Location: Soho, NYC | Active: Apr 2011 – Jan 2012
You’d see me more and more at 355 West Broadway in the evenings. My girl’s parents had eventually enough of me being around all the time so it was time to move again. The spot I found was a hookup from a dude that’s consulting families in Dominican world who are renting weekly rooms. He needed a website and a second later the picture turns, and I carry my stuff into an old-school Harlem apt with a sweet Dominican Family with an extra room for rent. It was super small like literally Tokyo Style. But it was quiet without madness. I could sleep and have plenty of time and focus to finally take on app coding and advanced cloud hosting with web sockets.
I remember hitting up the Public Library by Columbia to study in the first weeks. It felt like I’m actually going to Columbia. I kept it strict didn’t miss a day or time in the morning. Went to the same places for lunch as them and finished around 4 to roll down to Soho every day.[ pic ]
At no point do I recall being worried to have to work for anyone again like in the Printing Labs. Even better If I really had to with all this acquired advantage compared to the average it should be not a problem to find a spot to get a salary if I really had to. There was an ongoing gold rush, there was nothing to be afraid of. I was in the right business, and I met new people who can lead to the right people. A few good decisions should do it, I figured I’d be safe and sound by next year at the latest.
So this Kid Rase from 355 had been working on his art for two years or so way upstate new york in a house by himself as a cleanse from all bad he experienced in his life. The Name Rase was his street tag. I found it funny cause in German it stood for two things at the same time. Rasen = Speeding and Rasen = Grass. Both things I totally cop with. His mom rented the 355 West Broadway floor with a year rent upfront to succeed in popularizing his work. She had many of her own paintings all over the place and paired with Rase’s super detailed sculptures, on first entry I figured this is a Shique Art Loft aimed to cater the upper class.
Well, all this was about to change. I connected with Rase on a spiritual level talking about the arrogance of humanity believing that it is alone in such a big arena as our universe and the other million other universes around them represent. It was the week I learned about singularity earlier, and infinity came up. It clicked, and we began talking about the number 8 that was like a family symbol to him printed outside the flag inside the logo.
I loved it, that was the moment I dropped original Plan A. Bringing Intervenue between classically trained Artists and into such a prepared and ready setup? It sounded stupid and selfish as hell. Its a DJ live streaming concept. Maybe we could stream artists live painting I thought but still, I would overrun him with something finished, and it’s not how you do a silent takeover or make any friends in life. Nah this “infinity formula” on how Artist can Barter with Artists and sell their works together while sharing income, was dead on. I’ve let it roll as it was…
It matched exactly what I was about when I quit my job. Listening to some of it, I looked into the sky and thought to myself, ok guys nice one. Nothing about Rase seemed human he knew everything I would say I knew everything he would ask. It was synchronicity like were the same type of machine or at least have been fed the same program since childhood and now understand that we were not the only ones. It was fun to talk about things you hesitate to talk about without fear of being put in drawers and labeled.
Everything was about the 8 now. My business sense said go for it as some of the sculptures Rase had in that gallery had a value far above $10k and looked very sophisticated. Just like in the last location I walked in without significant credits or a name on the street, so I had to start from scratch with brand new folks.
I’d slap the screen and server bag on the ground pulled a cube in front of me and sat sideways on a floor thingy. I had no laptop for years. Imagine having to bring a vast screen everywhere you go. It was annoying but also fun at the same time to have a full-size field with me to play on. As the first stage of a multi-stage artist gang introduction plan, I began taking video footage of everything and edited it together piece by piece. We went to friends shows, and I would get to see the real firey competition between artists like literally talking sh*t a second one stepped away.
I figured, nice this New York Art momentum is today’s Rome full of introverted Gladiators ready to throw paint at each other just to measure their intellects. Not since the early 80’s has it been like this. We practically sat right in the middle of the re-make of Warhols Factory. Just with a Rase and Me. Double Hi-Five for all future media to come.
