Some fresh art for your soul.

So a few of my husband's paintings were in a show last Saturday. Here is the thing when you are a working artist, participating with galleries to display your work. Every gallery is different, every curator you work with is different, the vibe is different.

I've been in shows where everything was legit, the gallery was organized, they hung my work the way it was meant to be hung, it was catered, there was music, etc. Nice, right? Then I've been in other shows where my stuff was scattered everywhere. I've had to pay to enter my work, and when you create lots of small pieces, which I do, it kinda hurts your wallet. Then, I didn't even sell anything. I've been in shows where they didn't bother to display the artists names and titles of the pieces. Shoot, I've been down the hall, up high in a corner. You name it, its happened.

So its always a mixed bag.

This was one of those times for my husband and his paintings. It was meh. I mean, his work was incredible and I'm glad people got to see some of it. But still, he is looking for bigger and better venues.

Friends and family came out to see and lots of them were kinda put off by the vibe. Most people hear "art show" and immediately expect some kind of museum. If you frequent art shows, then you know they are mostly warehouses with white walls. But its the artwork that makes it come alive.

This particular show was at a graffiti supply storefront, which also had a gallery space. But with every graff event, there is the "hood" element. I laughed and told my family that I must be desensitized, because I didn't even notice the boys in hoodies, the stench of cannabis sativa in the air, the neighborhood. I just focused on the paintings, on being with the people I loved, and the shine in my husband's eyes.

Either way, it was a fun night in El-lay. I got to hang out with my sister and bro. Had some sushi. I cackled like a hyena until my sides ached. And my husband got to share some of his passion with the world.

Stylin' and profilin' in front of some of the pieces in the show at 33Third gallery.

He is also a performance artist. Heh.

One of my favorite pieces in the show. MJ forever!

Michael's piece, on top.

Mike and I, with my baby bro and sis. Good times, good times.

A painting by the artist Retna.

My favorite piece. My husband is such an amazing artist. I forget that, sometimes. But he really and truly is.

Love of my life. Forever.


They aren't called killer whales for nothing

Image: Flickr
At some point during my adolescence, I threw around the idea of becoming a marine biologist. Partly because I love the sea, partly because I figured I didn't want to be a broke artist (!), but mostly because I knew I could go to college in San Diego. Par-tay! But as the years progressed, I discovered a strange quirk about myself that quite possibly shut the coffin on that elusive marine biologist career.

Looking at creatures underwater gives me the serious heebie jeebies--it's unnatural.

It also gives me a suffocating feeling, which makes total sense because helllllooooo, we aren't made to breathe underwater. On our trip to Sea World last year, I explained my weirdness on the subject.

I mean, I love to swim in the ocean. That doesn't really freak me out. Its just viewing creatures underwater, through the observation glass, that is highly unpleasant for me. Just the fact that all that water is so close to me....and those huge creatures are just behind a sheet of glass...and are that close to me. Oh em gee....

Shamu? Shiver.

Then I read this today. And I begin to think that maybe my weird quirk isn't a quirk after all, but just plain old, bare bones self-preservation! Those animals shouldn't be in captivity and we shouldn't be sitting there clapping when they splash water on us.

I told Michael, "Ahh-ha! See--I'm not crazy after all!"

People just weren't created to be frolicking with 12,000 lbs. sea creatures. Noooo. Reports said he dragged her down by her ponytail. Her ponytail! He could have just jumped up and swallowed her whole, right? Instead, he decided to use some finesse and snatched her up by her hair.

Tell me these animals aren't intelligent and calculating. And mad as hell that they are stuck in these tanks dancing for their meals.

Its so sad that this had to happen but seriously, let's stop using these animals for our entertainment. To be honest, I'm not taking the PETA angle, but the human angle. This is not the first trainer to be killed. This is the third for this particular whale named Tillikum. Interestingly, he is also worth millions of dollars, since Sea World uses him to sire other whales. That and use his fins (which measure the span of about six feet each) to splash the crowds.


