all black, body positive, non-wealthy partnership aren’t top of mind to everyday people. Him and I are more focused on having amazing conversation, fitting in time in every week to Netflix and chill, and being present in one another’s and our friends and families lives.

 Jermaine T. Bell sitting underneath a painting by  Stephen Towns . Image by  Rob Ferrell .

Jermaine T. Bell sitting underneath a painting by Stephen Towns. Image by Rob Ferrell.

Michelle: Yeah, it proves that conversations around the whole institution of marriage is so heteronormative and white. Philadelphia recently released a PRIDE flag that included a black and brown stripe to represent the inclusion of people of color.

Even though you do not feel pressured by others to get married, do you ever imagine getting married as a way to celebrate your beautiful relationship to Stephen with those you love the most? If you were to get married, what would be the ideal way to celebrate your union if you were to let go of all those dominant, heteronormative and eurocentric traditions?

Jermaine: I mean the flag thing just proves that we are a minority within a minority. If the LGBTQIA+ really is accepting and malleable, then what's wrong with the new stripes?  As for a  fantasy wedding, mine would be very short on ceremony and big on food!! To satiate the Type A Creative Director in me, I’d do something like unexpected food pairings... like my mother’s baked macaroni and cheese with a complimentary expensive red wine that would make some of my bougie friends AND my truck driving dad and brothers expand their palettes, and hopefully enjoy it. That’s a curatorial project that needs fine finessing right there! I just think that as gay men when we decide to have a wedding, which is traditionally not designed for two men, we have to be creative and tailor it to fit our lives. I can’t afford a destination wedding, or to feed 100 people, so I won't! But at the same time our celebration will have a lot of detail and love put into it. I don’t undervalue what the occasion marks, but, I can't adhere to heteronormative standards either, simply because it isn’t who we are! Basically it'd have to be unique to us in every way and still be bad & boujee.

 “Respiration” pin designed by Jermaine Bell.

“Respiration” pin designed by Jermaine Bell.

Michelle: That sounds beautiful to me! Sounds like a curatorial project to me, with “juxtapositions”! (Art School inside jokes). I can imagine your dream wedding naturally being creative, especially since food is a culinary art. Like you said earlier, there is no term for art in African countries. Your whole life is art and your wedding sounds like one big piece of social practice or performance. You are utilizing your creativity to create your own way of doing a wedding outside of heteronormative standards. This is one of the main reasons why I developed Creative Unions, so that people can authentically tell their stories, in their own ways, through “art” that brings everyone together! #youdoyouboo!  

So, what’s next?

Jermaine: I just want to keep working to get more retailers for my stationery and pins. And, basically get to the level of success of a typical character that Anne Hathaway might play in a predictable romantic comedy. I want a modern kitchen in a spacious brownstone in a leafy, urban neighborhood. I just want to be less basic, which I can do pretty easily since I’m a black gay man, and my road to that brownstone will inevitably include lots of hard work!
 

Michelle: I am confident you will get that brownstone in the near future, especially since I know you always work so hard to get what you want! Thank you so much for your real AF interview, I know you will inspire others to speak their truth! Keep imagining. Keep creating. Keep thriving.

Jermaine: Thanks for having me!

 

And that’s the 1st of our “Creatives Highlight” blog post series. I hope this interview inspired you to watch Moonlight and KIKI if you haven’t done so. I also hope you continue creating your own systems and ways of doing things. It’s what creatives like Jermaine do best: they utilize their creative problem solving skills to innovate and dismantle the world’s boxes in order to be the change they want to see in the world, while doing what they love best. You are the tastemaker. 

To stay updated with Jermaine’s bad and boujee journey and creative practice, follow Jermaine on Etsy and Instagram @jtbeezwax.

 Featuring Jermaine Táron Bell.&nbsp;Image by Lauren Van Slyke.

Featuring Jermaine Táron Bell. Image by Lauren Van Slyke.


