Friday, February 28, 2014

Hidden Gems of San Francisco - Gregangelo Museum

Thanks to this expertly crafted “To-Do” list for San Francisco, I have been receiving more calls than usual regarding taking tours of our “Velocity Circus Headquarters”, and have been very much enjoying the folks I meet on this profound tour and journey.…
I am also delighted to be listed among many of my favorite local attractions which have inspired me since I was kid and continue to do so!

The artistic director of the Velocity Circus opens his home to the public (by appointment) in experimentally themed rooms and a labyrinth to symbolize “the path of life.”
Come check it out!

Artistic Director
Velocity Arts & Entertainment
Velocity Circus
San Francisco

415 664-0095

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Age of Asparagus

 Velocity Circus is on the agricultural festival circuit in sunny California.
It is an ancient ritual to celebrate the harvest and Velocity spins both profound and fantastic tales into our spectacle family shows which honor our vibrant food source and inspire healthy living.

Our client at the Stockton Asparagus Festival asked that our show be more colorful than usual.

Check out the below image – is this colorful enough?!

See full show link here:

Last Year we did the Giant Pumpkin Festival  in Elk Grove CA with a spin on the Wizard of Oz story which we titled OOHS and AAHS IN OZ (say that 3 times fast).
See show link here:

This Year we are doing the Banana festival in Sacramento, CA.
Will get to the drawing board for a concept for that show very soon…

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

Thursday, February 6, 2014


We have a new mosaic encrypting our costume loading dock at “Velocity Headquarters”

Concept by Gregangelo with Japanese Kanji mawaru script by Velocity Film Maker/ Media Director Hiromi Yoshida, and created by Cailee Corbett, our returning Illustration intern from Otis College of Art and Design in LA.

This is the second exterior mosaic with the implied message of “Look around You” encoded on this hard working artist entrance/exit.

 Cailee executing the mawaru design

The first mosaic designed by my niece Shiva Bayat, is in Arabic calligraphy and spells out “Unther Hawlek, which translates to “Look Around You” latterly down this artist entrance path. 

Click here to read blog post of Look Around You - Proverb in Mosaic

“Unther Hawlek” artist entry path

However, this one is more open for interpretation as the translation of the character, like a whirling dervish, is: to rotate, turn, go around, or revolve.

Ironically, the contemporary version of this Kanji character which in ancient times was a circle (a representation of a cosmic spiral) has evolved into a square…  

 The verb mawaru has two meanings: to circulate something or to revolve something.

To me, the deeper encrypted message is simply “Be Aware”. As a whirling dervish, I frequently point out that everything in nature or “reality” from the micro to the macro is revolving. From invisible sub-atomic particles to the majestic grandeur of spiraling galaxies, all matter and kinetic forces in between appear to be made of spiraling particles and motion. Contemplating this movement from a molecular level to a grand universal scale provokes such wonder and thought that span far beyond our daily and often myopic view.

Therefore, to “Look around You”, or to Revolve, Rotate or Turn are to “Be Aware” of existence on a grand scale.

A Spiraling Galaxy and perhaps precursor which inspired the ancient mawaru kanji glyph

On a day-to-day awareness note from my personal point of view;

 I commute everyday on old-school leather and steel quad roller skates to “Velocity Headquarters” through about 5 miles of the bustling, hilly streets of San Francisco. In doing so, I have learned to be acutely aware of my surroundings, scan every angle, sense all peripheral motion, anticipate the auto traffic, bikes, people, dogs, ever-changing terrain and other unexpected urban obstacles so as to avoid being killed at least three times before breakfast!

In this case “Looking around You”= survival.

As I safely arrive, these profound exterior mosaics greet me and the other artists every morning reminding us of our task to look around and beyond ourselves in order to entertain and perhaps even ignite a bit of inspiration and wonder in all of our audiences, whatever the project.

Click here to watch video of "Gregangelo, Roller Skating Commuter"

Now here is an embarrassing anecdote from a moment of not being so dervishly aware:

While behind the scenes prepping a crew of performing artists for an exhibit opening at de Young Museum in SF, our artist meal was served in the Green Room.
As there were many other vendors on site that night pushing for the production to be ready on time, we all rushed in line to fuel ourselves up in preparation to exert our energy for the guests. While in line, I am multi-tasking by barking directions at the costumer, makeup artists and managers, answering questions from artists, while simultaneously taking direction from museum staff and security. All the while, an unknown man next to me kept pointing towards the beautifully laid out foods and asking me what each item was. Not fully paying attention or even glancing his direction, I would simply answer after each request… “Guacamole”… “chips”…”fruit”…”Caesar salad”… “Smoked turkey”.  He pointed to something again, and in my gruff, urban demeanor I replied: WHAT? YOU’VE NEVER SEEN A TOMATO?! To which he did not reply. So I turned to catch his eyes and instantly became aware that he was blind, white cane in hand, and alone. Needless to say, I than explained to him every detail of that meal and walked away tail between my legs…


Gregangelo & Velocity Custom Costumes

Over the past 30+ years Gregangelo, Velocity Circus, Velocity A & E have imagined, designed and constructed thousands of costumes from concept to completion, from head to toe, wigs/headdresses to shoes, and makeup to motion for our various shows and productions. And we consistently construct new works bit-by-bit on a daily basis. These costumes are labored over by Gregangelo and his team of skilled artists and on completion are really considered wearable works of art.

