Interview with Megzany

I had the wonderful chance to talk last week with Megzany, a street artist based in LA. She was in Chicago last summer and made some incredible pieces in West Town and Pilsen. I even found some of her work on my recent trip to London! It was a pleasure talking with her via phone about her work.

ES: How did you decide to start doing street art?

M: I’ve always had an affinity to street art but I never thought I would take my art to the streets. It is an accomplishment to consider myself a street artist. I started in February 2016. I went to a gallery show, met a street artist and basically he said, “You want to be a street artist. You have an artistic hand. What are you waiting for? Just do it.” Two different artists told me that I was crazy for not pursuing my dreams– I thank them very much for the encouragement.

ES: How would you describe your work?

M: I consider my work as light-hearted and super inspirational. Most of my pieces have messages driven from places I’ve been and things I’ve felt. Something inside me makes me put these messages out there in the streets– I figure [that] people are going through the same things and need to see them.

The piece “Courage has no gender” came from when I worked in the corporate world. I felt that I had gone through a lot of dead ends or doors closing in my face. I was in the corporate space and not male. I wrote one day, “Courage has no gender” to myself. I am courageous. I shouldn’t feel that I couldn’t achieve something because of my gender.

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West Town, Chicago

ES: Do you have an artistic philosophy?

M: I stand for equality, it is so important. I want everyone to have the same jumping off point.

ES: Could you tell me the genesis of the mermaid in a vending machine?

M: The vending machine series started with a girl in the machine. The girl is me. I think that women should be able to express their sexuality without feeling like they are just there to be ogled at.  

The mermaid resonates with many women. Imagining the world is yours; you can do anything. I merged the two of those – the mermaid (basically as the everywoman) [with the vending machine]. The world is not her stage to be purchased; the world is hers to take.

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West Town, Chicago

ES: Could you talk about the drone and swinging girl?

M: A lot of my work is based around flight– I have a crazy obsession with it. When I saw that drone, it made so much sense. That’s our future; whether it [is] a day care of the future with the camera and watching your kid have fun. Maybe that’s excessive but why not take it to the extreme. Whatever technology brings us will be fun.

ES: Do you let the space drive the piece or the other way around?

M: It’s circumstantial. It’s a segmented question. When I have art that I’m going to do renegade, I search for walls in areas that I feel people would get the most enjoyment out of that piece. It’s the art first then the wall– that’s how I do renegade pieces.

Commission walls [are when] someone says, here’s a wall, and we want art on it. I let my imagination run wild, pairing images with words. Sometimes if I seek inspiration I pull from a book I wrote a few years ago while I was going through a hard time. It’s place I compiled everything I’ve learned, all my values in a 12,000-word book —my own personal handguide— for my reference. Basically, it’s the wall first then the art (unless someone wants a specific piece of mine then that’s obviously different).

ES:  I see a lot of photos on your feed of people reacting to your work. Could you talk about that feeling of people interpreting and responding to your work?

M: It’s really a blast. It’s something that takes me by surprise when I come across a photo of someone interacting with my work. It’s incredible. I put art up [in the hopes] of people finding and enjoying it but never expect that people will interact with it. When it does happen, it’s a pleasant surprise.

My favorite moment is when this little girl put up a dollar to the vending machine. It cracks me up, definitely symbolic of a girl tapping into her imagination. The art has come full circle.

ES: Could you talk about doing a piece on the streets versus a commission piece?

M: I’m an adrenaline junkie. There’s such an up and down, high and low, on street pieces because it’s such a gamble whether it will be there in an hour, two days, three days, etc. Some pieces have been riding for months or still do.

The streets are perfect for testing your art. I don’t normally test beforehand and I like to continue evolving any single piece.

Commission walls are a major difference. I enjoy them. They are a lot closer to my heart. I want them to live and breathe. There’s an expectation that it will last longer so I spend more time perfecting things. I go through an emotional state when I’m done. My friend put it in a very interesting way, “When I put that piece up, it’s no longer mine.” I’m learning to cope with that. I’m closer to those pieces that are commissioned. I’m giving a gift to some.

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West End, London

E: Anything you want people to know that I haven’t covered in other questions?

M: I’m here to stay in the streets. I love interacting with people– I hope people come and say “hi” if they ever see me out and about.

Review: Cirque Italia

This weekend, we went out to Cicero, IL to see Cirque Italia. It’s a big top water circus. That meant that a series of fountains encircled the stage from below and above. Quite neat.  It was a fun night. However, it started off a little rough due to operational issues. The circus ended up starting 30 minutes late since they were trying to get everyone in. When we got there, there was an enormous line that barely moved.  Plus it was super confusing if you had will call tickets. It wasn’t marked and eventually an employee told us where to go. BUt 30 minutes is a bit much.

Once it started, the circus itself was splendid. The most amazing act was a hand-balancing act by the singer. Yes, the singing gentleman who opens the show ends up doing the most solid hand-balancing act I’ve ever seen. Now, it’s possible that when he went upside down, the sound people switched it to a recording but I’m not sure. And it was amazing. He made hand-balancing look like the easiest thing in the world. He also did some foot-juggling and an incredible jump while upside down!

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One of the most visually stunning acts was the mermaid straps. It started with a woman in a mermaid outfit carried on stage to the straps. She wrapped herself in the straps and began to soar in the air. Then that was when the water circus emerged for the first time. Quite a wonderful spectacle. Then she began a rather impressive straps act, made even more epic by the fact that she didn’t have full use of her legs! As she continued the act, she shed the skin and continued with the rest of the act. Very cool.

Mermaid Straps

There was also a hair act. A lady had her hair hooked up to the winch. She’d then soar in the air with various props. One of them was an umbrella. It made me happy beyond words to see her flying with an umbrella. She also spun hoops, played with a ribbon, and even did the splits in the air.

Hair and Hoops

Hair and Hoops

In the second half, there was a duo lyra act. The show seemed to like twins; Most performers came on in pairs wearing the same outfit and look. Two redhaired women began a lyra act as if they were two sisters fighting. It was graceful and occasionally wacky. At one point, one of them threw a shoe at her sister on the stage. Nice atmosphere.

Overall it was a fun big top circus. I’m not sure I loved it in the same way as UniverSOUL Circus in Washington Park, another traveling bigtop. But I’m glad I got to check it out.

That’s all for now!