Making art more accessible: Using the airwaves to promote beauty to the beholders

By | January 9, 2014 at 5:45 am | No comments | Columns, Feature Stories, Public Personalities

By Judith Salkin

“Remember we are all born artists. What we do with that, shapes who we are”
–Angela Valente Romeo

Never say to Angela Valente Romeo that art – in all its many forms – is not for the masses.

Throughout her entire life art has been in her soul, whether it has been creating her own clothes, jewelry or photos; appreciating the works of other artists; or producing and hosting “Colliding Worlds” for television and now as a weekly radio show that is drawing audiences from around the world as a live ustream, podcast or from her YouTube channel.

“We have listeners from Northern Europe, Asia, Italy and all over the U.S.,” she said earlier this week. “I think that proves just how important art is in all our lives.”

Romeo never envisioned herself as a TV and radio producer/host growing up on the East Coast. But art was a different story.

“Art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” she says.

But being a good Italian daughter, she took her father’s advice to find a profession that would pay the bills. “Art wasn’t necessarily going to do that,” she recalled.

She went to law school, became an intellectual property lawyer and made a pretty good living. Her chosen field allowed her to travel and see the world and it even brought her to live in Northern California and Sydney, Australia for a couple of years.

And even was instrumental in introducing Romeo to her husband, Mark, when she finally moved to the Bay Area.

Taught from childhood that there is always someone in need that she could help, she spent several years doing pro bono work for political asylum seekers and refugees to keep them from being deported.

“That’s very heavy,” she said of the work. “You literally have someone’s life in your hands. After 9/11, it became so much harder, and after a while, I had to stop.”

Through it all, there was her art. From her jewelry to photos, Romeo found ways to release the ideas that have flowed from the world around her into her hands and eyes.

That even extended to local artists whose work she admired.

So much so, that for several years she owned a gallery in the Bay Area.

And in a way, that was the start of “Colliding Worlds.”

One piece in which an artist had used multiple images of the Mona Lisa caught her eye several years ago, but in talking to the artist she realized he had no idea of its background. “He told me it was ‘clip art’,” she said. “And it struck me that there was an entire segment of the population that really knew nothing about the great art of the world. Kids are out there plagiarizing other people’s work and have no idea they’re doing it.”

So with the help of a videographer, Romeo began producing “Colliding Worlds,” talking to local artists and gallery owners. Over the past several years, she has produced more than 50 half-hour programs that are watched by serious art collectors and novices and creating a new audience for art. They are all available on her website, collidingworlds.com.

While the show started out airing on a local cable station, it now runs eight times a month on KMIR (Sundays at 5 a.m.) and KPSE (Thursdays at 6:30 a.m.).

“You know who watches at 5 a.m. Sunday? Serious art collectors,” she says. “On Thursday, our audience is more people who want to learn more about art.”

The show morphed to a live, more immediate radio piece several months ago when MoneyRadio approached local artists Karen and Tony Barone about doing a show on art in the desert. “They said ‘why reinvent the wheel?’ and mentioned the television show,” Romeo said. “Two weeks later, we were on the air.”

The radio version airs live Mondays at 11 a.m. on MoneyRadio 1510 AM and 99.3 FM, it’s not just heard here in the Coachella Valley. “I have people who listen live every week in Italy,” she says. “That’s 8 p.m. their time!”

“That’s what makes this show so powerful,” she said. “We are a small local show, but we have a very wide global audience. I am just amazed at how much it has grown.”

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