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MSG: That was the fun of walking around here, you don't know what to look at first! You do a tour around the room, think you have seen everything and then realize you have only discover the first of many layers.

SL: You will never get bored! For us, you know we get bored so easily. Every time I come to this place it's a blessing. Because I get to have a conversation with so many different artists. There are so many works in this place, you can never get enough. Some artists criticize us for that because they are so use to the traditional structure of galleries. They say you should have white walls and just concentrate on the work. I say when you paint, what do you paint? It is all about the colors!

Title: Shrouded
Artist: Kob Thanapat
Medium: Charcoal

MSG: It seems like many of those galleries are designed for people who can't think about more than one thing at a time!

SL: I wanted people, from the moment they walked through the door, to see how many stories I have to tell. The spirits will pull you in, just like they did with you guys.

MSG: I truly believe they did.

SL: This makes me feel energized. Like the message was received loud and clear, I did what I had to do. I always said I wanted to do this for someone else to take over so when the universe calls me for the next job, I can just go. I just didn't know when the universe was going to call!

MSG: As good as this was, just think of how much better it will be.

SL: I can't wait!

MSG: This is such a diverse collection you have here. When you see an artists work do you think "I could sell this?" Does it talk to you and say put me into your gallery? How do you put it together?

SL: We always said, as a true artist, even if I don't like something, art is all about reaction. If I can react to it, if there is something positive about it, then I will bring the artist in. My job is to teach the world. Our society puts things into our minds. It tells you this is what you should eat, this is what you should wear, this is how you should look. We say no! The universe created you and your smart enough to think on your own - to even question the universe.

Whatever you like, there is something in this gallery for you. We have people who never had an interest in art and come into this gallery and just have an unbelievable reaction. I don't think about what is going to sell. I am a business man but I am an artist first. People are sometimes worried because they can't buy anything, I tell them not to worry about it. Whoever is going to pay the rent will come in and buy something. I love that when people come in here, as they are buying, they are smiling - they are happy. That is the beauty of this place - that is the beauty of wherever we are going to go. We change the way you think. We want to bring something fresh to the world. So many galleries, everything looks the same.

MSG: Many galleries have become glorified home decorating centers. "The blue painting will look good over the sofa." I don't think that is what you are aiming for here.

SL: Sometimes people come in here and they are shocked by the colors, by the way we have arranged things. Shocked because they like it. So many people are afraid of color. But they come in here and do something different in their home. That is what I wanted. No one should worry about trying something, that is the only way you learn. I always tell people anyone can paint. Because it is you, it is what is inside of you. The creation is already inside, you just have to allow it to be. You have to go to the next level every time you have the chance. I can't wait to go to the next level because I love to shock people. When we do this in the next space, I promise, people will be amazed.

MSG: I want to talk about the next level. What do you think you want it to be?

Burmese Buddah

SL: Well, another dream will come out of it. I always wanted a place for artists to come to, to be comfortable. I want a studio for music and for movies. We are looking for true artists, people who are always looking to go to the next level. I want to build a team, a great team. Again, it is not about me. It's about doing the impossible, what people say is impossible.

I hope to make a movie one day of my own life. Where I was born in Haiti, in a very small town, you couldn't dream. I believe I am on a mission and my mission is to give hope.

The beauty of the next place will be that it is my building and I will not have to worry about moving again. I want to bring more nature to the gallery, water, trees. I want walls of water, fountains, fish. I have had so many people come in and say " I had a bad day and I only had one thing in mind, to come to your gallery!"

Teak Root Chair

MSG: That is a huge compliment.

SL: It is! My friends used to say I would only be a shoe-shiner because I didn't like school. But this is my mission. If someone had come into this gallery and said they would save it, at this location, simply because of what it stands for - I would have signed everything over. For me it is more, it is deeper than money. That is what I want to take with me to the next level. I want people to come and dream in my gallery. I believe it will happen, I have no doubt in my mind. All I ever wanted in my life is to have a normal life... to do what I love so I don't have to struggle. All my life has been a struggle. If I have to make music, if I have to make movies, if I have to paint, I want the opportunities to do just that. If someone said to me "I will never give you cash, but I will allow you to do what you are doing, to allow more artists to come in," I would be happy.

I feel artists give so much but too often get very little back. So many people don't respect you. As if the the only sign of success is material things, money. If you have money, then you have made it. My family used to ask "how much money do you make?" I used to be very upset about that. A true artist, we care about respect, that people come in here and say "Wow!" It is more than sex, more than money, more than food. For the last two days I have not had the time to sleep, but sitting here with you right now...I feel so good. I don't feel tired, I feel energized.

I know something positive, something big will come out of this. I am already picturing the building.

MSG: I really believe this will be bigger than anything you could have imagined!

SL: I get tired sometimes. I feel like I am doing the right thing, trying to help others, but there is no one to help me. I ask why is there no one?

MSG: What answer do you get?

SL: Well, people like you. When you guys left the first time, I had such a great feeling because of the way you responded. I never thought you would really call and do this. That was the answer...don't worry, help will come. People will respond to a great purpose.

Sylvester Leon
Photographed By Evan Sung

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