ABOUT ME

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

Introducing Zachary and Nick: A World In Which Love Wins


On February 25, 2016, I had that natural aha moment (picture a light bulb over my head at the beach). I thought to myself, why not think of weddings as art exhibitions that utilize art to express love stories in powerfully unique ways traditional weddings cannot express? With all of the positive feedback from my community of artists, arts lovers, and couples in love, I took a leap of faith and started to build Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the 1st ever event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into weddings. And here we are now...

Look, I have always loved the number 3, triangles and trinities (hence, the Creative Unions triangle), especially when they show up in my personal life (like how the trinity represents my nuclear family of 3 strong women: my mom, my sister, and me or my love of Pitbull, Drake, and J-Lo). My favorite trinity at the moment is the relationship between me, and Creative Union’s pioneer clients Zachary Z. Handler and Nick Horan who you will get to know in this blog post!

How did we meet? Good question! They came into my life so seamlessly. A couple of weeks after I posted that Facebook status, a mutual friend (and amazing people connector) told Zachary and Nick to contact that Miami girl with the red glasses about curating their Miami influenced wedding/art exhibition in Baltimore. When I read that email about them wanting to get married in a Baltimore art exhibition about Miami and The Golden Girls, I was shocked, excited, teary-eyed and amazed by the synchronicity of my life! Talk about perfect timing! I immediately e-mailed them back saying something along the lines of...this is perfect, we are meant to work together, and I am about to launch a company focused on creating the type of weddings you want to have. I was PSYCHED! It was the perfect trinity (:enacts the sign of the cross:).

 #TBT to that time I visited Zachary (right) and Nick’s (left) &nbsp;home in Baltimore to work on their upcoming Creative Union!

#TBT to that time I visited Zachary (right) and Nick’s (left)  home in Baltimore to work on their upcoming Creative Union!

Since then I have been emailing and Skyping them on a regular basis with fellow team member Carlyn Thomas from Terrault Gallery, to consult on the following:

  • Figure out ways they can subvert wedding traditions through art
  • Things to consider when organizing a wedding in an art exhibition in the most intentional ways
  • Exhibition language to describe their deepest intentions
  • Encouraging them to think of their union ceremony, catering, and everything in between as works of art
  • Considering artists and artworks for the exhibition, including their own collaborative artworks
  • Art as a form of resistance and what their union means during today’s political climate

Fast forward 9 months later, Zachary and Nick invited me into their art filled home in Baltimore, Maryland for our second in-person consultation and brainstorming session.

After walking up some steep steps to enter their brick row home, all of the ideas we discussed since the summer of 2016 clicked when I finally had a chance to visit their art filled haven. Seeing teal walls filled with art they made together or for each other, art from their closest friends, Golden Girls books, mugs, and prints, vintage items, a neon sign that beams a bright pink “WERK”, alongside lovely photographs of their travels made me realize why it makes sense for these two artists to get married surrounded by art, and to embark on their latest work of art: their wedding!

I’m excited to continue working with Zachary and Nick in order to ensure their Creative Union is like their home: a safe haven that reflects their authentic selves. Their Creative Union will tell their story of hope, while providing an opportunity for their family, friends, and fellow art lovers to escape into an idealized version of the warm and leisurely energy of South Florida in the 1980s, away from struggles, to actualize a world in which love wins.

Continue reading today’s blog post (on the 3 month anniversary since Creative Unions Event Design LLC launched) that introduces you to the couple who changed my life. :cheers x3:
 


INTRODUCING ZACHARY AND NICK

How did you two meet?

Z: Well, it’s a pretty fun story. I’m a professional dance photographer and had been hired to archive a performance at the University of Maryland College Park. When I arrived to shoot I realized rather quickly that I knew everyone in the large ensemble on stage except for one very handsome young man. When the performance was over, I asked my dear friend Stephanie - who partnered with him throughout the performance - who he was. She smiled and replied that he had asked who I was as well, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! She suggested that I come and meet him at the cast party that friday. I had another photoshoot that night in DC so when I wrapped up I mosied on over to the gathering. When he got there, he seemed surprised seeing me, but sat himself right down in across the table. We talked to only each other for the entirety of that party, and in all honesty, have been inseparable ever since. It’s been a dream come true.

