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How Two Brothers Are Revamping The Laguna Beach Art Scene

An interview with Sueños founders Shelton Taylor and Scotty Wise, conducted by Clairesse Schweig and Gia Pietrosky.

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Photo by Cristina Cernik

Off the Pacific Coast Highway, two brothers are breathing extraordinary art and positive energy back into the Laguna Beach night scene through their combined dreams. Friday and Saturday nights, if you follow the angel numbers to 222 Oceans Ave, you’ll find Shelton Taylor and Scotty Wise lively dancing the night away at Sueños. 


Hosted at Sueños, a Laguna Beach restaurant and bar, Taylor and Wise reworked the beach-side location into an after-hours hot-spot for combradiery and community. After launching in mid-August as an album release party, Sueños has since accelerated into an exciting energetic experience including an array of live music, live art installations and oh-so-good vibes–taking inspiration from the town once a center for art and artists.  

Taylor writes and plays his own music and has performed in different bands throughout his artistic career. Currently, he’s focusing on writing and putting out his own solo music. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor worked on performing for private events, weddings and upscale venues and has been playing at the Sueños restaurant location frequently over the last couple years.

As a result, he mentioned to his brother, Scotty Wise that Sueños management was on the lookout for something after hours. Together, Wise and Taylor looked upon the atmospheric space and leaped into action, working to create a perfect place for the people of Laguna and beyond to chill, laugh and enjoy art and dance. 

As a celebrated professional photographer, much of Wise’s work is influenced by Laguna itself, often embodying the town as his muse by capturing Laguna’s quintessential ethereal, dreamy and captivating essence. But both Wise and Taylor were beyond inspired by their setting; they hoped to use that inspiration for more. 


“I wanted to do something to give back to this city in return for everything it's done for me. This place [Laguna Beach] gave me a new start and I wanted to give it a new start and that’s what Sueños came together to be,” said Wise. 

Both brothers are originally from Texas, but moved to Laguna Beach and found a deep love and appreciation for the Southern California coastal town known for its artistry and artistic energy. They both agreed that “this is home for [them.]”


Wise has previous promotion experience in LA and a degree in entrepreneurship and small business’ leading him to careers in social media marketing and photography. Through Sueños all of those skills are “coming to use.” 


In preparation for Sueños’ start, Wise expressed that he “went to almost every bar in the city [Los Angeles] and met like every single person [he] possibly could, and just got around everywhere.”


He adds, “I met all the bands, all the promoters, all the door men, everybody. And that kind of put me on trajectory to do this. I did eventually get burned out and thought ‘I want to go back home,’ So I came back here.”


Photo by Gia Pietrosky

Upon returning to Laguna Beach, the combined motivations for Sueños started to click into place: “It was Shelton wanting to do something, the managers and owners of Sueños wanting to do something and then me getting tired of the big city feel but still wanting to do something that’s very good energy, fun, and something to do at night,” shares Wise. 


The pair treated Sueños’ grand opening in mid August as a proof of concept, considering if they could get people in the door and how everything would logistically come to fruition. As Wise explains, “it was insane… it was still super hectic.” 


Still, the night was a hit. The brothers booked six bands, and, over 1,000 people showed up to support Sueños’ start and “after that we knew we could do this,” said Wise. 


Taylor offers the personal excitement he felt as Sueños came together, stating, “When I first thought of the idea, I thought it would be sick if I could play at a spot that I owned or I was a part of. When I finally got to play here, it was such a surreal experience.”


Photo by Scotty Wise


Photo by Scotty Wise

From its triumphant beginning, Taylor and Wise have been “refining” and “building off” of Sueños’ success, but still, running a nightclub is very new for both of them, causing them to experiment and learn “with every step of the process.”


Since the opening night where it all began, Sueños has morphed into a dreamscape-like experience for anyone who goes. Additionally, both Wise and Taylor are “really careful about the energy we [they] curate,” said Wise. Attentive to who plays and who is let into Sueños, Wise expressed that the goal was “to create a safe space of good energy. We’re at 222 Ocean ave, so there's angel numbers that represent a joyful, clean energetic space.” 


Taylor and Wise both shared desire to cultivate a safe and supportive artistic environment with an unforgettable and high energy atmosphere where expression and enjoyment run free. 

“We want people to be who they are, dress how they want to, and dance without fear of being creeped on, watched awkwardly.” Though “it’s still a nightclub,”

Wise says he works closely with security “to keep an eye on things on an energetic level” by “staying in tune with the overall mission which is to create a safe space for people to dance.” This is constantly refined as Sueños becomes “a better and better experience and a safer and safer environment–more fun, more joy, more inviting—and on top of all those things, actually good. A morally and ethically good place. Which is kinda oxymoronic to it being a nightclub but I see myself as a friend to a lot of friends and this [Sueños] as a place to dance.” 


The attention to safe and welcoming energy is a rare staple of Sueños’, as many bars and nightclubs within Orange County unfortunately fail to do this same. However, Taylor and Wise are setting a precedent within the artistic and entertainment communities to, as Wise articulates, “right the wrongs and do good.” Additionally, this is yet another example of Sueños filling in a much needed atmospheric and artistic void. 


