Venice Beach is known for its vibrant street art – where chic meets the street. Neely Shearer, the owner of In Heroes We Trust, a popular boutique, gallery, and sanctuary for the local community is now releasing a book of the same name, a collection of 60 street artists and the heroes that have impacted their lives.
MERRY JANE spoke with author Neely Shearer as well as Ron English, “The Godfather of Street Art”, to talk about heroism, marijuana, and art.
MERRY JANE: What led you to open up a boutique and gallery?
Neely Shearer: This is my second boutique/gallery. I had Xin on Melrose Avenue for 10 years previously and a clothing line. I took a few years off from running retail and production to work on other projects before opening In Heroes We Trust in Venice 2 years ago. It felt natural for me to have a creative hub again to continue collaborating with other designers and artists.
Street Art by Robbie Conal
MJ: As curator of the boutique, what kinds of local artists have you connected with?
NS: LA street artist friends painted & stenciled their ‘heroes’ on the walls...The space then attracted street artists from abroad, as well as Venice Beach local artists – legendary photographers such a Guy Webster, fine art painters, performance artists… We change up the artwork all the time, but the ‘heroes’ walls are always being added to by artists who pop in from all over.
Street Art by Teachr
MJ: Did living in Japan shape the direction you've taken your businesses?
NS: I’m sure my experiences living in Japan and traveling alone for 8 years have a great influence on how I create and collaborate.
MJ: In the past, you've worked on a film presented by Deepak Chopra. How did you get involved with spiritual leaders?
NS: I guess along my travels in Asia & Africa I began really exploring various practices of meditation and spirituality. I published a magazine in Japan and often included stories from people who practiced a more spiritual side to medicine and well-being. When I moved to LA in the late 90s I was introduced to Kundalini yoga and began a regular practice. My teachers were a big influence on me, especially Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. A friend had an idea for a documentary on spirituality, religion, and plant medicines and asked me to join the project as a producer. I got more interested in plant medicines and more acquainted with the work of leaders such as Chopra and David Lynch, etc.
Street Art by: Jeff Aerosal
MJ: How does cannabis bring the community together in Venice?
NS: Venice is at heart a small beach town community. It's been a mix of artists, surfers, and free-thinkers for years....I’m sure sharing cannabis is part of the spirit that brings this art community together.
MJ: How did the death of David Bowie affect you personally?
NS: I felt, and still do feel, enpowered by him, even in his death.
Art by Ron English
American contemporary artist, author, and toy maker Ron English authored the preface to In Heroes We Trust: Street Artists and Their Heroes. English has worked with the entire spectrum of artists in entertainment including Chris Brown and Pearl Jam.
MJ: What is Popaganda?
Ron English: A self-conscious critique of propaganda.
Art by Ron English
MJ: What do you hope to accomplish with In Heroes We Trust: Street Artists and Their Heroes?
RE: A fresh look at what it means to be a hero in modern times and unexpected people who would be defined as heroes under this new criteria.