N: I was in my final semester of grad school and was dancing in a typically “arty” MFA Thesis project piece at The Clarice Center. I also happened to be dancing in my underwear. I remember looking out from the stage and seeing this tall unfamiliar and handsome man behind a camera snapping away. It was Zach. I thought he was very cute and asked our mutual friend to introduce us. Unbeknownst to me she invited him to the cast party, we sat across from each other and talked all night. I thought he was charming and funny and I made relentless fun of him for photographing me in my underwear before our first date. Later that night he asked for my phone number and when I drove him back to his car he fumbled saying goodbye and accidentally stuck his hand in my mouth during a really awkward hug. We’ve been together ever since.

Why did you choose to work with Michelle?

N: When we met Michelle we were immediately drawn in by her effervescent personality. There is nothing quite like being in the same room as Michelle. She just explodes with positivity, passion, and creativity. As we started talking it became clear that we all spoke the same art language. That is a remarkable and rare thing indeed. She totally latched on to our aesthetic and instantly began bubbling with new ideas and concepts for our upcoming wedding. I think it was her energy and her deep connection to the art world that really sealed the deal for us. I don't think there is anyone who I would trust more to plan our wedding than Michelle!

_9KlO4M6bP834BydTVP2hmMEfXcyfV7MuZFHW_s_IBEA2ZbyRmapnBvQn8fjgfFZZHODrA=s2048.jpg

Why do you want a non-traditional wedding with art? Why would you like art to be an integral part of your wedding?

Z: Someone once said to me, “Gee Zach, everything doesn’t always have to be an art project!” My response was, “Yes it does, and, that’s what I like most about myself!” Art is what I do with my everyday, my everything, at every chance, or if not, I make the chance! Art is an integral part of everything I feel I do, so then it has to be the same for one of the biggest days in my/our lives. If it’s not artful, honestly, it doesn’t feel like me, it doesn’t feel unique to me, and I don’t want it. These are values that are very, very important to me.

N: We both come from artistic backgrounds and are not interested in anything remotely resembling a “traditional” wedding. I think art is at the core of our relationship. We create together and inspire each other.

Why do you want to have your wedding ceremony in an art exhibition/gallery?

Z: There’s no place else where I would feel more at home, which is what I want to feel that day. I’m comfortable in galleries, they make sense to me, I can be and say and do and respond any way I like in these spaces. I was going to galleries and museums with my dad by the age of 5. We talked about Rodin, Rothko, and Close. He showed me the power of art, and the welcoming nature it can hold. I guess I want to hold this, and be held by this, on my wedding!

N: I think art galleries have innate potential in them. They are blank slates and that is how I’d like to start my life with Zach. Full of potential!

What inspires you for the union/exhibition?/ Why did the theme/idea of Miami come to mind? Why the 80’s? Why The Golden Girls?

Z: I grew up on the Golden Girls, and I also grew up going to Florida a lot, Pompano Beach specifically, but often we’d visit Miami, since I had so many family members living there. My Mom had a short stint at the University of Miami and I remember her talking about that when I was a kid. Miami Beach was also the place where I believe I first encountered LGBTQ culture and I remember it being like my own little secret, one that only I could capture, in a way. I absorbed from it what I could - a sense of place, of identity, of joy - as I continued to visit with family as I got older. So for me, Florida has always been this magical spot that I have really fond memories of.

My mom always says that The Golden Girls is the only show that ever made me laugh out loud as a kid and she always knew when it was on because I’d be wailing from the living room downstairs. I’d have to ask her when/if she remembers me first watching this as a kid (ie: how on earth did I find this show and what about it kept me coming back? She may have no idea!)

So similar to what I said earlier about growing up going to museums and that feeling of nostalgia that I know and love, this show, this era, this locale feels just like home to me too.

