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Episode 84: Why Art Matters – Part 2

December 11, 2018

Episode 84: Why Art Matters – Part 2

Art has been a way people have come to know the name of Jesus. It is something that is easily accessible and can attract any eye. Today, the group comes together to discuss their passions of reaching youth through art.

EPISODE RESOURCES

GO DEEP INTO THE DIMES DROPPED, CONNECT WITH THE SPEAKER, AND CHECK OUT THE LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  1. The Gospel Graffiti Crew Website: GospelGraffiti.com
  2. Gospel Graffiti Crew Instagram: @gospelgraffiticrew
  3. Twitter: @gospelgraffiti
  4. Cameron’s Instagram: @Camer1sf
  5. Richie’s Instagram: @chicreate
  6. Greg Motor’s Email: gmotor@apu.edu

Episode Quotable

Grab your reading glasses and download the PDF here.

Episode 84 Transcript

Mingo Palacios:

Hey everybody, thanks for tuning into the PD Podcast, you know, from time to time we get the luxury of traveling around the country and actually bringing our podcast to conferences and events that are happening all over the country. This conversation took place at Thrive Conference. It’s an incredible one hosted by Bayside Church. Enjoy the episode.

Mingo Palacios:

Hey everybody. Thanks for tuning in. This is a continuation from last week’s episode. Hope you enjoy it. We’ll talk to you soon.

Mingo Palacios:

Well, I think you have to realize that the church is defined by the people that inhabit it, right? We need to remember that as a core definition, not as the place that holds the deed.

Greg:

I think part of the challenge too is what we’re talking about is you can’t really talk about artists as it relates to the church without talking about how the church relates to culture and cultural diversity. And I think part of the struggle is we don’t know how to engage the diverse other well. And if we did, we would make more room for artists because I think really there’s this crossover move that happens with art that is a way for us to expand our engagement of others in the community in ways where diversity is not seen as weird or diversity isn’t seen as suspect, right? Like somehow we have a particular way of understanding our social engagement as it relates to church and you’re either in or you’re out. And it’s unfortunate that that particular type of sociological view of the church, what it does is it doesn’t make room for things to have a current read of our particular situation and what artists do really, really well, if they do anything well, is they help give us a good read of what’s happening now.

Mingo Palacios:

Wow. That was really well put. That was super well put.

Greg:

I’m going to stop talking now.

Mingo Palacios:

No don’t. Keep going dude.

Greg:

Well, not I’m intimidated.

Mingo Palacios:

Well, and as a pastor, you can speak directly to other pastors.

Greg:

Okay. So I’m going to say more accurately. I’m an educator. I teach at a Christian University. I do have credentials, but I’m not actively pastoring a church. With that said, I would say that it’s really, really important for us to put people ahead of our ecclesiology and to really make room for young people like if we really care about young people, we’re going to allow them into our world in such a way that who they are and their read of our reality actually matters to the point where we’re willing to give them leadership. We’re willing to listen and incorporate what we say. We’re willing to make room for some of the mess that they show us that is the problem with our process and they have a way to address it that we need to be thinking about and engaging in real ways.

Cameron:

Yeah. Or else it becomes like old school of missions where you go in and tell people how to worship.

Greg:

Yeah and you’re superimposing everything. And what happens is that young people don’t learn the richness of theological reflection and development that we can teach them. And we have lost the ability to think theologically on the fly to where it’s all about being faithful and we stopped being vital and we shut the process down. But our young people and the artists in our world can re-kickstart that for us.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah they can re-spark it. I feel like we’re having a church service right now. I’ll call you the pastor.

Mingo Palacios:

It’s funny because you used the word ecclesiology, right? And for the less educated in the room, me in particular, that’s the practice of how we see and do church, right? That-

Greg:

And the structure, the form.

