Four Years

October 2016 marks the fourth anniversary of Stay Gallery; and the end of my journey with it.

It was the Summer of 2012 when my closest friends (Valentin Flores & Joseph Manacmul) and I embarked on a tumultuous adventure that will forever be a part of who we each are today. We had spent nearly every day together, ideating, imagining what Stay Gallery could one day become. Our genuine excitement was infectious. Our peers believed in our dream, our community eagerly waited, and the helping hands poured in to contribute to history in the making at 11140 Downey Avenue.

Hundreds of exhibits and events later, Stay Gallery has an amazing roster of artists under its belt, from talented locals, to iconic street artists such as Shepard Fairey. Not to mention, the vast amount of field trips, workshops, and student art exhibits in partnership with the local school district. As it stands, Stay Gallery serves as a symbol for the growth and progress that the City of Downey has made. The impact of Stay Gallery has reached into the farthest corners of the city and gathers artists, families, students, and outcasts within the confines of its four walls, to share memories, collaborate, and form friendships. Having been a purveyor of such a magical little place still feels unreal to me, yet very rewarding.

STAYFEST 2014, an event highlighting local musicians.

STAYFEST 2014, an event highlighting local musicians.

In 2014, we created a sister company to Stay Gallery - Stay Studio, a branding agency. As with the gallery, I served as the creative director, where my team and I spearheaded the rebranding effort for the City of Downey. We also did the same for other local organizations and establishments such as Downey Unified School District and Gaucho Grill Argentine Steakhouse. Today, the entire team continues to push the boundaries of how creativity is defined in our hometown.

Through Stay Gallery & Studio, I attained every personal goal I set out to accomplish - but I know my journey doesn't end here. Growth and learning are decidedly perpetual, and in order to continue doing so, I had to step out of my comfort zone and take the dive into the great unknown.

During a 'Stay Young!' field trip with students from my Alma Mater, Maude Price Elementary.

During a 'Stay Young!' field trip with students from my Alma Mater, Maude Price Elementary.

The decision to leave my partnership was not an easy one. It took many restless nights to come to terms with the idea. But I trusted my instincts, and knew it was the right thing to do. Sharing the news with my team was as emotionally taxing and as uncomfortable as you can imagine. But being the supportive, understanding, and compassionate beings that they are, they applauded my decision and we continue to remain close until this day.

Deciding to push my creative career further is as terrifying as it is exciting. The opportunities presenting themselves seem to be once in a lifetime, and I am taking each with gratitude, grace, and a huge smile on my face. Tomorrow, I arrive in New York where I will be for two weeks. I am working and collaborating with a branding agency on amazing projects. Traveling, working from home, and meeting new people will become my new norm. Honestly, I cannot contain my excitement. 😁

Stay Gallery will always have a piece of me. A chapter in my story that only leads me to the next.

I can only hope that you continue reading.


Illustration by Don Lamkin for Stay Gallery's third anniversary, commemorating the team behind Stay Gallery and all of its accomplishments.