N: We both have a connection to Florida. I grew up in Orlando and Zach visited Miami and Pompano Beach throughout his entire childhood. I have such a nostalgia for the warmth and energy of Florida. I think there is a seabreeze ease there. Not as much hustle as Baltimore. That’s for sure! Zach and I are both children of the 80s and grew up listening to that synthesizer music and watching the movies from the time. I love the aesthetic of the era and the extremes they lived in.

I connect with The Golden Girls on a deep level. It was a very queer show. They built their own family unit together. Struggled to find acceptance in a world that wasn’t designed for them. They battled each other with their wits and humor. The show talked about HIV at a time when the president wasn’t even saying the words out loud. I respond to the gay sensibility of 4 strong independent women talking about sex and love in such healthy and positive ways.

Zach and I used to watch The Golden Girls together over Skype when we first started dating and couldn't be together. Both of us would que up the same episode and press play at the same time. It might have been the gayest thing we’ve ever done. Watch the other person watch The Golden Girls. That show was one of the first things we bonded over and we still watch it every night as we fall asleep.

How do you envision the final outcome?

Z&N: We want a Creative Union that is inclusive, authentic, artful, and full of joy! We trust Michelle to bring our vision, our complex ideas and concepts to life!


In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this honest look into Zachary and Nick’s intentions. Be sure to check back with us for updates as we work with them to create an exhibition and a queer paradise where love wins in October 2017!

 #TBT: check out these velas Zachary and Nick made for me featuring my other favorite trinity: Drake, Pitbull, and J-LO. Seriously, one of the best gifts I have ever gotten! Love y’all!

#TBT: check out these velas Zachary and Nick made for me featuring my other favorite trinity: Drake, Pitbull, and J-LO. Seriously, one of the best gifts I have ever gotten! Love y’all!


ABOUT ME

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

Why Unions?

This post is part 3 of 3 from the premiere Why Creative Unions blog series which focuses on the Creative Union’s 3 core values: inclusivity, expression, and community.

  #TBT to the usual pic of me with the birthday girl tiara (YES THAT IS A SAILOR MOON CAKE), loving to be the center of attention, as always. PS - I don’t think I am too old to wear tiaras on my birthday nowadays!

#TBT to the usual pic of me with the birthday girl tiara (YES THAT IS A SAILOR MOON CAKE), loving to be the center of attention, as always. PS - I don’t think I am too old to wear tiaras on my birthday nowadays!

I LOVE the feeling of being around a community that I felt like I belong to, who doesn’t? Simply put, we are social animals. It’s the reason why we invite our friends and families to our weddings, birthday parties, grieve with our loved ones when we lose someone close to us, or get together to celebrate graduating with an MFA. Out of all those moments, one tends to get more attention than the others. Guess which one? Yup...your wedding day.

Growing up, I remember other girls envisioning their wedding day. Planning their perfect white dresses, perfect husbands and perfect flowers. Around the age of 10, I questioned why they spent so much time mapping out their quinceañeras and weddings instead of planning their careers as New York City Art Curators and daydreaming about what they would get for their next birthday. I mean, what could be more important than your exhibition titles and Sailor Moon toy collection? Wow, how times have changed...

Looking back, I now understand why young girls are conditioned to think of their wedding as one of life’s most special days. It’s this culturally symbolic moment when you are put on an unattainably high pedestal for all of your friends and family to gawk at and are celebrated for your perfection and your ability to achieve the social pinnacle of femaledom: Wife-hood. The fact that you accomplished this feat before your biological clock ran out makes your achievement all the more impressive. Don’t get me wrong, thinking about life’s special moments is totally normal, especially when it’s ingrained into our psyche based on family traditions, the media, and patriarchy. It’s a choice, and you decide what and how you want to celebrate that choice! #youdoyouboo

If you choose to get married, COOL! But it’s not the only highlight of your life. In fact, it is one of MANY special days that will occur in your life. If you want to get married, do it, and have a wedding. But as a woke person who likes to question all kinds of systems and traditions, I still feel crunchy about the institution of marriage being so deeply rooted in patriarchy and excluding same sex couples.