Mingo Palacios:

The form of what we call church is something that, I’m just going to say it and then if I get slapped on the hand later, so be it. But it really requires a loosening of the grip, right? This is a controlled conversation at this point. And it’s funny because Saddleback SVA is embedded into an ecosystem that declares over and over and over again, “We want to structure for growth, personal, a missional, environmental instead of control.” So he’s like, “You can structure for one or the other, you can structure yourself for growth or control.” And they will always abandon control for the sake of growth because we know that God is big enough to manage you personally, manage us organizationally and manage our potential more so than if we controlled it thinking we could get it somewhere right? Somewhere on our own. That’s to me one of the most encouraging things because on the outside looking into a mega church, you go like, “Man, they’ve already got it. It’s untouchable. It’s already built. It’s walls have been painted.” Right? But at the core of some of these great churches are wild pioneers who built something that didn’t exist, right? You look at it from the outside looking in and sometimes you go like, “Dude, like it’s, it’s done.” But you forget that at the root of it is somebody who dreamt crazy dreams and decided to try. That to me is the heart of an artist. You dream crazy dreams and then you decide to try.

Greg:

Yeah. One other thing I would say is that I think we need to move away from institutionalization as being our goal to where the institution itself becomes what we perpetuate into the future. And what is more, I think, in line with what we’re talking about in terms of artists and young people is seeing our structures again as it relates to the organism of the body of Christ. And so that our structure then is actually informed by the organism and reformed by the organism. So the structure supports what’s growing. This structure supports what this is. And when we do that, we actually make room for greater levels of learning in young people and greater levels of engagement. If they’re just serving. I think a lot of these artists that are coming up are God’s gift to us to help us remember that it isn’t about institutionalizing things into the future. It’s about the organism that is the body of Christ, that we need to come around and support and root form and reform the structures that help that grow and help the Kingdom come on. The other end of that.

Mingo Palacios:

Man, that is like church. Anybody want to preach after that? Anybody want to preach?

Mingo Palacios:

So, I want to ask the question, as creatives then, what advice would you give? Right? You said like, don’t wait on the vision, right? You said the church sometimes is unfortunately not fast enough for what’s happening to you as an individual. You can get your friends to buy in faster than you can get the pastor or the ministry to buy in. And that’s okay. I think that there’s a balance that needs to happen, right? Great pioneers go unheard when there’s not a settler that comes behind them and says, “We’re here because of this guy. He bled and died out and we have a city because of that.” So I think that there’s a balance of both that needs to exist. My art would be the, like the gathering and the celebration of people. I don’t have like a rattle can capacity in me. My brother does, but like I’ve always settled that which he’s pioneered, right? I’ve built the places where his art can hang. So it’s a both and in the body. Right? For kids though, and for creatives, it’s not just kids, but for creatives at large, what would you offer to them to say like, don’t give up. I ultimately, I’m trying to say like, don’t give up on the local church. That’s subliminally what I’m trying to get to because if we don’t have creativity inside the church, the church dies at the end of the day. Jesus won’t let it die because He’s the most jealous of that thing, the bride. But God, she looks great in a good dress. Don’t you think? Like, when creativity bestows the bride, she is so, so, so attractive. She already stands incredible with her theology and with that which she represents in the birth and life and death and resurrection of Jesus. But to wrap it in creative expression is like, we can’t lose that. So I’m saying don’t give up. How did you figure out a way not to give up?

Cameron:

I would say for myself personally, I think it’s realizing that the church is definitely not a place. It’s not a building, like absolutely not. And I think realizing that truly I am the church and my friends were the church and we together are the church. That’s one of the first steps for me was just realizing like, I can’t give up on my friends. I can’t give up on myself and I’m the church. But I think more importantly is like discovering that your creativeness is your worship.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s solid.

Cameron:

And it’s like just realizing that what I’m doing right now is like, this is how I worship God and if I’m truly in how God created me, worship is not forced. It’s like, if I’m truly understanding the Gospel and how crazy it is, I’m going to worship God all the time with my friends vibing out painting, whether it’s in a building, whether it’s not in a building. I’m going to worship Him with my entire life because the Gospel is so freaking crazy.

Mingo Palacios:

I appreciated that so much. That was such a great response to that.

