Katrina Cheung, Communications Manager, Triple-Eye. By
As we continue to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, Triple-Eye is spotlighting Filipino-American gallery owner, illustrator and Covington, Louisiana-native, Marianne Angeli Rodriguez.
Rodriguez spent most of her life abroad in West Africa, Central America, Europe, and Asia before settling in the Americas, earning a bachelor’s degree in media studies and anthropology from the City University of New York at Hunter College, and a degree in fashion design. received. from fit. After being fired from two different fashion industry jobs, she worked as a freelancer creating fashion and beauty sketches for magazines, in addition to taking client commissions. She eventually moved on to working on a smaller scale and on larger canvases.
Rodriguez’s art has attracted attention from many magazines and has spawned various collaborations.
His work is on permanent display at several public installations, including the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Southern Hotel Covington, Magnolia Hotel New Orleans, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Chicago, Noelle Restaurant in New Orleans, and New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport.
We were happy to talk to Rodriguez about her gallery, her work, how she has remained resilient in the face of pandemics and other setbacks, and how she protects her business from natural disasters.
Tell us about your work and your gallery. How did it all start?
Shortly after, I was fired, a job opportunity for my husband moved us to a different city and I devoted the following year to painting outside my dining room. I developed a website to sell my work online, and soon after I rented a studio to do the work. After three years working diligently and growing my client-base, I moved that space forward and decided on a new, more prominent, gallery space just around the corner. At this time my husband joined me to serve as my business partner and gallery director full time in the business. We signed the lease for this new location two weeks before the COVID shutdown.
Wow, 2020 was such a tough year for small businesses so I can only imagine how hard it was for you and your husband to open a gallery during the pandemic! Despite the unknowns and challenges that the pandemic presented, it seems the gallery is thriving.
Can you talk about some of the obstacles you’ve faced since opening the gallery and how you’ve been able to overcome them?
Since we did a great deal of brick and mortar at the start of the pandemic, our main challenge was the disappearance of foot traffic. We realized that our online presence and web shop would be our saving grace, so we re-strategized and channeled our efforts into marketing, redesigning our e-commerce platform, and engaging more on social media. We also tapped into local partnerships and were able to offer more products and services, including custom framing and high quality canvas prints, to diversify our products and meet the needs of various art buyers. As everyone was quarantined and home-improvement projects including decorating, 2020 proved to be a prosperous year for us as a small business.
Given that you live in a hurricane-prone area, how have you protected yourself and your gallery property from extreme weather?
During hurricane season, as with any imminent danger, our typical practice is to secure the outside perimeter of the business by removing items (such as our hanging gallery signage) and using sandbags at entry points to prevent flooding. In case of emergency, we have insurance and evacuation plan.
Art is such an important part of our history and our communities. It tells us stories from all walks of life, including those that are not often told in the mainstream media. As an artist, what message do you want to convey to people through your art?
I am a theatre, so first and foremost what I want is for the audience to come to my work for the first time with feelings of joy, happiness and positive energy. As a minority based in the South, it’s been a privilege to sprinkle pieces of my Filipino heritage in both the imagery and the titles/stories behind the work – it’s been a privilege to invite others to gain new insights without having to speak directly about it There is a way, and I love the way it opens doors to deeper connections and curiosity.
There has been a general consensus in the AAPI community that many people feel cultural and social pressure to pursue STEM-related careers.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to follow their dreams, but feels pressure to follow a certain career path based on social pressure or perhaps pressure from their family?
My advice to anyone wanting to go “against the grain” is to be fully prepared and prepared to take on the rollercoaster that lies ahead. Research your industry, get to know your competition and stay ahead with technology and social media. Take it one step at a time, and fully immerse yourself in each evolving chapter. Pay attention to the hard lessons, be grateful for them as they are there to help you get closer to the best, most professional version of you/your business. Build trust by over-delivering on customer service. Practice gratitude daily.
Has there ever been a time in your life that you personally had to remain resilient despite the challenges ahead? If so, can you share what those experiences were and how it helped you as an artist and practitioner?
Years ago, when I was off my job and doing local art fairs, my car was stolen and everything I had invested in my new venture was gone. It was devastating. My family urged me to go back home and consider pursuing a career in the corporate world. I glued it and stopped and rebuilt from the ground up. That experience gave me the determination I needed to be completely independent, committed, and inspired to pursue my own creative path. Later, as I became more serious in my practice, I was rejected from the galleries with whom I so badly wanted to relate, but I continued to work on my art, my own process. Completed and invested in courses to enhance my business knowledge, and finally opened and now operates – a gallery of my own.
What has been the most rewarding part of owning a small business?
The most rewarding part of owning a small business, especially as an artist, is having complete autonomy over the creative vision being released into the world. Having the ability to positively impact your community and brighten someone’s day is both empowering and humbling.
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