Our visit to the Brewery for Art Walk 09

There is something so completely fascinating to be able to walk through someones dwelling and see how they live. This is something I've always loved to do. Call me nosey. Call me someone with an avid interest in architecture and interior design. Shoot, call me a voyeur. Either way, I dig checking out a person's natural habitat.

When my Dad used to live in South Pasadena, I loved the drive from my grandparents home in El Sereno to his house. I would take Huntington Drive to Oak Knoll, and it would wind around all the devastatingly beautiful homes. If you've never been to San Marino, let me just say its old money. Gorgeous Spanish-style homes replete with hanging moss, tile work, lush landscaped lawns, brown nannies pushing strollers with little white babies to the park, etc. Huge homes, mansions even.

What I would have given to be able to walk into these homes and discover what was behind the closed doors.

Last month I got to experience a voyeur's shameless fantasy...the Brewery Art Walk in L.A. The Brewery is supposedly one of the largest art colonies in the world. Its a huge structure that used to be a Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery, right off the 5 freeway. Now its a place where over 300 living/working artists live. Twice a year they open it up for the public.

I went last year and couldn't believe I could walk into each artist's space and examine their work space, how they stored their paintings, what type of paint they used, what they were working on and where they ate and slept. Too cool. It was like my childhood fantasy come true. I've always wanted to live in a really cool loft with brick walls, sky high ceilings and lots of windows and have a studio space for my work.

I mean, what artist doesn't?

So I had to drag Michael with me back again this year. We've always dreamed of having our own studio....but to actually live in place like this? With six baybays--it ain't happenin'. The logistics of it gave me a headache. I mean, how would I even get the groceries in here?

But alas, that was just a sweet, sweet fantasy, baby.

Still, it was fun to just walk around and check out people's space. To be totally honest, I wasn't really checking out too much art. Only a couple of artists really caught my eye. I was, however, totally checking out Ikea islands, loft beds, wine racks, Cost Plus World Market furnishings, etc. Many of the artists were very gracious, letting people walk into their place (especially nosey, wierd people like myself), check out their stuff. Some even had snacks and wine out for people to enjoy. I'd heard the wait list to live there was years and beyond. But on this last visit, we stumbled upon a couple of empty lofts, ready to be rented.

Oh, for a mere three to four thousand a month.

We had to cut this visit short because 1.) it was unpleasantly and unseasonably hot on this October afternoon 2.) I consumed a fabulous cup of fruit-filled sangria and combined with the heat and the fact that we hadn't eaten anything since breakfast--I got a little tipsy and 3.) There is a lot of stair-climbing and Michael's back was just about done.

I guess you could say we're a tad high-maintenance.

If you're ever in the L.A area and The Brewery is having their open house, you should go and see how the other (artsy fartsy) half lives.

They have this scary walkway that connects two of the buildings. Here is Sol, drinking in the So Cal sunshine.


L.A. face with an Oakland booty.

So Michael and I hopped on a plane to Oakland last Thursday morning. To a place we'd never been before, to meet people we've never met before. All because four of my paintings landed in an art show up in the Bay Area.

Oh sure, we always jet-set around the globe whenever we have an art opening to go to.


I didn't blog about it beforehand because to be honest, I didn't think we would make it there. It's not like we have a little reservoir of cash for such occasions. Nope. We live dangerously. And ghetto fabulously.

But I got my sweet ass there and that's all that matters.

Alls I got to say is that peeps from the Bay Area are hella cool. Creative. Laid back. Which is a vibe I can totally embrace.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves but I would like to describe a once in a lifetime meeting. As I studied in college, one of my favorite subjects was Chicano Art. Studying at CSULA, that would stand to reason. I loved to learn about all of the Chicana artists of the 70's. I remember falling in love with Yolanda Lopez and her artwork. It spoke to me. It gave me hope, as a Chicana, an artist, a mother. I can do this. I can create art that is relevant to me and people will get it.

She gave me vision.

