My Life with Godzilla

I came across this photo of my parents and I while helping my mom sort through some old CDs of digital files. My mom was quick to point out my Godzilla figure which managed to join our family portrait in the lower left hand corner. That Godzilla toy is my most treasured childhood possession. It is my Rosebud sled.

The figure has now found a permanent home in my mom’s kitchen atop her cabinets. It’s surrounded by other Godzilla figures and a giant Virgin of Guadalupe statue. A very telling sight of our cultural influences.

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Godzilla movies have had a huge influence on my life. One of my only memories as a newborn is watching a Godzilla movie on television while being held in my mother’s arms. In the first five years of my life I went to see plenty of movies with my parents in theaters. The very first movie they took me to see because I wanted to see it was Godzilla 1985. It was playing at the Lumiere theater on California street and I’ll never forget the day we went. Sitting there in the cool dark theater watching Godzilla lay waste to Tokyo blew my five year old mind.

It was such an pivotal moment in my life. My childhood obsession with Godzilla heavily influenced the drawings I made at the time. I would draw ultraviolent landscapes with scenes of futuristic artillery battling giant monsters. Those drawings disturbed my mother so much that she made a series of artworks about them entitled Rio’s Room. I wish I had a scan of the drawings to share but the actual movie poster for Godzilla 1985 gives a good sense of what they encompassed.

In my life as an adult, I’ve only manged to incorporate Godzilla once into my artwork. He popped up in a comic strip I did in 2007 entitled True Story. It brings together Godzilla and another icon of my, Subcomandante Marcos of the EZLN.

Okay, now that I’ve pretty much forsaken any sex appeal I might have had in talking about my nerd passion for Godzilla I’ll leave you with something I discovered recently that made my day. There hasn’t been a proper Godzilla movie since 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars but a recent comedy film from Toho (the studio that has produced all of the Godzilla films) has him in a cameo appearance. 2008’s Always Sunset on Third Street 2 features an incredible sequence that presents him completely in computer animation.


I have to say, the production values on this short sequence top anything that’s ever been done with Godzilla before. I still like the rubber suits but nothing has been as cinematic or well produced as this clip. There are no new Godzilla films planned on the horizon but this definitely gives a look into what might be to come.

Peace,

Rio

Inspiration Jump Off

Hi everyone! I am on my GRUSTLE (er, grind/hustle)! I’m working on several art projects at the moment (both personal and to pay the bills) and have been missing too long from my blog. I thought I’d break you off with what’s been inspiring me these last few days as I work on new projects.

Intruder Alert by Abdi Farah

Intruder Alert by Abdi Farah

Shes a Rock Star by Alan Nakkash (photo of my homegirl CIndylu)

She's a Rock Star by Alan Nakkash

The Laughing Woman (Italy, 1969) Movie Poster

The Laughing Woman (Italy, 1969) Movie Poster

Jewelry created and Modeled by Melody Ehsani

Jewelry created and Modeled by Melody Ehsani

Jewelry created and Modeled by Melody Ehsani

Jewelry created and Modeled by Melody Ehsani

June 15th, 2009 by Edgar Wright

June 15th, 2009 by Edgar Wright

chokland gayders suck! Go cowboyysss! by Jessica Martinez

chokland gayders suck! Go cowboyysss! by Jessica Martinez

Camouflage by Liu Bolin

Camouflage by Liu Bolin

Peace,

Rio

Everything’s Coming Up Frida

Last night I ventured to Oakland to participate in an artist talk for The Many Faces of Frida. Rachel-Anne Palacios, the exhibit’s curator, led the public throughout the exhibit and introduced each artist. It was the first time I’ve had to talk about the work collectively instead of discussing just the individual pieces.

I wrote about my last artist talk and being stymied by having to explain what a Chola was to someone who had no context for understanding what one was. This time around I stumbled through answering questions describing Eazy-E and the significance of a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor. I think my public speaking is getting a lot better but I’m still struggling to give accessible explanations of the tropes I use to an audience that is new to me. Seeing my friend (and collector of my work) Valerie Schlafke in the audience was reassuring and put me at ease.

