Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Seed of a Spark of a Glimmer

Imagination is the seed of all creativity, it lives inside every person on this earth inhabiting our thoughts and dreams. “The Seed of a Spark of a Glimmer” looks inside the thoughts of those bringing their creativity into the world through art or invention. Film maker Wade Ranson is spending 2013 traveling the world interviewing artists, musicians, writers and creatives of all walks of life to find the secrets of the creative mind. Where do our ideas come from, how can we touch the creative spark inside us and how it feels to live a creative life?

Keep in touch with this project here at www.theseedofasparkofaglimmer.com where I will add a short quote from my new interview subjects throughout the year. If you are a creative with a unique story to tell feel free to contact me at the email address below to discuss being a part of this film. The goal of this project is to inspire others to live more creative and happier lives.

“I believe that creativity is innate in everyone. I’ve never witnessed a child not play, not imagine, not tell a magical story. For some reason people choose a different door…Usually the fiscal paths are what kill creativity more than anything.”Gregangelo, Performance Artist, San Francisco, U.S.A.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Interview of Gregangelo by Will Clark, Masters Student at Berklee College of music for a Class project DECEMBER 2013

How did you get your start in production?

It happened accidentally and over a long period of time.
I started young as a performing artist with bit and novelty parts in high school musicals and than more as a visual artist grabbing every opportunity to make anything (usually pertaining to on stage scenery and costume) and than in ethnic dance where I developed a whirling dervish act (with much help) and that single act garnered allot of attention from audiences and other performing artists alike. I soon discovered circus and a whole new world opened. I had a fire in my being to push and develop my own limits and consequently soon attracted other equally dedicated artists.

Without knowing any conventional limits, and incorporating every skill I learned along my path, I soon began developing small shows with a mix of 7- 10 artists. I did the sales and negotiation of the shows, the book-keeping and finances, the “booking”, the casting, the music, the costumes, the lighting plots, both the direction and artistic direction, some choreography, the performing, the rigging, the artist management, the catering, the load in/out and often quadrupled myself in shows by performing a ground act, an aerial act as well as working as a percussionist while artistically directing the show simultaneously.  Needless to say, I learned from trying every aspect of everything and recovering from the inevitable failings by trying harder to succeed one project at a time on the way…and still am.

See talk on link below for more details:

 Gregangelo, Whirling dervish at Land’s End Labyrinth in San Francisco

Who are some of your major influences in what you do today?

There are so many.
First off my parents, who’s very simple advise when I decided early on to live as an artist was:
Go for it. Do not ever ask us or anyone for money. Do it honestly.
And I have lived by both rules. I never have received a dime for projects from grants, endowments, funds, family, etc. It has all been 100% earned income project to project. And the highest% of $ of every project goes to paying other artists and helping them in return to earn a viable living. It is this which has built my self-esteem and confidence the most, and has gradually grown me into, an otherwise unlikely, position of leadership.

Growing up in San Francisco, I watched and learned the nuts and bolts of business from select friend’s parents and my family who all owned, worked hard and ran small and growing businesses. I was driven by the will and inspiration of those who earned their way by doing what they liked and lived their purpose.

I was influenced by the achievements and mistakes (which I learned not to make; though I’ve made plenty of my own) of the multi-cultural proprietors who I worked for as a young man- a Japanese gallery owner, a Middle Eastern dance teacher/choreographer, an Australian caterer, an African American theater director, an Italian developer and an aspiring Polish business man/film maker, whose claim to fame is that he accidentally made the worst film ever.. And it is now an occult classic!!! It is amazing what you can achieve when you stick with it and adapt to the often unexpected results accordingly.

Many influences came from exceptional teachers and people who I did not really know, and from many folks who I met but did not care to know. Those people were the dreamers, the”some-dayers”  the idealists who never had the courage to take risks, or to work and push their limits and bring their dreams to conscience reality. I rebelled against them…and I suppose I still am.

