From the archives of Project 365
...more than an emerging artisan; she was a community activist.
It was a Saturday afternoon. Fifty-one days since my commitment to interview a stranger and publish a story for 365 consecutive days. Lucky that my family had been patient toward a project that was still in its infancy as they sacrificed their time with me. A goal that at almost three months into the commitment had created quite a few conflicts regarding our daily living; yet throughout all, they remained so very supportive. Even threw me out of the house on days I wanted to give up, and it was only the beginning of Sidewalk Ghosts. Seems surreal when I reflect back to the fact that I am now almost nine years into the project.
With this admission, I also have to note, that from time-to-time, and in fairness to finding family time, there were days I summarized my writings. For that reason, and keeping as true as I can in revising these essays, I’ll simply bullet-point how I meet a stranger-now-friend, Myly.
7:00 am – Alarm sounded.
7:01 am – Hit ten-minute snooze (or so I thought).
8:15 am – Awoke and hour of schedule.
8:30 am – Sprinted out the front door with family.
8:32 am – Embarked on a drive to teach spinning.
8:55 am – Arrived at the gym (class starting at 9:00 am).
9:00 am – Class grimaced at the sight of me dressed as Little Miss Muffet (it was Halloween).
9:05 am – Realized the ladies dug a man in a tutu and that men were inspired by my courage.
9:10 am – Kicked into high gear for one hour of pedaling euphoria.
10:00 am – Class ended. Hung out in front of the gym waiting for wife and daughter to pick me up.
10:30 am – Approached cool deaf dude. He rejected me and left the area.
[10:30] to 11:30 am – Licked my wounds as I chatted with gym friends.
11:50 am – Family grabbed me and we drove to Farmers’ market.
12:30 pm – Met Myly.
Part artistic dreamer, part entrepreneur, and master of community outreach, Myly was full of energy. For an hour we spoke of the past and future of the Canoga Park art and culture scene. There was no loss of enthusiasm in her council to all, “Don’t settle. Find what you are passionate about and go for it!” A thought that I’m sure we have all entertained.
Myly lived what she preached as she referenced her recent layoff of employment, “I was freaked at first, but then I realized it was a gift.”
She had not looked back.
“As a child, I always collected things” and as she described them, it was easy to see they were not just things, but treasures to her. Objects of all sorts, each one special part of a collection she reused to feed her artistic self. By her reveal, “I’ve never thought of myself as an artist, but more of a business person.”
We talked of her childhood and her remembrance of, at a very young age, selling necklaces that she made from other people’s discards. Telling me, “I never dreamed that I would one day be supporting myself with the stuff I make. It’s totally rad.”
But Myly was more than an emerging artisan; she was a community activist. In such, she was part of organizing an art walk; and as we hit this conversation point, the topic turned away from herself and toward the local businesses. “Before we started the Art Walk there were many vacant buildings on Sherman Way” (the street that hosted the art walk), “but the event is reshaping the visibility of the area and now many of the empty spaces are slowly filling with new businesses: several thrift shops, art galleries, restaurants, boutiques, and performance venues. We are only just starting the outreach and the community is responding to it.”
Quickly a job title came to my mind, “Myly,” I said, “I title you, Leader of the Community Brigade.” She smiled and expanded on the title. “My goal is to turn this farmers’ market into an artistic destination.”
I asked Myly of her dreams?
“One day I want to have a storefront loft space. Upstairs will by my place to dwell. Downstairs will be for you, with a gallery, shopping, coffee/tea bar, and cool place to hang out at night.”
Now nine years since the day I met Myly, Vintage Grime is no more and I have lost track of her whereabouts. Another testament to the fragility of the artistic livelihood; and a reminder to us all, that behind every artistic work (and I’m not referring to mass-produced products and decorations), is a valued creator. A person who most likely is risking much to stay true to a very personal vision or higher purpose and Myly was one such individual.
But there is no want of remorse or regret, for in her words, and in upholding her honorary title, Leader of the Community Brigade, she has left her legacy. For on the third Thursday of every month, on the very streets where we met, hundreds gather in appreciating and forwarding art and culture. Now in its eighth year, The Canoga Park Artwalk is alive and thriving.
She smiled and expanded on the title. “My goal is to turn this farmers’ market into an artistic destination.”
Myly. You have truly given much.