Let us now praise 3LW

Happy holidays everyone! It’s about an hour past midnight and that makes it officially Christmas! I’m giddy with x-mas cheer and the anticipation of presents to come. I can hardly wait for Santa’s sleigh to fly through the Mission District and to me (that is if the 16th street Sureños don’t get him for wearing red first).

My 2007 Christmas Card

My 2007 Christmas Card

I spent Christmas eve with Mariela, it’s hard to believe this is our 8th Christmas together. We began the day with lunch at my place with my mom and dad. It’s such a rare occasion to have the four of us together for a meal and it was our first Christmas all together. Later, we jetted to her family’s house for their Christmas celebration. It’s often an intense experience being at two family gathering in the same day for us because they’re such different experiences. My family is small and laid back while her’s is loud, large, and energetic. Her family has become my family in so many ways. Not growing up with any extended family has made me humbled and appreciative of the love they have given me over the years.

For the record, my favorite holiday album of all time is Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”  Not only does it bring a sentimental tear to my eye when I listen to it, I can always perfectly picture the cast of Peanuts dancing to Linus & Lucy in my mind’s eye. I dare say it’s also my favorite piece of Americana. I was a little shocked to find out that Mariela was unfamiliar with the music when I played it over our lunch. Despite growing up in Latino families, three blocks apart from each other, we really did have very different childhoods.

Speaking of Latino families, I found myself wondering if there are any ubiquitous Latino Christmas albums? I’ve heard Jose Feliciano sing Feliz Navidad so many times that I pretty much just roll my eyes and sigh everytime I hear it now. Is there anything else we all collectively gravitate to?

I can tell you one thing, as a Chicano hipster who enjoys holiday music, I was rescued from my solitude and diaspora by Adrienne Bailon. You see, I have to confess that I have a hidden passion for 3LW’s Christmas album Naughty or Nice. Despite its title and cover art Naughty or Nice isn’t all that raunchy or dir-tay, what it is though is the most ghetto-fabulous mainstream Christmas album of all time. As a concept album, it’s more ghetto than purple Kool-Aid mixed with malt liqour. From Xmas in tha Hood to Shady Holiday it’s non-stop jams throughout the album.

Adrienne Bailon is the Latina member of 3LW (Three Little Women) and puts it down for the homegirls in this one. Embarassingly, there were only two members of the group at the time after one of them left following a fried chicken brawl at KFC. Although Ms. Bailon’s name has been scandalized in the news lately over naked pictures of her circulating online I’ll be forever grateful to her for supplying a Christmas album for all of us urban Latinos out there. This album is an obscure gem that I recommend picking up if you ever come across it.

That’s it for now, I’m gonna get some sleep and have starry-eyed dreams of presents, snow, and Santa

Merry Christmas,

Rio

Heavy in the Game

Every once and a while I like to google myself and see if anything new or interesting comes up. I’ll admit that on days when I’m feeling blue or stressed a little recognition can feel good. Recently I threw on 2pac’s Me Against the World on itunes and entered my name into my browser’s google search bar. After a little self-indulgent combing of the results I came across two links that brought a little extra sunshine to my day. The images below came from Art Business and document the Great Tortilla Conspiracy’s Tortilla Art for the 21st Century exhibit at SomArts. For the full report on the show click on either image.

The other link I discovered was a write-up of Adrian Arias’ final Illusion performance at the Mission Cultural Center. It comes from Mission Local and covers my collaboration with Rene for the event. The concept for the templates were created by Rene and I executed them using my Day of the Dead photos of Laulin Osher. In the photo below you can see contributions from various artists including myself (the self-portrait), Rene, and my mom Yolanda Lopez. It was definitely a family affair that night.

Last but not least I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of the latest issue of Artweek. I nervously flipped through the issue several times without finding the review for MACLA’s Art of Style exhibit. It took me a while to figure out that it was on the glossy inside back cover of the magazine. I was so excited to see my work discussed alongside Carolyn, Shizu, and Jaime’s amazing pieces. Many thanks go to Frank Cebulski for the insightful write-up. The issue is still in stores so grab a copy if you can. Click the image below to see it at full-size.