Gregangelo as a young man in Cairo, Egypt with his niece, Shiva
What do you think are some of your favorite installations you have done in your career?
There have been numerous, but by far, I am proudest of the peripheral museum installations we do surrounding and inspired by major museum exhibits which garner interest for their public programs. Collaborations with other artists and arts organizations are also most profoundly  memorable. See samples of my favorite rite here:

Detail of Velocity Kaleidoscope Installation

  Of course, my home and studio dubbed by artists as “Circus Headquarters” and”The Gregangelo Museum” by visitors (I just call it “Home”) is the most permanent of them all and is in fact my “Installation Lab” and a continued transforming and evolving work and experience in progress. I share it with an interested public year round and as frequently as possible:


Room in progress… Before               Interim…. (It still is not finished)…


Still shot during filming of ‘Home Strange Home” 

What are you working on now?

At this moment: Several intricate Installations, events, shows, characters and antics for clients such as Google, Gilead Sciences, Netsuite, Github and a gala following the RSA conference of internet security specialists/cryptologists and more (All varying concepts). They are all designed to entertain, inspire and honor the over-achieving employees of these leading innovative companies which are changing how the world lives and communicates. Each of our productions offers these innovators a new and un-familiar experience to store in their memories.

I am also working on 1 date for donors at the SF de Young Museum inspired by their current David Hockney exhibit (just finished one surrounding the BVLGARI exhibit)
We have 3 confirmed dates at the Nevada Art Museum and are working on concepts to execute for both private and public events surrounding the Doris Duke Shangri-La exhibit.
We also have 2 confirmed dates for private and public at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary art and are developing a brand new installation called: 

“Sphere of Layers”

Consistent to the weather installation in gallery 4, Velocity Arts will create a fully immersive environment in galleries 1,2,&3 bringing all the elements of weather and the seasons together… with a twisted perception on how humans realize such environments.

The largest part of this install will be one gallery with a giant cloud video sculpture that morphs through the seasons as guests observe- aerialists suspended from the cloud combined with special effects will all be fused together. Autumn will be a gallery of contemporary still life paintings, which on second glance are actually food buffets into which the guests can reach beyond the frames and eat…and so on.
(No musicians will be cooked outdoors in the AZ blistering heat in the process)

On a lighter note, there is also a large private party for the 50th birthday of a local lady who likes to celebrate big. We are developing a plethora of characters, scripts, and antics which catapult you back into the decadent 1970’s experience at Studio 54...witness Cher, Mick Jagger and Liza Minnelli converse about the birthday lady, revealing her to the guests. My dear friend and favorite writer, Rita Abrams will be writing that script.

There is also a small public “Banana Festival” for which we will producing an outdoor family show -Yes we have fallen into the agricultural harvest celebrations- what is better to celebrate than food, the sustenance of our existence!

Image from Velocity Circus’ “OOHS and AAHS in OZ” show for the Giant Pumpkin Festival

There are allot more, but these are what are foremost in my mind at the moment.
I always take great pride in our commissions and performances for entertainment giants. We have had major jobs in the past for Warner Brothers, Univision, etc. and I hope more opportunities to entertain for mega-entertainment companies come soon…

Velocity Characters greet guests at HBO Premier of GAME OF THRONES Season III

What is it like collaborating with other artists in your field of work?

This is what I call living completely, pure joy, and has in fact become my life’s calling.
I could not achieve anything fully without the fantastic collaboration of both a steady crew of artists and technicians, as well as consistently bringing on and mentoring younger developing artists as well as pushing the limits of seasoned older artists- all who are 100% dedicated to making their way in this world as an artist, expressing themselves fully- and do, regardless of all obstacles. 

Gregangelo, directing and collaborating with 2 crews (from San Diego, CA and Tucson AZ) to launch a Velocity Aerialist on helium balloon rig over a stadium

In Flight…

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bay Bridge Rapscallion

I am a bit late, but with all of the hype over the realy wonderful new San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge, I was inspired to post this song written by Rita Abrams which personifies the bridge as "Mr Babe Bridge".  Rita wrote it for a show we did several years about San Francisco. It is sung by Darien Gray. Enjoy...

