Day of the Dead Opening Reception Animated Gifs

Wooohooo! It’s been a crazy last 72 hours leading up until tonight. I’ve felt a lot of love and support these last few days as I’ve worked my tail off to get the show up. Tonight was a dream come true. As I type these words it’s almost midnight and I’m still at SOMArts, facing the monumental task of turning off all the multimedia components of the exhibit. To stall for a moment I thought I’d share these animated gifs that I shot tonight.


Meligrosa dancin' like a superstar



Ms. Rosi Reyes and the Calitexican



DJ Aztec Parrot in the house



Yawning and Earrings



ADM! Calitexican and Meligrosa!






Amongst the Clouds





Hipstamatic Day 1

One of my favorite experiences in art school was the day I got my first cell phone. I ran to class determined to snap a photo of my teacher and creative hero Allan Sekula. “Hey Allan, I just got a cellphone, can I take your picture with it?” I asked excitedly as he was about to start class.

Um sure, I guess.” He replied as he sat in a chair in the center of the classroom. I pointed my phone at him and took a photo using my Motorola’s one megapixel camera. As the phone’s camera went off it made a sound mimicking a shutter opening and closing. Allan’s eyes lit up in amazement. “That’s incredible, you mean the phone makes a sound to emulate an actual camera? To present itself as the technology it’s replacing?

With that in mind, I just had my first day of shooting with Hipstamatic. It’s an iphone app that simulates various medium format films, lenses, and flash filters to create images that look like dreamily aged prints and cross-processed proofs. The main appeal is that it allows the user to create aesthetically experimental images without any post-production work in Photoshop. I’ve gotta say, the images I was able to casually create lived up to the hype that’s been going around. There’s also the appeal of discovering different combinations of the app’s interchangeable films, lenses, and flashes. Below is my photo of San Francisco legend Frank Chu shot with Ina’s 1969 film, John S lens, and the standard flash.

This past Sunday I worked SomArts’ first photowalk produced by CaliberSF. Seeing a horde of photographers with their digital SLRs in hand inspired me to finally give in and try Hipstamatic. I’ve been seeing really impressive images created by friends using Hipstamatic popping up on flickr and facebook for a hot minute. So while Lex and I worked the box office of the event and greeted photographers I whipped out my iphone and fired up Hipstamatic for its maiden voyage. The truth is that the app crashed a LOT on me so it took a while for me to actually start making images with it. Lex was kind enough to be my very first subject and I shot the image below.

I still have yet to really explore the many possible combinations of Hipstamatic but I’m off to a modestly decent start. SomArts’ photowalk was also a big hit and it was great to see Frank Chu again (my third time this summer, por favor believe it). Frank was actually the celebrity guest of the photowalk and he led the procession of photographers around the Soma area. At the post-walk dinner it was a treat to listen to him proudly tell his story of his participation in the post-Mehserle verdict marches and mayhem.

I’m off to experiment a little more with Hipstamatic. In the meantime I’ll leave you with a mother-son diptych:



Brandon Walsh State of Mind

Every now and then I think that I’m living the life of Beverly Hills 90210’s Brandon Walsh. I always envied Brandon’s job at the Peach Pit where it seemed like every week a famous music act would show up and hold an impromptu concert. This past weekend I had another Brandon Walsh moment when Thao Nguyen and Mirah came to SomArts and held a small intimate concert kicking off their tour together.

Both Thao and Mirah were super nice and casually hung out at SomArts before and after the show. I was able to shoot a handful of photos of them as they walked around the building. Above are my two favorites.

I also shot a quick video of Thao and Mirah playing When We Swam, my favorite song by Thao. Watch as once again another Brandon Walsh moment unfolds for me at SomArts. Where is Nat and my Peach Pit Megaburger?

In a Brandon Walsh State of Mind,


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.


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,


Calacas & Chucks

I’ve been sitting in front of my computer editing down the hundreds of photos that I shot the other day with model/artist/curator Rachel-Anne Palacios. She was our model for this year’s Day of the Dead show announcement and graphics. There will be more to come from the shoot but I’m really excited about it so I thought I’d share at least one image.