After a while, I had enough to make the first video. A small documentary about the scenery. I picked the music for it first and then kind of edited the motion to it. I felt great about uploading it to YouTube. Of course, YouTube took it down in 30 minutes for me using a Massive Attack track for the picture. Back then I didn’t know a thing about copyright laws or cared for them. I pirated everything I could get. So that being the last time I cared for YouTube really, the video went on facebook, and I sent it to artists as a file to share on their own.[pic]
It didn’t perform too well, and I suggested that I can build a talent social network from a CMS and that it will be excellent and good for business. It was already prepared from pre-work on intervenue. It fitted the purpose as intervenue was able to sign up people, create a custom environment for users and all that. It had everything except the live streaming. I sat down and coded a draft for “soho355.com the artist’s social network”. It was an artist’s facebook in which the voice was changed to Artists satisfaction rather than keeping it write the same old standard things it said.
In the big blue, you’d be collecting unknown “likes” from Hinz and Kunz all day but no critique or any measuring bar in which you could compare yourself to competition and friends. It was just either likes or no likes. Soho355.com was born. It solved that problem and Artists had a chance of getting critique on their work by a trusted community of Artists who all didn’t know where they are standing at. So far so good.
It was coded in a CMS with all sorts of extensions like individual buttons that add a count on a picture etc. and you can design it your way. And of course, we had a downvote to create exciting ditch opportunities for artists you couldn’t stand. Everyone loved it. The initial reception of soho355.com was great. Quickly the word on the street around the art corner of spring street was, that those cats at 355 west broadway have their own Facebook and its just for artists, makes connections and supports bartering.
An escapade of events began, and the place started filling up with more and more talent to my total satisfaction. Rase and I shared some good bud on the back porch of the loft outside in the dark looking into the quirky and organic composition happening inside. We both had our arms folded over and had that grim when you smell money in the air.
We started getting philosophical and spoke old Shakespeare style English verses to describe art, people and of course the 8 that is the power and force in art through its incredible barter concept. We had a technologic and swagologic advance to all traditional art galleries and art businesses. It was just like back in the studio house. Perfect conditions to plan big things.[pic]
I remember using super advanced DHTML code to create 3D animated galleries and micro websites for every artist we took in. It became a thing to be allowed inside Pennington. Rase “raised” the bar quickly and started firing artists kind of keeping it on a more sophisticated level. Although we all came from nowhere, because of what we had now, this movement, this community, we were invincible and untouchable.
I remember Rase starting to laugh in the middle of a deadly serious conversation with a person from Artforum. He completely lost his string of words looked back at me at the desk and like laughed at himself for talking the “British Royal” way he did.[ pic]
It was an epic moment. At this moment I took only one lesson from it. Stress is caused if you give a f*ck. Of course, the person didn’t write about us or felt comfortable that moment. She became a friend, but it wasn’t meant to be that meeting that gives us a head start in plowing over the scene in new york.
So I figured we do a Documentary on Rase and his work and blast it into the networks to supercharge all efforts. My good friend, a filmmaker, was down. He also began painting 20×12 sheets of very scandalous artwork at a rate of speed I never saw it before and became part of the gallery. It was the right cat for the job.