Mr Babe Bridge

Babe Bridge upstaging Ms GG Bridges

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Velocity Artist Ashley Gomez

I am honored to be part of the subject matter in Velocity Artist Ashley Gomez (singer/actor/ character) essay for her college level Creative Arts class. - Gregangelo
Photo by Hiromi Yoshida
Perspectives Essay
Ashley Gomez
Creative Arts 176
March 3, 2013
Drawing from my own experiences in working with groups, I would agree with Piers Ibbotson’s statement:
If the right culture were in place, innovation would not be an issue; the function of managers would be like the function of the director of a good ensemble: merely to select from the stream of inventions and suggestions pouring from the group as it engages with the tasks they have at hand (p. 2).
Ibbotson suggests that in order to be a successful manager, it is important to listen to the group and gather different thoughts and ideas to fulfill its purpose.  I’ve worked in many different types of groups, for school projects, work, or organizing events, and in every situation there has always been a goal to be achieved and a leader to help organize the process. Since I have been reading Ibbotson’s, The Illusion of Leadership, I have become more aware of the leadership processes around and what makes them successful or not successful.
Many performing artists strive to make a decent living doing what they love, but they struggle to get a steady income.  Alone, they are unable to create a demand.  Gregangelo Herrera, the artistic director of the arts and entertainment company Velocity Circus has taken an approach, similar to the approach that Ibbotson writes about and that has better enabled a solution to be found for a problem.  I’ve been working with Velocity Circus for close to a year and I have recognized the qualities in the leadership that have driven this company to success.  
            Prior to founding Velocity Circus, Gregangelo performed around the world in Cirque Du Soleil as a Whirling Dervish.  Traditionally, Whirling Dervishes are men who are a part of a mystic brotherhood that spin around in long flowing skirts to represent the spinning of the cosmos.  Gregangelo took from this philosophy and started to think about how the motion of spinning is a part of everything that makes up the universe from the atoms to the way we live. He then began to think about this in terms of the art world.  From his perspective, artists today are consumed with achieving fame and fortune, obsessing with beauty and stardom, while battling one another for a spot at the top.  This is the exact never-ending unobtainable journey that is stripping away from their very soul, which is why artists should take a step back, look past these tropes, see that the universe is still spiraling around them, and realize that the true wealth is inside them.  They should come together and collaborate as a group and become stronger rather than competing against each other in an endless battle. Gregangelo and a team of other artists used this philosophy to create Velocity Circus. 

            Instead of battling one another for a spot on the top, these artists come together to create something innovative and unique.  Building from the ground up, they started to design characters, sets, and gathered performers of all types. They collaborated to achieve the fantasies of their customers. When a challenging project came up, the artists found a way to bring it to life. This is exactly the type of leadership that Ibbotson writes about that drives a group to success.  Ever since I have been working with this company, I have been able to see a difference in myself as an artist.  I’m encouraged to come up with ideas and get my creative juices flowing.  Being in this type of environment motivates me to perform well and think outside the box.  If we succeed as a group, we succeed as a whole, which fulfills my artistic individuality as well. I believe I am an important asset in contributing, and since I feel that my input and ideas are valued, I give more of myself.  
Photo by Hiromi Yoshida

Gregangelo takes what the group has to offer and morphs it into a masterpiece. Because of this successful leadership, Velocity Circus has not only created a steady working environment to artists, but it has become a hot commodity that is in demand.  Museums and corporations seek Velocity Circus to bring even their own wildest ideas and fantasies to life. This encourages involvement from the client as well.  Gregangelo calls his team “Mission Impossible” because there is no project too difficult for the hundreds of artists who make up Velocity Circus.  Together, anything can happen.
Gregangelo’s philosophy has created the “right culture,” therefore allowing innovation to take place. His function as a leader has allowed several artists to come together and work as a team to build their ideas into elaborate works of art for others to enjoy. A good leader takes part in the group and listens to ideas. They admit mistakes and recognize efforts. Ibbotson’s statement hits it right on the nose. If you understand what it takes to be a leader, you’ll fulfill the team, which fulfills the client, which fulfills the goal, which fulfills the company.  This concept is the backbone of success.