Richie:

I think for myself is not to wholly depend on a church for my creativity, but still be able to do a lot of ministries outside of basically the church itself. And for me, my ministry is not like at the church, it’s actually in the community. So when I paint or when I’m called. Another organization I work for is The Compton Initiative where we do beautification projects all over Compton, every quarterly. And I get called to work with the schools and work with the communities and see the different needs of how the art can be a way to express inspiration to those who are either neglected or just don’t have that expression in our neighborhoods. So, knowing that I’m able to create this impact in a bigger setting gives me the opportunity to know that there are people who are just blessed by the work itself. So, ministry outside of the church is big for me, knowing that I’m still constantly serving God with the same purpose but not like within a location, but knowing that you’re giving back in a way where you know, you’re not going to get anything back from it, but you’re fulfilled that. So you’re doing God’s purpose.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s good.

Cameron:

Yeah. And I’m just going to chime in because I know you’re going to do a mic drop and you’re about to put it.

Greg:

I’ve got nothing to say.

Cameron:

We do attend church, like don’t get us wrong. We have, we have a church home that we go to.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s awesome.

Cameron:

That we’re committed to, but I would say as visual artists, even outside of the church, like we’ve always been the kind of free thinking. Like we’re the free thinkers that are like, well, your creators, creators, you are rebellious and like you’re not going to tell us what do kind of thing. Right. Like that’s how creatives are. So like, well they imagine it different than it is. So yes, we are committed to a body and we serve and we do that, but we’re not committed to only the church we attend.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, that’s good.

Cameron:

And I believe creatives are the ones that are unifying the church as a church whole. Like, I’ll go to any church. I don’t care.

Mingo Palacios:

Don’t threaten me with a good time!

Cameron:

I don’t care about dude. Like I don’t care about branding. I’m sorry.

Mingo Palacios:

You shouldn’t. That’s the instagramification factor is like, “Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Is our brand on it if you’re doing something or you’re wearing our jersey.”

Cameron:

And I’ve been on the other side too. I pastored for 15 years and like a church moved into the neighborhood and it was like, “Oh crap. Like what is this?” You know? And like, now I’m like, dude, yeah, we should have 50 million churches move into the neighborhood.

Mingo Palacios:

Yes dude. That’s the attitude.

Cameron:

So I just think because we’re not in it now, we’re not pastoring anymore vocationally, or we’re not doing that, I think we just have these glasses that are off or new glasses on that are just like, “Dude, like it’s the body of Christ. We are the Church.”

Mingo Palacios:

Capital C Church.

Richie:

Yeah. And just to add on to that, you know, that’s why I’m at Saddleback SV because every artist they long for community. And to know that you’re a Christian artist, there’s not much, you know-

Mingo Palacios:

There aren’t many offerings out there.

Richie:

Exactly. You know. So for me, I’m just inclined to art honestly, wherever I can create and be myself and be able to express that, that’s what I’m going to be.

Mingo Palacios:

Hear that church manager. Hear that church pastor, that like the creatives are just longing to be connected with others like them. So you create space for them. I’m not saying like shoved them into your program. I’m saying make space and allow them to navigate what that space feels like. And you’d be surprised how many creatives end up wandering through the door.

Richie:

And it’s funny because a lot of us, we travel a lot, you know.

Mingo Palacios:

Willing to travel? Right?

Cameron:

We all fly around the world every year like together and meet up and do graffiti missions together.

Mingo Palacios:

I do not do graffiti, but I’ll make episodes.

Mingo Palacios:

I’ll be the chaplain! I’ll be the chaplain!

Greg:

I haven’t given up because of the creatives.

Mingo Palacios:

Yes.

Richie:

Hi five.

Greg:

It’s because I think that they represent so much hope and so much potential to take us farther. We’ve been given the baton and we’ve taken the baton as far as we can go, but at some point we have to set the pick for those who will take the baton and take it farther. Right?

Mingo Palacios:

Yes.

Greg:

And so I just see the artists not as a threat. They’re not those that somehow are going to mess up our lives in ways that we won’t recover from it. I think the artist in the room is the ones that if we take the time to befriend them and to hear their story and to see where they’re coming from and to enter in to a conversation about what it means to grow in our understanding of relationship with God and how that relates to all of life and how we understand church that we can actually, instead of clash, we can collaborate. I think what the church doesn’t do in receiving creatives well is that we’re not really good at being collaborative.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, that’s the route, right? Is the heart of collaboration is missing or underdeveloped.

