Say it with your work | Welcome Blanket

The Welcome Blanket installation at Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago.

The best part of my work is the synchronicity that occurs without effort. Saying yes to life and enjoying the delight and fulfillment that comes from the sheer willingness to simply be open.

At the very beginning of January, I was referred to the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago in their search for a graphic designer to assist them with packaging design, part of the conclusion of their 5-month-long Welcome Blanket installation. They're looking for the best way to package over 3,000 blankets that people around the country were invited to make for newly-settled refugees and immigrants.


Welcome Blanket is a participatory project by the Pussyhat Project's co-founder Jayna Zweiman that confronts issues around immigration and refugee resettlement through a tapestry of handmade blankets. The work explores how political activism can be “positive, creative, and collective.” 

Welcome Blanket is a crowd-sourced artistic action that called for over 3,000 blankets to be knit from 3,500,640 yards of yarn, a length equal to the proposed border wall dividing the United States and Mexico. Welcome Blanket invited participants to knit, crochet, or sew the blankets for new immigrants as well as for refugees seeking resettlement and send them with personal notes of welcome and stories of immigration to the Smart Museum of Art.

The project opened on July 18, in an empty gallery in the Museum which was quickly activated as a receiving station to sort and store the blankets. Blankets accumulated in the space over the run of the project, transforming it from a visually sparse site of potential action into a vibrant installation of handmade blankets. Throughout Welcome Blanket, visitors were invited to spend time knitting in the gallery or joining a series of public programs that took place over the fall, creating spaces for conversations around issues of human rights, immigration, and the legacy of artistic activism.

This Spring, the blankets will be distributed in coordination with immigration organizations and refugee resettlement agencies and other community partners around the country. I am humbled to have a small part in getting these love-filled blankets into the hands of thousands of our newest neighbors. Thank you, Jayna, and thank you, Smart Museum of Art!


Year in Review 2017


At the beginning of this year, I launched Go As If: a production company that would carve a space for me to continue my work of developing inclusive, multi-generational arts + culture events.

By being a part of this journey, you’ve helped to spark collaboration, mentorship and increase access to the arts for people, young and old. Cheers to my creative community of musicians, artists and activists. Here are some of my favorite highlights from the year.

Astral Progressions Portraits

Some People Are Artists. Some, Themselves, Are Art.

Photographer, Jaimie Milner, captured the beauty of the audience at Astral Progressions last month. Astounding beauty in every portrait. 


About the photographer

Born and raised in Southern California, Jaimie Milner discovered photography through a high school elective. After high school, Milner attended the University of Southern California and received her Bachelors in Communication. In her studies at USC, she learned about the portrayal of race, gender and sexuality in the media and the effects it has on our society. It was then she realized she could have a direct influence on how people saw themselves and each other. Milner combined this new found knowledge and her love for the art of photography to capture the essence and stories of a people and their individual characteristics. Milner uses photographic portraiture as her primary medium by which she aspires to capture, empower and inspire the human spirit. 

Read an article from the LA Times about her work entitled, The Gifted Project >>>


Beauty and the Bass

Gina Ramirez is a 20 year old student at Herb Alpert School of Music Cal Arts, a school that offers a vibrant mix of programs that allow students the musical fluency to work across conventional boundaries. Notable alumni include Ravi Coltrane, son of John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane, and Astral Progressions headliner, Josef Leimberg

I’ve always been keen on how music affected me. When I was 9 years old, my very lovely neighbor offered to teach me classical piano. That’s where my musical journey began. When I entered junior high, I joined beginning band playing trumpet. This is where I learned about different instruments and how you can combine them in music. When I entered high school, I discovered jazz. At the time, I was still playing trumpet and classical piano on the side. But when this genre came into my life, I also discovered jazz bass. I felt a huge connection with that instrument than with any other. At 14, I was gifted an electric bass and I soon taught myself the fretboard and how to read. I would take home jazz charts and try to read the bass parts, I would learn cool bass lines by ear, and I would just try to learn as much as possible about bass. At 16, I composed my first jazz piece. This is when I decided that jazz and composition is what I wanted to do with my life. I enjoy composing, and I enjoy playing bass. So now, here I am in college, studying to become the best I can possibly be at my dream career. I want to strive for greatness.   --Gina Ramirez

Some of Gina's most notable performances include a 2014 performance at the Hollywood Bowl w/ Juanes feat. YOLA Orchestra and 3 years of the Playboy Jazz Festival and Central Avenue Jazz Festival with as well as the 2015 Leimert Park Labor Day Festival with Ashley Taylor. Recently, she's played Little Tokyo's own Blue Whale Jazz Club with her jazz trio.

Gina's accomplishments to date include prominent Awards that include: ASCAP Herb Alpert Jazz Composer Honorable Mention (2017), Herb Alpert Music Scholarship (2015), Music Center Spotlight Promise Award (2014), NAACP ACT-SO Regional Gold Medalist (2014) and an RDJF Music Scholarship (2012). 

On Sunday, Sept 17th, catch a special pre-show performance featuring Gina Ramirez on Double Bass and  Hamilton High School student, Kobie Dozier. Don't miss this special evening of cosmic jazz and soul music. Tickets on sale now.

Pay it forward and donate to the 100 community members attending the show free of charge! Together, we can remove obstacles to high quality arts experiences for underserved communities.

Astral Progressions at the Ford


Sunday, September 17, 2017 at Ford Theatres, Hollywood

LOS ANGELES, CA. — Trumpeter, composer and producer, Josef Leimberg (Alpha Pup Records/World Galaxy), headlines the historic Ford Theatres on September 17th for a summer concert entitled, “Astral Progressions”. The show will give back to several non-profit organizations with tickets and bus transportation including Ben Caldwell’s KAOS Network in the beloved South LA community, Leimert Park.
       Josef Leimberg has been making music in Los Angeles for more than twenty-five years. His stellar collaborative resume includes names in the industry like Erykah Badu, Dr. Dre, Chance the Rapper, Frank Ocean, SZA and Snoop Dogg. Turn on the first track, “Wesley’s Theory,” on Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy award winning “To Pimp a Butterfly” and you’ll hear Josef’s voice opening the album. His sound is a soulful cosmic-funk jazz at the intersection of hip-hop instrumentalism.

       For his debut Ford performance, Leimberg will bring along his Astral Progressions Ensemble and some of his favorite collaborators including singer/songwriter Bilal, who is featured on the Detroit Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and recently gave a riveting performance of the song “It Ain’t Fair” on The Tonight Show with The Roots. Other guests include soul songstress Jimetta Rose and Grammy award-winning Jermaine Holmes (of D’angelo’s The Vanguard) with more guests to be announced.
       Leimberg sits alongside modern jazz greats such as Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin and Robert Glasper.

“I appreciate all of the arts”, says Leimberg. “My parents were very big on jazz when I was growing up. I remember as far back as I can going to jazz clubs with my parents and seeing some of the greatest jazz musicians.”

With this concert, Leimberg will pay it forward by giving the South LA community that same experience for a new generation of music lovers.