Big news -> new studio!!!
I am beyond thrilled, grateful, and honored to introduce you to the new studio, an inclusive, empowering space for one and all where everybody--every body--is seen, heard, and celebrated! An abode for authentic expression, heartfelt creation, and powerful transformation. This inspired space is where magic manifests, where connection reigns supreme; it is an aesthetic conduit for art and all things creative. The Atelier is an incredible environment unlike any other, from large-scale commercial productions to intimate fine-art portrait sessions, photographic narratives to cinematic scenes, workshops, and classes to gallery showings and unique events; this is a space that speaks to process, passion, exploration, and creation. Born of love, passion, and an unwavering commitment to the creative community, artists of all mediums, and creators of all kinds: Atelier Alchimia. <3
It is 2,500+ square feet of obsessively curated, creative magic! The space has so much architectural character and a vibe that is second-to-none by design. The natural lighting is brilliant and varied throughout the studio, from expansive front windows to wonderfully moody light that pours through the windows in the back of the main studio, close to sunset, which are situated at the top of the ceiling 14' up. In addition, the dedicated prep space is bright, airy, modern, and doubles as yet another great space to create and produce. I'm planning on converting the mudroom into a dark room which will be spectacular, as I rekindle my love for all things analog. The surrounding area is diverse, artsy, and well-suited to creative work. As for the energy, it's positively inspired and altogether uplifting. The Atelier is precisely what I've been envisioning and working toward manifesting, and I could not be more jazzed!
Ultimately, this new endeavor is a tangible celebration of life. As most, if not all, of you know, I nearly died on the evening of March 21, when I was stabbed by still a still-unknown individual in a random, unprovoked act of violence. As I was recovering at Denver Health from emergency surgery, my thoughts kept drifting to the big questions in the days and evenings following the attack. Who am I? What is my purpose? Why am I here, and why was my life spared? Of course, these are the questions that humanity has posited since the dawn of consciousness... It is my opinion that we have to discover and develop our singular answers. I believe; I have come to know that my purpose is to connect with my self, fellow humans, and humanity as a whole through art and creative expression. I am happiest when empowering, supporting, and uplifting others, helping others see their inherent, infinite magic, power, beauty, strength, and radiance.
Through the years, I've understood that my purpose manifests in many forms beyond being behind the camera, from mentoring and educating to functioning as an art director and creative consultant. But, no matter the iteration, it always comes down to connection. This new adventure, Atelier Alchimia, is a hub and catalyst for just that.
For so many moons, sleepless nights, and endless days, I've dreamed of a space that could function not only as a professional production space but a home for anyone and everyone seeking to express themselves; to all striving toward authenticity through exploration and creation. I envisioned a studio not only for myself but for artists and creators of all types; an inclusive, empowering space where individuality is celebrated and failure is redefined as necessary fuel for growth and evolution; free from judgment, bias, elitism, ego, and negativity of any kind. An embodied business model that definitively and defiantly prioritizes people over profit and art above all else. An open door, welcoming all with a heartfelt embrace. This endeavor is all of that and so much more than I could have imagined.
Of course, first and foremost, the Atelier is my studio, my creative sanctuary where the worlds and constructs from within my mind and spirit will take form, where narratives will emerge from human connection and the poetic interplay of light and shadow. But it's also your studio, whatever that means and needs to be for you, as an artist, to bring your visions and ideas to life, to produce concepts that excite, inspire and move you.
I do not want the space to be empty, even for a moment. On the contrary, nothing would make me happier than a constant flow of creative energy from a broad spectrum of sources. I want Atelier Alchimia to be a destination where people come--locally, nationally, and internationally--to create, explore, and discover; where individuals walk away feeling better than when they arrived, on all levels, in all ways. A safe, supportive place where individuals can truly be themselves, where they can be and feel seen, heard, respected, and loved. Lofty, I know, but life is short and all-too-fragile for anything else. It is up to us to make the most of our time; to embrace the truth that we're all living on borrowed time; we're all shadows and stardust.
Beyond my art, work, and projects, I'll be hosting workshops, classes, and seminars by incredible artists, both internationally known and yet to be discovered. Also, I'll probably host a few workshops of my own! In addition, the Atelier will be available for rent and is equipped to handle any type of creative project or undertaking, from enormous to infinitesimal. Each month, I'll be offering open studio days and heavily discounted pricing to allow those who do not have the means to similarly find and explore a creative haven where they can hone their skills and produce their art. Beyond photography, videography, and production, I've decided to open the studio up as a venue for vetted events and individuals who desire the aesthetic and energy the space offers. Lastly, the space is exceptionally well suited to gallery showings. I am elated to curate solo and collective shows for artists of all mediums, with the utmost focus on diversity and inclusivity.