They aren't called killer whales for nothing.


Being honest about graffiti with my kids

A sketch by my son Sol (age 10).

His daddy used to call it "gar-fitti". That's what Michael's father used to call what Michael did. He hoped graffiti was just a passing phase.

When your husband is into graffiti, whether it be something he's currently active in or something he did as a rebellious youth, its really hard to keep it from your children as a point of interest when they get to a certain age. All they've known is their fathers interest in it, so of course, they've become interested in it. Its exciting. And what does every young boy crave? Excitement.

When they were small and running around Michael's crates filled with cans, the worst that would happen is I would have to make sure they didn't choke on any spray can tips.

Now, its a little more complicated.

The pictures of Michael hanging from the tops of buildings by one hand...the ones of him grabbing his crotch in the middle of a spray can-littered alley...those are stored waaaaaaaaay up on a shelf in the garage. The graffiti magazines, the sketchbooks, the pieces in the backyard and side of the house....well, those are pretty much unavoidable. And besides, that is what makes my husband who he is.

I wouldn't want to change that. Ever.

My stepson got into some trouble last year. Despite being told over and over about "legal walls" and "trespassing" and "vandalism", well, the excitement of just going out and doing it won out. That was the first time people threw this whole graffiti thing in our faces.

Well, you have the stuff just laying around.
What did you think was going to happen--if they see their Dad doing it, of course they are going to want to do the same.
Weren't you watching him?
Just wait until they are going out and bombing trains.
Its just like a kid with drug-addicted parents...what do you think he will grow up to become?

This last one was really and truly said to me, by an officer who didn't know me from Adam, as I was faced with a squad car in my driveway at eight in the morning one day, my stepson sheepishly sitting in the backseat.


Judgment thrown in my face, just like that. But I wasn't about to sit there and defend myself and my husband to a total stranger.

But I've thought long and hard about this. I've come to the conclusion that this is just like any other potentially harmful thing in this world. We've talked about porn, drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse, premarital sex, graffiti...all from the perspective that one day they will be confronted with it--but it is completely up to them in how they handle it. That will be the true test of their character, when they don't have their father or mother standing there, directing them. The last thing I want to do is raise some soft, ignorant, living in a safe church bubble, religious men/pansies.


So I don't shield them from the graffiti scene. Despite the trouble they've seen their brother get into, I let them take an active interest in it. The difference is, we emphasis the creative aspect of it. We encourage the sketching, the formation of letters, creating 3D effects, color combinations, bubble letters, abstract designs, etc. Its all about the art.


When Solomon finds his dad's sketches laying around, he'll trace the designs and then make them his own. Then he'll go to Michael and they'll talk about his work. If Solomon is doing designs like this, at ten years old, who knows what kind of art he'll be creating by the time he's an adult. And whether he wants to continue in the graff scene, that is up to him. I'm not delusional enough to think he still can't go down the wrong road. I just have to have faith that he'll make the right choices. For him, not for anyone else.

To me, its just another outlet for creative expression. They just use a can and some pressurized pigment.


Look at your man, now back to me, now back at your man, now back to me...

I saw this commercial for Old Spice on facebook last week, I about fell out laughing. I called Michael over to see it so he could get a quick laugh, but all I got was...

Curled lip.
Deadpan face.
And a "Ummm-hmmmm."

Methinks he didn't find it as amusing as I did.



Evolution of a Long-Hair

All of my boys have long hair. Not because its "cool" and "in style" (although it is!), but because its cheaper. Hands down. But now that I think of it, the money I spend on haircuts and Pantene shampoo kinda even out. Hmmmmph. But at least I don't have to haul them all to the barber shop every couple of weeks.

Diego has been wearing the long hair for the longest. When he was little, he had the most adorable curly hair. Ringlets. I couldn't bear to cut them, so he always had long hair. When he turned 3, and he was a sweaty toddler with nasty, dried food stuck to his hair, I cut it off.

I instantly regretted it.


My baby's hair!!

