We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Curiel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christina, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The moment I was able to, at the age of fourteen I began working for the family in a musical instrument store. I used the money I made to buy transportation, eventually leading up to cars. When I was sixteen years old, I had already graduated high school, and began working full time. I would buy cars, fix them, and sell them. By the age of 21 I had part ownership of the music instrument store, an operating venue, and a music school. I think the best way to see ‘business’ is by provoking opportunities. Maintaining moral principle is the utmost prolific aspect of operating business. Earning a reputation as a fair, honest, and compassionate entity is more reprehensible than an entity prioritizing financial prowess over veracity.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Social impact: how does your business help the community or the world? It is important to deliver multitudes of various methods of teaching art and music, as well as performances and contracting murals to include as many people as possible. Sometimes it is necessary to turn down high profile jobs with a good pay because the request of the owner or the city may promote or echo racist ideologies and dogmatic oppressions. It is my priority to ensure that the purpose for my public art facilitates the development of kinship in its environment by representing the entire community equitably. This isn’t always achievable by local community leaders, and many times the mural is intended to discourage public community markings, failing to realize that erasure has led to these ‘unwanted’ behaviors in the first place. The purpose of public art is to give the gift of cultural diffusion by representation through beautification, with representation holding the highest priority. Risk taking: how do you think about risk, what role has taking risks played in your life/career? “Taking risks” acts as a cliché expression and warrants an equally banal answer. There are no risks in contemporary western life beyond the risks resulting in the loss of freedom or finality of life. Losing a career paired with the loss of notably achieved status in a lifetime is assumed to be akin to complete devastation, but resilience and adaptations are traits inherent to human nature, necessary to the vitality of humanity. The secret to developing the type of resourcefulness allowing a person to continuously rebuild their life is to simply be present. Be present in the same world in which the body is present. Be present in every moment with the awareness that this life is a brief, temporary existence. Refuse to isolate amongst dull, predictably stale routines. Instead, commit to explore unfamiliarity and develop authenticity by comprehensively engaging physical presence in the world. Refuse to maintain the confines of learned helplessness in a self conceived bubble void of critical thought. If you are a parent, what do you think is the most important thing you’ve done as a parent in terms of the impact on your children? As a parent, I hope to change the general consensus maintained in the population defining the practice of art and musicianship as a pleasurable pastime for wealthy children. Growing up as one of many artists and musicians through many generations, I was somewhat surprised to learn upon initially exploring the suburban populus in Southern California that the prevalence of music and art existed almost exclusively as an extracurricular activity for the affluent, deemed unimportant and exorbitant by the working class, thus minimally explored. In urban areas, attempts by musicians and artists to publicly initiate respite from the drags of a financially oppressive contemporary living in order to elicit public discourse and peaceful discussion are often criticized and oppressed by leaders in our communities. Ironically, those in possession of abundant wealth often remain the sole voice for all of the public. Sometimes portions of the community are erased, and many politicians may not even be aware of their existence. Tense divisions of our community are combated with the necessity to create unity through a sense of belonging and to encourage empathy, compassion, and equality. By holding up these values, I hope to encourage others to do so as well. Upcoming technological advances in machine learning and automated programming will create demands for more innovative, critical, and creative thinkers. Repetition and perfection will no longer be the standards at which we judge success; it will be the quirky innovations of critical thought and problem solving evolving from conceptual practice that create our future’s leaders. In fact, most of today’s emerging intellectuals and financial successors all have strong backgrounds in invention, innovation, and expression through art and music. Children learn to find inherent individual satisfaction in the exploration of esoteric patterns and joy in the process of creation and appreciation. Through trial and discovery, awareness by engaging in their physical world will create simply for the sake of creation. Humans will continue to produce art for the sake of art, because it maintains their