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

Japanese Chicano Fashion – Fresh for 2014!

I am endlessly fascinated by the Chicano/Cholo subculture of Japan. It’s inspired artwork and writing of mine for almost two decades. In the last couple of years I’ve done periodic check-ins on the latest Chicano fashions in Japan (mostly from clothing brand Slangy) and I’m here with another mind-blowing report back. See my previous findings on Slangy and Japanese-Chicano fashions HERE and HERE. Enjoy!

cf-13n-002model05CALIFAS CREW NECK SWEAT

01701803152211SLANGY 7分FIGHT96 ラグランTシャツ

01701804153030SLANGY シャンブレーシャツ

01701804139230スランジー/シャツ SLANGY フランネルチェックマリアシャツ

01701804139310スランジー/シャツ SLANGY ブロックチェックスカルシャツ

cf-13n-004model05CALIFAS PRINT PULLOVER HOODED SWEAT

cf-13n-003model06CALIFAS PRINT PULLOVER HOODED SWEAT

cf-13n-001model06CALIFAS PRINT PULLOVER HOODED SWEAT

And last but not least, these iPhone cases:

01701858149610SLANGY GANG Style アイフォンケース

01701858146310スランジー/アイフォンケース SLANGY スカルマリアI phone5ケース

Peace,

Rio

Our Lady of Japanese Fashion

I’ve made no secret of my love and fascination with Chicano culture in Japan. I am obsessed with how urban Chicano visual aesthetics and slang have been interpreted through a uniquely Japanese lens. I’ve written before about Japanese takes on Cholo fashion and I’m back with a themed look at how the Virgin of Guadalupe has been used in said fashion.

EYEDY(アイディー)ZIPフーディジャケット/民族柄調

Finding these clothes took no special Japanese language skills or inside cultural information, I simply looked up Japanese online stores (primarily Rakuten) and performed searches on them for the word Guadalupe. Below are some of my favorite findings. Clicking on the images will take you to their sale listing if you actually want to purchase what you see. Happy shopping!

SUBCIETY/ サブサエティ / assistant Sae tea /Guadalupe ZIP PARKA/ parka /SBP6111

Strike rollers [What's New] [STROLLERZ] T-shirt 23#GUADALUPE/BLACK, WHITE [ST-086-BLACK]

【2012A/Wコレクション】GUADALUPE  Tシャツ 長袖(B42024)【BLACKFLAME(ブラックフレイム)】

【楽天ランキング入賞】【2012A/Wコレクション】BF GUADALUPE スタジャン(B49015)【BLACKFLAME(ブラックフレイム)】【送料無料】【代引き手数料無料】

PHYNAM(ファイナム) S/S POLO SHIRTS -GUADALUPE- (ブラック)

CRIMIE(クライミー)GUADALUPECRIMIE(クライミー)GUADALUPE(2カラー)【メンズ 半袖 TEE Tシャツ 復刻 グアダルーペ 】【送料無料】【メンズカジュアル 男性 ストリート 着こなし 】【あす楽_土曜営業】【あす楽_日曜営業】

eyedy(アイディ)SERAPE GUADALUPE VEST

【2012A/Wコレクション】FAITH GUADALUPE パーカー 長袖(B42008)【BLACKFLAME(ブラックフレイム)】

Subciety Guadalupe.A R-7/S BKWH

【BLACK FLAME】BF GUADALUPE 刺繍&プリント入りワークシャツ (B31034)

Finally, in the Chicano spirit, I’ll leave you with this bonus: A Chicano Spirits shirt. Enjoy!

PRO CLUB ヘビーウェイト プリントロンT -Chicano Spirits- 【全2色】

Peace,

Rio

Olmos Famous Episode 2

Katynka Martinez and I are back with the latest episode of our podcast Olmos Famous. In this episode we take a look at season 22, episode 16 of The Simpsons featuring Cheech and Chong. What happens when Cheech Marin tries to educate Homer on Chicano art? Does Springfield’s Latino population live in East-Springfield? What inspired the psychedelic sequence in the episode? Listen and find out!

Olmos Famous Episode 2

Extra bonus: Here’s the Olmos Famous *exclusive* side-by-side comparison of the Simpsons’ version of Xavier Viramontes’ Boycott Grapes print and the original.

Stay tuned for more Latino media commentary and witty banter!

Rio

Bad Chicano Poetry

Note: In no way is this writing meant to imply that ALL Chicano poetry is bad. By bad Chicano poetry I’m talking about Chicano poetry with exhausted cliches spoken in the most hoariest and obvious patterns masquerading as urban and contemporary speech.

Did you know that there are literally no search results if you search for “bad Chicano poetry” via Google? Yet countless Chicanos I know clown on our bad poetry. So why is it that we can talk a lot of shit in person but chicken out when it comes to committing our critiques to written form on the internet? Are we afraid of airing our dirty laundry to the outside world? Offending our elders? It is one of the greatest mysteries of our complex identities.

