100 Creatives 2014: Anne-Joelle Galley, Artist

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All photos courtesy of the artist
Artist Anne-Joelle Galley likes working with vibrant colors. It's an affinity, she says, best explained by Matisse in his Notes of a Painter: "The chief aim of color should be to serve expression as well as possible. I put down my colors without a preconceived plan. (...) I discover the quality of colors in a purely instinctive way. (...)"

What she does: Galley calls herself a print-maker, painter and colorist. She'll be adding wearable art to her resume soon.

Why she likes it: The great-niece of famed European painter/composer/writer Pierre Alin, Galley says enjoys the process of building work, of making creative choices as she goes along rather than following some pre-determined plan. "I am very lucky to be artistic, yet, unlike my great uncle, I was not born with the [ability] to approach a canvas or plate and be done from the very beginning. I really have to work at my art and re-visit each project over and over again. That process is what creates the passion for me, as [I'm] 'working' a piece.

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100 Creatives 2014: Michelle Ellen Jones, Killing Them Loudly

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Michelle Ellen Jones (right) with Keefer Barlow in Conjoined
What She Does: Michelle Ellen Jones has been attracted to the spotlight since she was young, and broke for Los Angeles to try her hand at acting at the first opportunity. When stardom didn't emerge, she returned to Houston to re-evaluate her future.

There she discovered ballroom dancing and it became her whole life. She's now a certified instructor who competes professionally in the field, but her desire to be an actress has never left her.

In 2012 she stepped back in front of the camera for a small part in Henrik Bech Poulsen's Helen Alone. Since then she's picked up a dozen roles and is on her way to being one of the best scream queens in the potent Houston horror scene. She recently played the "good" Siamese twin in Joe Grisaffi's Conjoined, but her shining moment was in Jeremy Sumrall's Pick-Axe Murders III: The Final Chapter. In it, she plays a compelling beautiful and erotic character with a surprisingly primal and bloody secret. Her work in the opening of the film is one of the best horror intros ever done, and she owned every minute of it.

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100 Creatives 2014: Morris Malakoff, Photographer and Filmmaker

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Photo by Colleen West
Rosita's, a popular restaurant in Laredo, once had a very artistic cook. Morris Malakoff, now a filmmaker and photojournalist, spent some time in Rosita's kitchen dishing up Tex-Mex food for hungry customers. It wasn't a bad job, it just wasn't the right job for Malakoff. "I knew I wanted to do more with my life," he tells us.

After a few years, Malakoff left the restaurant and joined a design center. Sounds more creative, right? Ah, not so much. "My job was assembling and moving furniture, hanging pictures, shipping ... It was the kind of work that required no real thought." Still not the right job.

"After several months of this, I quit and took the leap into photography." That, finally, was the right job.

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100 Creatives 2014: Terrill Mitchell, Dancer

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo by umi Akiyoshi
Terrill Mitchell, company member of MET Dance, finds a lot of motivation in failure. The 28-year-old Mitchell grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia, a small town, training as a competitive dancer (yep, like the kids you see in Dance Moms). He was the only male dancer at the studio where he trained and somehow "only" was translated into "best."

"I was the only male dancer at my studio and so, of course, I was the best," Mitchell tells us laughing. "I never did anything wrong and everyone just thought I was amazing. Then, when I got out and saw more and better dancers, I realized I was a really bad dancer."

It was, he remembers, a bit of a shock.

When it came time to go to college, Mitchell auditioned for the dance program at Point Park University. He didn't make it.

He started school as a photography major, but it was short lived. "When [dancing] was taken away, that's when I realized how much I wanted it. It was just a couple of weeks into the first semester and I was seeing all of these dancers on their way to class. I thought, 'That's what I'm supposed to be doing.' Point Park had a [intensive dance training] program for three months. After you went through the program, you could audition again. If you didn't make it, that was it, you couldn't audition anymore."

Some 22 students entered the intensive program and auditioned again. Mitchell was one of only two that were accepted.

"The fact that I didn't make it into Point Park the first time, that's always with me. It helps me remember to always do my best because I might not get another chance."

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100 Creatives 2014: Deji Osinulu, Photographer

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Photo by Deji Osinulu
From Mardi Gras, Vol. 2
The emotional aspects of photographer Deji Osinulu's work outweigh the technical ones. Not by much, he says, but by enough that his creative process is focused on making a connection with his subject rather than achieving technical perfection. "My first concern is emotional, but there's an ebb and flow to it," he tells us. "There are some days when that emotional connection is really there and the technical [skills] are strong enough that you can just them fall into the background and focus on the moment. And sometimes you are having technical problems, so you have to pay attention to that in order to get the shot.

"For me, I want to be able to look at a photo and think, 'Oh, this is what's going on here,' or 'This is what that place felt like.' That's what happened with the series After the Fires."

During the drought a few years ago, there were some fires in George Bush Park. It was a place Osinulu had often photographed. When he visited the park after the fires, the landscape was very different. Gone were the thick, green woods; in their place stood burnt and charred trees. "When I went back to the park, I could still smell the smoke. I was taking those photos and yes, there was a technical aspect to it, how to work with the light and how to show the shadows, but I wanted people to be able to smell the smoke when they looked at the photograph. For me, the emotion of the moment is what's important."