So when I discovered that Yolanda Lopez was my online homie Rio Yañez's mama, oh boy you know it was on! When he told me I would probably get a chance to meet her at the opening, I was so totally excited. You have no idea!

Brown girls and their Chicana heroes...

When I finally got to meet her, I tried to adequately express how powerful her work was, how much it spoke to me...I got all choked up. I got a little teary-eyed. She patted me on the arm and then gave me a hug. Then she said to me, "I painted them for you. They were my Valentine."

That is a quote I will hold close to my heart forever.

What a great trip.

The artwork in the show varied into all types of different media. There were so many interesting things to take in. Sculptures, paintings, prints, photography, even paper quilling!

Rachel had this incredibly huge, covered patio adjacent to her crib. When I walked up the stairs, I almost wet my pants. She had one of the banners from Frida's SFMOMA show. Be still my heart. I thought, well I shouldn't jack it if I want to be invited back. It was just amazing.

Michael's view...he took off from Rachel's hood to "explore". I'm so used to this part of him, its as familiar as breathing.

One of the amazing altars at the gallery. There is so much love put into these works of art!

The artist Viviana Paredes explained her concept to us, and it was really amazing. But looking at this pic, you're probably wondering, what the?

Oh, snap. Sorry, honey.

Me and Rio Yañez, the creator of the Ghetto Frida series. I was so excited to finally meet him. I've been a fan of his artwork and his blog for a while now so it was really cool!

We visited the Alameda Auto Body Fine Art gallery and I got to see one of Miriam Martinez's prints in person! Heck yes, I was all up on that one, too!

Rachel was the curator for the show. She was so gracious, and invited us to stay at her place! She made us breakfast from the delicious mole that her man made and we got to just chill and talk. She is an incredible person. Her home was filled with beautiful artwork. I told her she'd have to frisk me when I left.

Me talking to Yolanda Lopez. Wish I had better pics but I'm practically blubbering in all of them. This was a meeting I'll never forget!

And here I am, in the beginning stages of a cry. So emotional.

One of the artists I was so looking forward to meeting, Carlos Villez. His paintings were phenomenal. I was breathing all on them, trying to get a good look at his brushstrokes. Genius!

Me and some of the lovely people I met that night.

Rachel gave me mad love with this wall for my paintings. And see, here I was worried about being down the hall, around the corner, by the restroom. Heh.

I studied illustration in college, so I get really excited when I see artists use an illustrator's style in a piece of fine art. I can just imagine using the triple 0 brush and attacking all that marvelous detail. Carlos Villez, once again.

Oh, the irony of burning copal, acknowledging the four directions, drum beats and Aztec dancers in the atrium of the California building. Niiice.

I wouldn't have been able to do this show without my husband's support. This trip was great because he was by my side. Love you, honey!


Graffiti-inspired tattoo: Have some "Faith"

We always get phone calls from friends and family to create designs for a variety of things. Michael remembers making sketches for kids in his neighborhood, on their skateboards, hats, the walls (of course), etc. I was always called to make signs, designs, birthday cards. I fondly remember when my family participated in this chili cook-off--I was the one called in to make little hand-made signs for snow cones, tacos, burritos, etc. I think I was about 11 at the time. Then in middle school I was the one who always drew "anatomically correct" people at the back of the bus, with a crowd of people around me. Funny how I could expertly draw a penis without actually having seen one. Heh.

That's just how it is when you're an artist.

But neither of us have ever designed a tattoo for anyone. Some good friends of ours asked if Michael could design a graffiti-style tattoo for their son Kash, who was turning 18.

I don't know about you, but there was not a chance in this lifetime that my mama would have let me get some ink on my 18th birthday. I have two other good friends who are letting their daughter do the same thing. This is a whole new generation! I guess it would be kind of hard to say no to tattoos when as a mama, you have a full sleeve AND gargoyle wings on your back (love you, Christina!).