culturally relevant, multidimensionally integral methods of communication beyond the confines and limitations of language. Absurdity is not off limits; all forms of communication are welcome in the world of artistic and musical human expression. And this is the very type of creative absurdity that has brought our historically great intellectuals to think abstractly enough to solve some of the most profound mysteries in the universe. What is the most important factor behind your success / the success of your brand? What is incorrectly perceived as success is actually only the result of diligent and persistent interactions between both the ‘brand’ or individual and the people in which they interact, and both are mutually dependent on each other hermeneutically. Success in terms of popularity, branding, or community recognition should be perceived as a result of an interactive process between the business and the community. Throughout history, humans have been notable for generating the same conceptual creations from completely different time periods, cultures, and geographical locations. It is important to remember that the goal of creative expression isn’t always generating a uniqueness that defines the individual separately with the intention to be evaluated and worshipped; nor for that particular individual to develop an obsession of absolute perfection, their everyday life intent with the sole objective for the self attain universal infallible recognition as the absolute “best.” Success will always be the natural result of genuine, authentic expression, creativity, and motivation that is shared amongst a community and will always require mutual engagement, rather than unidirectional homage. How to know whether to keep going or to give up? Considering the anthropological history of humanity, there are unique aspects of the life stages of human development that notably differ. We are all aware of the human brain’s intellectual sophistication, but not many are aware of how a brain becomes sophisticated as such. The most notable difference in human development is the presence of an incredibly long childhood, which serves the human species as a period of complex and extensive learning, all of which human intelligence could not exist without. ‘Failure’ in the context of the real world, rather than the trite cliche of demoralized deterioration, can be translated as ‘experience and practice’ when applied to human intelligence. Scientists find that people do not ever discontinue to express themselves creatively and artistically. Work life balance: how has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance? Because so much of being artists and musicians is simply communicating ideas, defining a clear line between what constitutes as ‘work’ and what constitutes as ‘non-work’ can become increasingly difficult. Sometimes work constitutes a contribution as simple as a listening individual audience member’s story and really listening. And sometimes it constitutes directing remnants of skilled and unskilled team members to paint incredibly large scale high quality murals over the course of many months. Compared to my previous career, work in the community is much more prevalent as a spontaneous force, but it is much better suited to my current lifestyle. What makes you happy? Why? What makes me the happiest is sharing my temporal awareness with other sentient beings through art and music. Because my partner and I share our skills and interests, I find complete satisfaction when we initiate a conversation using only our musical instruments; or for us to simultaneously create images of an identical concept individually, eventually presenting with incredibly different visual interpretations. These forms of connection and engagement extend to our children and to the community. One of my favorite experiences is when painting public murals, I am able to interact with the community directly and we can all share the experience of creating kinship through beautification together. How do you define success? I define success in terms of freedom of expression and the ability to maintain a critical perspective. Many people form their happiness based ideals manifested through their cultural surroundings, which can often incarnate as inaccurate and unachievable illusions. Maintaining a consistently critical perspective to the infinite possibilities in which the human mind can be manipulated to feel unsatisfied and discouraged is the secret to sustaining true happiness; but most importantly, the flexibility to welcome oppositional speculation in order to make accurate and complete evaluations in any circumstance. Code-switching, abandoning stigmas, and acceptance of all can be considered the golden rules of success; but most importantly, success will embody the desire to understand aspects of humankind regardless of personal suppositions of presumptive judgements intent on perpetuating biases among the public. Maintaining an open mind of equitable objective practices increases community integrity naturally, and thus permanently.