But it grew back. But it was never as curly as when he was younger. So, so sad. But it was still cute. So he rocked the long hair for about five years. Then around last year, I started to despise the long hair on him. I had to help him wash it because nine times out of ten, he would just rinse it with water in the shower and be done with it. So I'd have to sniff it and inspect his washing.

Diego!! Cochino!

Which started the shampoo battle. Then there was the brushing battle. He is extremely tender-headed, so he would cry and complain every time I came near him with the brush. So everyday it looked like he had a nest growing in back.

Like, everyday.

I was just so done with it. Every time I looked over at him, I would wrinkle up in my nose in a form of disgust.

Me: Uuuugggghhh, Diego!
Diego: What?? What did I do?
Me: You just look, ugh.

After he got out of the hospital last month, I took him in for a cut. A compromise. Not totally short, but there was a pile of hair on the floor so I knew alot of it was gone.

But then he just looked like a little fatty. Seriously. Like me in the seventh grade, totally. Pudgy cheeks, smart mouth and everything.


Just wasn't flattering at all. So I took him in again.

Snip snip snip snip

And when he was done, he looked like another kid. His handsomeness just bloomed right before my eyes! I couldn't stop staring at him.

Diego: Whaaaaaat?
Me: You look sooooo cute, Diego!
Diego: Awwwwkward.

He was so incredibly adorable at this age. People would stop me on the street to look at him and say how cute he was.

He was adorable at this stage, too. I tried my best to maximize whatever curl he had left.

Loved his long hair here, at this stage.

Then he was hitting the threshold of long hair appropriateness. Like, he hit the glass ceiling, totally.

Ew. This hair-don't lasted a good month before I was ready to shave it off myself.

So, so handsome.

Wouldn't you agree? I'll be beating them off him with sticks!!


Urban Hieroglyphics 3

This is going down on Saturday, February 20-21 at 33Third gallery. Michael has a few paintings in this show so, needless to say we are all very excited. He has worked so hard. You go, boy.


Stepping into my world.

I was over at Whittaker Woman's blog, reading about her man Los and his visit to his daughter's school to sing them a song. I think its awesome when a parent can share what they love to do with their children and their friends. But what is even more awesome is the impact it will make on the lives of the children.

It took me back to a time when I was a chubby little girl with crooked ponytails and glasses in the third grade. My parents had just divorced the year before, we moved from San Diego to Riverside, to be closer to family. I was just discovering that time with my Dad meant time away from my Mom. When I was with my mom, I would see my cousins sitting on their dad's lap, crying to uncles when they fell off their bike and skinned their knee. And I would feel intensely sad and feel like crying. I would tell my mom I felt tired. Then I had an excuse to find a quiet corner to sit and cry in. And then when I was with my Dad, and he cooked something for dinner that was unfamiliar, or I had no one to comb my hair for me...even a smell could do it...I would ache for my mom. And I would cry some more.

But that year, my third grade year, the teacher went around the room and asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I thought long and hard about my answer, and it seemed to be I had no other options but one.

"I want to be an artist, like my Dad."

When my teacher found out my father had some artistic skill, somehow they coordinated for him to come to our class and teach....origami, of all things. But the fact that he would drive allllll the way from San Diego to Riverside--and it wasn't on the weekend--and spend the afternoon in my class, well, it made me over the moon.

I remember being so nervous, waiting for him to show up. Maybe a part of me worried he wouldn't make it. Another part of me worried that my classmates would find this whole paper-folding lesson boring. Or that they would laugh at me, one of the only girls in Mrs. Riddick's third grade class who had divorced parents.

When he walked into that classroom, I remember my heart feeling like it was gonna burst through my chest. I was so excited, so happy, so proud that my Dad was standing up in front of my classroom and teaching us all about cutting and folding paper. He was there, he was in my classroom, he was teaching my friends. I do believe my face was wreathed in smiles, from beginning to end.