Peace,

Rio

Ain’t no party like a Gomez-Peña photoshoot

About two months ago I participated in a photoshoot for Guillermo Gomez-Peña’s La Pocha Nostra performance troupe. Guillermo had invited a series of artists and performers to model alongside his troupe for photographer RJ Muna. It was an amazing night of S&M costumes, nudity, glam makeup, and improvisation that I’ll never forget. At the shoot I ran into Emma Mankin a dear friend from waaaaay back in the day. We hadn’t seen each other since we both graduated from the 8th grade. I was glad to know that 16 years later we had both followed through with our goals of being artists. It was crazy and amazing catching up with Emma and her mom Joan at the shoot and then going up and posing in the set with her in various states of glam and undress.

Today Rene and I received the link to the final photos from that shoot. I didn’t make the cut (*sniff*) but Emma and Rene did.

photo by RJ Muna

photo by RJ Muna

That’s Emma to the right with one of Guillermo’s performers. Of all the photos that we’re shot, I’m a little surprised and disappointed that this is the only one that was selected. Aside from being an skilled painter and jewelry maker, Emma has always been a great performer and she was awesome that night.

Rene had three images make the cut. He came to the shoot with a posse of Fridas from his recent tableau vivant project at the SFMOMA. My dad always knows how to rock a Mexican wrestling mask in style, check out the images below.

Photo by RJ Muna

Photo by RJ Muna

Photo by RJ Muna

Photo by RJ Muna

Photo by RJ Muna

Photo by RJ Muna

You can see the rest of these amazing photos at http://www.rjmuna.com/2008/pocha/portraits/ and http://www.rjmuna.com/2008/pocha/karaoke/

Peace,

Rio

“You’d make a good poker player, kid”

When I was eighteen years old and in my first year of college I was mad crushin’ on Sarah Polley. One day, after my Acting for the Camera class my friend Melissa B. and I went to the Kabuki and caught a matinee screening of Go. For us, it was the cream of the crop of the teen films of the era. Seeing Sarah Polley in that movie made me fall for her, no two ways about it.

Two days later I was talking about GO to Toshi and Kit, two of my co-workers at Viz Media, and I asked them what other movies Sarah Polley has been in. They both brought up The Sweet Hereafter as her best film, I knew I had to see it. Kit’s parting words to me “It’s an amazing film but be careful, if you watch it, it’ll fuck you up.”

That weekend I rented The Sweet Hereafter at Lost Weekend on Valencia Street and rushed home to watch it. I watched the entire film in awe and with tears streaming down my face. True to Kit’s word, my emotions were gore danced, curb stomped, sucka punched, and otherwise tore the fuck up. I sat in front of my TV sobbing like a mark. I realized that my true calling was not as a Sarah Polley fan but as a Atom Egoyan aficionado.

From that moment on I delved into the filmography of Atom Egoyan and became supreme master of knowledge of his 90’s oeuvre from The Adjuster to Felicia’s Journey. Still, The Sweet Hereafter was always my favorite. Once I got my DVD player in ’98 I would sit and watch it endlessly. It was one of my favorite films to have running in the background while I drew. Occasionally I would end up taking inspiration from the film itself and the drawings below are some that I did of the two main characters of the movie.

That’s Ian Holm (Mitchell Stephens in the movie) to the right and a drawing & sketch of Sarah Polley (Nicole Burnell). It’s hard to believe these drawings are already 10 years old. Time does fly!

If you have never experienced this amazing movie I humbly suggest you give it a try. It does put you through an emotional ringer but I can’t speak highly enough of it. The book by Russell Banks that the movie is based on is quite different but equally incredible too.

