What’s up, world?! I’m back, I’m alive and I’m feeling BETTER THAN EVER! So much has happened since the last time I posted (both good and bad), but I’m going to share a generous piece of my experiences with you. It’s quite a read so get ready. 😉 A huge piece is the fact that I celebrated another year of life on Friday, July 31st, 2015 (and that entire weekend!), but I specifically want to share with you the very end of my birthday weekend.
Because one of the greatest things that’s EVER happened to me to DATE has FINALLY come true! ❤ ❤ ❤ But let me run it back real quick. 😉
So the day before my birthday, I actually took all my time to pamper and prepare myself for the day ahead. At that time, I was also attempting to wean myself off of social media, so I hadn’t been logging into Instagram or Facebook for some days. Well, I just happened to take a peek at my Instagram and I noticed that an old poet homie of mine tagged me in a post. I clicked on it and…lo and behold….I saw that…MARKUS PRIME WAS COMING TO PHILLY!!!! (One thing you should know about me is that Markus Prime is one of my FAVORITE VISUAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME! I’ve been following and admiring his work on Instagram for over two years! If you don’t know about him, then you’re missing out big time!) Markus was due to come to that Sunday to live paint at an event called “PAIN’T NO LOVE”. NOBODY could tell me that this wasn’t the most perfect way to top off my entire weekend! I bought my ticket and a new outfit on Saturday and anxiously awaited Sunday.
Sunday finally came.
According to the online EventBrite info and my printed ticket, the event was supposed to be from 4 p. m. until 10 p. m. at a place called ‘The LOOM.’ I saw the address was on Amber Street, and even though it was only one short bus ride away I’d never heard of this place before. So I followed my Google Maps directions and when I walked down Amber Street only a little past 3 p. m., I was INSTANTLY confused. The buildings I walked past looked random and abandoned, like NO type of event WOULD be or SHOULD be happening here. A few moments passed when I spotted two Black women who were on the other side of the street staring up at another building, looking as confused as I felt. They had a look about them–natural hair, vibrant colors, pretty skin, interesting makeup–they LOOKED like they were here for the event too.
So I called out to them, “Excuse me!”
They turned around. I said, “Are y’all looking for The LOOM?”
“Yes.” They crossed the street to where I was standing. As it turns out, these two women were from New Jersey and they were there for Markus Prime, too. We ended up having a LONG bout of confusion as far as the ADDRESS and TIME went because my ticket said the event was at 3237 Amber Street-SOUTH BUILDING from 4 p. m. until 10 p. m. But one of the women had her online EventBrite info on her phone which said the event was at 3245-SOUTH BUILDING at 2 p. m. until–?? BUT the 3245 address was for the NORTH BUILDING of The Loom. The doors of both buildings were locked.
As the clocked ticked closer to 4, we eventually got into the SOUTH BUILDING where we tiptoed and crept all around the 2nd and 4th floors looking for Markus and Ivben Taqiy (the Philly-based artist who I found out was co-hosting) since we were told by someone who runs a clay sculpting class in the building that events are usually held on the 2nd and 4th floors, but to no avail!
I checked Markus’ Instagram and saw no new posts. Taqiy’s Instagram ended up having a low-key post saying that the time CHANGED to 6 o’clock! WHAT?! It was only a little after 4 at that point! So the two women from Jersey got annoyed, wished me good luck on finding the right place and left. So there I was, alone and feeling foolish, my heart was slowly breaking. I was standing outside again baking in the Sun in my new outfit, heels that were already starting to hurt my feet, and with nowhere to go. I was pretty certain that if I was to go home at that point to wait until later, I probably wouldn’t have come back. Luckily, I’d met a man who came up to the building where I was standing outside of looking silly and he helped me a little. There wasn’t much he could do because he didn’t know anything about the event but he gave me some useful information about The LOOM and he was an artist himself! So after talking for a few minutes we added each other on Facebook and I’m happy to have another fellow artist as a new connection! He didn’t stay long, but he did wish me luck on getting where I needed to go.
A few minutes later, these two other nice women came up and they too were looking for “P’AINT NO LOVE.” I ended up telling them everything that happened so far and I stuck with them. After much turmoil in the Sunlight and the horrible heat, the three of us went back across the street to the NORTH BUILDING because I Googled “Ivben Studio” which I saw in Ivben Taqiy’s Instagram post and the address came up as 3245 Amber Street–the NORTH BUILDING. On the outside of the building there was one of those speaker dial box things (like the ones for apartment buildings to dial specific tenants). Something told me to scroll through the names until I found Ivben. I found him and dialed him. He answered and said that he was on his way there and we hung up. Problem solved, right?
The two women and I chatted lightly as we stood and waited, but when Ivben took too long to come down, we called back on the dial box. To our absolute ANNOYANCE, the buzz box thing didn’t dial Ivben Taqiy from INSIDE the damn building–it called his CELL PHONE and he wasn’t even there at all! He meant that he was on his way to the place! Ugh! So eventually, the three of us got into the NORTH BUILDING where we walked all around the place for at LEAST a half hour. We were confused, hot, sweaty and creeped out. Inside and upstairs was nothing but a bunch of maze-like, dead-end hallways; locked doors; old, creaky wooden floors; extremely chipping paint and dusty, dirty windows. HELL. NO. Once again, this LOOM place didn’t look like ANY type of event should be happening there. If anything, it looked like it was due for renovation or demolition!
