Sorell Raino-Tsui had all the support you could hope for when launching a career. Out of high school, he worked his way from runner to floor broker on the stock exchange in the Financial District of San Francisco. He was making money and a name for himself, when his colleague died of a heart attack right on the exchange floor. No one could help because the exchange takes no breaks. “People in New York won’t stop working,” said Sorell. Instead, Sorell and his coworkers watched as his friend died. A little while later, another coworker committed suicide after losing money on the market.
To see life and death, greed and capital in such stark terms made Sorell reflect on his unfulfilling work. To everyone’s surprise, he left his job as floor broker to force a change in his life.
“If you don’t take risks, you risk not having a life that’s fulfilling or meaningful to yourself.”
Sorell’s talk for CreativeMornings Oakland focused on how the ugliness of greed and capital, but how it bore out of him a path towards fulfillment. After tinkering with his own print business, Sorell met Michael Broberg and started getting into the art scene of Oakland.
During this time he realized that he needed to break from chasing more and more money. Pivoting from a fashion company into a printing company, Sorell decides to leave that venture as well to create an artists-first gallery that would become: “Le Qui Vive”(http://lequivive.com/).
The phrase comes from the French Revolution, a saying meaning roughly “who lives?” “whose side are you on?” At the time Sorell had this ongoing mantra of:
“Focus on the art and the money will come.”
He setting a barrier from the greed and allure of money, that endless chase, to focus on a joy he saw from the beginning inspired by Oakland street art. With LQV founded, Sorell and Michael sought out the street artists to let them do what they want to do.
“Don’t limit the expression.”
From there they built up, starting to do legal and large format murals across Oakland. Sorell found irony in how that the same guy bombing “IROT” on the highway would create beloved murals in the heart of Oakland. Reworking the context of street art in gallery space or murals, showcased the genius and talent of Oakland’s underground street artists.
Its in this relationship that Sorell builds with friends and artists, that he began to invest in himself.
“It’s time for people to invest in themselves… Those who are being more conservative are actually risking a lot more because they are missing the chance to do something beautiful.”
Instead of focusing on being the best floor broker, or getting that next best gig, Sorell’s work translates well to a lot of creatives: focus on making yourself happy first. And for now, he’s curating some beautiful work.
“I’m happy now—I’m broke—but I’m happy now.”