Peace,

Rio

I’m mun2’s BFF of the week

BFF of the Week

I’ve got a special place in my heart for mun2. I don’t get the channel here in San Francisco but whenever I’m at Mariela’s place I’m all over it. I recently stayed up to three in the morning watching a Chicas Project marathon. I tend to roll my eyes at all the reggaeton videos they play but their scope of material is amazing. I can’t think of a better survey of what encompasses Latino pop culture in the United States. The graphics and visual aesthetics of mun2’s site and promos give me hope in my aspirations to establish a career as a Chicano graphic artist. I check out the site on a regular basis for their hilarious videos which range from silly to politically subversive (like Chingo Bling’s PSAs).

mun2bff

I registered on the site last week as a way to better bookmark and organize all of my favorite mun2 videos. Lo and behold I woke up this morning to find out that I was mun2 BFF of the week, listed right in the bottom right corner of their site. I’m not sure what about me got their attention or if it was totally random but I feel all special right now. Aw shucks mun2, thanks.

As an artist there have been a good number of videos on mun2 that have inspired me and got me thinking, my two recent favorites are below. The first is a video narrative by my favorite artist to ever walk the earth, Jaime Hernandez. His motivations for creating stories about Chicana punk rockers have inspired my own ideas about creating art using culture and mythologies. The video is simple and to the point but profound in so many ways to me. Check it out.

Visit page on mun2

The second is a video diary by VJ Yasmin who presents her paintings to the viewer. Her straightforward discussion of her work delivered in her east-coast accent is real. Homegirl kicks her art discussion straight up. Her anxiety filled command to “don’t laugh at me” brings me back to all of my art school critiques and it warms my heart.

Visit page on mun2

Peace,
Rio

Pop Crucifixes Vol. 4

This weekend’s sale went well. I sold a good handful of Pop Crucifixes including the ones below. I’m extra exited that Ester Hernandez bought a Eazy-E print from me as well. I’m hoping to sell again at Galeria de la Raza’s next artist market event in two months. More details coming soon.

Morrissey

Morrissey

Superman
Superman
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Hello Kitty #3

Hello Kitty #3

Hello Kitty #4

Hello Kitty #4

Power Rangers

Power Rangers

Pop Crucifixes and Prints for Sale this Sunday

Holiday Arts Bazaar
Sun., Dec. 7 12pm – 6pm

Galería de la Raza’s Holiday Arts Bazaar features a wide range of local Latino artists, who will dazzle you with Latin-American flavored handmade crafts, t-shirts, jewelry and other DIY-inspired pieces to help us ring in the holidays. The arts bazaar will be held in the Studio 24 space, located on the corner of Bryant and 24th St. This month’s celebration will feature a piñata inspired pop/folk window display by Raul Aguilar.

Featured Artists

Itzpapalot
La Tigresa
Sillydot
Raul Aguilar
AntJuan
el camposanto
HOMEY
Isaias Rodrigues
Aydasara Ortega
Rio Yañez
Robin Evans Wong

Galeria de la Raza
2857 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
415-826-8009
www.galeriadelaraza.org

I’m in Artweek

My artwork is discussed in the latest issue of Artweek. It’s part of a review of the exhibit I was recently in, The Art of Style. I haven’t been able to get my hands on a copy yet but from what I understand there is a specific discussion of one of my Ghetto Frida pieces. If anyone comes across a copy of it in San Francisco let me know where I can pick one up.

Peace,

Rio

Youth

The day before Thanksgiving I was doing some massive cleaning and reorganization of my stuff. I threw out mountains of old junk I’ve acquired in the last ten or so years. Going through my old belongings became an emotional experience. I found photographs, drawings, and writings that I hadn’t seen in almost a decade.

Coming across an early draft of a screenplay I worked on throughout my teenage years was quite a trip.
Writing it was my escape from the stress of high school life. I cringed a little, in retrospect, at how loaded it is with 90’s pop culture references. I’ll probably be sharing some of my old comics here but the screenplay is a bit too personal and embarrassing.

One of the gems I came across was this photo of me and my brother from another mother Alex Sanchez. This photo was shot in 2002 by our Calarts classmate Bunny Lampert. The photoshoot was spontaneous, someone suggested we take some photos by Calarts’ Super Shop and off came my shirt and I went straight into a gangsta-lean.

I really love this series but only came across this one print. As I continue to go through my things I’ll hopefully find more. Until then, enjoy this cholo-rific photo from my past.

Peace,

Rio