So Michael set out to create an original design for Kash. When his mom told me where he was gonna get it, I thought, wow, that's pretty ambitious for his first tattoo. I heard he was in quite a lot of pain there for a minute. Ouch.

I think the design turned out great. But we didn't know how close the tattoo artist Worm was gonna get to the design Michael made. They changed the colors a bit, but the integrity of the design remained the same. My husband never ceases to amaze me.

I think it turned out amazing, don't you?


Droppin' balls.

Here is a funny little tidbit about me. When I am under alot of stress, I'm very forgetful. I drop the ball. Like, in a major way.

Take about two weeks ago. I forgot to pay the utility bill. I know, right? Water is sort of vital to the running of a home. Sure, I've had plenty of occasions where we had to scrape up the pennies. But we still managed to pay before it got shut off. Well, on this fine Wednesday morning, we were finishing up with breakfast and about to wash the dishes when, for some strange reason, no water was coming out of the faucet.

Hmmmm, that's odd.

Turns out, it got shut off. Your girl forgot to pay the bill. To make matters worse, after we paid the bill in full, they didn't turn it back on until the end of the business day....the next day. Yeh, it was feeling all Little House on the Prairie up in this piece.

Then there was the really cool art show I agreed to be in. Allllll the way up north in Oakland. I got all my paperwork in order, turned in my bios and my narratives, framed my stuff, touched up some things, etc. All on time. And I had this date stuck in my head. The 10th. All artwork has to be in Oakland by the 10th. So here I am thinking I'm making good time. I'll be able to send it UPS ground, it'll get there in time, all is well, etc.

Then I get an e-mail from the curator of the show, the lovely Rachel-Anne. I haven't received anything from you yet. Did you send your artwork already? All entries should be submitted by the 5th.

Wait. Wait. Wait!

So as I went back to the legion of e-mails I have stored in folders I found it. The email that said all artwork was to be submitted by the 5th.

Your girl must be slippin'.

I am slippin'!

So I panic. Sure, I can send it out next day air or 2-day priority, but it'll cost me an arm and a leg--almost $200. That may not sound like alot to you, but this is me, remember?

I just got my water shut off and I had to clean my armpits with a washcloth and a bowl of water.

If I send it UPS ground, it might--on a lucky chance--get there by Monday, which was the last possible day before they began to hang the show. So I got to thinking...do I wanna get done wrong and have my stuff hung way down the hallway, around the corner and by the bathroom, cuz I sent my stuff in late?

Uh, no.

I hate, hate, HATE to appear flaky and unreliable. When you are raised by a super efficient single mother, it sorta becomes this monkey on your back. I can claim that I live a crazy life (which I do) and that I'm responsible for way too many lives for one person to manage (which I do)...but that just sounds like an excuse. But being a housewife, helping my husband with his business, working with a nonexistent budget, homeschooling the chil'rens, having one of the chil'rens play sports, being an art teacher (grading papers and creating projects), staying involved in our small group, trying to create my own art AND trying to stay sane is getting the best of me. And being under duress is causing me drop balls left and right.

Michael put on his Save-the-Wifey cape and promised to find a reasonable solution. "Don't worry, baby, we're gonna get it there if I have to drive them myself!" But of course, I didn't take him literally. I should have known. About a half an hour later, he busted into the kitchen with a huge smile on his handsome, glowing face.

"Ok! I know how we can do this."

And I'm standing there like, ok...yeh...ok...well?

"I'll take the paintings to Oakland myself!"

And I'm still standing there like, ok...yeh...ok...well?

Help me out, honey. I'm drawing a blank. How is that a solution?

Turns out, it cost less money to buy a bus ticket to Oakland on the Greyhound than to ship it. Sure, most people couldn't take the day off in their busy work week to go all the way out to Northern California. But you have to realize, my husband is special. To me, anyway. He didn't see it that way. Remember how I wrote about my son having fresh eyes, and how he saw things differently from you and me? Well, he inherited them from his daddy! He saw it as an opportunity to travel to a new place, to enjoy the ride, the scenery, the freedom of being alone and not having to worry about six chil'rens and the wifey. To his complex, ADHD-riddled mind, it made perfect sense.