Seeing that video and reading Carlos' words about the smile on his daughter's face, it took me back to that third grade classroom, with a quickness. I doubt my father was aware of how much it meant to me, for him to visit my class that year. It was like he stepped into my world and touched everything that meant something to me.

I've carried that memory with me all these years. For it to illicit such emotion, as I type this with watery eyes...you gotta know how important it was and how much of an impact it created. I will turn 38 in exactly a week. To remember with such clarity, a memory of over 29 years before...that must mean something.

Never underestimate the impact of your presence.


For the ones you love...

If you are looking for a unique card to send to your Valentine this year, check out this series by the homie Rio YaƱez . My personal faves:

Is that basically all of them? Heh. You get my drift. Sweeeeeet.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Peace and love,



5 Things That I Will Not Let You Borrow

Now I really have turned into my mother.

My mama doesn't like to lend out her stuff. She would rather buy your own for you. Growing up, I remember getting my chongos pulled if I 1.) nagged her about using her stuff 2.) used her stuff and 3.) used her stuff and didn't put it back where it belonged. Basically, it all boiled down to using her stuff.

It was a big no-no.

I used to think she was being a little obsessive about her things. I mean, dang, didn't she trust me? However, now that I am a mama and a wifey of those who live by unscrupulous borrowing practices, I kinda get where she was coming from. When you live in a house with six chil'rens, and a spouse who is lackadaisical with his own things...well, stuff is bound to get lost and/or broken.

There are several things that make me spazz out if they are touched, they are as follows:

My paddle brush
. You know, the one I paid almost $20 for, the one I shampoo on a regular basis, the one I pull all the funky hair out of. The clean one. That one. I don't like when the chil'rens--who ALL possess long hair--take it out of my bathroom--even though they have one of their own--and use it. They never, ever put it back where it belongs. Did you know the paddle brush can also double as a spanking tool? Just sayin'.

My paintbrushes. I once had a professor in college who extolled the virtues of taking care of one's paintbrushes. He said if you took proper care of them, your brushes could last for years. Do you know how much fine art paintbrushes cost? A teeny tiny quality brush can run anywhere from $15 on up. And that's a teeny tiny brush. I don't like to leave them sitting in the water bucket. And to leave them sitting with paint on them is, in my opinion, punishable by death. Or painful torture, at the very least. So when you share your "studio" with another artist who just sloshes the paint on and leaves his mess to watch a movie or play online poker, it sorta sets a sister's teeth on edge.

My Ipod. I spent many a night, painstakingly pirating music to fill up all 16 gb of that sucker. Everyone has their own mp3's around here, so if they are asking to borrow mine...hot, laser darts come shooting out of my eyes and I have to fight the urge to cause them severe pain. Use your own!

My headphones. Like I said before, everyone owns their own mp3's, and with those mp3's came a set of headphones, right? Therefore, there should be no need to ask to borrow mine. If you couldn't take care of yours, that doesn't give me much confidence that you'll take care of mine. Plus, I don't like the idea of someone else's ear goo all up on my ear buds.

And lastly, my camera. You would not imagine how many cameras we have owned and are now currently resting in peace in the toy box graveyard. Last year, my mama bought me a camera, expressly for me. And guess what...it is still intact. I have all my cords, the case, the memory card--all of it. Imagine that.

I feel bad always having to say no to requests of borrowing my things. But then again, you'd think they'd have enough sense to realize they should stop asking.

It's better this way.


Paint so good its practically delicious.

Perhaps only an artist can relate.

There are times when I open up a fresh can of paint and it's so vibrant and beautiful that its practically...delicious.

Some people can be inspired by a landscape, the ocean, the curve of their lovers back. Me, I often find myself inspired by a color.

Tonight, its Quinacridone magenta by Nova Color.

Its positively magnificent.

I'm working on another set of Toms shoes for my fun-sized friend and I needed a strong color to create a heart. And mmmmmm, quinacridone magenta was just what I was looking for.

