art consultant & art dealer, owner & director of Soze Gallery – Los Angeles
Toowee Kao is a gallerist and private art dealer who represents two of our ambassadors at her Los Angeles-based Soze Gallery: Jaybo Monk and Augustine Kofie. But also for all the other young contemporary artists who are entrusted in her care Toowee Kao is an essential supporter since she is not only a natural talent when it comes to art business but also aims to make being an artist a little less hard in every way and offers an artist residency in downtown Los Angeles for Sozes Gallery’s international artists. In short: Toowee Kao has got her eyes on the future of art and never stops impressing us with her power; she supports young contemporary artists in their creative pursuit of success and happiness.
Alongside her commitment to Soze Gallery and Soze Residency, Toowee Kao runs Time To Shine Gallery and CAMP2E. Time To Shine Gallery is not only home to CAMP2E but also a project concept space and gallery which offers local Los Angeles-based artists a work and exhibition space as well as give them “opportunities to shine.” Whereas CAMP2E is dedicated to the little ones. The art camp for kids brings together less fortunate, inner city children and artists featured in Soze Gallery to help them to get into art – it’s “a fun space to explore, experience, and create new works of art” that relies on Toowee Kao’s belief that giving these children a chance to get creative will allow them to build a better future for themselves.For us Toowee Kao is a kindred-spirit who has supported IWISHUSUN by purchases but also by her strong belief in our vision. Thank you, Toowee, and a very warm welcome!
You are a creative person, what is your vision for your personal work?
I see my creativity at work in all aspects of my life, whether it is business or public, non-profit outreach. My vision would be allowing my creativity to influence the kids of our future to be independent, fearless, create, and have the freedom to whatever they want. The possibilities are endless. They just need to know that its possible. Continue taking risks and working with great artists who continuously push the envelope with their work.
You put a lot of effort into participation and a vivid interaction between Los Angeles residents and your artists. Time to Shine Gallery and Soze Residency are only two examples out of many different activities. What is the best experience that resulted from your endeavor?
The best experience resulting from what I have organized in my career is being able to see the artists I love make a difference in the lives of children in the area who would originally have no access to art materials nonetheless one-on-one experiences with, in my opinion, some of the most influential Los Angeles artists today.
When was the last time you gave back and what did you do? Can the above mentioned offers be understood as your personal definition of giving back or charity?
Yes, I believe that CAMP2E, amongst other endeavors, is giving back to the community in a very important and unique way. Offering art education and an outlet for children and young adults to express themselves in a safe and encouraging environment and seeing them receive the praise they deserve is one of the most important things a person in the art world can do to give back.
What is your tactic for making the world a better place?
My tactic? Anyone who wants to see the world become a better place needs to just persevere. I do not know if I can describe it as a tactic, but I approach social and global improvement as continuing to work for what I love and resolving the issues I hope to resolve. If you continue doing that, your ethics, horizons, and impact expand organically. I guess my tactic is letting my consciousness naturally evolve, it’s a ‘tactic’ I would recommend.
You live and work in Los Angeles, a city of sun. What impact do the city, the environment, and the people have on your own creative work? And how do they influence the work of the artists who had been invited to Soze Residency to date?
The geography of this city, I believe, inevitably prompts one to think in an expansive manner. This is what influences my concept of art being something greater, if not boundless. I believe the artists who have come through my residency are influenced similarly. Most of them have never extensively explored LA. When at the residency, they are able to do so and it is impossible for this environment to not influence or even infiltrate their work.
What is the most beautiful thing you ever saw?
It was a two dimensional work of art that only I know that changed the way I saw art and propagated my love for art and a passion for what art is capable of.
What would you like to see more often?
New works of art that moves me, I would like to see more people striving to make social impact through their work or through their own means. Most of us have the ability to use our creative practices to educate and motivate, and that’s something I would like to see more people take advantage of.
Being a gallery owner is serious business. Your personal opinion: what makes a work of art valuable and meaningful?
Its ability to make you feel something. Its ability to make you see something differently, get lost within it, and exit with an experience or a shift in thinking. Whether or not this shift is transient is inconsequential, the fact that a work of art prompted it makes it meaningful.
Who is your personal hero?
Sunrise or sunset, which do you prefer?
What is your picture for IWISHUSUN?
I picture IWISHUSUN working towards the things I find important and that I can align with my personal philosophy of creativity as a driving force in social change. I picture IWISHUSUN joining the movement of artists and creative organizations that hope to improve the world around us.