View Velocity artists at work here:
Dressing Juno

One of Gregangelo’s early whirling dervish costumes was even borrowed and put on display in a gallery as part of a show of Exquisite Ethnic Costumes

Gregangelo, whirling dervish circa 1989

In fact, our Gregangelo & Velocity A & E “Brand” is synonymous with our ever-developing and adapting costume and wardrobe aesthetic which continually evolves according to the need of each show and each client, and of every new whim of Gregangelo.

Gregangelo working on optical illusion aerialist

From time to time, our flow is interrupted to design and construct costumes for other artists and companies.
This is always a welcome and wonderful challenge.

Working from drawings and Photoshop renderings, or just verbal concepts, we delve into bringing every technical and aesthetic detail of the costume to life.

Here are just a few memorable costume commissions:

For all you aspiring pop stars, here are some Illuminated color-changing fiber optic costumes we did for Katy Perry’s band


Katy Perry and band in custom Velocity costumes

These were inspired by the below woven optic costumes they saw us in at a show which were designed and constructed by Velocity artist Kathleen Fernald.
These delicate but beautiful multi -color changing, roller skating optic suits are currently back on our table for a major overhaul.

For all you beauty queens, here is one we recently did for a benefit cosmetics commercial bringing the character and costume from the drawing to life.

A girl with a benefit

For all you sophisticated boozers, here is one we did for a CAMPARI promotion.  Ask your local mixologist for a Negroni!
The CAMPARI Angel and Demon

And for you chocoholics, sweet-tooths and ice cream fans, here is one we designed and constructed for use at several Ghirardelli Chocolatiers:

The Ice-Cream man

Check out more sample images of Gregangelo & Velocity costume commissions for other companies and corporations:

Human Mercedes logo

And here is a sample gallery of a mixed bag of nuts of various past projects:

Jeanne –Paul Gaultier Exhibit at de Young Museum

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hookah Heaven

Hookah lounge for San Francisco Symphony event

I have been bringing our own uniquely Velocity brand of Hookah lounges to events and installations for many years.

Being Lebanese American, the hookah has always had a central presence in my home.

I am not a smoker, and oddly it seems that the Hookah is not truly considered smoking by the general public, for it is mostly first-timers and families who are drawn to gather around and partake in this magical water pipe indoors in otherwise “non -smoking” areas by often “non-smoking” people.
Hookah attendants in Velocity” Garden of Earthy Delights”

There is an art to preparing the fragrant fruity sap-drenched sweet tobaccos in the pipe, and for the ultimate experience, Velocity provides two skilled attendants who are always present.

They first wash and gently massage the hands of each guest with fragrant floral waters or tell a quick palm fortune to relax and engage each partaker.

Ancient Mediterranean nuts and fruits such as almonds, a variety of ripe dates, seasonal fresh or dried figs, pomegranate, apricots, and grapes are offered to prepare the palette for the upcoming smooth, smoky, sweet sensation.

Velocity provides a special music mix specifically for our Hookah Lounges, which creates and unsurpassed ambience and once guests are immersed in the heavenly experience, the attendants may dance, sing, tell stories, and perform acrobatic feats in rhythm to the music to further entertain the senses…

The beauty of our Hookah Lounges is that they truly unite and bond the guests in an earnest and profound way.

It seems that this venerable sharing of smoke is indeed the peace pipe which awakens all human senses and provokes our primal instinct to gently connect.

I have never witnessed a “selfie” or any sign of technological connection in the lounges.

Every partaker is fully living, aware and suspended in the present moment.

Sharing and laughter abound in this primordial circle of sweet smoke…

Youthful connection without a phone in site

Indulge Your Senses!

See full Hookah Heaven gallery here:

Artistic Director
Velocity Arts & Entertainment
Velocity Circus

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Taste of HBO

Our colleagues at Taste Catering in SF  have been very loyal in commissioning Gregangelo & Velocity Arts & Entertainment for their custom entertainment integrated into their fantastic designs for live HBO premiers in SF. The most recent was for LOOKING, which promises to be an intriguing “San Francentric” drama.

Here is a photo of our Velocity Entertainer (a most versatile artist incognito who wears many hats) for the evening as the memorable “Dancing Bear” from the pilot show.

See more imagery here:

And here are a couple of my favorites challenging commissions from the past for HBO Premiers by Taste:

Game of Thrones Season 3

The Velocity cast greeting the stars as they enter the Palace of Fine Arts
Photo by Hiromi Yoshida

Behind the Candelabra

Velocity’s “Libera-she” entertaining the crowds at the premier in the Castro Theater
Photo by Hiromi Yoshida

Looking forward to the next…

Artistic Director
Velocity Arts & Entertainment