Works Cited

Hererra, Gregangelo. “TEDxYouth at Castilleja - Gregangelo.” YouTube. 12 Dec. 2011. YouTube. 20 Sept. 2013 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=737HdHJYzOQ>.

Ibbotson, Piers. The Illusion of Leadership: Directing Creativity in Business and the Arts. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. 2. Print.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Language Revelation

Olivia Gryphon, an accomplished artist who runs several of her own businesses, took the time this week to fill in here and help run Velocity Circus.

I went through a list of work tasks for the day, which I don't exactly recall but something to the extent of :"Be sure to leave space for the albino monkey's wings", "Order a hydraulic lift so we can make her appear to melt", "Don't forget to clean the snow machines", " Be sure her headdress is not a hazard when he throws the knives at her" ; to which she calmly and rationally replied, "No Problem" and proceeded to do the work.

In that brief moment of an assuring and able reply, I realized that I normally cringe at the utterance of either word: "The problem is...", "No, that's OK" (WHICH IS ITNo or OK? and always spoken in the condescending tone one speaks to a pet), and so many more lazy, inept, and obstructive uses of the two words.

But sequence No+ Problem together and it is a sweet concerto spoken by a composer of the highest competence.

I suppose this was just a flash of realization that ALL of the artists around here are indeed maestros...

"Superimpose the Neptunian's over the Andromeda Galaxy..."The beluga whale should have the expression of a drag-queen"... " Buy forty yards of black and white polka dot fabric for the quick change"..."Can you re-write the song to include a baby who turns into a dog?"... Try to spin suspended from your teeth for just 8 counts longer"...

مافيش مشكلة (mafiiš moškila) No problem

All in a days work...

Monday, September 2, 2013

GREG'S WORLD by Rita Abrams

Welcome to the world of the wildest guy I know
He moves with high Velocity--he's called Gregangelo
His life is one big circus and his passion is intense
He was born a whirling dervish and been whirling ever since
There's no way to describe it, so I'll have to simply say

Civilizations on the ceiling, hieroglyphics on the walls
There's a mummy in the living room, and phantoms haunt the halls
In the basement they're concocting creatures made of glitter glue
In the kitchen a contortionist is stirring up a stew 
There's no way to describe it, so I have to simply say

If you think you've got the gist of it--you still have no idea
How shall I put it? The bathroom almost makes it fun to have diarrhea
& Upstairs, you can sleep in a pyramid while attending an all-night black light show
Just a few o' the perks o' the lucky ones, in the Orbit of Gregangelo

He's One-of-a-kind, and kind of a Wonder
He'll retool your brain chemistry
He's an alien being brought down to earth
To set all our fantasies free
But with all o' that said, I still can't begin to describe him, so I give up!
All I can say is...

Written by Rita Abrams August 2013

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Proverb in Mosaic

Photo by Hiromi Yoshida

This mosaic pathway into "Circus- headquarters" , designed by Gregangelo's niece Shiva Bayat, phonetically spells out in  Arabic calligraphy : Unther Hawlek, which translates as 'Look Around You".
In this digital age, our vision has become vast, yet myopic and and a fascinating new consciousness is being created. Though as amazing as these evolving digital devices and consciousness are, the simple process of looking around oneself through our own eyes, intricate senses and intuition are often compromised.
Look Around You.