Our photoshoot started at SOMArts and after a couple of hours we piled into a car and traveled to 16th and Mission to take some more shots. I shot this video of Rachel as were on our way. Check it out:

One of the potential things to wear that Rachel brought to the shoot were an amazing pair of limited edition Frida Kahlo Converse Chuck Taylors. These rare Chucks in her collection are the real deal, part of a series of Frida Converse shoes that she purchased in Mexico City. As soon as I saw them I knew I had to take some photos, I don’t think I’ve ever been so envious of another person’s shoes before. More info on the Converse HERE.



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.



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.

Clash of the Titans

In talking about my own artwork I often bring up the idea of combining disparate mythologies. My love for this concept is one of the reasons I come to my job at SOMArts with a smile. Every time I arrive at SOMArts I am greeted by a series of sculpted portraits that line the walkway into the entrance of our lobby.

As one walks by, you can witness an eternal stare down between two of my favorite icons from VERY different worlds: Guillermo Gomez-Peña and Cthulhu. One is a master performance artist, world renowned for his work. The other is a fictional cosmic entity, a worshipped evil being that was a fixture in the works of writer H.P. Lovecraft.

I often wonder if anyone else appreciates the interaction between these two legendary beings. Their endless waltz of gazes, smirks, and scowls brings a smile to my face every time. The next time you come to SOMArts take a look at it as you walk by.

Speaking of SOMArts, we now have our own blog, twitter account, and flickr group. I’ll be posting to the blog every now and then so check it out.



Infinite Youth

This blog revisits an old post on my defunct myspace blog. So much in my life has changed since writing that entry two years ago. SOMArts has gone through so many transformations since the death of Jack Davis and is only now finally returning to stability under the guidance of my homegirl Lex Leifheit.

One thing that hasn’t changed since that night in November 2007 has been my fascination and awe at the first two and a half minutes of Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Millenium Mambo. Tonight, hitting shuffle on my itunes brought me to Lim Giong’s A Pure Person and all of my love for the song and Millenium Mambo came flooding back to me. I immediately looked up my old writing on the movie and was shocked to discover that it had been written all the way back in 2007. I summed up my feelings on the song and film that night in the excerpt below:

A Pure Person has been stuck in my mind since I first saw Millennium Mambo as a starving student at Calarts. The visuals of actress Shu Qi propelling herself through that urban passageway combined with the song’s sentimental beat made me obsessed with every detail of it. Without being too pretentious, this opening sums up so much of my life as a 19 and 20 year old. It represents everything that was beautiful and energetic about being young and living in the Mission District. The corridor that Shu Qi walks through in Keelung, Taiwan could have easily been the 24th street BART station to me.

Here are the fleeting two and a half minutes that have moved and inspired me so. I was 21 years old when the film was released and for me, even though it moves in slow motion, no other sequence in film has best captured the energy and spirit of youth than this excerpt of Millenium Mambo.

In my explorations of flickr I have been amazed to see that photographers have voyaged to this passageway and shot pictures of it. My two favorite are below:

If I have ever had one unfulfilled desire as an artist it would be to reimagine this sequence with a Latina in the Mission District. I’ve set it as a goal to complete before I die.  If anyone reading this is interested in performing or collaborating with me to make this a reality please let me know.



A Moment of Rebirth

Despite all the clichés and catchphrases, last night will be forever about one thing to me: hope. Our gathering at SomArts was a success; artists, activists, and onlookers embraced, danced, and celebrated as the results came in. We alternated between live music and election coverage on our stage. Once a decisive victory was announced we danced until Obama was ready to give his acceptance speech. I’m a Green voter but there was no denying the collective energy in the room last night. I thought his speech was brilliant, the best by any major politician in my lifetime so far. It was the moment of our national redemption and rebirth.

The Moment of Victory
The Moment of Victory
Watching the Speech
Watching the Speech