“Connect” by J-Ray

“Connect” by J-Ray

January 19, 2016
"Paint a picture that makes you smile, and always CONNECT!" --J-Ray
“Paint a picture that makes you smile, and always CONNECT!” –J-Ray

Have you ever had that feeling… a little tickle in your heart when something special happens that you cannot believe?  That happened to me last weekend.

My family and I were visiting NYC for a little getaway.  It was, of course, wonderful!  Walking around in Soho, we stopped in at Lululemon Athletica Men’s store.  While Marc was checking out the wares, Ian and I fell into conversation with a fellow who was painting a canvas in the window.  Apparently, from time-to-time, the store manager, Jamie McKinney, brings in artists as a way to engage the community and interact with passersby.  On this particular Saturday, well known Bronx-based “underground” artist, Johnny-Ray Vega (or J-Ray), was the guy in the window.

When we arrived, his canvas was awash in a beautiful blue color.  We asked what his vision was for the piece.  He said he likes to layer color on his canvases and, between each layer, repeat a word over and over again – usually a word that comes from the Lululemon Manifesto.  He said, “today, I’ll probably use the word ‘Connect.’”  OMG.

OMG!  CONNECT!  Connect is my word as in, “Let’s Connect!”  I couldn’t believe it.  I had to have the piece.

Apparently, he planned for four pieces that day.  In order to acquire the piece, I had to challenge the store manager to a burpee contest – and win!  The prize:  The piece.  Game on.

J-Ray, who is also a fitness trainer and martial arts instructor set the ground rules and demonstrated the version of the burpee he had in mind.  Jamie and I prepared ourselves, practiced a few times and then went for it!  Glad to tell you:  I won!!!!  OK… truth is, Jamie went easy on me:  He had to do five burpees to my three in order for me to win… it was rigged in my favor from the start.  But, I’m now the proud owner of a signed J-Ray that says “Connect” hundreds of times.

The point of this post:

  1. Share the art. I love this piece and hope you do, too.  How neat to bring people together over something so beautiful.  And, by the way, you can create something, too.
  2. Energy is real. The fact that we walked by that storefront at the very time J-Ray was creating “Connect” was certainly an act of the universe.  J-Ray could have chosen any word.  We could have kept walking.  I might not have had the stamina to manage the burpees!  Jamie might not have gone so easy on me… after all, it is a really cool piece of art that probably would have looked good in his home, too!  But, it was no accident.  We were all drawn together and were open to the CONNECTion.  It was awesome.
  3. Engage the community. Whether you bring in artists on Saturday mornings, offer free lunch ‘n’ learn events to the public or allow people to guest blog and make comments on posts you publish, there is great benefit to bringing others along and getting them involved in your work.

With appreciation to J-Ray, to Jamie and to Lululemon… Happy Connecting!