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:).
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!
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!
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.