After the event I was ready to party my face off. Rachel threw a shindig at her Frida-inspired crib and I was blown away by all the great artwork she had on her walls. I promised her that I’d create some artwork for her so I could be amongst the ranks of artists on display in her home. At the party I got to know an inspiring couple, Zitlalix and Eddie, who got me crunked and shared their creative visions of painting, bartending, and industrial design. Good lookin’ out peeps!

In Ghetto Frida mural news, three blogs have already given me good mentions that I’m very grateful for. Mission Mission and my fellow artist Martha Rodriguez have both chimed in on the piece and I’m taking it as a good sign that some people out there can relate to it. Amy Kweskin and Frida Kahlo in San Francisco have also shown me some love.

I though I’d share the original image used to create the mural. Click on the image below for a large view of it.

And lastly I want to give a shout to local sex-positive heroine Violet Blue. Her latest project, just launched yesterday, is vb.ly which presents itself as the internet’s first and only sex-positive url shortener.

Blue’s description of vb.ly on her flickr page includes:

it is the Internet’s first and only sex-positive link shortener service. meaning, links are not filtered or groomed, and we’ll never pull your links because we decided to become “family friendly.”

That sounds pretty good to me.

Peace,

Rio

Ghetto Frida’s Misison Memories

I’ve busted my brain, body, and creative skill to create the brand new mural/billboard at Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco. I have plenty of profound things to say about but at the moment I’m just so excited that it is up. Ghetto Frida’s Mission Memories can be seen at Galeria de la Raza. 2857 24th St (at Bryant) San Francisco, CA 94110-4234.

For a gallery of images of the mural, click here.


Peace,

Rio

Sometimes Dreams Come True

It’s 4:15 am and I’m still recovering from what was the best day of work at SOMArts EVER. Having your favorite band appear and perform at your job is usually a contrived plot device for sitcoms and teen soap operas but sho’ nuff, Girl in a Coma rocked SOMArts tonight. I’m still trying to process everything but it was an unbelievable night of magic.

Girl in a Coma performed as part of Homo A Go Go, a festival or Queer music, art, and performances. My homegirl Shizu Saldamando came into town to check out the festival and see the band perform. Shizu has been in both exhibits that I’ve curated at SOMArts and she’s also the artist of Girl in a Coma’s most recent album cover.

Today, I wore both GIAC shirts that I have. I surprised Shizu with my shirt featuring her artwork and we had to take a photo together.

When the band took the stage at SOMArts, Mariela and I were pressed against the stage and ready to take it all in. The energy of the crowd surged as they came on and they put on a show that I’ll never forget. My favorite song of the night that they played was El Monte. I was hella cupcakin’ during that one with Mariela. I was able to get them playing Vino with my mino below.

Brandon Walsh and the cast of 90210 had Color Me Badd at the Peach Pit, I got Girl in a Coma at SOMArts.

Sometimes dreams really do come true.

Peace,

Rio

Ps. Shouts to Devon Devine and BrownDownCrown. Devon has been fun to work & chat with at SOMArts alongside the great Homo a Go Go crew.

Rio Yañez’ Precious Little Life

scottpilgrimesquelogoflatcrop

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NOTE: First things first, the two comic pages above are NOT original works by me. I have merely altered the amazing art and words of Bryan Lee O’Malley to fit my friends and I.

I’ve been thinking a lot about turning 30 these days. My 30th birthday is still a few months off but it’s a milestone that had been constantly on my mind. I’ve been talking with a lot of my friends about what it means to be 30 and wondering if there are any experiences I’d like to have in my 20’s while I still can.

With the support and wisdom of Mariela, I’ve really embraced turning 30 and am looking forward to it as a rebirth into a new and improved Rio. At the same time I have become completely obsessed with the Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels. The books themselves are a pretty good embodiment of the spirit of my 20’s, especially my time at Calarts.