The results came out great, our reach expanded much faster and into higher circles. The Filmmaker’s Art that was featured on the back of the video sold like crazy in a 4 hour exhibit one afternoon. He announced it on facebook a few days before. On the day of the exhibit, people came through the door for two hours without a minute of a break. Everyone picking up pieces out of a pile like at a meat market. Never seen Art sell this wild and fast.[pic ]
To return a favor he thought of me the next week during the shooting of his indie feature film. Calling me at 8 pm one night asking if I am ready to go on camera in the am, 5-minute scene quick and straightforward. The flick plays in Brooklyn and is a satire around a gang of friends with a lot of random infinitely long dialogs and good humor. I said hell yeah its fits my current state. I was wholly overnighted with big black eye rings, and my hoddie needed a wash. It was perfect. Arriving on set, I became Simon, a drug dealer.[pic]
The whole thing was supposed to be me dropping of drugs at the door and say like a few words. However, once I showed up to the shoot we all vibed and ended up in the main shot on the couch with dialogue making people laugh. It went amazingly we got greeted at the premiere, and people loved this little flick.[ 2 pics]
Well, even with excellent commentaries and having acted in Sundance movies, we still had to try to do it ourselves and cause a crown of Art sales. It couldn’t be that hard, could it? I worked my head and just had the same answer to all of these concerns. I said “go out there guys and get signups” the network is that can bring the word around the world. The sales reach in front of the door was too small to feed at this point up to 10 people simultaneously sleeping on the hardwood floors on blankets or just barebones.[pic]
I have seen people sleeping in ways like never before in Pennington Gallery. I remember a night where Sidi came back totally lit and drunk and pushed two stools together. Then he had to pull them apart again to get between them. So after a bit of back and forth, he ended up laying flat between the two chairs without anything under him, so he had to flex his muscles to even keep straight. It was the mos Jean Claude van Damme type thing I have seen since Jean Claude van Damme. I watched this for a while laughing and thinking when will he drop but he fell asleep, and I have no idea to this day how this worked.[ pic]
As money got shorter and expenses for weed, booze and paint started forcing =compromises Rase came up with selling Art right outside the gallery rather than waiting for people to come in. Right after a few hilarious Night at the Roxbury jokes, he and some other artists began setting up every day outside the busy West Broadway strip between Broome and grand. It flushed premium tourists through like no other street in that area.
Quickly we came to find out that most of those tourists, however, were after souvenirs and other small crap. No one needed to pick up a quick $14000 sculpture on his way to the airport. Also, the man-sized $5000 paintings didn’t go too well. Like how would they even bring that sh*t home?!? We ended up selling nothing and as fall and winter came so did the frustration.[pic]
Most of the artists were asked to leave, and his mother came in for the first time visiting from her busy Long Island former fitness celebrity life. She put her hands in front of her eyes and couldn’t believe what she was looking at.
This fantastic premium $5000 a month rent loft in the best area of town. It was so messed up that you could lose a 70″ tv set in the space with no clue where it could be. Tons of unsold art started piling up on top of each other, and it became this walkthrough what I called the maze of art just to take a leak in the bathroom.
On top of that most of us had to attend the new art club that had just open next door. We helped to decorate and planning it with the owners and had to run live paintings and the such in it. Unfortunately, the day came when one of Rase’s original sculptures was bounced over and fell to the floor in the skirmish of the night. The place was not insured, and we took a hit from which we wouldn’t recover again.[pic]
By the time Christmas came around and our both our girls bounced we found ourselves with once again turned off heat and icy cold floors on which I slept every single night since I gave up my apartment in Harlem and moved in under my command desk structure. I had no reason to go home to the dull Harlem room with the family.[pic]
I have found a new family and sleeping under the blinking computers and modems was the most satisfying thing ever given that our social network by then had accumulated a respectable 800 or so Artists. Mainly local ones uploading their works and engaging with our quirky buttons with unique designs and wording.
I was proud of what we had and didn’t for a second feel any fear or regrets. I knew the future, I knew it will come against me, and all my ideas will be mainstream. Live streaming moved to the back burner by that time. Art was too exciting and essential to worry about DJ’s or an app that I can’t even build. I had all the mockups and what you can call a “business plan” but that was all about that.[pic]
During clean out at the very bottom of our collective laundry pile in a hole in the back of the place I saw a white piece of paper or something laying there by itself. I lifted it up and turned it around, and it was a skull with gasmask like painters had. It was holographic, so if you’d hold it in a different angle, then it would reflect. I took it and kept it for my next laptop. It was so dope that it would be enough as the only thing on the lid. It became to me the symbol of this movement.
Knowing that we had 6 days left until eviction it was time to look for a new place to continue the Artist Social network but also useful for Intervenue which was on the back burner but still burning in my mind as no one else had brought up anything like it, with the exception of Livestream and Justin.tv that time.[pic]
So here we are browsing the lower east side around Ludlow Street all day, ask artists if they know a gallery for rent and digging deep as time ran like nothing. After a few days, we were able to find a beautiful mind who was willing to help us continue this story and offered to rent out his dope as hell basement art gallery that was located under a hair stylist shop and had huge rooms.
With help like that, we were able to continue the movement and didn’t have to split into fights and dissolve. The story continued…