My Proposal for the Lego Movie sequel

In the last three months a confluence of events have led to a rediscovered love of Legos for me. Starting with receiving a Lego Batman set on my birthday from Chicano superstars Cary Cordova and John Mckiernan-Gonzlez, finding my childhood Lego collection in the midst of my parent’s eviction, and ending with watching the Lego Movie; I’m all in. Since then I’ve organized and cleaned the dusty Legos I loved so much as a kid and made many pilgrimages to the Lego store to buy new ones. On Monday I sat down to play and inspiration struck. I cobbled together a UFW flag from my bricks. Wanting to flesh it out more I created a small agricultural field and put in Emmet and Wyldstyle from the Lego Movie right in the middle of it. I think I’m happier with everyone extrapolating their own stories from the images so that’s as much as I’ll say about my intentions.

When I posted the images above on facebook, someone asked me if I was the first person to make a UFW flag out of Legos. To be honest I don’t know. I’ve never seen any UFW (or Chicano) themed Lego constructions but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. If anyone know of any previous UFW Lego art let me know.

Peace,

Rio

Minzy

Here is the first of many in series of K-pop themed portraits: Minzy (AKA 민지) from the group 2ne1. I was pretty ignorant of 2ne1 and their contemporaries until I heard their guest spot on M-flo’s She’s so (Outta Control). The song became a great tune to loop whenever I was working on things like laundry or doing the dishes. It wasn’t until I saw the fan made video below that I decided to look up 2ne1 and what I saw was enough to send me off on a voyage to Korean pop wonderland.

As with M-flo, one of the dynamics of 2ne1 that I appreciate the most is the fluid way the group switches between Korean and English (in addition to Japanese and English). I think most people in the west would be shocked to learn how much English is peppered throughout mainstream music in South Korea and Japan, and just how accessible it all is. Codeswitching is such a rarity in mainstream western music that it sets off all sorts of happy electrodes in my brain when I hear it. It’s more than a novelty, it’s an aesthetic unto itself and contemporary groups like 2ne1 have taken full ownership of it while the rest of world catches up.

As a Mexican-American and self-identified Chicano negotiating language is a daily minefield that I navigate. I can’t help but feel envious that such codeswitching is so easily accepted in the eastern mainstream. There are musical acts that pull off multiple languages in the same song here in the west, Ana Tijoux and La Santa Cecilia being two of my favorites, but they are rare birds.

After watching countless 2ne1 videos on youtube I wanted to channel my newfound obsession into something creative. I knew that I wanted to start with a portrait of Minzy and one of her many looks from the Can’t Nobody video. Her skeletal Adidas tracksuit won out. She’s such a chameleon and I wanted to capture how tough Minzy looks in it.

I definitely want do continue this series but I’m looking for some direction. Should I do CL next? I have to admit that CL and Minzy are by far my two favorite members of the group.  I could also just make it a series about Minzy since she’s had so many amazingly different looks (I LOVE her look where she’s wearing a Tuxedo in the Can’t Nobody video). Any suggestions?

Peace,

Rio

Ballad of the Chicano Nerd

Being a Chicano nerd can be a lonely affair of puzzled looks and references that no one else gets. For instance, there are plenty of Chicanos out there and Mass Effect 2 is one of best selling games of 2010 and 2011 yet I wonder how many culturally engaged Chicanos play Mass Effect 2. With that question looming over me I created the artwork above.

I LOVE Mass Effect 2 and recently finished my second playthrough (with a Chicana Shephard, natch). Indulging my inner Chicano nerd I drew an encounter between Frida and I complete with Mass Effect 2’s dialogue tree. The original renegade speech option was simply Let’s fuck but I figured it was too abrasive.

I wonder if anyone out there will relate to both a Frida joke and a Mass Effect 2 joke? In the meantime I’m taking solace in this photo of Tupac and Suge Knight playing a Sonic the Hedgehog game on the Genesis.

Peace,

Rio

Novelas, Love and Other Adventures

In less than 24 hours my 31ist birthday will be upon me. In my mailbox today there was the postcard for my next exhibit and seeing it brought a tear to my eye. I can’t think of a better way to close out my 30th year and start my 31st than by seeing my name listed between Jaime Hernandez, my art hero and greatest influence, and Mayra Ramirez, one of my best friends. Today I feel truly humbled and blessed.

Novelas, Love and Other Adventures

Featuring: Jaime Hernandez, Rio Yañez and Mayra Ramirez

This group show investigates the realm of graphic novels and comic books from a Latino perspective

MACLA

510 S. First Street

San Jose, CA 95113

http://www.maclaarte.org

Exhibition Dates: January 26th – March 26th, 2011

Opening Reception and Artist Talk: February 4th, at 7:00pm

Join us for a gallery walk through and an engaging conversation about their work.

Comic and Graphic Novel Workshop: Saturday, February 19th, 2011

For more information please call: (408) 998-2808

Gallery hours: Wednesday & Thursday, 12:00pm to 7:00pm, Friday & Saturday, 12:00pm to 5:00pm and by special appointment.

Free Admission

Pico Por Vida

I can’t think of a better way to start the new year than by wishing a very Happy Birthday to one of my dearest friends. Katynka Martinez is my conscious and my partner in podcasting/radio crime. I can’t imagine my life without her in it and I’m so glad that she was born on this day. Happy Birthday Katynka!

Peace,

Rio