Mariela has been asking me what I’d like to do to celebrate my 30th birthday and I thought something Scott Pilgrim related would be amazing as a send-off to my 20’s. With that in mind I produced the two comic pages above (using the beginning of Scott Pilgrim vol. 5) as a kind of early invitation to my birthday party. For those of you keeping score that’s me as Scott Pilgrim, Ava as Ramona Flowers, Mariela as Kim Pine, Tokoztli as Joeseph, Bryan as Stephen Stills, Carina as Julie Powers, and Maya as an off-panel Hollie (I think).

My dreams of having the first Scott Pilgrim themed birthday invitation were dashed when I discovered this blog post and image below.

SP28_smaller

I thought to myself, “Well, at least I might have the very first Scott Pilgrim themed birthday party.” But one quick search of flickr and google for scott pilgrim birthday dashed my dreams a little bit further…

Behold! A gallery of Scott Pilgrim cakes!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23967517@N00/3220300451/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vwvwvwvvv/3347310029/Dang! Well, just as I am determined to be the best 30-year-old EVER and I am equally determined to have the greatest Scott Pilgrim themed birthday party OF ALL TIME.

Invites to come soon.

Peace,

Rio

Meeting with Maya (and new Animation!)

Maya Chinchilla and I met up yesterday at Phat Philly to make solid plans for two projects we want to collaborate on. Short of going to Pinks (*cough**cough* Cindylu) in Los Angeles, a Phat Philly cheesesteak is the most filling meal you can have. I ordered the mushroom cheesesteak and got the huge feast documented below.

After our productive meeting we decided to undertake a photo sequence animation test around the Mission. I’m trying to develop my rough techniques in creating them and took some big steps forward working with Maya. Check it out!

I really like our results but I need to get new editing software because imovie won’t let me have frames shorter than .3 seconds long. Any free/cheap suggestions of OSX software that can do this?

Peace,

Rio

Ps. Shouts to the lovely Michelle Wallace who wrote up my work on her blog Art on Both Sides of the Wall. Thanks Michelle, this is the second write-up of my work thus far and I’m really excited about it.

Tijuana057

Cholas, Cholos, and new Ghetto Frida Art

Photo by Lex Leifheit

Photo by Lex Leifheit

Question: How do you explain what a chola is to someone who has absolutely no frame of reference as to what one might be?

Tonight I was part of the 2009 Chicana/o Biennial artist talk at MACLA. It was great to see my peeps and peers talking about their work like my boy Jaime Guerrero, my homegirl Viva Paredes, and Seattle-bound sculptor Gustavo Martinez (additional shouts to Mariela, Rachel, and Lex for coming out to support us). I missed seeing MACLA’s wonderful Stephanie Chiara but otherwise it was the perfect night.

The discussion of my work MACLA went really well but I was stymied by a little old lady who had no idea what a Chola was. While I was talking about my portrait of Ask a Chola she wanted me to explain to her what a chola was. Every explanation was dependent on refering to some part of  urban Latino culture and she couldn’t grasp anything I tried to communicate to her. I wasn’t expecting to have to define a chola in talking about my work but it was my fault for not being able to think on my toes. What’s the best way to cleanly and concisely explain to someone what a chola is?

Speaking of Cholas, Cholo rapper Deadlee has put me on blast on his blog. He didn’t care for the review that I gave to his recent movie, homophobic cholaxploitation film Hoochie Mamma Drama. You can read my review HERE and chime in on the comments section if you want. I have no interest in any sort of blog-beef and I wish Deadlee the best of luck in his career.

After seeing Jim Mendiola’s amazing video for Girl in a Coma’s Static Mind I wanted to further explore photo sequence animation.

This was a casual first try, Mariela and I had a lot of fun taking photos in sequence throughout the Mission District. More to come, hopefully.

gfrida

I have some big Ghetto Frida news coming soon and the image at the top is a small preview of more to come. Stay tuned.

Peace,

Rio

“Yo digo baila, tu dices dance”

This past Friday my Dad and I went to go see the Mexican Institute of Sound at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. This was the third time for me seeing MIS and he rocked the show. Fellow flickrs cruz, lorena, meligrosa, margarita azucar, and calitexican were there up front with me taking photos and video. My best clip came as Camilo Lara aka the Mexican Institute of Sound took the stage.

Special thanks to DJ Aztec Parrot for the comps!

Rio