Self the artist was born in Chicago IL in 1979, raised on the South side of the city. He moved to Sacramento, California alone at the age of 21 with his life savings in his pocket and a dream. He believed being a product of one's environment was not to be taken lightly, nor should it be confused or thought of in any other way than for being the core of positive inspiration. Influenced by his uncle Charles who taught him the gift of continuous wire sculpting aesthetics and the many cultures of the inner city of Chicago, he has shared his life story of survival through each of his pieces ranging from one of a kind handmade continuous wire sculptures to graphite pencil drawings that depict current events and historical references within Black American culture & urban society.
In 2014 he began working at Fortune School of Education where he taught in the After School Art program, introducing scholars to the tools and mechanics of drawing and design. After advancing to a Behavioral Technician and later receiving another promotion as a Special Education Aide within the Special Education Department where he dedicated 4 additional years, he was offered a salary position as the very first and only Art Instructor for two Fortune College Preparatory campuses which teach grades (K-6) and (6-8) and is currently the owner of Sacramento's only standing Black Owned Art Gallery.
In his journey, he has dedicated 8 consecutive years as a local educator for the Fortune School of Education and is currently the proud owner of Self Designs Art Gallery in Midtown, Sacramento which just celebrated its 2nd year anniversary on Juneteenth, 6/19/2022. The gallery is a center for inspiration and growth for all ages and backgrounds. Currently offering art and music classes in classical piano, clarinet and flute for school age children and adults, it is known as a place for specialized workshops, an event space for community groups to convene and space for artists to create or conduct private classes. The gallery offers a variety of events such as Friday night Open-Mic shows, Comedy Events, Paint & Sip Workshops, Wine Tasting Wednesdays and monthly outdoor Courtyard Concerts which provide a stage for local musicians, models, fashion designers and entertainers from all orientations and talents. His gallery and art classes bring forth Visual Arts with a modern approach through the use of colorful lighting during his featured "Art in the Dark" Tour which creates an almost living effect on his captivating collection of wire sculptures and graphite drawings in addition to the talented and awe-inspiring local artists that decorate the walls.
Self Designs Art Gallery and Self's continuous wire sculptures have been featured in media such as: ABC10 News with Mark S. Allen on March 1, 2022; CBS13/CW31; 2 appearances on Good Day Sacramento November 2006, and January of 2018, and in 2011 one of his sculptures was even seen on reality TV show called "Love & Hip Hop". He has also taken part in showcasing his works at many locally supported art events including but not limited to:
The Black Expo 2005-2007
California Home and Garden Show 2006
Sacramento Banana Festival
Las Vegas Expo 2006
Lincoln Art Festival 2006
Sojourner Truth Art Gallery 2006
Crave Party Fashion Show 2006
Juneteenth Festival 2006-2008
Duke Ellington Art Exhibition 2006
The Brickhouse Art Gallery 2010 -2017
Opening of Self Designs Art Gallery in 2020
Sponsor & Event Space Host for Fall Zen Fashion Show 2021
Sponsor & Event Space Host for Zen II Fashion & Arts Festival 2022
Over 100 local community concerts, classes and special art exhibits have been held at his gallery between years 2020 to present date
Locations which carry his continuous wire sculptures on display include:
The Hilton Garden Inn Sacramento, CA
Casazza Chiropractic Sacramento, CA
KSFM radio station Sacramento, CA
Sacramento City College Library
Dave's Cut Above Riverdale, IL
Generous donations raised to support diverse local charities and venues include:
The Wonder Inc.
Granite Bay High School-Granite Bay, CA
Reno-Tahoe Blues Festival
The California State Home and Garden Show
The Sojourner Truth Multi-Cultural Arts Festival
Self has also raised over $3,000 for the Fortune School of Education Music program, and more than $1,200 in collaboration with Symphonos Studios at the Big Day of Giving Fundraiser for the Sacramento Community Concert Association which has existed in Sacramento for more than 60 years.
He studied Fine Arts at Sacramento City College from 2011-2014. While attending SCC he received a certificate for outstanding student performance in academics and was the winner of the 2014 Student Art show judged by Shelly Willis (Director of the Sacramento Art Commission) honoring him with the Gregory Kondos Gallery Award for Visionary Art. While studying at SCC Self was a teacher's assistant to many Art professors who helped him find his artistic muse including Mitra Fabian, Kathy Noonan, Ianna Frisby, Elizabeth Higgins O'Connor, and Emily Wilson.