Artistic Director
Velocity Arts & Entertainment
Velocity Circus
San Francisco
415 664-0095

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We hire Artists, not Acts

"We hire Artists, not Acts"
-Gregangelo, Velocity Circus

 Cast of Gregangelo & Velocity Circus' "Age of Asparagus" Show
Photo credit -Hiromi Yoshida


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gregangelo Interview for The Muse Studio

Restraint and Revolution Artist Bio themusestudio@gmail.com

Whirling dervish, artist, artistic director Gregangelo Herrera is a native San Franciscan of Lebanese Mexican descent, born to working class parents in the urban wilderness of the city on the great Pacific. Since the age of fifteen, he has developed his signature version of the enigmatic dervish ritual tailored for a secular audience. All of the mysticism, knowledge, and wonder of the ancient ritual are encrypted into his contemporary show stopping version.

The performance contemplates humanity and our place in the universe.
All elements from micro to macro are whirling, from spinning subatomic particles which make up the revolving cells and atoms of all matter, to the wonder of a human’s circulatory system, to the rotating of the planets and stars, to the infinite orbiting solar systems, to the majesty of spiraling galaxies to the eternal realm of a recycling universe…This is the story of the whirling dervish.

Gregangelo has a natural talent in sharing: whether it be entertainment, experiencing his multi sensory installations, or as an artistic director of a circus helping hundreds of artists in his community to find viable work and opportunities to do what they love for a living, he completes a cycle of contribution back to the community.

Gregangelo, like all genuine artists intuitively falls through the bureaucratic cracks of the system by creating works that are not easily governed.

At one point I ask Gregangelo about his awesomeness, he looks into the deliciously tiled mosaic walls and floor bewildered, polka-dots are sprouting with color and imagination from every corner of the room, his eyes search for an answer beyond the simple magnificence in every inch of the house he’s worked on since he was seventeen, as if all the decor is transparent and the inner workings of the cosmos, one living breathing entity thrives somewhere in the thick of the room’s plastic bubble shaped contours. Finally he comes up with an answer, “Talk about my awesomeness?... That’s ridiculous.”

On sex: “No one sees a whirling dervish and thinks sex. Being a whirling dervish isn’t exactly a chick or dude magnet. Personal carnal experiences have been sacred, yet scarce, as explosive as a super nova, as profound as the contemplation of the meaning of the universe, but as short lived as the life of a gnat. It’s almost disturbing,” he admits, “like a surge of electricity.”
Gregangelo tends to be aroused from the heart by more earnest games- such as­ the process of creating art and shows with diverse casts of artists, connecting with audiences one person at a time- like provoking guests who have been married happily for years to insightfully compliment one another (often against their will), “that is what really excites me.”   

On environment: Gregangelo’s beliefs are painted in gold, emerald, and azure blue; his beliefs are strung together in beaded oceans and starry eclipses, “I believe everybody and everything are all part of one living organism, from every living creature to every speck of dust in the universe.” He is aware of the blunt contradictions in his artwork, “I’m creating work on the environment with plastic shit.” Gregangelo intends to make harsh messages with intoxicatingly beautiful designs and arrangements; which are indeed toxic. Most visitors don’t even contemplate what is in front of them, therefore they become part of the message, their naivety is the glue piecing together fake mother nature, and in a sense eroding their connection to the natural world. 

On Politics: “I don’t like politicians; however t­­­he optimist in me hopes that someday a politician will prove their self to be a benevolent leader.” Gregangelo once roller skated past a polished white toothed, designer suit clad politician distributing pamphlets to a non caring public. Just behind the oblivious politician were two homeless men publicly masturbating. Gregangelo rolled by him, exclaiming “you just lost my vote; you don’t even see where you are in the moment.” Politicians barely come out from behind their security while campaigning; they can’t make a serious impact on a world they are unable to materialize correctly. Artists do that.

“Live Healthy, Eat Honestly! (Reverse that) ”—Gregangelo

Commentary - Zola Hjelm, poet/writer
San Francisco Ruth Asawa School of the Arts