As Beth Olson perfectly puts it in this article:

If you have a more progressive view of the world, The Wedding Industry and process of planning a wedding in general can be a real enigma. On one hand it’s “Fuck the Patriarchy!” But does that mean you can’t also want a white dress and a dance party?
— Beth Olson, photographer

^ My point exactly! Although I am hesitant to participate in these patriarchal and exclusive traditions, I still find so much value in bringing people together to celebrate life’s moments the way I choose to, especially on my wedding day.

I want to share my love story without feeling pressured by old traditions. I want to fight the patriarchy and cut my cake at the same damn time (and eat it too). But more importantly, I want to share that day with the ones I love most.

  Image source from  One Room With A View

Image source from One Room With A View

There’s another tricky part...where do you draw the line with invitations to your Creative Union?

When I think of weddings, I mostly imagine a spotlight on a couple celebrating their love in front of 100+ people. I assume that the couple’s closest family members, friends, and loved ones are there to party with them. Unfortunately at every wedding, you see those stray work acquaintances with their Tinder dates who only want free booze and were invited so you could avoid future work drama. You also have those old high school and college friends you feel obligated to invite, even though you only keep in touch via a few Instagram likes and comments which are filled with meaningless emojis expressing only a fraction of the complex human emotional spectrum. And don’t forget your second Aunt’s third husband’s children whom you’ve never met but have heard about incessantly in their annual horrible Holiday letter. Must you always invite these social dregs?!?!?!?!

When you choose to get married, I hope this is not the case. Your wedding should be an intimate and special day that you choose to share with those you love and intend on keeping in your life. Your wedding is not just a romantic and ritualistic union between you and your partner, it is also a union of your communities. The community you choose to celebrate with is an important one, because who else would you like to share such a personal moments with? You wanna look back at the wedding photos, and actually know the people in them! BOOM SHAKKA LAKKA!

 
  Caption: Source: www.dictionary.com

Caption: Source: www.dictionary.com

 

What I love about bringing people together through artful celebration is the capacity to heal old wounds, build stronger communities, and respond to the problems of the world by honoring people and their resilience in the face of adversity. The power of unity is in your Creative Union, when celebrating the loving commitment between you and your partner also becomes a form of resistance during today’s political climate which strives to tear us apart.

A marriage celebration is a union of two partners and the community. These kinds of values are key to my business, and why I prefer the term union over wedding. The term wedding can carry a racist, ableist, and heteronormative undertone. On the other hand, unions are inclusive of all gender orientations, cultural traditions, and religions.

A Creative Union is a specially curated art exhibition and marriage ceremony that brings people together to celebrate your love story.

Despite all the unjust things happening in the world right now, commUNITY is essential to everything, from political grassroots organizing, to creating healthy ecosystems for our basic needs, to creating what you define as a happy home. Love makes it that much easier to accomplish all of the above. It requires a love of self, the kind of self love that overflows so that you can share it with someone else, and your community. That is the kind of self love that comes from knowing that your story matters. It’s the kind of love we need to create ripple effects in our society. We need each other now more than ever.  

-Michelle Ivette Gomez

Founder and Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC


 

ABOUT ME

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

Why Be Creative?

This post is part 2 of 3 from the premiere Why Creative Unions blog series which focuses on the Creative Union’s 3 core values: inclusivity, expression, and community.

  #TBT to those times when I created abuelita paintings AS A CHILD.

#TBT to those times when I created abuelita paintings AS A CHILD.

I was 8 years old when I entered my first art gallery. I can remember the white glare of the Miami sun beating down on my mother as we strolled down the infamous Lincoln Road mall on South Beach. We walked passed the Romero Britto gallery and I immediately stopped in my tracks. The bright, polka dotted, high contrasting patterns behind the windows were intoxicating to my 8 year old brain (What kid doesn’t like Romero Britto? Plus, he is a brilliant marketer). Without question, I walked right in. I remember feeling so small upon entering the gallery. As I scanned every painting hanging on the white walls, my eyes quickly focused on one thing: the red dots.