As a practicing Artist, Self is currently working on his latest project called "200 Pounds, A Continuous Wire Sculpture & Graphite Pencil Drawing Series Depicting Post-Traumatic Growth" which is a collection of his signature continuous wire sculptures created with precious living succulent additions that are posed in various scenes of people with colorful baskets and clothing made of wire mesh. This new art series is currently on display at his gallery alongside heartfelt graphite drawings of historical communal struggles that tell stories of inspirational figures who lived a life unknown to most prior to becoming a victim of violence.
Ms. Love is a Sacramento born native who dedicates her time in curating the gallery with a non-traditional yet unique style that encourages imagination and emotional resonance within each guest who steps inside her creative world. With an open mind and heart, she enjoys meeting newcomers in the art world and accepts all ages & backgrounds of artists who have a dream of sharing their artistic gift with our community. She is an abstract painter and digital artist who uses advocacy and overcoming personal experiences of life, love and survival to provide a healing place for others to use art as a therapeutic method of detoxifying the body from stress using color therapy and self-expression.
As a Master of Ceremonies for Self Designs Art Gallery she has hosted and assisted the success of more than 300 events, including but not limited to holiday themed concerts, local monthly Courtyard Concerts, indoor live musical events, Wine Tasting Wednesdays, Art In The Dark Tours, Annual Zen Fashion shows, Friday Night Open Mic, artist counsel, and has created an educational panel project encompassing discussions on "Love, Sex and Anime" in today's world. She continually searches for conscious, dedicated artists in Sacramento and invites opportunities with small local businesses to promote local musicians who wish to perform and gain support, stage presence and confidence. Providing a place for all people to grow and strengthen their unique artform while removing the stigma of the "starving artist" to "striving artist" is her goal and motivation.
Ms. Love offers options for artists to create flexible schedules between work, school and parenthood to provide additional income and opportunities to teach their own artistic mediums whether it be on canvas or in musical expression.
Colleen is a local mother and grandmother whose artwork became an exclusive part of our gallery by none other than her thoughtful children. As a shy natured and family-oriented artist who was unaware of her talents being more than a hobby, her children volunteered her collection of explosively abstract acrylic pour paintings which attract all ages and genres of art lovers within our gallery. Colleen's pour technique demonstrates a unique story in the color flow and movement within each piece, and her distribution of symmetric shapes she is able to create with the use of polyurethane and acrylic pours is truly one of a kind! She is a survivor of life's traumatic obstacles and began to immerse herself in her craft as a therapeutic expression of the grief she has experienced during various stages of her mourning process. All of her pieces represent true honor and love for her lost family members.
Sewasew Meaza also known by many as "Golden Ladder" is an Ethiopian born artist who is greatly inspired by the amazing work of nature creating her pieces with acrylic and ink on canvas.
Message From The Artist: "My journey onto the path of artistry started after graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1987. These images are the result of my search for the truth about me. My art is a reflection of my inner state. When I create, I am in different space that feels like outside my body. The Dendritic style helped me to define and explain the energy that surrounds and permeates every cell on Earth. We are part of Earth. We are all connected with invisible energy."
As an acrylic painter who uses an uncommonly seen technique to build texture and various levels of dimension to her canvases, she often depicts the journey between nature and the spiritual world while her paintings embrace the energy and spirit of her ancestors. By combining her love for art, historical education and her community, she enjoys using the nourishing traditions of Ethiopian culture to instruct new students with open minds. She is known as a visionary artist and colorfully seasoned art teacher, whose purpose and directive is devoted to connecting one's self to one's soul.
Many of her designs have transferred into beautiful fashion statements with her new clothing line called "NDISI Unique Reflections" inspired from the African Diaspora which was featured on stage at the Zen II Fashion & Arts Festival 2022 hosted by Self Designs Art Gallery.
She currently accepts students who wish to improve their artistic application and shares her beauty for her life's work with a kind statement:
"My gift is to assist people through my inspirational private art sessions." Please email us if interested at www.selfdesignsartgallery.com
With over a decade of experience performing a mix of musical theater, jazz, opera, and popular repertoire, this San Francisco native has performed and recorded with a number of leading jazz musicians, including Chris Brubeck and the Brubeck Institute, and DC-based harmonicists Frédéric Yonnet to name a few. Vocally trained at the University of Pacific in Stockton CA, as a classical vocalist, Ms. Couvson continues to pursue her independent studies in French, German, Latin and Italian repertoire. From Stockton to Prague, Ms. Couvson has toured with the University’s Conservatory of Music reaching audiences as diverse as her musical style. As a freelance artist, she has continuously worked on developing her gifts in the performing arts both on and off stage with local and world renown companies such as the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, Pocket Opera, SF Playhouse, San Francisco’s Brava theater, and the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera. In addition to performing at our gallery Courtyard Concerts and Sound of Music Series events, Ms. Couvson has over a decade of piano and cello training collectively, and she has composed her own works in the popular music genre. Ms. Couvson currently resides in Sacramento with her daughter and teaches youth as she continues to pursue her endeavors within the performing arts. Her acrylic paintings are on display at our gallery which feature the beautiful scenes of Winter, Summer and Fall changing trees surrounding lovely architecture.
