Meet 62-year-old artist Richard Hutchins, who went from spending his nights sleeping on Skid Row to having his artwork displayed in art galleries in Beverly Hills and celebrity’s and influencer’s homes across the world. The highly sought-after artist’s dreams came true after one life-changing moment at a local Ralph’s grocery store.
Former Street Execs co-owner and music executive Charlie Rocket redirected his entire life mission to help make over a million dreams come true with his Dream Machine Tour. Him and his team traveled 100,000 miles across the country and helped facilitate the magic of hope and dreams in every community they visited.
Charlie and the Dreamr team met Hutchins at a Los Angeles Ralph’s and his life has been changed tremendously since then. He remembers it as his second chance to pursue his wildest dreams.
When Charlie asked what Hutchins dream was he replied, “I hope to see my art hanging on the walls of museums.”
Last month, we had an opportunity to see Hutchins work displayed at the Cool HeART Gallery in Beverly Hills alongside two other prominent artists Ruben Rojas and Richard Orlinski. Naturally, we arrived as the party began while Montel Jordan’s “This Is How I Do It” played in the background. Hutchins greeted each and every eager fan of his work that night and posed for a plethora of photos. The room was filled with the most organic loving and warm energy.
Hutchins pieces have since garnered attention from countless celebrities like Will Smith, 2 Chainz, and Steve Harvey. Most recently, Oprah Winfrey surprised Hutchins during his Entertainment Tonight interview and purchased one of his pieces.
There was an overwhelming amount of love at the art show entitled LOVE & DREAMS: One Night to Change A Life, which featured a special red-carpet show especially for Richard. Each sale that night contributed to him getting off the streets and in the Hollywood Hills where I met him nearly a month later to chat about how much his life has changed at Charlie Rocket and the Dreamr team’s headquarters called the Dreamr House.
We discussed how he met Charlie Rocket and the Dreamr team, his colored past, his views on politics, helping to clean up Los Angeles largest homeless community of Skid Row and some of his greatest inspirations from family to Andy Warhol.
Read our super casual and inspiring conversation below:
How did being showered with love make you feel in that moment?
Probably how Andy Warhol felt at that time when he first did a big event like that. I felt like I was walking on clouds literally. It was one of the most amazing things I’d ever seen or been a part of.
I wanted to speak with you the night of the art show, but it seemed like it was a lot going on. Was it overwhelming?
Yeah it was. It was. As a matter fact, what I did was got in the sprinter and went to Skid Row. I went to give away some money. I just had to go and see on that night to make sure I hadn’t lost my grip.
How’s life after the show?
Life is good after the show. I’m alright now. I’ll be moving into a place in a couple days. We’re going out Friday to do a walk through. I’m going to get that house over there to [as he points to a house in the hills].
How has the link with the Dreamr team transformed your life? How did the encounter even come about?
Meeting them was God-sent. It wasn’t until I gave my life and truly committed myself to my creator that things changed. He always says, “you give me your life and I’ll give you what you want.” I asked for this a long, long time ago. As soon as I committed, cleaned my heart and stopped lying to myself and other people, God just threw it at me.
Describe the moment right before you met Charlie and the team.
They were going to pick up something from Target. Target was closed and as Charlie says, “I never seen a Target closed.” On this particular day, Charlie and them ended up coming to Ralph’s. I had been sitting on that damn cart for three years at least. I almost missed it then, because sometimes impatience can make you lose a lot of things. I remember standing up and walking away but something pushed me back on that cart and about thirty seconds later, Charlie pulled up with that blue truck out there.
I yelled at them, “ay let me drive that truck.” They started laughing, and he said, “we’ll see you when we get back.” They came back out of the store with big smiles on their faces and a hundred dollar bill in hand.
You know sometimes give you that and promise you things to try to make themselves look good. That wasn’t the case with these guys. They gave me their numbers and told me to call them tomorrow and I did. They took me on a shopping spree to Blick’s and spent over $2000 on art supplies.
Yeah, Blicks is expensive –
See thing was I was in there nit-picking, and Charlie said, “Man get what you want.” I ended up spending $2000 from a man I just met.
How did the conversation about your art come about?
They asked me what was my dream and I said my dream was to see my stuff hanging up in galleries and museums.
Your dream came true. I was impressed by the art when viewing it at the show. Your work is innovative.
The envelopes I started doing while I was in prison. That was my outlet. I didn’t have anything to paint on or draw on until later on. I would write Keith Polk and susan Wineburg. I remember Susan saying why don’t you put some color on it. Let me send you some paint. I said I’m in jail I can’t have no paint. So the next one I did I had these skittles, m&ms and kool-aid and all this stuff I had on my bed. I started using the colors in the coffee. You know for of them [envelopes] sold for $10,000.
Aside from that, what’s your process? Now with more resources, you don’t have to use M&M’s and Skittles.
I still do. As a matter of fact, we did one of LeBron James and Dr. Dre recently and Will Smith reposted it.
A lot of celebs are reposting and supporting your movement off the strength of your story.
This is what I had to really catch on to when Entertainment Tonight came and did an interview with us. Ms. Winfrey – the richest woman in the world. I’m still trying to grab that to know that my work is being looked at by literally the world. [Hutchins gets emotional recalling the experience]
You know she didn’t have to do that. The young lady doing the interview set us up good. Great interview too. She said I have someone who wants to meet you. She’s a fan like the rest of the world is. One of the most amazing things that has ever happened in my entire life.