I envision so much more than I could possibly articulate here, and all of my aspirations for the space are rooted and actionable. This will be a studio with immense purpose, a place that breaks down barriers and sets new precedents. In short, an extension of who I am, what I believe in, and what drives and inspires me as a human and artist. We must embody the change we wish to see in the world.
In all honesty, the road to this landmark has been beyond challenging, replete with obstacles, external and internal, that seemed insurmountable at times. Around the beginning of May, roughly the same time I started walking without crutches, I learned that my friend and colleague, Mike Warstler, were shuddering the doors of their amazing art collective to pursue new projects and opportunities. In the weeks prior, I had been thinking about my studio and the possibility of moving for several reasons, not the least of which was directly linked to the fact that I was stabbed at nearly the exact location. Though my body and mind were very much in acute phases of healing from all aspects and elements of the overwhelming trauma, I found myself obsessing about the possibility of taking over the space; after all, Atelier 2.0 seemed fitting for Jonny 2.0!
The vast possibilities began taking hold, and I quickly found myself exploring the prospect in earnest. Chats turned to visits turned to a grand vision turned to contracts turned to my new creative home. As I learned the history of the family-owned building, a landmark in the Westminster Historic Arts District, I was drawn to the space more profoundly. It wasn't just a building; it was and is a legacy, a living ode to the individuals who built it. At the time, I'd describe my sentiment to be curiously romantic, for my new studio to take shape in a space so atypical and significant. It felt synchronistic in many ways, a sort of contextualizing agent for what I had so recently endured and survived. To emerge from darkness and shadow into the light is one of the greatest triumphs of the human spirit. More than ever, I wanted that from the core of my being to be a beacon and source of light in this dimly-lit world.
So, scarred, hobbled, and fairly fucking exhausted, I set out to renovate the space and create a foundation and framework from which my vision could emerge and evolve. The space needed a lot of love and attention to reach its full potential. Mike and I agreed to take on the project in tandem. We found ourselves in the company of diverse and ever-changing incredible humans along the way. Hours turned into days and weeks as we worked tirelessly to create the aesthetic I envisioned in my heart and mind's eye. I'd like to express a huge, heartfelt thanks to Mike for his time, talent, experience, skill, and dedication to seeing this through with me. We did something significant and powerful with the space, and I am beyond proud of what we achieved. Dr. Mike's presence and impact lives on in the Atelier as he graciously gifted the studio with an incredible Irving Penn-style wall prop and a collection of wonderfully unique backdrops.
Also, my deepest, heartfelt thanks to Penny Quinn for entrusting me as a steward of this fabulous space and her family's legacy. I will love it with all my being, and treat it as though it is my own.
Of course, as is always the case with renovation or rehab projects, it took a lot longer than expected, and there were many unexpected problems to address and remedy along the way. But nothing was so strong or resilient to stop the March forward, even though that March came to a grueling crawl on more than a few occasions. Though the work was laborious and physically demanding, especially given the state of my leg, the mental exhaustion became nearly incapacitating as I attempted to stay present and make sense of things seemingly falling apart no matter how hard I tried to keep them together. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that creation and destruction are inextricably interwoven.
It's wonderfully strange and surreal to come back from the brink of death and find yourself so committed and impassioned to a project and idea, a construct and set of ideals, even as you struggle with the concept of who you are; reflecting on who you were while considering who you want to be as your ideal self. Yet, despite the deluge of setbacks and near-constant state of struggle, being consumed by something so important and powerful, more significant than myself, was quite cathartic and healing in its own ways.
Throughout my life, I've had a penchant for not following through, running away when things got really tough, masquerading my fears and anxieties as rebellion when I couldn't deal with the idea of failing. Hell, in many cases, I was just as scared of succeeding, if not more. So photography is the only thing I've ever genuinely stuck with; it's one of the few things that's made any sort of sense of my fairly fucked up and tumultuous 37 years on this planet. I've never given up or relented. On the contrary, I've never stopped, even when it seemed like all signs were pointing in that direction; even as my life was seemingly imploding, I continued to create and dedicate myself to this art form. Photography literally saved my life, and I am indebted to it and all of the beautiful humans I've encountered along this wild journey. This opportunity was and is the next step in my path, and I couldn't walk away or give up, no matter what. In fact, in many ways, this felt and feels like a way of expressing my love and gratitude for all of you who have supported and encouraged me, especially in the aftermath of what occurred in March. I want to keep paying that love, kindness, compassion, and help forward in the best way I know-how.
