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.


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】
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】
【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】



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


510 S. First Street

San Jose, CA 95113


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

Concept Art and the Adventures of Chicana Amy Pond

Good news! I’ll be hosting and DJing another 2 hour block this Friday on Radio Valencia (radiovalencia.fm). I’ll be joined by a co-host Katynka Martinez as we banter and kick out the jams across the airwaves and internet streams.

I’m in the process of designing a promotional artwork for the show that is based on the current image used to promote Doctor Who Season 5. Instead of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan as The Doctor and Amy Pond, it’s me and Katynka flying through the space time continuum. Yeah I know, it’s hella nerdy. What can I say? I’m totally on that Doctor Who tip these days. Above is my “in progress” of Katynka as the Chicana Amy Pond. I hope you can dig it. Stay tuned for the final piece!

Above are two portraits of my creative collaborator Mayra Ramirez. They’re concept art that helped me to work out some ideas and aesthetic curiosities for our 3D comic art project.  Ultimately we decided to go with different looks that I’m really excited to work with but I though I’d share these two sketches.

We had a great meeting today planning out the last details of our collaboration. We go full on into production next week and I can’t wait to see what develops. The deadline for MACLA’s Latino comic art show is soon approaching so this will be my primary creative project for December and early January.

Speaking of meeting up with homies, I want to tip my hat to my good friend Stan Heller. We spent Sunday afternoon exploring the many recent murals up along Lilac alley in the Mission. I’ll leave you with this animated gif that I shot during our adventure.



Behind the Scenes and Mischief in the Mission

This past Sunday I got together with the infamous Mayra Ramirez for another session of Homegirl Purikura. For this special session we were joined by guest artist and chola Evil Rose. Mayra and I met Evil Rose in Japantown and together we ventured into Pikapika to take some photos.

During our first session of Homegirl Purikura Mayra turned all sorts of heads in Japantown while she was decked out in her chola gear and persona. With Evil Rose in the mix we were a walking spectacle. Tourists who were in the area for the Nihonmachi Street Fair didn’t know what to make of us. Our presence was unavoidable.

Evil Rose was a natural Purikura artist, Mayra and I showed her the basics and she just took off with it.  Mayra also continued her unique and intense approach to her Purikura practice. I decorated a couple of images but for the most part I stood back as a facilitator for this session. It was a thrill to see this powerful pair of cholas team up and work as artists together.

Lastly, I finally got to try out The Cube, the newest Purikura booth at Pikapika. I can’t wait to share the images that came from it. It was definitely the most sophisticated and technically advanced Purikura booth I’ve ever been in.

Following our Purikura adventure we all decided to head to the Mission District for a shoot in Balmy Alley. Evil Rose is not only a model/performer but a professional photographer herself. We turned our cameras on Mayra who lived up to her reputation as the ultimate Chola muse. Below are some photos, to see the full gallery of images check out my flickr page.

I also managed to record a little behind the scenes video while we were shooting. Here’s two videos of Mayra playing around. When she focuses on her chola persona she disappears into it but when she breaks character she’s equally charismatic. Check it out!



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.


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.



La Chicana Feliz

I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Zulma Aguiar at this years College Art Association conference in Dallas, Texas. I had been following her work for quite some time and became determined to create a portrait of homegirl when we finally met face to face. After photographing her at the conference center this portrait is one of the results.

Zulma is a multimedia artist and activist; her writings can be found on her blogs Chicana Feliz and Chicana Feminist. What I admire most about Zulma is that she has taken on the monumental role of chronicling the work of artists, activists, and performers throughout the United States. Her scope is international but Zulma has really focused and captured so much of what Chicanos are working towards these last few years. Zulma’s documentation, reviews, and reports on contemporary Chicano artists and their work will provide for our historical canon in years to come. Every time I see a status update from her she’s travelling to another art opening or performance event like an unwavering Chicana energizer bunny. Homegirl’s path is in the footsteps of my friend and neighbor Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez whose 500 Years of Chicana Women’s History and 500 Years of Chicano History have filled such a gap.

Zulma is an amazing artist in her own right. Her work has taken on identity, the culture of our borders, and femicide in Mexico. I have taken a lot of inspiration from her video What is a Chicana Feliz? In defining my own self-image as an artist. I actually completed this artwork about a month ago but agonized over the background for quite some time. Initially I wanted to create some sort of border wall but the results were all too grim. The background I ended up creating is a hybrid of two current aesthetic influences: Communist propaganda posters and El Chapulin Colorado.

Zulma Aguiar
Zulma Aguiar

I want to create another portrait of Zulma soon because she is a woman of many looks. Since I shot the photo this image is based on, homegirl has switched up her style a good number of times. More to come soon.