Cakes, aka Monica Morones, is “a bad bitch.”
Those are her words—told to me during a recent phone interview. The local visual artist and musician is holding an art show, Bipolar, at Flat Back Art Supplies in Palm Desert on Saturday, Dec. 16.
I asked Morones to explain what makes her a “bad bitch.”
“I’m independent; I think for myself; I stick to my beliefs; and I feel like I’m a beast,” Morones said. “I feel like I can handle myself in any situation, and I feel like it’s not a defense mechanism, but that I’ve hardened myself into a bitch. I could tackle anything. I could do video; I could do photography; I could do painting; I could do modeling; and I could get up onstage and be a singer. I can do all of those things because I said so. That’s what being a bad bitch to me is.”
She explained what inspires her artistically, both as an artist and as a musician.
“My art is very raw, and I can’t even give myself a specific style because I don’t really have one,” she said. “The show ranges from abstract to fine art to super-detailed to random stuff I did on wood. I added in some photography pieces of mine that I really like. My art is kind of all over the place, but when people see my work, I know that they know it’s mine, because I stick with bubblegum pink, and I have a certain aesthetic.
“The inspiration definitely comes from being a bad bitch. I’m a bad girl, and I like in-your-face stuff. I like to shock people, and I like to make people think and make them think about me after that. I’m not narcissistic, but I like making people feel shocked. That’s an inspiration—and music is an inspiration. Anytime I make anything—I make the video; I make the song; and anything I put out—I try to do it entirely myself.”
I asked Morones why being provocative is her modus operandi.
“I can’t speak for other artists, but that’s the only way I know,” she said. “If you ever met my mother, you’d know why: Her favorite word is ‘motherfucker.’ It’s just who I am. I’m abrasive, but I’m also kind. Most of the time, I’m too honest for most people, and that reflects in everything that I do. I try to keep it in check, but most of the time, I’m an artist.”
Fashion is another outlet Morones has found for her art.
“I started sewing a long time ago and started making purses and wallets,” she said. “I learned how to put art on clothes and painted directly onto clothes. When I made a little bit of money off of it, I’d spend whatever extra money on screen printing and putting my art onto shirts, because I was tired of people not buying my purses and wallets. They weren’t too expensive, but they weren’t $20. Back in 2002, I had screen printers put my art onto a shirt, and I said, ‘OK, I’m going to make money this way.’ In the beginning, it was about money; now it’s about art. That’s the difference between being a younger artist and an older artist. But this has been 18 years for me, doing art.”
Morones said it is not easy to be a young artist in the Coachella Valley.
“I think that’s been my biggest struggle as an artist—being validated by others,” she said. “I think it’s horrible, but let’s be honest: That’s what happens when you’re an artist. You make art, and you want to be validated by people, and you want people to like it. … I can’t specifically say if it’s in the Coachella Valley, but I do know that in order to get any type of publication writing or any kind of thing like that, you can’t piss off people. It doesn’t matter what your talent is; you have to know the right people.”
Morones hinted that there might be a Cakes performance at the Bipolar art show, but she made no promises. She described her art and her music as “two very segregated things.”
“When I make art, it’s personal,” she explained. “… I don’t paint live, and I’m not a lab monkey, but kudos to whoever does that. I like to sit in my cage, watch my favorite show, smoke some weed get in a mind-space where I can freely let go. For me, painting is painting. To perform music—that’s a show. When I do shows, I try to touch all the bases of visuals and sound. What can I do to make it different? ‘Let’s put big pink cornrows in my hair; let’s get two big homosexual dancers with their shirts off wearing bunny masks to make people feel a little weird about themselves. Let’s do some weird stuff to make people feel entertained.’ When I perform music, that’s for entertainment, but when I’m an artist, that’s just for me.”
Bipolar, an art show by Cakes, takes place from 6 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, at Flat Black Art Supplies, 74275 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. An all-female slate of DJs will perform. Admission to the 18-and-over event is free. For more information, call 760-340-4307, or visit the event’s Facebook page.