Greg:

Right, right, right. And so I just, I love the fact that artists, if you give them an inch of collaborativity, most of them know what to do with it. Most of them will step into that like, “Oh man, this is awesome.” There’s very few artists that would take advantage of that in ways, at least the ones I’ve met. And maybe it’s because of this crew is so awesome. But anyhow, I’m hopeful. And I would say to pastors and church leaders, take risks getting to know. Don’t just give them the keys to the church, you know? Take some time and invest the energy to really hear the story behind why this art in his is so catalytic and potentially transformative and see on the other end of that relationship and conversation how things might blossom from there.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah. And don’t do it in your office. Do it over a meal please. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been invited into somebody’s office where they say, “I really want to get to know you and figure out how we can deploy that which God made you for.” And I’m like, “Yo, but if you made me dinner, like I would believe.”

Cameron:

Or come to my art show.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah or come to my art show.

Richie:

If you really believe me, buy a piece of art.

Richie:

Then we’ll talk.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s so good. So, in San Diego, our pastor who was in high demand and highly sought after, like when he showed up at our art stuff, that was a huge indicator to me that this was more than like a budget approved.

Cameron:

And that’s a reason I stepped down from vocational ministry was not because someone wasn’t doing that for me. I felt called to go to those art shows.

Mingo Palacios:

You needed to show up.

Cameron:

Yeah. I felt called to pastor artists and I feel like right now I am in my lane dude. Like I just feel like, I’m getting all emotional.

Greg:

No, it’s wonderful Cameron. I see that in you bro. It’s so beautiful. So beautiful.

Mingo Palacios:

Oh yeah. This might be the first guy to cry on the podcast. dude.

Cameron:

Oh God.

Cameron:

Leave it to Cameron. Oh geez. Artists are emotional people dude. We’re sensitive. Even with the business side of me, I pay artists, I hire people in my city to come work with me, who aren’t Christians, you know?

Mingo Palacios:

That’s the gospel; that is outreach. That’s…that is it.

Greg:

Yeah man. And it’s fruitful. It’s dope.

Mingo Palacios:

Yo. We’ve never, like, we don’t even have Kleenex on this rig because people have never cried on it. So I apologize dude.

Greg:

So I’ve recently moved into the arts district in Pomona and I live downtown and there’s like 80 or so creatives that live downtown and you know, they’re coming from all different walks of life. They thought I was a cop right when I showed up.

Mingo Palacios:

Terrible misreading, right?

Greg:

But anyhow, so I’ve just, I’ve made it my goal and there’s all these different kinds of spots. There’s like the social justice spot where these spoken word things happening where it’s raw and it’s beautiful and it’s emotive as you can imagine. And then there’s these like open mic nights stuff that’s happening. And then there’s like other things. And I’m just showing up in a consistent rhythm. And people, they don’t know what to do with me. Right? They don’t know what to do with the fact that somebody who’s a Christ follower actually wants to be in those spaces and doesn’t have an agenda.

Cameron:

And what do they call you? What do they call you?

Greg:

The cop.

Cameron:

The reverend, right?

Greg:

They want to call me reverend but I’m trying to like, “Okay, it’s just on my card.” But really-

Mingo Palacios:

Trying to brush the title.

Greg:

No, but they bring it back to the surface.

Richie:

It’s your street name.

Mingo Palacios:

In a weird way. Yeah, Bro. You shouldn’t think about that as an alias, reverend. Whatever.

Greg:

Well, I was thinking like a Sonic Death Monkey. That’s what I was hoping.

Mingo Palacios:

That speaks pastor. It speaks pastor. What’s funny though is I think that culturally, if people don’t have a barometer for church, it’s almost an honor that they would call you by the title they assume of you. So I would take that in a weird way. Like I would own that.

Cameron:

Oh yeah, I think that’s amazing.