Heading into the second week of June, the renovation was finally complete, and the facelift phase of the endeavor was coming to a close. Grateful, tired-beyond-belief, and operating on little more than adrenaline, caffeine, and instinct, I decided to rest for a few days before the big transition from old into new. After closing my eyes for what felt like mere seconds, I was back at it, ready to move the studio across town, to bring this undertaking to the point of finality so that I might finally be able to get back to what matters most to me, connection and creation. Life had other plans, once again, however...
On the morning of June 13, I discovered that my car had been stolen as I was about to leave to prep the old studio for the move planned for the next day. Needless to say, I was devastated, and there was no holding back the onslaught of tears, anxiety, and anguish. To be wholly transparent, I started to feel as though I had been cursed. To have yet another thing go so wrong at the time felt incomprehensible. I found myself questioning my path and purpose, photography not only as a profession but means of expression, and myself as a whole. Those were dark times in the recesses of my mind. I retreated from the world and the idea of the Atelier as I fervently sought to figure out what was up and what the fuck was happening in my world. So badly, so ardently, I wanted to give up and run away. I wanted to sell all of my gear, terminate my lease, and leave everything behind, to fade into obscurity and maybe find myself somewhere in the vast unknown. Only, not all of me wanted that, just the parts of me that were wounded, traumatized, and tired. The parts of me dating back to my earliest memories of pain, struggle, loss, and sorrow--so many dark memories and awful experiences.
As I came to and began to find some reprieve from the sense of drowning, I once again found my feet underneath me in the days that followed. Step by step, I started down my path, once again, heading toward a crimson-streaked horizon that never seemed to get any closer, no matter how fast I ran. Only, this time, I felt like I was actually moving, that I wasn't merely in motion. Things started to change for the better, and I began to feel lighter and more positive, motivated and excited for the road ahead.
From then until now, things have been a bit of a blur. Time has contracted and expanded, intensely and intermittently, along the way. I don't know exactly how I got here, but I know precisely where I am at--where I should be. I won't say I'm happy; that's not the right word. But, for the first time in a long time, I feel a sense of peace that is unlike anything I've felt before. It's enveloping, like the roar of a waterfall or the scent of lilacs at the apex of bloom. Once again, I know why I'm here, my purpose, and my intentions as an artist and human.
If it were possible for my heart to be a physical space, it would be Atelier Alchimia. That's how much of myself I've poured into this project, concept, idea, and ideal, not just recently but ever since I picked up a camera so many years ago. Everything has led me to this point, to this place, literally and metaphorically, in space and time. It has been a wild ride.
I am beyond thrilled, grateful, and honored to share that my new studio, Atelier Alchimia, and everything it represents is officially open; magic awaits...
In introducing the space visually, I felt, and feel, that there is no better way than through self-portraits; an artist embodied in their art, produced in their studio. I am still here, and I am a force to be reckoned with; I am a warrior and a poet, a fighter and lover, a philosopher and brute, an artist-architect, I am the sky and the moon and the stars; I am, and Atelier Alchimia is an expression and manifestation of the best of me.
All of your support, love, and encouragement, individually and collectively, have empowered and emboldened me to bring this concept to life and give myself wholly to this spectacular endeavor. Words will never suffice.
There's so much more I have to say and share, but that's for another day and moment. Lots more amazing announcements and big news shortly; stay tuned!
As of today, July 01, the doors of the Atelier are open, and I am honored to share that, once again, I am taking on new clients and commissions and starting new personal projects. So, it's time to get back to creation, connection, community, and art, the elements of my spiritual and emotional alchemy, the forces that impel, inspire and mesmerize me as an artist and human being. In other words, my reasons.
Never give up, never give in, never relent. You are worthy and deserving of your goals, hopes, and dreams! You are seen, heard, appreciated, and loved. You are the magic manifest, and the universe embodied. You are fuckin' incredible! You can do it; you got this; we're in this together.
Art is life, and life is art!
I love you all beyond measure.