Me by me … © Melissa Richardson Banks

Me by me … © Melissa Richardson Banks

Who am I? Some people know me as “Downtown Muse”—the photographer who documented and shared daily life through thousands of images taken in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles during its period of rapid transformation during 2011-2016. More recently, a few might know me as “H-Town Muse” for my work showcasing my explorations of Houston.

Others know me as a cultural producer through my work curating large-scale art festivals such as LA Live’s Downtown Dark Nights and BloomfestLA, designing custom art tours for collectors, hosting influencer events, and producing intimate art-and-music salons.

Through CauseConnect, many know of my work behind the scenes executing key cause marketing projects and initiatives since 2001 for Toyota, Target Corporation, City National Bank, Bank of America, Farmers Insurance, and other major companies.

My most visible role at the moment seems to be my work managing the Chicano art collection of Cheech Marin. For him, since 2003, I have organized and toured over a dozen museum exhibitions of work drawn from his notable collection to more than 60 venues across the nation and in Europe. I have also published and successfully marketed art publications tied to our touring exhibitions. Currently, I am helping with raising awareness and dollars for The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture, and Industry, a national institution slated to open in California sometime during 2021 under the auspices of Riverside Art Museum.