Creativity seems to flow freely in the Mesches family.
Arnold Mesches was New York-born visual artist who had a file opened on him by the FBI targeting him as a subversive communist.
He explored a variety of contemporary and social issues based of his childhood experiences during the Great Depression and has had over 120 solo exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles and Australia.
His grandson, Tai “Prosperous” Mesches, said he embraces his grandfather’s artistic mantle.
“When I was born, we were completely immersed in what art is, and now with him gone, the responsibility of what that name means, we embrace,” he said.
While Mesches’ background is in education, he said his calling into the arts came from hip-hop, and from there, fell in love with poetry.
He said it wasn’t until he started travelling overseas, living in China and Taipei, that he began writing his own.
“I started diving into rhyme – short little ones to essentially express and explore my own narrative of that cross-cultural jump from the states to China. It was a way of me making sense of it all,” he said.
It was in these places that he felt creative spaces where people could express themselves were lacking, and so he created his own
spaces, dubbing them “A Nook for Rhyme Crooks”, as safe spaces for freedom of expression.
“I was raised with artists, I’ve seen in my time people having trouble expressing themselves. I think creative expression is a very human thing, regardless of if you live at home or abroad. it makes us who we are, I think,” he said.
“Coming over here, my philosophy is to inspire who I can, plant that seed ,‘I will develop this confidence’ and that’s what I’ve seen with my journey with Nook.”
Arriving in Phnom Penh, he decided to create yet another incarnation, with the help of Cloud as a venue.
“Wherever I’ve travelled I’ve managed to set up these kinds of spaces, where fellow writers, beatboxers, freestylists, hip-hop heads, whatever… we’d get together, share our stuff. It’s taking different forms,” he said.
“It’s been performance in Taipei, it’s a writing centre for high-school kids in Manhattan, it was a safe space for people coming together in Kunming.”
Based on the guidelines of creative expression, non-judgemental acceptance and a culture of listening, he hoped the events could create a welcoming and creative atmosphere.
The Phnom Penh incarnation, which has had three successful sessions, features a simple format: people who want to participate put their name into a hat and are called up at random to perform what they want, be it poetry, prose, song, almost anything.
With participants including local artists such as Kossal Khiev and Scott Bywater adding to the creative gumption, Mesches said he hoped performers could grow creatively from the experience, and those who want to come and listen and soak up the good vibes are welcome.
“When you get poets together they start talking about society in a certain way, you construct reality in a way that you have fun with,” he said.
“We invite anyone to come. It aims towards words, prose, poetry, rhymes, music… whatever anyone feels like sharing.”
A Nook for Rhyme Crooks is on Saturday, September 2, from 6pm at Cloud, #32 Street 9