I am beyond juiced about being featured in Cultured Visual Art’s new publication Tangible Gallery Vol 1. We have been working on “Rites of Passage” for over a year and it is so rewarding to see our work alongside so much talent. When Jonathon Freeman M told me about Tangible Gallery and CVA, my mind immediately began to race with a million questions about the behind the scene process. Books and publishing is most definitely a part of the dream! After various brain picking phone conversation it just made sense to start this research journey in a way to archive and share the gems.
W/SASHA KELLEY & JONATHON FREEMAN M
SK : You've been working on Tangible Gallery for some time how has that process been for you?
JM : The Tangible Gallery movement has been an eye opening journey. The journey is the project in itself, which has also doubled as a learning process of myself to myself. The actual working formation behind the brand has been relatable to the term "in too deep".
SK : In too deep? How so?
JM : Every beginning has a beginning. In the sense, that mans word is mans bond. CVA seek inspiration and use our words, alongside past projects and publications, to convey our ideas of what's to come. Once we opened Pandora's Box, we were "in too deep" and the only direction was and is forward.
SK : That sounds like a great place to see. Beginnings are open to so many possibilities. You mentioned we. What does your team look like and can you share a little about CVA.
JM : Yeah! Cultured Visual Arts is an emerging design and publication house. It's the head. Our mission is simple. Provide the most effective and efficient curatorial and publishing services to artist, writers and those within the community interested in creating haptic matter. We do this by using state–of–the–art publishing technology and offering our non-discriminative services to our community.
Cultured Visual Arts purpose is to create, house, promote and distribute subsidiary in-house titles, including Freeman Files & Tangible Gallery. We are 100% independent. We rely on our very small team which consists of all artist who may wear a multitude of hats for any given assignment. For now in our beginning stages we operate a very basic, nitty gritty, skeletal component team of publisher, curator, copy-editor, and printer. We are thinkers, seers, and doers curating the future of print.
SK : That's beautiful. There is such a need for more haptic matter (loving that word!) especially from black and brown creators. I imagine that most people know you from your photography, Freeman Files & FreakyBadges. What inspired you to go for the print gold ?
JM : Yes we are heavy supporters of curators of color. Every beginning has a beginning, but we’ll start in 2008. My very first year of college, I’d come up on my first dslr and took that thing everywhere. All my friends, who consisted of locals, art school students and personalities that are still pretty relevant to this day. Everywhere I went there was a camera attached to my hip; for family matters, friends events, recording intimacy, nothing was safe.
Naturally, the closest people around me began identifying me as a photographer, long story short, I ran with the societal given label. Eventually developing my own style, and building bi-coastal love. Friends and art show goers would explicitly tell me "Your photos belong in magazines" or "You need to shoot for an agency" or "Someone needs to pick you up". My attitude then was, "Fuck agency's and someone picking me up."
Eventually in 2011 I’d accumulated a year's worth of photos to create my first publication. Freeman Files: Trust In Triangles, a 160 page, perfect-bound 10x8 coffee table book filled with film photography. The book was broken up into two sections. Photos taken from my Minolta 7000 and featured a bonus section dedicated to Disposable camera captures. Trust in Triangles publication is still in circulation and available worldwide.
SK : The DIY energy is something that keeps life innovative for sure. Let me get this straight. You photograph. You are running a magazine, a design AND publication house?
JM : Yes and no, two out of three. I stopped photographing full time around October '14, when I'd taken on a pretty involved supervisory role at a fashion company in San Francisco. The job took up most my time up, I also worked weekends thus leaving me no time to shoot anymore. I began to shift my focus on monetizing the work I’d harnessed thus far and manifested FreekyBadges, popping up bi-coastally to vend my wares. Fast forwarding to January ’16, I’m still lucratively vending, earning an established second income, I left that corporate job and pursued my passion for book making. I was fortunate enough to finally release Freeman Files: Fer-uh-mohnzs : Editors and Collectors Editions. An 8.5x11, 156 page chronicle of my works from 2013-2016. I compare the leave from work to a women's maternity leave. I left to mature a growing fetus. That fetus bared the name of Cultured Visual Arts Publishing House LLC. The umbrella to house all my personal publications as well as other collaborative efforts.
SK : YEE. I'M ABOUT THAT, INDEPENDENT LIFE. WHAT HAS THAT TRANSITION BEEN LIKE, IN TERMS OF TIME AND DEDICATION TO BIRTH YOUR “BABY”?
JM : On a sliding time line, the transition has been well. Although, I had to ask myself, "Freeman, are you going to chase women to take their photos you whole art career OR are you going to chase women to take their photos AND do something else”? , I chose the latter. I dreamt, saw, and conquered. Obviously feeling vulnerable at times along the way. I feared i was abandoning my original craft and ended up having a conversation with one of Tangible Gallery's contributors, and a man i am proud to call my brother, Josh Farria. He reminded me that my new path wasn't in fact new, it was/is an extension of who i am and who I'm becoming to transition to the next life of my artistry's existence.As for time and dedication, I mean. We’re primitive being, we see goals and objectives, and stop at nothing to nail them. Stop, drop and roll is a safety precautionary instilled in Americans, at the elementary level. Leaving my financial safety net to build a baby, that promised me nothing was totally insane, but necessary. I had to completely stop what I was doing, and roll with what was to come, while dodging fire, but occasional getting burned. That's dedication, time is low-key irrelevant because time is all we have.
SK : Bra, u getting mad poetic over here 😆 What has been one the most rewarding points of your journey thus far?
JM : Everything sistah, but if I’m having to choose a top rated reward, I’d have to go with the love and support that Tangible Gallery has received, and is giving out, in just its first installment. The collaborative efforts are through the roof, and heads are on board. Everything has fallen into place as if this is plan of a higher being. From phase one, to the next and so on. Pieces get thrown in the air and across my face hourly, daily, weekly. It's seemed that the events I’ve considered to be obstacles, have really been blessings in disguise for the team as a whole. From me leaving work to pursue my passion, to losing and gaining team members and supporters. To now; holding a refined piece of art in hand, and planning the opening at one of San Francisco's most prestigious gallery spaces. The fetus is growing up and fitting into the shoes its designer has loosely created for it. Those shoes aren't designer Jordan’s, Yeezys, or Lebron's, we've built shoes of and for the arts community, its for us it's by us, to walk and talk the communities walk and talk, provide life, voice social elevation for the under represented.