Speaking towards the idea of karmic loop, Wise states, “I’m a firm believer in putting out energy and receiving it back. The good energy we’ve been putting into this has come back tenfold. We’ve been so blessed.” 


Likewise, both brothers have been able to use their artistic pursuits throughout the conception and actualization of Sueños. 


“There’s ways I've been able to express my artistic side in all the details of Sueños, but really it reaches out to the idea of making people happy,” shares Wise. Whether that’s through one-on-one photo shoots or passing interactions on the dance floor, Wise always seems interested in creating more happiness through his own outward expression and care for others. He expressed this as his goal: “Make people happy on a bigger scale and infuse that with art, collaboration and all the things that make photography cool by bringing them into this environment, this concept.


In a similar way, Taylor’s career in music lends especially useful when organizing performers along with booking artists and bands. When booking bands for Sueños, Taylor wanted to include bands that don’t get booked anywhere else. After honing in on this idea, he decided to have smaller bands open up for Sueños and then have larger artists perform as the main act in hopes of creating exposure and connection across multiple artists.

Photo by Gia Pietrosky

Photo by Scotty Wise

“The idea was to really create a space where young and old artists could come and meet each other and in turn be able to collaborate,” Taylor shares. 


When marketing the club, Wise and Taylor knew that a genuine and intentional approach was the way to go, and Wise’s experience in marketing helped make that happen. 


Speaking on this, Wise shares that ,“throughout all the business, I try and sit down and text my friends like 'Hey, how’s the wife and kids? How’s your dog doing? Come dance.'”


Instead of mass email chains or impersonal ads, Wise and Taylor adopted a more authentic and personal approach to marketing Sueños. “I have so much energy in my heart that I try to share it with as many people as possible…I love chatting with people face-to-face and even walk around town an hour before [Sueños] opens up and just shake hands with people asking if they want to come dance,” offers Wise as he reiterates that above all, the brothers want to see “genuine connection created” at Sueños and believe that is “where success lies.”


When asked about their favorite aspects of of creating Sueños thus far, Wise shared that for him, it’s “obviously the people–every diverse, unique individual that has come through the door and the way they interact with each other–human experience. I’m such a fan [of it]. Seeing the different outfits, the way they carry themselves, or maybe they're having a bad day and I can talk and lift them up, or they meet someone on the dance floor and hit it off. I wanna see people loving and being happy.” 


For Taylor, the best and most rewarding part “has been performing and watching other people perform, watching people just be in the moment.” 


It is clear from the way they pour their souls into Sueños to their enthusiastic and encouraging words, that both Wise and Taylor have an abundance of love for this project and each other. Working together “is the best feeling in the world” for them. As Wise states, “we get to do something that’s a dream of both of ours. And that’s why I have no problem working off the clock. We love this so much.”




So, what’s next for Sueños? Both Wise and Shelton see the club as a dream that’s capable of flying in multiple directions and places. Wise shares that “Sueños is a concept and an idea as much as a physical place, which is transferable to any city.” From LA, San Diego, to even right on the beach–the possibilities for Sueños are wondrously open. However, Sueños seem especially attentive to the restoration of Laguna as a whole. 


As Taylor illuminates, “We want to bring back what Laguna used to be…there are a lot

Photo by Cristina Cernik

of people who miss the art and music focused living and we want to bring that back with Sueños…Scotty and I both are artists and that’s reason why this came to be…We don’t want to just keep Sueños/art in Laguna Beach, we want to expand it beyond to other venues and bring art to other places.” 


Art is incredibly central to the concept of Sueños, which parallel’s Laguna’s artistic roots. Wise even mentions, that in researching Laguna’s history pre-Sueños, he discovered that one of the town’s first buildings was a dance hall right on Main Beach.


“Laguna has been an art and dancing town since day one. And those two things have always been married…this is the community. I wanted to keep that synthesis going.” 


“Being an artist myself, I recognize the importance of any publicity or promotion [artist] gets. So I thought, ‘How can I help the art scene grow?’” stated Wise. 


In tune with that idea, Sueños will feature live art installations every Friday,


Photo by Cristina Cernik

including art-walks and nights showcasing digital media. Likewise, Taylor and Wise are both inspired by and attracted to fashion, and work to incorporate fashion even more into the club’s personality. Taylor shares that they are even “planning to have fashion shows at club Sueños,” which has already been a center for fashion expression and inspiration. Speaking toward this, Taylor offers that both he and Wise “want it [Sueños] to have an atmosphere like Laguna in the 70s and 80s” since “Laguna birthed the art movement.” Both believe that fashion–along with music, art and energy–are a big part of achieving this. 


So next time you’re on the lookout for a unique, unexpected and lively Friday or Saturday night, follow the angel numbers to 222 Oceans Ave., Laguna Beach, California for a night of artistry, enjoyment and spirit that embodies the heart of Laguna’s art scene and two brother’s marvelous “Sueños.” Come as you are, come dressed in your favorite fashion, come ready to experience awesome art, and most importantly, come ready to dance. 


For more information on upcoming Sueños events, follow @clubsuenos on instagram. Shelton Taylors's music and Scotty Wise's photography can be found @sheltontaylor and @scotty.wise on instagram as well. 

Photo by Cristina Cernik

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Photo by Gia Pietrosky


Photo by Gia Pietrosky

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