My confident little self walked right up to the stuffy gallerist and asked to speak to this Romero Britto. I was told the artist was not there, but that I could speak to the gallery manager. I then met a tall man in a suit who gleefully came up to me to say hello. Feeling starstruck, I said “Hi, I am Michelle, I am an artist. I make oil painting landscapes. What is the red sticker on the wall for?”

He explained that the artworks with red dots meant that they had been sold. After hearing that, you might as well have put the red dot sticker on my forehead because I was SOLD. Little did he know that this moment in time will inspire my entire life trajectory in a matter of 5 minutes. Right then and there, I fell in love with the idea of making art exhibitions for a living.

  That precious plastic insert with the archives of an interaction that changed me forever.

That precious plastic insert with the archives of an interaction that changed me forever.

  

I do not remember the rest of my conversation with Britto’s gallery manager, but I do remember getting his business card and grabbing all the promotional materials about Britto’s famous art career I could carry, archiving them in plastic inserts in a binder and safely storing them in my art closet. Those promotional materials still sit in the same plastic inserts today as a souvenir of where I once came from, reminding me that from that moment on - I wanted to make art exhibitions for the rest of my life.

Since then, I have worn many hats as an arts professional. I achieved  my dream of attending the top arts school in the country to get my BFA in General Fine Arts. Then I  received my MFA in Curatorial Practice while curating professionally in traditional art galleries and public spaces. "But how did I go from curating traditional art exhibitions to curating exhibitions that tell love stories in and outside of that box?" Good question.

  

  Photo of “Images and Ruins”, a group exhibition I curated at School 33, Baltimore, MD in 2013

Photo of “Images and Ruins”, a group exhibition I curated at School 33, Baltimore, MD in 2013

One day, I was installing one of those typical art exhibitions in a gallery in Baltimore. It was 3am as I was finishing up the last touches when I had an epiphany. I realized that the artists I was working with reflected neither myself nor the communities that surrounded the gallery. The artwork did not engage anyone beyond the typical art audience. I drank the art world koolaid, and could not figure out the answer to the most important question I learned to ask myself when creating exhibitions in graduate school: “In order to what?”.

While I love the infinite possibilities associated with the traditional white cube, I began to get bored with this model because I was unchallenged. I questioned, “Why is it that when I think of an “art exhibition”, I think of the following scenario?”

  1. White walls

  2. Stuffy receptionist secretly judging you for how basic you are

  3. Static and conceptual artworks hung at centerline

  4. Cold, grey cement floor

  5. Repeat Art world folks only coming to the opening reception to preach to the choir

  6. Wine and cheese

  7. Boring panel discussions full of chin rubbing

The tastemakers who made the above scenario the dominant model of exhibition presentation have trained my brain to identify contemporary art through their anglo/white/western lens. This lens is what has shaped art HIStory, and has infiltrated the way I understand, define, and assign value to art.

With a longing to challenge the norms of curatorial practice found in mainstream arts institutions, I focused on expressing people’s stories through collaborative and inclusive community centered curatorial practice methods to co-create relevant art exhibitions about people’s lives. For example, I organized “Estamos Aquí (We Are Here)” a guerilla public art project that projected the portraits and stories about Baltimore’s Latino community leaders on the side of a building, and “CUTZ: Black Men in Focus”, a photography and video exhibition by artist Gracie Xavier that explored Black Male identity through the lens of the African American barbershop at Gallery CA in Baltimore, MD.

  Photo of   “Estamos Aquí (We Are Here)”

Photo of “Estamos Aquí (We Are Here)”

These exhibitions came to life when the people who helped make the exhibit possible were present and celebrating. More importantly, they brought disconnected people together around relevant social issues.

 PHOTO OF “CUTZ: Black Men in Focus” BY GRACIE XAVIER.

