She was something out of classic literature. The seemingly unrealistic construct of an overactive imagination, desperate for the world to be beholden to a character far too large for the world it was sharing. In fact, it almost seemed too perfect that such an entity would exist on any relatable plane. You know the character of which I speak. They're usually the one with all the cool one liners, easy answers, and a seemingly unstoppable magnetic charm.They often appear when the lead character is in a bind, and is in need of a little color to broaden the internal scope. Lives like this couldn't possibly exist in our world, right?


You see, Lisa Nguyen was more than merely a member of a close-knit circle of local artists with great influence upon other communities, she was a confidant, cheerleader, cruel disciplinarian, instigator, and a caring friend upon which so many of us may not have sought out our fortunes without meeting. She was that one in a million type of spirit that could light up any dark room with attitude, and a mouth, and a stare. Which is why so many of us felt the earth lose a vital element upon her tragic passing in January. There aren't enough words to be shared here about her influence, and the fiery trail she often left behind with those she encountered.

One of my most cherished memories involves running into her and friends for Japan Nite 2007, where she essentially scooped my roomie and I toward the front and center stage in a crowded Knitting Factory for bands such as ORESKABAND, Go!Go!7188, Asakusa Jinta & 50 Kaitenz. All the night, we were host to such character and love for both the show and the crowd, as she took it upon herself to lead the "east" side of the crowd to a loudness match with the "west".

It was a rowdy, unforgettable night that solidified her role in my world, which had only begun a few years prior when she and friends met my party of pals at an anime convention of all places. This girl was everywhere, and seemed to have no real barriers to speak of. To say that she was a significant inspiration in my life, even as a casual buddy who'd visit roomies often would be an understatement.

Which brings us to her impact upon so many in arts communities the world over with her colorful attitude, creative vision, and unmitigated moxie, which is what led so many to dedicate their works to her in a sumptuous gallery tribute that took place at the Fine Arts department of Cal. State Long Beach. (ground zero for much of her college life, and closest friends)

                                                            Lisa photo courtesy of Shane Redsar                                                           

The Werby Gallery was a terrific host for The Fabulous Life Of Lisa Nguyen, featuring a stunning display of mixed medium works, sketches, paintings, digital pieces & crafts made with all the energy, wit, and irreverence of the incredibly real person who inspired them.

Here is taste of the gallery:

A part of me really regrets not being there for the gallery's opening ceremonies due to illness, but on the positive side, the ability to drink in so much astonishing artwork was enhanced by being there on an early Tuesday afternoon. So the following image gallery is a summation of my visit with details where my camera came though, so deepest apologies to those whose names were missed. There was just so much beauty around that I became a little shutterbug greedy. Now onto the full photo gallery..All proceeds from this show were for a memorial scholarship in her name.
And lastly, one of the large highlights at the show was a collection of Lisa's own personal works including early paintings, sketches, and rough ideas donated by friends and family. A candid, and lovely means to round out a heartfelt collection of feelings & impressions.

In summary, if all of the feelings that would well up inside, motivating us to make our own grand marks on the planet had a face, it would be Lisa for me. She was simply the kind of person that would burn themselves into your mind when thinking about your potential. There never seemed to be anything she would hold back on. And in that sense, she was among the most relentlessly inspiring folks I have ever had the privilege to meet. And whenever I feel stuck, worried, or unsure, she is one of those few impressions that come rushing back to remind me that it is the journey that counts, and not the longevity. "Twice as bright, half as long" Her brightness will endure with us as long as we keep tending our own personal fires with love & energy.

Thanks again, Lisa.