I asked if they wanted to just go back downstairs and outside to see what was going on, so we got back on the creepy elevator and went back down. When we got to the door, I hesitated and said, “Yo, are you sure you wanna let this door close? If we can’t get in over there [SOUTH BUILDING]–it’s too hot to be stuck in the Sun again!” So one of the women asked if there was anything to prop the door open. I spotted an empty beer box and put it in the door as she bounded away to check the side door of the SOUTH BUILDING, and sure enough, it was open!
Long story short(er. Kind of.), Taqiy’s wife, Margy,was sent over to the place because he told her that people showed up thinking the event was still at 4. There were a few others who were waiting at the door too but we got in the building and were taken upstairs to the right studio. FINALLY, we were in the right place! So while Margy and her mini-crew were scrambling to set things up, everyone else just drifted around the studio. (Mind you, THIS part of the building looked MUCH better than what I’d seen so far. What a relief!)
I was on EDGE the ENTIRE TIME! I plugged my phone up to charge in the corner and I went around and took multiple pictures of the artwork hanging on the walls. My nerves made me walk around and take pictures of the artwork over and over and OVER again. Anyway, I sat for about twenty minutes, miserable and sweaty and nervous. It was hot as hell in there, and there was an air conditioner that didn’t even work and only one small gray oscillating fan that was in front of the studio next to the wall with Markus and Taqiy’s mural they were working on so far.
Eventually, my sister Mel called me to see how everything was going and told her all the nonsense that happened so far.
“WHAAAAT??” she shrilled in my ear. YES. Well, while I was on the phone with her, guess who came sweeping through the door with a group of women around him?
YES LAWD…it was MARKUS PRIME.
My heart DROPPED and STOPPED.
I instantly snapped my head back towards my phone, away from everyone, and mumbled all in one breath to Mel, “Ohmygodohmygod!he’shere!MarkusPrimeishere!hejustwalkedthroughthedoorhe’sherehe’shereohmygodohmygodOHMYGODwhatamIgonnado?he’shere!OhmygodohmygodohmyGOD!”
On and on I went. Mel, who for some reason thought I knew Markus personally told me to just go up to him and talk to him. HELL NO! So, I spent ten minutes or so peeking over my shoulder to look at Markus make his way around the room, setting up, getting settled in, etc. when I saw a woman go up to him. Thank GOD, she broke the ice. I was NOT about to be the first one to talk to him! (Scaredy cat Leo woman. I be’s that. Ha, ha!) Happily I could see that she was nervous too! I was glad to not be the only one to be in my feelings over meeting Markus! 🙂 I got off the phone with my sister and kind of crept up to the side of Markus and the woman once I thought their conversation was coming to an end. Finally, when she walked away, Markus turned to look at me and I SWEAR, I FROZE!
He had stepped forward slightly with his arms open to give me a hug, but because I froze in place, he froze too slightly confused. His face expression was like, “Are YOU alright?!” Ha, ha! But the one thing that had me FLOORED was the fact that he RECOGNIZED ME! ❤ ❤ ❤ When we went to hug he was like, “SOULar…?”
YEEEEESSSSSSS!!!!!! And I flew into his arms! Ha, ha, ha! ❤ ❤ ❤ I hugged him only to find that my legs were TREMBLING-I was a mess! It took everything out of me to NOT scream in his face and melt into a puddle of fangirl wonder at his feet. But yo….from that point forward, it was MAGIC!
I told Markus how much I really love and appreciate his art, his message to Black people, especially Black WOMEN, and I told him (to his amusement) how this was my birthday weekend and I was about to “REARRANGE the sh*t out of my birthday” when I found out he was coming! It was amazing! Even though Markus had to keep running off to finish setting up, talk to other people, etc…I still got to talk to him a LOT through out the event. I even gave him a present I put together of some of my artwork (plus a bonus gift drawing of my original character Nahiema and Goku from Dragon Ball meeting for the first time that I drew last year some time). During the night, I was able to sit and talk to him some more and show him a sample portfolio of my artwork (which I showed to others at the party too. They all loved my work–I was so happy at such a positive response I got). Markus enjoyed all my artwork and he said he appreciated me and all my support. THIS was the HIGHLIGHT of my life thus far! Ha, ha! I FINALLY met Markus Prime, I met other amazing people who I took pictures with, talked to and exchanged contact information with them AND I even bought one of his ORIGINAL drawings he had for sale there. I POUNCED and claimed this one–
Me, Markus, and my bonus drawing I gave to him.
Me, Markus, and his original drawing I proudly purchased. SUPPORTING MY OWN!
Despite the dramatic mix-up before the event, I had a fantastic time! It was totally worth it! I will NEVER forget this night. There was even a brief discussion at near the end of the event, where Markus and Taqiy explained why they chose the theme “P’AINT NO LOVE” and why they decided to paint the mural that they’d painted, which was of Garnet from Steven Universe knocking a cop depicted as a pig out! A tooth was flying out his mouth and everything! next to the amazing, colorful, powerful scene was a graffiti-style writing which said “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” The message couldn’t have been any clearer than that. And they talked about things like how to deal with the police to how we as a people have the power to use our gifts and talents to change the world in so many different ways. They pointed out how right then and there the room was full of artists, photographers, videographers, etc. so there’s no way or reason why we can’t get things moving. It was inspiring to say the least.
And that’s about it. THIS was one of the MANY things I’ve been up to in my absence, but I can assure you–it’s all up from here! I’m still growing and evolving and in the words of my beloved angel, Aaliyah, “You are livin’ and twirlin’, you know that?” ❤
YES, I KNOW! 😉
It feels good to be back for you!
~SOULar Lioness XOXO
P.S., if you enjoy my writing here, P. S., don’t forget to keep up with me everywhere else! Visit me at any of the links below!