What I’m Listening To is a series where we talk to exciting artists and musicians and get a five song slice of their current playlist.
“I … want to pry open the eyes of our local community on what it means to be a diverse community of creatives.”
Laura Marie Anthony has been “creative since birth.” However, it wasn’t until she was twenty-five that she realized was an artist. Now Anthony is a visual artist, curator, founder of the Artists of Sacramento, and co-owner of Post & Beam.
Anthony’s artistic path started with photography before branching into filmmaking, art curation, installation art, and more. “It’s been a grueling road full of sacrifices and loss, but I still wouldn’t trade the path I took to get to where I am today.”
She was raised in a “very cult-like church environment” where she was controlled to the point of her behavior being under contract. “At the peak of abuse, I was required to report my food intake into a journal and had a curfew of 9 PM as a 21 year old college student.” But, like the title character in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (who Anthony strongly identifies with), she could tell something was off. “I … could always see through the unhealthy control over me, and subconsciously bucked, constantly.”
Because of this, she was cast out of her community for “unforgivable” sins. At the time, she was devastated. But now she feels that her need to adhere to her own inner truth “saved me from a life of homogenous hate and ignorance.”
In the summer of 2015 after years of working as a freelance artist, Anthony was drained from creating on demand for profit and in despair. Inspired by Bill Cunningham and the Humans of New York, she started Artists of Sacramento (Aos), forcing herself to get past her customary shyness and documenting her fellow local artists. She does it “for the love of it, and that alone. I refused to get paid or trade/barter ANYTHING for this particular series of photography and video.”
In addition to being a great Instagram feed, AoS is a nonprofit organization that aims to advocate for “affordable artists’ housing, provid[ing] a platform for equal representation for the diverse array of talent our city has to offer, and finally, … bolster[ing] existing art endeavors with sponsorship, promotion, or a combination of both.” They have recently helped sponsor Menagerie’s Stranger Things art tribute show and curated large scale installations as well as a pop-up art gallery for 2017’s all local First Festival.
Anthony has featured many artists since AoS started, but one of her first features is still her favorite for “very superstitious reasons.” Joe Kye was playing at the Naked Lounge and Anthony was “in that aforementioned state of despair…mentally flogging myself because I hadn’t pleased a particular client and their Pinterest board of wedding photography expectations.” She was determined to keep going with the series but as she set up her camera and Kye got into place, she found she was shaking. “I still hated myself,” she remembers.
Finally, she had her rig set up. The light was getting low and Anthony was worried the video would not come out well. But she hit record anyway and Kye began playing. “My nerves began to calm. And at just the right moment, the light behind him (the one I didn’t know was even there!) popped on and created this little special bit of magic that brought me to tears. I know it isn’t much, but for me, it was an affirmation from the Universe that I should seek things like this that enrich myself and others. I was doing the right thing.”
Post & Beam started as just a photography company, but as Anthony and her husband Coday Anthony’s (of Drop Dead Red, Said the Shotgun) artistic interests expanded, so did the company. Now it encompasses a recording studio and small record label. Coday, a professional recording engineer, and multi instrumentalist, heads up the audio side while Anthony handles the visual side. She calls it a “whirlwind,” saying, “When this many concentrated aspirations find themselves under one house, they tend to compete for your attention. I’ve quickly realized I need to assemble a much larger team to help me manage the workload. We have lots of interest and opportunities coming our way, so hopefully before we know it, we’ll be a well-oiled machine.”
The recording studio is an especially exciting development for the company. A state of the art facility in Midtown, the studio’s last owner was Papa Roach and used to house the original Velvetone, which has recorded the likes of Cake, Black Eyed Peas, Tesla, and more. Now Post & Beam manages it with Knockdown Studios. “When we drove up to see the property for the first time, my breath literally left my body. We couldn’t believe this was happening to us, and to be honest, six months later, it is still very surreal. We are extremely grateful and trying to soak up every moment that we are here. We hope it’s for a very long time to come.”
Post & Beam is all about collaboration and community, down to the very name. Post and Beam is a style of mid-century architecture. “We also like how the post and the beam must rest upon each other for support. One cannot stand without the other. Coday and I firmly believe that you need community to keep strong.”
So what is artist, curator and business owner Laura Marie Anthony listening to? “[I’m] going ALL LOCAL on this! These are my current five favorite local songs.”
SpaceWalker-‘Anarchy Eyelash’-“I am a COMPLETE FANGIRL when it comes to SpaceWalker! It’s very hard for me to get starstruck, but if it’s someone I respect deeply as an artist, it’s OVER. Even if they aren’t international stars…YET. As it says on Spacewalker’s Bandcamp ‘She’s as punk rock as hip-hop gets.’ You absolutely must give her music a listen. It’s unique, fun, and transcendent.”
Hobo Johnson-‘Romeo & Juliet’- “Did I mention I FANGIRL much?? Hobo Johnson is also one of those artists that blew me OUT OF THE WATER from the moment I heard him. Hobo creates poetic rap. It’s raw, vulnerable, and absolutely perfect. I get chills and tear up every time I listen to this song, and any song he makes for that matter. ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is particularly about the damage divorce wreaks upon families. And while divorce is no new topic in music, there is something particularly unique and evoking about Hobo Johnson’s recanting.”
Drop Dead Red-‘Naughty Mosquito (Live)’-“Arguably one of my favorite songs by Drop Dead Red, Naughty Mosquito is catchy, fun to dance to, and easily gets stuck in your head. Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” she says with a smile.
Butterscotch-‘Accept Who I Am’-“I honestly can’t be more excited and honored that we have the likes of Butterscotch as talent in our local creative scene. I stumbled across this music video and was absolutely blown away. This is the exact type of music our world needs. In the song, Butterscotch implores for us to look deeper, allow freedom, and accept all the varying shades of identities we possess as humanity.”
Dusty Brown-‘Back to Back’- “Nostalgia abounds. This is a classic song by Dusty Brown. The melody to this song gets me every time. Accompanying vocalist Jessica Brown absolutely enchants. One of my good friends once joked during their show “I just wish I could put Jessica in a cage and have her sing for me on demand whenever I want!” And while we should never put Jessica in a cage, her ‘song bird’ voice is captivating and hypnotic. Maybe just listen to the song instead?”
Between Post & Beam and AoS, Anthony has a busy schedule. With AoS she is looking at putting together an advocacy team to help lobby for affordable creative housing. “It’s no surprise that the Sacramento housing crisis is driving out the artists who actually made Sacramento cool in the first place. THAT isn’t cool. We need to take care of our artists. It’s just the right thing to do. They are the mouth pieces for social justice and progress. We are the political hub of California, it’s part of our responsibility to keep that progress going in the right direction.”
Anthony wants “to take the organization wherever it best serves the local creative community.” To this end, AoS has several fundraising events coming up. They are putting on two free “Bike-In” Movie Nights on August 7th and 21st. Anthony is particularly stoked that the movie on the 21st is hosted by Trash Film Orgy.
In addition, one of her Post & Beam bands, her husband’s own Drop Dead Red is opening for Missing Persons on August 5th at the Girls Rock Sacramento Benefit, 6pm at the Ace of Spades. Tickets start at $10, learn more here.
Words: K. Hules.
Photos courtesy of Laura Marie Anthony.