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of my favorite aspects of new places is the street people. I lived as a ‘street kid’ for many years and it is common to find the most educated, intellectual, compassionate, artistic, and with the most life experience people who choose to live a life different from the traditional capitalist model. Of course, a tour of the local mural and street art will be included at every destination point during a week long trip, prioritizing the natural wonders and history of the earth of San Diego county. Places like Sunset Cliffs and the Santa Margarita Trail are day adventures on their own; and to the east, the Ringing Rock of San Bernardo, the fire breaks in the mountainous area between Santa Ysabel and Ramona, Poomacha, are all accessible by car, with incredible views of the valleys and trails along streams, although they are mostly unpaved and rocky. The tourmaline mines located around Fallbrook, Pala, and Lake Henshaw are all incredible places to awe in the natural beauty and economic fervor of our county. Warner Springs offers accessible hot springs, as well as the hot springs located throughout Anza Borrego, in addition to the naturally formed mud caves in Borrego Springs, although it may require an all wheel drive vehicle to access. Mount Laguna offers camping in the beautiful mountainous regions, and the Mission Trails Regional Park offers a more accessible trail as well as activities such as flute circles where park goers can share instruments and music with each other. One mustn’t forget the entertaining nature of the Religious rule-bending Museum of Creation and Earth History in Santee, and objections of such, the Museum of Man and Museum of Natural history in Balboa Park. Many years ago, Black’s Beach near UC San Diego had a full moon drum circle, and Mission Bay had a new moon drum circle which were both musically oriented and engaging. The still water in the bay carried the steady drumming vibrations across the water’s surface, filling the entire bay with a smorgasbord of hypnotizing rhythms. As of now, Balboa Park offers a daytime drum circle. San Diego County possesses an infinite amount of enchanted places. As for eating, there is only one place in the United States where the El Pastor and Adobada exist in pure form, diminishing with frequency as one travels north, which all about entirely disappears upon arrival in San Francisco Bay Area. For vegan and vegetarian, there are so many wonderful options, like Indian Curry Shops that offer all kinds of varieties of food and lunch buffets. At various swap meets and outdoor markets, it’s common to find cream-filled deep fried churros with filling of choice. As for the more establishment oriented crowd, San Diego has a significant amount of activity-oriented businesses. There are plenty of rock climbing gyms, parkour gyms, trampoline parks, indoor skydiving, and even an axe throwing bar in Oceanside, where all ages can throw real axes at an indoor axe throwing station equipped with 3 heavy, sharp axes and its own target. As for shopping destinations, there are plenty of unique farmer’s markets all around the county. In Encinitas, it is possible to sometimes find the mine owners vending beautiful crystals from the tourmaline mines, and at certain times of the year local special purple braided garlic available, which cannot be matched by any other type of garlic. Carlsbad’s legacy Spin Records and Leucadia’s legacy Lou’s Records are relics of the recent past and harbor unrestrained access to music that may not be found anywhere else since the vending of music has shifted from independent record labels and producers to the contemporary generic vending through a few online monopolies. In Julian, there is a specialty incense store that sells incense from all over the world, and another rare book store, cherished by all of those passing through, an appreciation for our recent past as we see newer publications moving towards the contemporary method of digital archiving. Ducky Waddles in Leucadia was another particularly favorite destination spot, serving the community as an underground art hub and rare book store. Unfortunately, the market for books and street art did not compete with the newly arriving designer boutiques and rising prices for retail space, and the gallery closed a few years ago. The Meditation Gardens at the Self Realization Fellowship in Encinitas is open to the public for free, and its companion musical instrument and book store are always on the list of wonderful destinations. On the weekends, the Amtrack station offers a ‘weekend pass’ which includes round trip fare and all of the MetroLink lines in almost all of Southern California for only $10 which also covers the fees for local bus transportation. The parking at the transit station in Oceanside is free all day, and you can take the train to a myriad of destinations all over Southern California, without the traffic, parking issues, cost of gas, and exhaustion that comes from a day traveling to famous museums and other destination locations. Children ride the train free if with an adult who has paid for the $10 weekend pass round trip ticket. MetroLink has improved their system and tickets can be purchased online with a mobile app. The views from the train are incredible, especially for those fond of graffiti art. There are so many wonderful things about our county that are accessible to just about anyone, affordable, and transcendental to San Diego residents experiencing connecting with their environment.