PHOTO OF “CUTZ: Black Men in Focus” BY GRACIE XAVIER.

Then one day it hit me... I love love, and bringing people together, why not make exhibitions about those stories? Love stories matter too! Making exhibitions come alive through marriage ceremonies was a literal “marriage” of the two worlds I loved most: art + weddings. The perfect match.

Many arts professionals may argue that many people do not have access to art. While that is true in many cases (especially within the education system), I believe that art is in all of us and always around us. It’s the art that we live with on a daily basis: the blankets your mother and grandmother crocheted, the community garden your neighbors created, the photographs you take, the altars you make, the way you design your home, the way you dress, the rituals you participate in, and the events that you plan to celebrate life’s special moments.

We are inherently creative. Art is everywhere. Art tells our stories and helps shape the way we see ourselves and each other.

Why not express your truest self in the most unique way possible, even on your wedding day? With art, anything is possible.

-Michelle Ivette Gomez

Founder and Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC


ABOUT ME

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

Why Love, Now?

This post is part 1 of 3 from the premiere Why Creative Unions blog series which focuses on the Creative Union’s 3 core values: inclusivity, expression, and community.

 #TBT to being a smart aleck with my hand under my chin since 1989 questioning why every love song is about love.

#TBT to being a smart aleck with my hand under my chin since 1989 questioning why every love song is about love.

I remember sitting in the back of my mother's 1992 blue Honda Accord after she picked me up from elementary school, the hot Miami sun was barreling down on us, and that 90’s “I’m Blue” song by Eiffel 65 was playing. This upbeat euro-pop earworm that seemed to pulse with melancholic vibes sent my head bopping along with the da ba dee da ba daa, satisfying my need to escape my racing thoughts (not much has changed since). Like any typical kid with an insane amount of curiosity and a love for questioning absolutely everything, I looked outside the car window as I concentrated on the “I’m Blue” song lyrics to analyze why this song was so different. Suddenly I realized it wasn’t about a love story. Mind blown. So I asked my Mommy, “Why is every song about love?”. She must have been caught off guard by such a precocious question, one that she probably wasn't prepared to answer parked in front of Flagami Elementary. She never quite answered me, and I still ask myself that same question today.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a romantic at heart (I mean, I did start a wedding company), but my inner child’s curiosity was never suppressed. Why is every story in popular media about romantic love? It’s a question that has permeated my consciousness since that day after school in my mom’s car. Why is it that when I think of romantic comedies, love songs, and weddings, I immediately think of white, straight couples in false Hollywood narratives with thin able bodied straight white women wearing white dresses walking serenely down the aisle to the “man” of her dreams as if he was the only thing that matters to greet the end of her biological clock?  

 Image source from Refinery29

Image source from Refinery29

Something about that image just rubs me the wrong way. WE’RE NOT ALL KATHERINE HEIGL IN 27 DRESSES (nor do I want to have 27 bridesmaids)! Hollywood’s fabrications and its classic love stories have become so imprinted in our memory that most people have become brainwashed into thinking that straight + white + hotel = perfect wedding. But guess what, it doesn’t have to be that way! That image can’t reflect everyone (not even close).

Here’s a fun game. Grab a sheet of paper, a pen and take 30 seconds to try and write down every wedding you’ve ever seen on film or television.

Done? Good, here’s my list:

  1. The Little Mermaid

  2. 27 Dresses

  3. Father Of The Bride

  4. Bridezilla

  5. Honeymoon In Vegas

  6. The Princess Bride

  7. The Wedding Singer

  8. Love Actually

  9. My Best Friends Wedding

  10. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

  11. Maid in Manhattan (I love J-Lo btw)

  12. Sex & The City (Truth: I met Sarah Jessica Parker once!)

You get the picture. I could go on and on and on, it’s that easy. And how many of those weddings were white + straight + hotel = perfect wedding?

See my point?