It shows you the power you have and that your art has. When the site launched, you generated $50k in 4 hours and $100k in 5 days! Very impressive numbers. You were quite emotional when you learned the news. You kept saying, “after all these years.” How does it feel to finally profit from your art? Something you’ve done passionately for so long.
I have an account that I use for my personal funds. The big money is going to go out there to help clean those sidewalks up [off Skid Row where Hutchins spent the last 6 years]. You have women out there sleeping in tents by themselves walking out there half dressed with no shoes on, and we walk by them like they’re nothing.
That’s my whole thing. I can’t help everybody but I don’t want to leave anybody behind.
I’ve been downtown looking for a singer. Someone that I can bring to Charlie and let them change their life. I want to be a part of changing someone else’s life. Many lives.
Right, pay it forward.
I’m going to do that for the rest of my life.
Being from Georgia, how did you end up on the other side of the country and ultimately on Skid Row yourself?
I ended up in California working in the movie industry working with entertainers and road managers.
In the music industry?
I worked with SOS Band, Maze, New Edition… The 80s and 90s R&B acts I worked with a lot of those people through a friend of mine named Jimmy B at a company named Southwest Entertainment. He gave me my first start in the industry.
Then I got into the drug scene selling drugs. I became the go-to guy in the entertainment industry.
I was still painting the entire time. I never stopped painting. When I was sleeping in a garage in Hollywood here, this guy Matt — who’s also from Atlanta — offered me a garage to sleep in to avoid the weather.
I never stopped painting. Why should I? That was my escape. That’s how I dealt with a lot of my pain I had. I never went out in the public and showed it. When I was out in Skid Row and Hollywood, I would go out to try to help people, even though I was homeless. A lot of people were attracted to me and would give me things, I couldn’t eat all of that so I would give it to everyone else.
It [being on Skid Row] wasn’t good. People would call you the N word and tell you to go get a job or something.
When in reality, the best thing you can do for someone is just listen. Just listening could change someone’s life. It could save someone’s life.
I just want to make a difference. I think I can make a difference through my art. I never dreamed that this would happen. Maybe when I was dead. I just never imagined I would actually see it.
I never hear you talk about your family.
I was never one to hang around my family. I left home when I was 13 and never went back. I dated an older lady and she made sure I went to school. I never went back home but my mom was my best friend. The foundation I’m putting together is named after my mother.
What’s her name?
Jessie. The Jessie Hutchins Foundation.
My oldest brother Carlos is my hero. I’ve only seen one brother and one sister in the last 25 years. But I see my kids. I talk to my kids.
How many kids do you have?
Nine and they all live in Georgia.
We talk more since this happened. You know what was heartwarming for me. [Hutchins becomes emotional again]
I was able to send them some money. For all these years… and I’m not trying to make up for it. I’m just trying to go forward with it. I’m just trying to make sure I leave something behind for them and the rest of the world.
I think the world has showed me that my heart can definitely do that.
I’ve called the President and the Vice President up to come to Skid Row. I’ve never seen a sitting President or Senator come to Skid Row tents, not Bunker Hill tents, but Skid Row. See a man sleeping on the sidewalk on the cold concrete with a blanket, a woman, a child… You can go to the border but you can’t come to your own backyard.
The cry is there. They’re crying for help.
I got up off the sidewalk and went and voted for you. So why don’t you come and see why I voted for you? Cause you promised me there’s going to be a change.
They’re in talks about doing a movie about my life. That money is going to go back to help them.
What do you hope people will get from your art and your story?
Don’t give up. Dreams never die. Like I said, my spirit wasn’t broken and my dream never died. I had a chance to see what the world really looks like on the other side. From up here, I see what it looks like and I got a chance to see what it looks like literally from the bottom and it was very sad. Every day I wake up trying to do something to change that.
As a self-taught artist, what sorts of things do you lean on for inspiration? How do you learn new techniques?
I get my inspiration from people. Someone like you or these people in this house.
When you can wake up in the middle of the morning, and hear your name on TV. I thought someone was calling my name one night but I was literally on the tv. That’s inspiration. I just thought to myself, wow Ms. Jessie I wish you were here. She gives me inspiration. The first piece I thought was nice she hung it in her house.
We wouldn’t be sitting here if it weren’t for my friend Keith Polk. When I was in prison, I sent things to Keith. I never expected to see it again. Keith ended up with about 80 pieces and held onto everything and it paid off. He’s still my friend. Every time one of the original pieces sell, Keith gets half of it.
People just naturally gravitate towards you. What do you think that is?
God. That’s all that is. Kids and dogs love me. When kids and dogs gravitate towards you, that’s a sign of God saying that you’re alright.
One of my major events that I’m going to do is “The Pink Party.” My foundation and The Dreamr Team are going to throw a party that will benefit Breast Cancer Awareness month in October.
We also have speaking engagements arranged in Chicago. I’m going to Art Basel in Miami with one of the wealthiest art collectors in the world. He’s purchasing a painting that will hang next to Warhol and Basquiat. All three of us were homeless so mine up there will complete the trilogy.
The night of the event when I stepped out of the van there was a Warhol picture. I’m a big Warhol fan. He’s one of my biggest inspirations.
Yeah, you have mentioned Warhol quite a bit.
Because he’s different. He was true to his game. I think I’d be in pretty good company.