Artist Gordon Durich, aka “Gordo,” creates fetching designs by blending paints, paper and everyday objects from nature, as well as finds such as repurposed fabrics and vintage records. He has honed his style in pen & ink, mixed media and paint (acrylic and oil) for over four decades, creating commissioned work and being featured in numerous art shows and galleries from Australia to America. Gordo also donates his meaningful pieces to nonprofit events and organizations.
His art work hangs in New York, California and Europe and he is currently an artist in residence at Snapdragon Healing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks, CA and affiliated with Self Design Gallery in Sacramento. He recently joined the creative collaboration of Cat + Raven Collective, also in his hometown of Thousand Oaks.
Two of his artworks known as "Line Green" and "Can You See The Cats" are currently available on display at Self Designs Art Gallery. His fun and spontaneous shapes and colors attract all ages and lovers of art alike, and his happiness and passion for the arts are visible in each of his unique pieces.
Award winning clarinetist, Brennen Milton, has performed in Sacramento, throughout the United States and abroad. He has been featured on "Good Day Sacramento" multiple times as well as "Cap Radio" and has collaborated with highly skilled and accomplished musicians from around the world, striving to bring an excellent musical experience to all through performances, coaching, and teaching.
His talents were requested at Carnegie Hall in New York City where the Inter Harmony International Music Festival invited him to perform a solo of Debussy's Premier Rhapsody in a recital.
During October of 2015 with California State University Sacramento's Symphony Orchestra, Brennen was featured as a soloist for their first concert of their 2015-2016 season. Brennen received this honor by auditioning for their concerto competition while still a student there earlier that year. For the audition and the final performance Brennen performed Debussy's Premiere Rhapsody, which Debussy scored in two versions: one for Clarinet and Orchestra and another for Clarinet and Piano.
The Sacramento Philharmonic invited Brennen to perform as a substitute member of the orchestra for their educational concert and as Eb/auxiliary clarinetist in their production of Mahler's 2nd Symphony at the Sacramento Community Center Theatre. Later he began volunteering for local community orchestras including the Camellia Symphony, the Golden State Wind Orchestra and Symphony d'Oro Rancho Cordova. He also performed for a sold-out event at the Crocker Art Museum with a presentation of American Classical Music.
From 2021 - 2023, Brennen Milton hosted clarinet and flute lessons within the Self Designs Art Gallery and now offers private lessons in his own studio for all levels and ages of students. He has performed at more than 100 live musical concerts and fashion designer events within the Self Designs Art Gallery and courtyard.
A South Sacramento native, AJ Kelley is an artist and performer as well as a non-binary individual in the LGBTQIA+ community. Pronouns are Ze/Zer/They/Them and their musical genre is alternative pop with lofi energy. While sharing their gift of song, AJ Kelley is a seasoned and skilled keyboardist and guitarist who has already produced albums on major streaming music platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and YouTube. They have entertained guests with life changing performances at numerous Wine Tasting Wednesdays, Friday Night Open Mic Events, Second Saturday Courtyard Concerts within the Self Designs Art Gallery.
To support the journey of AJ Kelley's music, you can find songs on Instagram @Aj._Kelley, and search AJ Kelley on Facebook and YouTube.
NineFingers is a Sacramento based autobiographical songwriter who performs in multiple genres from Dark Folk to Hip Hop and many things in-between. His songs are about addiction, grief and heartbreak. He also hosts a weekly dodgeball game as @RiverCityDodgeball that he encourages everyone to come join because he's insistent that “adults need recess more than anyone”. During his recent years spent in Bakersfield he had his hip hop release “Where the Water Meets the Earth Beneath the Sky” declared the 2019 Single of the Year and he was also named the Artist of the Year by the Bakersfield Californian. In 2021 he had his Dark Country release “Lilith” named the 2021 Country Single of the Year by the Bakersfield Music Awards. New Noise Magazine reviewed his latest album release “LOOP” and stated “NineFingers bridges the gap between Leonard Cohen and Sturgill Simpson”. NineFingers hosts all of our Friday Night Open Mic events during the first Friday of each month where he welcomes new musicians to share their gifts in our community gallery.
Gabriela Llarena is a Cuban-Filipino poet and actress. She studied her craft at New York University, completing writing intensives in Paris and Buenos Aires. Currently you can find her mentoring high schoolers in poetry or writing commissioned love poems for any occasion. If you wish to connect, you can contact her at IG: @gabby_franky