The best advice that my father ever gave me: “Do what you love as you will spend more time in your life doing that.”
I recently read about how much time is spent with people in our personal and professional lives. While the highest amount is spent alone (a good reason to truly love yourself!), the second highest amount is spent with people at work. Go figure — my dad was right!
I am glad I chose the path of working for myself and of founding CauseConnect … first in 2001 as a sideline gig, and later as a full-time firm in 2003. I’ve come to realize that being an entrepreneur or even just working from home is not for everyone, but it definitely suits me. In my case, I just didn’t know any better, or perhaps I should say, I simply thought that working for yourself was what one was supposed to do.
Today, I continue to do what I love, and even if I won the lottery, I am certain I would do much of what I do now (except I would definitely hire a team to handle the nitty-gritty, mundane and monotonous administrative work!).
2023 was a good year for me professionally through my independent work and through the projects and clients handled by my firm CauseConnect. Of course, there were challenges, but I always try to focus on the successes — the “wins” — so I can fully appreciate them as those are what keep me going.
2023 HIGHLIGHTS OF MY PROFESSIONAL WORK
Successfully expanded my arts PR services: For most of my career, I have focused on providing overall marketing services, which included doing what I call ‘baseline PR” (write a press release and send it to a few contacts), but this year, I focused on my PR services with the encouragement of — and partnership with — my friend and colleague Yvette Shearer. I am proud to share that my art clients benefited tremendously from my work as our team garnered an extraordinary amount of news coverage this year by local, regional and national press. From PBS NewsHour, CBS Mornings and KVCR TV, to Inland Empire Magazine and Artillery Magazine, to The Press-Enterprise, The New York Times, and Los Angeles Times, over 850 stories pitched by me and our team were shared with audiences about art, museum exhibitions, art shows, and artists.
Organized three nationally touring exhibitions:
- “Collidoscope: de la Torre Brothers Retro-Perspective” – In 2023, I organized a national tour for this exhibition that opened at The Cheech followed by presentations at the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi and the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts in El Paso, Texas. It is now headed to the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma followed by the Corning Museum of Art in New York; Crocker Art Museum in California; and the Mint Museum in North Carolina.
- “The Other Side of Memory: Photographs by Luis C. Garza“ – I also organized the national tour for this photography exhibition, which was first on view at Riverside Art Museum followed by the Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts in California and is now headed to the Loveland Museum in Colorado. I hope to book more venues in 2024 to coincide with screenings of our documentary film about the artist.
- “Judithe Hernández | Beyond Myself, Somewhere, I Wait for My Arrival“ – In 2024, I am organizing the national tour for this major retrospective, which will be on view at The Cheech, February 3 through August 4, 2024. After the El Paso Museum of Art, I hope to book at least two more museums (Chicago and New York?) to complete the schedule.
Produced a documentary: “Razón de Ser: Luis C. Garza” is a 15-minute short film that is now circulating among film festivals across the nation. Our team is also seeking funds to expand it into a feature-length version.
Launched a weekly art events newsletter: For years, I have canvassed what is happening in the art scene; first, in Los Angeles, where I lived for 25 years, and now Houston, where I have lived since late 2016. My public launch of “MUSED Houston” on my personal website (www.melissarichardsonbanks.com) has proven to be a hit. My list of recommended Houston art events is not intended to be comprehensive: my only criteria is that I want to attend, either for an opening reception or during the public hours of an extended run. I love to see art every day. I also love finding new and quirky art venues, discovering new artists, appreciating new works by established artists, going to museums, and supporting the art scene overall.
Produced an exhibition catalog: I am proud of my work in organizing, editing, funding, marketing and publishing “The Other Side of Memory: Photographs by Luis C. Garza.” Buy your copy today!