 David Bornfriend/A24 ( Image sourced from NPR.org )

David Bornfriend/A24 (Image sourced from NPR.org)

Ok switching gears here a bit. You’ll understand why later. My favorite film of 2016 was “Moonlight.” If you haven’t seen it, stop what you are doing and watch it now (It won 3 Oscars including 2017 Best Picture, and has garnered the most amount of think pieces I have ever seen).

Co-written by Miami native Tarell McCraney, Moonlight is a stunning story of a young gay Black man at three pivotal moments in his life. While it is a coming of age drama, it doesn’t aim to be the typical love story that ends with a marriage, instead it subverts the classic love story without totally escaping from the realities of navigating the world as a gay Black man growing up in Liberty City, Miami. It’s profound, subtly intense and devastatingly beautiful.

Wait, but with everything going on in the world at the moment, why talk about love, movies, and marriage? Why love, now? Aren’t we getting sidetracked from the real issues? Nope, just watch this video to have Dylan Marron answer those questions.

My point here is, stories build empathy and shape the way we see things in popular media, within our own communities, and in our personal relationships. If romantic love stories saturate our world so much, then why don’t we see ourselves reflected in them?

Barry Jenkins, the Director of Moonlight asked himself why he never saw two Black men cook for each other on the big screen, then created a scene that did just that. His courage reminds me of that overflowing and confident self love that comes from an inner fire that propels you to make the changes you want to see in the world.

 David Bornfriend/A24 (Image sourced from  Slate.com )

David Bornfriend/A24 (Image sourced from Slate.com)

Like Barry, and Tarell, I ask questions about love and representation all the time: in the arts, over a marathon of romantic comedies (no shame), and scrolling through Pinterest wedding boards. Now I decided to do something about the lack of representation, the same way Barry and Tarell created their own path. Without knowing it at the time, my inner 9-year-old sparked a fire to change the wedding industry by subverting the classic wedding love story. I no longer wanted to abide by wedding rules that come from an entire set of dominant cultural traditions imprinted in my brain and passed down to every subsequent generation like a crazed photocopier set on duplicate.

With the 1st ever event planning company solely dedicated to realizing the unique love stories of Creatives through art, I can finally see myself in the wedding industry. I’ve gone full circle, like Eiffel 65 making a song that isn’t prescribing to high dosages of dominant songs that saturate your ears with illusional romance.

So what is that infamous Italian/90’s/Eurodance #1 hit wonder “I’m Blue” really about? Besides the fact that it’s about a fictional character name Zorotl (Yes, it is a blue alien who has it’s own website), On its surface, “I'm Blue” is a metaphor for how the songwriter/character sees the world. In the song, he questions the mundane life choices he makes from the job he chooses to the girlfriend he picks, but it's also othering the character. It sets him apart from the rest of the world and it becomes a badge of honor. He exuberantly sings about his blueness and celebrates his uniqueness. The term blue has always been associated with depression, but is blue really all that depressing?

 Photo by Michelle Ivette Gomez

Photo by Michelle Ivette Gomez

In Moonlight, Little (the main character) goes to the beach with his mentor, Juan. Juan shares a story about his childhood in Cuba as a subtle reference to the erasure of Miami’s Black Cubans. Growing up, Juan used to run around when the moon was out and this one time, this old lady told him, “In moonlight, Black boys look blue. You’re blue. That’s what I’m going to call you: ‘ Blue’.”

I love that image. When I think of blue, I think of creativity, intelligence, serenity, and infinite freedom. When I think of blue, I imagine being in the ocean, in the middle of it all looking up at the clear blue sunny sky with a smile on my face, remembering all of the endless possibilities that can be realized with my unlimited and creative potential.

After Juan shares his childhood story, Little asks Juan, “Is your name Blue?”

Juan: “Nah. At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you're going to be. Can't let nobody make that decision for you."

That's why I decided to make the change I want to see in the world to help people realize their unique potential and encourage them to be who they want to be, because their love stories matter.

Maybe blue is more beautiful than depressing, maybe we all just want to be seen after all, under the moonlight.

 

-Michelle Ivette Gomez

Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC


ABOUT ME

Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.