Which leads me to where I made yet another boo-boo.

As he was getting ready to leave for L.A., I bought his bus ticket online. I printed out the confirmation page, packed the ipod, the camera and some clean chonies. I'm nothing if not a practical wife. And off he went.

Then I got a phone call an hour later.

Turns out I printed out the confirmation page, but not the actual tickets. It was our responsibility to print out the ticket. It was nonrefundable.


I started to cry a little. Out of panic. Are you serious? How could you mess up again? How could you not have read the letters that were in BOLD, ALL CAPS?


Michael called me back within ten minutes to tell me the supervisor was understanding of his situation and printed out his ticket.

Whew. My butt cheeks could finally unclench. That was a close one. I had my "I forgot again!" pity party and then went to sleep.

But let's set all that aside.

My paintings are in Oakland! Safe and sound. My husband is back home! Safe and sound.

Being a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mama for the past twelve years has worked out fine for me. But no more--there is just too much stuff to do, to remember, to go, to buy, to wash, to cook, to mail in, to accomplish.

I think I just might have to follow a schedule or something.

Mom, are you listening? You can die a happy woman now. I have finally caved! She's been trying to get me on a schedule for years now.

Now, if I can only find the time to schedule creating the schedule, I'll be just fine.



Missing the closing of Retna's Vagos Y Reinas show

Last night was the closing of Retna and the Mac's Vagos Y Reinas show. We had the best intentions to go to the opening at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica back in September. The chil'rens were taken care of, we had a fabulous sushi dinner here in Riverside and then we took off to L.A. Well, turns out we totally missed the opening because it closed at six. And seriously, what art opening in L.A. on a Saturday night closes at 6 p.m?

Apparently, this one.

Sigh. I was really looking forward to this show, having followed Retna and Mac's collaborations over the years. About a month or so before the show, Michael went out to L.A to pick up some new paint from Nova Color. As he was picking out his colors, in walked Retna. They are old friends and fellow writers. It was one of those chance meetings on a random day during the week. They got to hang out and Michael got a glimpse of a project he was working on.

So of course we were bummed out that we missed out on the show. Retna and Mac's collaborations have been sick. However, we did get to see the giant vagina over at Mid-City Arts / 33third on West Pico Blvd.

I suppose that affirms the notion that a trip out to L.A. is never in vain.

Michael wanted to make the closing last night but...his car was in pieces on the driveway as he tried to replace the water pump. Ahhh, the realities of life.

Michael went with Mo to pick up these letter/shape thingies.

Mo, doing what all post-modern artists do when they move on to the next level of their creativity: they explore the sculptural elements of their work.

Amazing. Loved the title of the show, too!

So this is what he did with those shapes. Looks like Egyptian hieroglyphs.

It must have been a big step to break away from the amazing color he is known for.

It sorta felt like you were being birthed all over again. Um, yeh.


Catching a case.

Oh, snaps. Looks like homeboy caught a case big time. $15,000! Ouch. I feel for the dude. But on the other hand, people have got to realize that all this social networking is bound to come back and bite us on the @$$.

The po-po aren't complete fools. I know someone who worked for the sheriff's department and they routinely check on people's online activity when they try to apply for some sort of law enforcement position. And believe me, tagging on the walls is nothing compared to some of the sick things people are into these days then they still choose to share it with the world.

If its a criminal activity, isn't it common sense to watch your back and not broadcast it online? Sure, there are other fish to fry...but you just never know. I know a graffiti artist who is very active in the graffiti community so he posts pictures of his artwork on various sites. But he always, always obscures his face in some way. Sure, his name is out there, but you can't tie his face with the name. I asked him about it once and he said, I just gotta keep it low profile. You just never know.

He should tell that to all the stupid adolescent boys on myspace who create albums full of their crappy little tags.
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