Moontower is excited to introduce our 2023-2024 Artists in Residence! These seven talented individuals come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, though they are all united by their passion for creativity. We are thrilled to have them join our community.
- Nicholas (Nick) Gearing
- Ryan Malikowski
- Sam Opoku
- Chloe Huls
- Giovannie Dixon
- Rafael “Ralph” Domenech
- Tieme Yamashita
Keep reading to learn more about each artist!
Nicholas (Nick) Gearing and Ryan Malikowski
— Actors/Theater Producers
Nicholas (Nick) Gearing and Ryan Malikowski are a married collaborative team of musical theatre performers and producing artists.
They developed a love for the arts and performing early on, and their formative years were spent in the Valley learning and developing their skills.
Both have an extensive background in the performance arts in Arizona over the past two decades, including fronting live bands, teaching young artists, leading choruses, and performing at theaters throughout the Valley.
The pair met in 2016 when they were both cast in the Arizona premiere of Green Day’s American Idiot musical with Stray Cat Theatre. They have performed together ever since.
In 2020, the pair co-created a non-profit arts organization called Philanthropic Productions, which creates arts events intended to benefit community efforts.
Their artistic endeavors are highly collaborative and integrate multiple forms of media to create rich and meaningful, as well as fun and entertaining performance events. Drawing from diverse experiences and perspectives, the intention of their work is to evoke strong emotional reactions and ideally to inspire others to some form of action.
Sam Opoku is a Ghanaian-American Afro soul/R&B artist who immigrated to the U.S. at the age of eight after his mother won the visa lottery. He learned to navigate between cultures and embraced musical influences from both worlds, resulting in his own unique and rich sound.
Opoku acquired English language skills by interacting on the playground and watching Saturday morning cartoons. This fueled his passion for the arts, poetry, songwriting, and music. After completing the music program at Grand Canyon University, he decided to pursue a full-time career as an artist.
Opoku formed a team with his closest friends, and together they achieved remarkable milestones, including sold-out headline shows and having a song featured on Netflix. He has also collaborated with some of the music industry’s most influential figures. Opoku’s goal is to make a lasting impact that can inspire both older and younger generations to follow their dreams.
Opoku draws inspiration from people and believes his purpose is to help heal and bring people together through music, art, culture, and food. He feels grateful and blessed to be able to make a living through his music and eagerly anticipates what the future holds for him.
Chloe Huls is an international documentary photographer based in Phoenix, Arizona. She spent most of her childhood in San Carlos, Mexico, as one of six children raised in a multicultural household. Her upbringing inspired her to capture the beauty of the present moment and the people in it.
Using a deeply personal approach, Huls illuminates the beauty of the present moment and the people in her photos. She specializes in visual storytelling and has documented local and international weddings, brands, luxury hotels, and individual portraits. Her preferred mediums are digital, film and Super 8.
Outside of work, Huls enjoys specialty coffee, wandering European streets, shopping for vintage clothing and nurturing close relationships.
“JUST” Giovannie is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist who found his passion for art while working construction in Phoenix, Arizona in 2017. He felt like he had lost his purpose in life, but after only two years of painting, he decided to become a full-time artist. He now strives to be a prime example of what is possible in a short period of time.
Giovannie was born and raised in Los Angeles, California to two Jamaican parents who immigrated to America in the mid-1980s. This gave him the motivation to dream big. He describes himself as an athlete turned artist, and he is always mindful of his roots. He highlights his athletic background and the lessons he learned from sports, both good and bad, when telling his story.
Giovannie played football as a kid, throughout high school, and in college. He believes in the “you can do anything you put your mind to” mentality, and he wants to showcase this in his work and creativity. He hopes to empower all who experience his creations.
After teaching himself how to produce art at a high technical level, Giovannie is now finding more creative ways to speak through his art. He is looking for spaces that are not traditionally driven by art, but where his art can create opportunities for discussion.
Rafael “Ralph” Domenech
— Filmmaker, Editor, Director
Rafael Domenech, also known as RD3 in the creative world, is an experienced director and editor with over six years of industry experience. He has always had a passion for visual storytelling, which ignited during his childhood when he would create short movies featuring mythical creatures, zombies, and other imaginative themes. This enduring passion from his younger days has led to his current full-time career as a director, a fact that holds deep personal significance for him as it brings pride to the younger version of himself.
In his journey as a director, Rafael has particularly excelled in creating music videos, collaborating with a diverse array of talented artists and musicians. In addition to music videos, he has also contributed to multiple short films and feature films, continually honing his craft. Rafael eagerly anticipates the day when he can write and direct his own films, bringing to life the vivid imagination that has accompanied him since childhood.
Tieme Yamashita is a musician whose passion for music was ignited at the tender age of five. At 28 years old, music has become an inseparable part of her life, a pursuit she couldn’t abandon even if she tried.
During her upbringing, Tieme often found herself abandoning aspirations due to fear of failure or not living up to her own or others’ expectations. However, her love for music remained steadfast, and she continuously strived to improve her skills without wavering.
Throughout her career as an artist, Tieme has been fortunate to perform in numerous esteemed venues. While these experiences have been remarkable, she treasures the relationships she has formed with fellow creatives even more. These connections have enriched her journey and are a constant source of gratitude for her. Tieme believes that music creates a profound sense of connection, which fuels her unwavering passion for the art form.
We are so proud to have these talented artists join the Moontower community as Artists in Residence, and are excited to see what the future holds for them. We encourage you to check out their work and learn more about their stories.