Mingo Palacios:

There’s a lady who we did ministry with in downtown San Diego and she would call me Reverend Mingo and I don’t even have the title, but she just esteemed our effort to embed ourselves in her world. And coming from the church, she just said, “Reverend Mingo” and whatever came out of her mouth, that was the honor she laid upon me, which was crazy. I, yeah, love her. Juanita, shout out Juanita. To close this conversation down as much as I don’t want to because it’s so good, what advice would you give to an emerging creative just who is doing life? I love your posture was my arts come from pain. Yours was the church and I, and this is my shape and we don’t have to be poor artists. You can be a hustle, you can be smart and you can thrive. You don’t have to buy the lie. I love your theological, the breadth of theology in the conversation about being creative. All of this matters so much and I believe wholeheartedly that there are artists that are listening that coincide with each of your expressions. What do you say to the 10 year younger version of you listening to this podcast started?

Cameron:

Start it off Richie.

Richie:

Man, that is a tough one. But I’d just say don’t listen to the lies and the voices that you hear from others or even yourself too because I know there’s times where you just want to give up, you know, you don’t want to keep moving forward because you feel devalued for whatever reason or you don’t necessarily feel like you’re at a par to some people’s level. And I think that’s another thing too is comparison. You know, it’s a huge thing. Like we see, other people’s art and we’re like, “How do they do that?” Or, “How do they make that?” Or, “Why can’t I do that?” You know? But more about just doing what you can do and just moving forward with that. Because I just think for me is progress, you know? If we’re not progressing in what we’re doing, we’re not really getting anywhere if we’re trying to be someone else. So, if we’re doing the smallest things to change whatever we feel like that will get us to the point that we need to be, I think we’ll eventually get there at some point. Or if not, art is such a continual thing, like you’re always going to be going no matter what. So yeah, just keep going. Just persevere and don’t listen to like-

Cameron:

How long have you been an artist?

Richie:

My whole life ever since I was in kindergarten.

Mingo Palacios:

How long have you been you? How long have you been you?

Richie:

I’m not going to answer that because I’ve been me too long. Yeah. So yeah, over 30 years. You know, I’m early thirties.

Cameron:

I’m just saying I asked that because it’s like, that’s what’s going on is we’re seeing highlight reels of people and we think we can do it like that.

Richie:

Yeah.

Mingo Palacios:

That is such a great point to bring up.

Richie:

Yeah. But at the same time, I mean, there’s masters that we look up to and I think it’s okay to not necessarily mimic their work to sell, but more like we can adapt to what they’re doing.

Mingo Palacios:

Those are stepping stones.

Richie:

Yeah. Yeah. Because you learn from the masters, right? You know, you look to those guys and as you’re creating in your own time, you start to really understand the techniques and all that stuff that comes with it.

Mingo Palacios:

A tool that you deploy.

Richie:

Yes, yes.

Mingo Palacios:

I appreciate that.

Cameron:

I would say enjoy the process. So, I paint a lot of sea turtles and one of those is to me, they represent good things take time because the longevity of their life, they just live forever and they’re just moving along, man. And I paint those to remind myself of like, “Dude, you’ve just got to slow down and enjoy the process.” And set realistic goals every year or every six months. Like set a realistic goal. Like, no, you’re not going to paint a realistic face in two weeks, you know, if you’re just starting or whatever, but set a realistic goal and then work backwards with like three steps, how to get there and just like slow down and you don’t have to become this famous rich person doing art. Do it because you love it and it’s cool if you could make a living off it too and just really enjoy it and have fun. And I asked that question because like, I literally have been doing art my entire life. Like, that’s a long time and I’m not going to stop. Okay, so I’ve been doing art my whole life. But in fifth grade I saw graffiti magazine that had full blown murals and that was like ’92 or something and I don’t think it was until two or three years ago that I finally got to the point where I wanted to be in fifth grade with my art. That’s a long time. And then when I got there I was like, “Dude, I have a whole lifetime of learning left.” And that’s so exciting. And just resting in that and being okay with that is so wonderful.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s called contentment. If you talked about comparison, you just spoke to contentment.

Richie:

So, you’re like the Joel Embiid of art. It’s not like trust the process; it’s enjoy the process.

Cameron:

It’s both. It’s both. Yeah. I think you could do both. Yeah.

