Expressing herself is rarely a problem for Shalandrea Houchen. In fact, her range of diverse experiences helps the young Los Angeles native to excel in several creative endeavors.
Houchen not only boasts a background in acting, singing and modern dancing, but she also spent the last eight years managing the opening of successful restaurants in New York City. It was in NYC that she discovered her gift for designing pop-up art installations by presenting What’s Ya Zodiac, an interactive gallery showcasing the 12 Zodiac signs.
Now she’s launching a similar installation in L.A. and her exhibits aren’t just nice to look at. They also offer a hands-on opportunity to learn about Black art history along with other topics, explained Houchen, who is known professionally as Shay Renee.
The paint and sip events feature a painting class, led by a professional artist, held in a high-energy environment and complimented with robust beverages. Artists Malcolm-Emilio Yarde and Isis Dua will conduct the inaugural L.A. classes.
“Our paint and sip aims to be the art class you never received in school. We are highlighting and exposing everyone’s mind and soul to the beauty of the Black artists around the world such as Robert S. Duncanson, Jacob Lawrence, Kara Walker, Kehinde Wile, Iona Rozeal Brown and Jean-Michel Basquit,” said Houchen.
Calling her venture, What’s Ya Sip, Houchen says the project is her “homage to the unrecognized, undervalued and silenced Black artists that laid the carpet for my peers and I to be the artists we are today.”
She envisions people commissioning her pop-up gallery to celebrate milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries and retirements. What’s Ya Sip can also enhance family reunions, youth outings and community fundraising events. “Sponsorships of various levels are available as well for businesses of all sizes to publicize their product or service,” added Houchen.
“For example, the Say It Loud package provides your brand or product demonstration in two installations, your company’s name mentioned in all media and marketing and your product included in the swag bag,” she said. “The higher level Harlem Renaissance sponsorship offers all of that, plus a personalized installation featuring your brand.”
Mixing art and hospitality lays the foundation for growth, noted the entrepreneur, who plans to take What’s Ya Sip nationwide through partnerships and collaborations with cities and agencies around the U.S. Houchen also plans to develop new Black history-related concepts on a semi-annual basis.
“By combining art and hospitality, pop up art galleries can attract hundreds of people and educate women, men and youth about Black business, culture and art history,” Houchen said. “Individuals and organizations can benefit by hosting What’s Ya Sip to further the mission or cause that’s close to their heart.”
The Los Angeles debut of What’s Ya Sip takes place on July 16-18 in South L.A. To learn about sponsorships or obtain tickets, email [email protected] or contact @artbyallnatural on Instagram.