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100 Creatives 2014: Mason Sweeney, Drawing Away the Pain

Categories: 100 Creatives

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What He Does: When Mason Sweeney's parents were going through a divorce, he sought solace in comic books. He was an imaginative kid, always trying to build replicas of Godzilla out of tin foil, and he realized that art could be used to escape from reality. Trading in crayons for a mechanical pencil, he started to create.

"The 'style' is genuinely my own," says Sweeney. "I don't see much else that looks like it, for better or worse. I was initially really influenced by Marvel, DC and then Image comics as a kid, then later really influenced by Japanese animation. Manga is probably often still my biggest influence today. I have always liked the way Japanese artists draw the face and body, as well as their willingness to distort or deform it for the sake of making a character unique. I also am a big fan of how susceptible the human mind is to the power of symbols, and the Japanese integrate kanji with their wild wardrobes beautifully. I just wish I was better so I could really capture the stuff that comes into my mind after an anime binge."

Why He Likes It: "How little money I make. Seriously, though, I don't even know I've ever gotten anything out of it to make me 'like' being an artist. I do it compulsively because it's either cathartic or the best coping mechanism I have available for stress."

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100 Creatives 2014: K.J. Russell, Sci-Fi Author and Writing Teacher

Categories: 100 Creatives

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All photos courtesy of K. J. Russell
There's a rumor that sci-fi author and writing teacher K. J. Russell is actually a "mustachioed robot powered by coffee and good science fiction." We're pretty sure that's just a rumor since robots usually lack any sense of humor or imagination and Russell has an abundance of both. We aren't ruling out a Multiplicity scenario (the Michael Keaton comedy about a man who makes clones of himself to handle his many roles as husband, father, boss and friend). Russell is, after all, a member of both the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the Houston Writers Guild. He's both a teacher and a student, and both an editor and a writer. Yep, come to think about it, if Russell hasn't already made clones of himself, he might want to look into that.

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100 Creatives 2014: Emily Robison, Choreographer and Filmmaker

Categories: 100 Creatives

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All photos courtesy of Emily Robison
Emily Robison
Age is no indicator of achievement or ability for choreographer and filmmaker Emily Robison. At 17, she's among the youngest artists we've profiled in this series. A dance student at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts, Robison has appeared at the Big Range Dance Festival and was a lead dancer for the Lynn Lane, Catalina Molnari and Toni Leago Valle project ReGifting Lions. Later this month, her film, Repercussions, is being featured at the Third Coast Dance Film Festival. (She's been making dance films for two years now.)

Robison considers herself an artist working in movement (more on that in a bit). As a dancer, she's what many call a "disgusting" dancer. "Out of context, this sounds like an absolutely terrible thing to call someone," she says. "However, what dancers mean by 'disgusting' is that I have an acute ability to articulate my torso and limbs in an unusually fluid manner. I use unconventional and occasionally awkward contours that could be interpreted as 'disgusting.'"

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100 Creatives 2014: John Cramer, Freelance Violinist and Concertmaster at Opera in the Heights

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo courtesy of John Cramer
When John Cramer was 6 years old, he hated the violin. He wanted to play the piano, but his family only owned an old violin that his father played long ago, so he bore with it and followed in his father's footsteps. His mom also sang in a choir, leaving the Cramer household with everything but a shortage of musicality.

Eventually, once Cramer started playing in a string quartet during high school, music became a lens through which he started seeing the world. "We would get together after school and just play. Most teenagers would want to go to the mall or go play sports. For me and for my friends, we were just music nerds. Fun for us was to go to the music stores and buy sheet music or going to the record store to pick up an album. We'd go home and we'd listen to it and we'd want to play the music. It was really about being able to make music. That was, for me, what was always very exciting."

When he translated his passion for music into a career, he initially tried to make it as a freelance musician, taking gigs every time they were offered to him. But with a young family to provide for, he realized this wasn't viable and that he needed a day job. "For me to be a freelance musician now means that I've given myself the freedom where I don't have to focus on my violin playing for my survival. I have another job that pays the bills. So that allows me the best of both worlds--I'm able to play music, the music that I enjoy and not the music that I have to do, and it's more on my terms."

It's this understanding of the financial struggles that young artists face that makes Cramer so adamant about appreciating and supporting the local arts scene. "If someone is doing a cello recital or a violin recital, I definitely want to go. If someone is doing a reading of a novel that they've published or a book of poetry, an art exhibition of their work, for me that still is important to support, especially with the local artists. Because it's a tough, tough business."

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100 Creatives 2014: Shipra Mehrotra, Odissi Dancer and Choreographer

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Photo Courtesy of Shipra Mehrotra
It seems that for Shipra Mehrotra, a life in dance was always in the making. She began her training in Odissi, one of India's eight classical dance forms, at an early age. In addition to learning Odissi at Washington D.C.'s Nrityalaya School of Classical Indian Dance, she studied ballet for ten years and modern for four. It was as an undergraduate at Northwestern University that she decided to pursue dance as a full-time career.

After college she traveled to Orissa, India to further her knowledge of Odissi at the renowned Orissa Dance Academy. And like all professional dancers, her training hasn't stopped. "I consider myself a life-long student of Odissi, always in the pursuit of excellence," says Shipra. "And so I return every other year to Orissa Dance Academy for additional training."

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