Greg:

I would say for me, if I’m talking to my former versions of myself, I think I’m on speaking terms with former versions of myself. I want to be. But I would say that, “Man. You’re right. You are an artist.” And secondly I would say your impulse to when people push you back into a corner and you feel like you want to give up or just like beat everybody down, your impulse to art instead is right. Like, keep doing that because that God is in the third space, if crisis has a third space, that’s it. And so in Bro, keep embracing that and you’ll grow and God will guide you. And your art form might actually change. Like, I was screaming at people and I was hoping I would make a living like with the electric guitar and could never do it. And it wasn’t wrong for me to not make a living at that, right? Like it was still beneficial and good in ministry in lots of ways. But, but now in my old age and I still got a great day job and I love what I do but in terms of being pushed back into a corner, you know, how I’m arting it out now is with magic marker on canvas. And that’s how I’m growing; that’s how I’m finding a way through this pain. That’s how I’m finding a God meeting me in new ways and new spaces.

Richie:

Yeah. So Erwin McManus is probably talking right now.

Mingo Palacios:

Dang it. Is it?

Mingo Palacios:

I man crush to death on that guy. Oh crap, I just said that on the mic. Edit that out dude.

Richie:

One thing that really changed my life was actually his book Artisan Soul. Have you read that book yet?

Mingo Palacios:

Not yet.

Richie:

Yeah. And one thing he mentioned was like we are basically all artists. And I think people disregard that because they don’t paint or draw or whatever. But as an artist, you know, we all have a canvas. Our canvas can be really big, it can be very small and those canvases are just like the parameters that we have within our gifts. So even though I’ll see like your gift, like something that I can’t do, I’ll continue to work in my own canvas.

Mingo Palacios:

Diligence.

Richie:

Diligently, in my own way, you know? And just believe in that and God will make your canvases bigger, eventually.

Mingo Palacios:

According to what and how you react and manage it. I really do believe that. So He’s not going to drop you a canvas too big for your head to manage, you know? And you probably have experienced that progression as an artist where your opportunities align with the ability for you to process it.

Cameron:

I 100 percent I agree with that.

Mingo Palacios:

And so while everyone’s like, “Yo, why don’t I have the 10,000 followers?” Or, “Why aren’t I bombing that whole city block?”

Cameron:

Because if you had them, you might be a train wreck you know? Like, God knows you better than you know yourself.

Richie:

100 percent.

Cameron:

He’s like, “You’re not ready for that.” And that’s cool. Like you should-

Mingo Palacios:

You should be thankful.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, He won’t let you train wreck yourself as you continue to become who He made you to be. On that note, we should end this two and a half hour conversation. Guys, I seriously appreciate your perspectives and your hearts so, so much. For the last piece of information, if our listeners wanted to follow you, assuming they’re not, how do they do that?

Cameron:

Social media Camer1sf. So the number one and sf or just go to camer1.com and all my links are on there.

Richie:

Cool. My instagram is chicreate not chick create. Chi is actually my native name and because I’m a creative. Yeah. Chicreate.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s great.

Greg:

Drop me a line, gmotor@apu.edu.

Mingo Palacios:

I love it. And you guys have a collective web or a collective art expression? What’s the website for that?

Cameron:

We have a couple of them. So My crew would be gospelgraffiti.com.

Richie:

No not Urban Arts.

Richie:

Urbanartsoutreach.org. It’s Urban Arts Outreach. Just to make sure you add the s.

Mingo Palacios:

Motor. You got anything?

Greg:

Motorheads Forever.

Greg:

That’s my crew.

Cameron:

I am officially a motorhead.

Mingo Palacios:

Oh, I love it guys. Thank you so much for just being honest. Man, it’s amazing to get the interior of an artist and to speak on behalf of and through the church. I feel like this conversation, I’m praying, that it inspires some people to continue to own who it is that God made them to be. And for those on the other side, managing ministries, maybe traditional, maybe nontraditional, to continue to be brave enough to engage and make space and buy some art and really understand what sitting across maybe the room from them in a way that would make The Body stronger. Right? We appreciate you guys. Thanks to our listeners and we’ll talk to you guys soon.

Mingo Palacios:

We hope today’s insights left you feeling inspired and propelled towards your greatest potential. Thanks again for joining us for another episode of the PD Podcast. Until next time.

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