Posse Roll Call

I am loving my life right now. This is largely due to my friends, collaborators, and co-workers who are making everything around me so interesting right now.

First up is my homegirl and collaborator Maya Escobar. Her intense video El es Frida Kahlo will be on view at the Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis, MO from 1/22-3/6. In conjunction with the exhibition, she has created an embeddable animated el es frida kahlo gif. As you know, I’m all about reclaiming the animated gif so I’m really excited to see Maya getting into this territory.

Next up is my homegirl Carina. I can’t believe I’ve known her for almost a decade and it’s only in the last two months that we’ve started to collaborate and get things popping. Alongside Mariela, our collective The Bloody Swans has been slowly developing a tumblr site and a flickr page. It’s been great to collaborate with both of them as artists and our work together has opened up so many new possibilities. This past weekend we had a photo-editing party and in the midst of reviewing our images I got Carina to sing into my iPhone using a simple program called Ringtone Recorder Pro. The results are the following iPhone formatted ringtones of Carina covering the latest and greatest of the scene: David GarzaDisco Ball World, Girl in a ComaEl Monte, and Major LazerKeep it Goin’ Louder.

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/file/o3dwymdzhym/CarinaRingtones.zip

I was just floored when I saw the latest work by my good friend Melanie Cervantes. As an artist, I aspire to her ability to create simple masterpieces. When she posted the above portrait of Julieta Venegas to facebook it was just love at first sight for me. Her caption to the piece is “La Julie” (Julieta Venegas)”5-color screen print, in production, 2010 and she later commented that, This is a portrait of songstress extraordinaire Julieta Venegas. She grew up in Tijuana and started out as pure rockera. Now she does more pop. I love, love, love her. Best believe I’ll be spreading the word once this print is made available.

Lastly, things are getting really interesting at work. SomArts has plenty of opportunities for artists to exhibit, curate, and perform at the moment. We have our Commons Fund & Curatorial Residency program accepting applications and new Gallery Director Justin Hoover’s 100 Performances for the Hole – Take Two. The latter is a marathon night of 100 short performances taking place in our newly excavated mechanic’s pit and is also accepting submissions. Our next exhibit is Prints Byte: the cutting edge of printmaking and the Great Tortilla Conspiracy will be serving up tortilla art at the opening reception on Friday, February 5th from 7:00PM to 9:00PM.

So far, 2010 is looking up.

Grateful for everything being awesome,



Acciones Plásticas プリクラ

At long last my top-secret collaboration with artist Maya Escobar can be revealed. Our artist statement follows the images. Big ups to Carianne Noga for helping Maya and I get this project going.

Acciones Plásticas プリクラ is a collaboration between St. Louis based artist Maya Escobar and San Francisco based artist Rio Yañez.

Maya Escobar is a Guatemalan-Jewish digital media and performance artist, currently living in St. Louis.  Her work addresses issues of cultural hybridity, gender, placelessness, and the construction of identity. Rio Yañez is a Chicano curator, photographer, and graphic artist based out of San Francisco. His work utilizes and challenges Chicano mythology and visual iconography.

In Acciones Plásticas Escobar created a multi-faceted “doll” by assuming the role of designer and distributor, and even posing as the actual doll itself.  Each doll was a satirical characterization of some of the many roles that have been projected upon her, and into which she has, at points, inevitably fallen. In conjunction with these images, she developed a short series of low-definition youtube video blogs through which she inhabits the lives of “real women” who have each been visibly defined by societal constructs.

Recently, Yañez has been utilizing Japanese photobooths (known as Purikura or “print-club”) as an artist’s tool for creating portraits. These booths are much more common in Japan than their United States counterparts. As a catalyst for creative expression and social interaction they are used primarily by young urban Japanese girls. A standard feature in all Purikura booths allows the user to digitally decorate their portraits after they take them. The options are vast and include wild characters, excessive starbursts of light, pre-made phrases and the option to draw your own text directly on the image. Purikura gives the subjects near-divine powers of self-expression in crafting their own portraits.

The two artists who met over the web, decided to bring together Escobar’s highly charged and evocative Acciones Plásticas characters with Yanez’s notorious Chicano graphic-art style and new found obsession with Purikura images, as a way of addressing the construction of Latina identities.

Maya posed as The Latina Hipster: a bad-ass Morrissey-lovin’, tuff-girl sexy chica; The Latina Role Model: a diploma totin’ intellectual, sexy, social media goddess; and finally, The Homegirl: a hybridized version of Escobar’s Midwestern Chach (or Chachi Mama) and Yañez’s West Coast Chola, who sticks up her middle finger in what appears to be an act of defiance, but really is her protective shield.

Maya sent digital images to Rio, who in turn drew portraits of her as each of these constructed identities, approaching each portrait with a Purikura sensibility and decorating them each as the characters represented might accessorize themselves. The final series of portraits is the result of negotiating multiple identities and influences. Guatemalan, Jewish, and Chicano sensibilities reflected back through a Japanese Purikura aesthetic. Acciones Plásticas プリクラ challenge and question the thin line between archetype and stereotype. The Purikura elements present the novel signifiers of each social construct represented in the series.

This collaboration is the first of many to come as Maya and Rio explore the commonalities and differences of their cultural identities.

Holla at my Hebrew Hybrids!


Shouts to Maya Escobar! A recent post on her blog schooled me to the genius of Vanessa Hidary aka The Hebrew Mamita. As The Hebrew Mamita Hidary performs in the style of a homegirl both visually and vocally. Hidary’s persona is not a case of brown-face but a unique hybrid of two cultures; she comes correct.

Hidary’s ability to discuss her Jewish identity and experiences while talkin’ hella mad shit is amazing. She’s a kindred spirit to my Ghetto Frida project. After watching the videos on her youtube page I didn’t hesitate for a minute to head over to the official Hebrew Mamita online store and purchase her CD. She describes the album as “not appropriate for young children but spectacular for adults with flava!” a line I’m kicking myself for not coming up with.

El Rio’s got The Hebrew Mamita’s back in the Bay Area, f’sho!