In my lifetime I’ve know some amazing Chicano poets. Yet suffering through utterly terrible and cliche poetry is one of the most common experiences for culturally engaged Chicanos. ‘Nuff said!

I’m going to leave you with this clip from a Chris Rock comedy album in which Rock is  being interrogated and subjected to various torture techniques. Although it doesn’t specifically address bad Chicano poetry I’ll forever curse the day I heard the sketch because it meant that I couldn’t use the same idea to critique it. Warning: Contains salty language. Enjoy!

Black Poet

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

Tale of the Tape and other Adventures

In the last two weeks I’ve enjoyed making a couple of impromptu videos with my good friend and Chicano filmmaker Tokoztli. Our most recent adventure was a hunt to find cassette tapes in San Francisco. Tokoztli is the foremost Chicano scholar on the life and recordings of Tupac Shakur and he’s been on a quest to collect his albums on tape. Myself, I was looking for Freestyle tapes in a nostalgic nod to my childhood.

We played the SF Spanish Fly tape all the way back to my place in the Mission. Sadly, I haven’t been able to listen to it since because I don’t actually own something that plays tapes. It’s found a nice home on the shelf above my computer.

Our other recent adventure was a small tour of Banksy artworks around the city. There’s no footage of the Mission District Banksy piece because a pimp was about to regulate on someone just around the corner and we high-tailed it out of there. Here is the actual piece (which can be found at Mission and Sycamore ) below:

Peace,

Rio

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

A Challenge to Chicano Rappers

Something that has always vexed me is the act of laying claim to Chicano identity without bearing any political responsibilities or consciousness. To me, Chicanos don’t always have to be Mexican-Americans but the line in the sand is that calling yourself Chicano is identifying with a leftist political ideology. That’s why it burns my ass to no end that there is a genre of Hip-Hop known as Chicano Rap that is all but devoid of politics.  The only references to identity in most Chicano Rap albums has to do with identifying as a Norteño or Sureño aside from vague references to “Brown Pride.” At this point in our political culture the idea of “Brown Pride” has been exhausted of its political meaning and we’ve now progressed way beyond it.

Pop in almost any mainstream Chicano Rap album and you’re more than likely to hear stories of popping caps, being king of the block, representing a clicka, slanging ‘caine, getting respect, and other acts of depoliticized patriarchal bullshit. Despite all of these Chicano rappers trying to out-badass each other there’s one person that’s got them all beat. That person is one Ms. Lily Allen.

These Chicano Rappers aint got shit on me

"These Chicano Rappers ain't got shit on me"

This weekend I was cycling through Lily Allen songs on my ipod while riding on a train to San Jose and came across Nan, You’re a Window Shopper. The song is Lily Allen’s version of 50 Cent’s Window Shopper. It’s a cheeky diss track against Allen’s own grandmother. What’s so revolutionary about it is that the song covers territory that’s essentially forbidden to Chicano Rappers. Think about it, Chicano Rap songs are filled with predictable tropes of  violence and nostalgia but even the most baddest of cholos still hold some things sacred. Lily Allen was brave enough to break one of our most basic social conventions and for that she is more dangerous than any Chicano Rapper.

Question: Despite all the hyper-masculine posturing, can you ever picture any of these supposedly hardcore Chicano Rappers cutting a track against their own dear abuelitas?

The bar has been set by Lily Allen. I dare any of you calling themselves Chicano Rappers to reach for it. Put up or shut the fuck up.

Sincerely,

Rio

Sekai Wa Subarashii

Life is good. My first solo-curated exhibit is a success, my Andy Warhol programming launches at the de Young Museum this Friday, and the reception to this year’s Valentine’s Day cards has been amazing. Sitting here at my computer tonight I feel like a lot of toil and hard work is really starting to pay off. The icing on the cake has been the warm welcome my Valentine’s cards received. I got them out a little later than usual amidst my crazy schedule but was really happy to see everyone get into them. Many thanks to everyone who posted them around and shared them with their special someones. I really want to send a special thanks to Sacred Yoli and Cindylu who have been great advocates of my work and have both put in extra effort to get the cards out there.

Speaking of Cindylu, the last post I wrote detailing our colloborative project was actually started months ago but I left it unfinished in hopes that I would create some additional artwork out of the images. I’ve been carrying those intentions with me for some time and I finally caught a break to get some work done after Hybridity finally opened. I sat down and created the piece below. I worked with a slightly different color aesthetic that de-emphasizes solid blacks and I’m really happy with the results. It gives this portrait of Cindylu a look like that of a silkscreen print. The final layout is styled in the flavor of 90′s era indie comics. I hope ya can dig it.

Peace,

Rio