Whenever I meet an artist whose work I admire, I usually ask what type of paint they use, just out of curiosity. I've used them all...Golden paints, Winsor & Newton's Galeria paint--shoot, I've even been known to rock .99 cent Craft Smart and regular old house paint. But the best paint I've ever used, hands down, is Nova Color. Michael was the one who turned me onto them. Lots of mural painters in L.A use Nova Color. The selection is amazing and the color is brilliant. You can paint with a different brand and then use the Nova color and compare side by side. The Nova color blasts everything out of the water.

And the craziest thing is...the stuff smells sweet to me.

Really, sweet. I can't tell you how many times we've cracked open a jar and took a good whiff. So if you are looking for some good paint and are in the L.A area, check out Nova Color in Culver City. Its this really tiny store front but when you walk in, you practically hear the angels singing.

And now, back to my heart and Quinacridone magenta. Yay!

For men's enjoyment only.

I was having a conversation with Diego over lunch today. He was very concerned that he was forming "man boobs".

Diego: Mama, if I bend over like this, I get man boobs!

Me: Then don't bend over like that, nerd.

Diego: Mama!

Me: Here, lemme see. I reach out to give him a squeeze, but don't get very far because he is so ticklish.

Diego: Mama! Just don't pinch them! Aaagh, your hands are cold! He giggles. I giggled, too.

Me, seizing the opportunity: Diego, do you ever look at a woman's breasts?

Diego: Ew! Noooo! I bet Noah does.

Me: Let's ask him! Noooooooah!

Noah comes in, all lanky arms and legs, his long hair covering his left eye. He is in his full-blown tween mode right now.

Noah: Yeh? His smile tells me he was eavesdropping on our convo.

Me: Son, when you see a woman, do you look at her breasts?

Noah: No! Well...only if they're out to here! He exaggerates his arms out in front of him.

Noah: But mostly, I just look at their face. He then walked out of the room. Apparently, that was as far into the subject as he was willing to go.

Me: Well, that's good. Diego, do know why women have breasts?

Diego: For men's...enjoyment? He starts giggling again.

Me: Well, yes. But they are also for nourishing a baby. That's why God designed women with breasts, so they can attract their mate and then feed and nurture their baby.

Diego: But mostly...for men's enjoyment. Yeh, definitely for men's enjoyment! And off he went, into another fit of giggles.

Oh dear Lord baby Jesus. If this is the response I get from the boy who is oblivious to any females around him, then I'm in big trouble.


"Boba needs his diaper changed again!"

On our way home last night, my boys informed me of a few things. Apparently, they've decided to name their sons after Jango Fett and Boba Fett.

I can see it now, Jango, mijo, come here and sit with grandma! And, Boba! You have to eat all of your beans if you want some ice cream later on.

I guess its pretty cool to have grandsons named after Mandalorian warriors and bounty hunters.

I'm just relieved that after living in a home with six chil'rens, they're still considering having children period. We must be doing something right.


Birthday portrait.

It was cousin Selah's birthday last week and we were all stumped as to what kind of gift to buy her. She has pretty much everything. I mean, you would too if you had a mama who shops like its a crack pipe to her lips. Just sayin'. So, I resorted to my old faithful gift idea: art supplies.
Oh nooooo, mom. You bought her markers and a drawing pad? That is weeeeeak.

I say, hush children! You don't know what you're talking about. Everyone loves art supplies!

I had already thought of painting Selah's portrait, but I had no intention of doing it myself. I wanted one of the chil'rens to do it, to give it that abstract, kid's art style. And I knew just which kid to sit down and do it.


I didn't have to ask twice. I pulled up some pics of Selah for inspiration, mixed some flesh tone and set up his other paints and told him to get sketching.

It turned out really adorable. I had to help with Selah's eyes and dimples, her two most distinguishable features, to some pattern on the background, but the rest was all him. She loved it, and so did her mama!

The artist hard at work. I thought it was really cute that he drew the bow in her hair. If you know Selah, then you know she quite a collection of hair bows.

Miss Selah and her birthday portrait. Happy birthday, baby girl!
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