Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Great radio show on higher education and its relationship to slavery.

Having the privilege to finish my undergraduate education at Sarah Lawrence College after struggling through mediocre public schools and then community college education changed my life. My experience there made me hyper aware of the legacy of colonialism, class and race. Especially there.
I am infinitely grateful to have had the opportunity to attend such a prestigious school. While SLC is not mentioned in this radio show, I still found it fascinating and really relevant to anyone considering a higher education or having experienced it themselves.
I'm also a total history nerd.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dear Los Angeles,

Your helicopter night birds
Blocks on lock down
Tamaleras chismiando under a mobile rainbow umbrella outside my window
Scoops non dairy maple oreo
Guisado's Cochinito pibil
Your thick layer
"I'm an actress"
"When my script gets picked up"
"When ...."
Hot summer nights reading outside
Hot summer nights in grit
Tape paintings on east side window fronts
Avenue wars
Fantastic sunsets to compensate almost just enough

Its been about 3 months since I decided to leave Los Angeles and return to the Bay Area. I left before I resented that city. I left before I got sucked in and forgot how to leave. Somehow this dense yet expansive place felt lonely unlike anywhere I've been. Unbearably so.  Leaving is something I know how to do well.
Questions of place and location fascinate me. How does someone know when to call a place home? And when to give up and leave it and thrust themselves to start over elsewhere. I can't help but constantly ask myself this question partly because I've done it so many times and wonder if I'll ever stop but also because I grew up in an environment plagued with nostalgia for a place that although not geographically far away, seems to only exist in the past. Unreachable. Unattainable.

Anyway. Los Angeles was what I needed then. And like all places I set foot on, nostlagia will inevitably surface.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Signal Fire Art Residency Recipient!!!!

Check out the amazing people selected to participate in this 5 year going Signal Fire Artist Residency.
I am happy to say I am part of this bunch. I look forward to using my time with Signal Fire in Portland, Oregon's Mt. Hood forest to immerse myself in my great uncle, filosofo y politico Francisco Izquierdo Quintana's spanish publication "Racional Democracia".
I am overwhelmed and grateful to have the privilege to take a week to just be in nature and spend time with his writing and with people as committed and invested in their art practice.
Tio Paco, estas orgulloso? Ojala.
Dale con dale.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Post Grad Hustlin' = 3 jobs and pet portraits!

I had no idea post graduate life was going to be like it is.
First to graduate in my family from college. Got my Master's too.
Away from family in Miami, my west coast family is composed of incredibly supportive friends, many of which are artists, I'm often embarrassed to rely on. Theirs and my Miami family's support gives me huge encouragement to keep at it.
As many other creatives in our times, I'm under paid, and really struggling to recover from the illusion grad school provides and you can't help but submit to religiously: my creative practice is all I need, right? Well, I'm 32 years old. I am educated. I speak 3 languages. Somehow, I'm making less money than I did before I started to pursue my education, I'm talking over 10 years ago. But still I hustle, because as my immigrant survivor parents continuously remind me "You just gottah keep going". Giving up is not an option. Ever.
So in my most recent attempt to capitalize on my skills I've been doing pet portraits! Having spent the last 3-4 years focusing on performance, installation and video as a way to address issues related to identity, I am now rediscovering the joys of reverting to my original preferred medium, PAINT and DRAWING!
This is the first portrait I did as a joke house warming gift to my friends who recently bought their first home. Puddle, the adorable blue pit featured in the painting below is their child shall we say. I love this silly creature. And as a dog owner myself, I am very aware at how connected one can feel to your mascots and the unconditional support and warmth and humor they provide without fail. So I went crazy with this portrait after a much needed break from a performance project that left me absolutely spent and sincerely questioning the desperate desire for validity performance is founded on. Hungry for an outlet that had nothing to do with being an exhibitionist, I cliched out, and became the solitary artist in the studio/ tiny bedroom in my east LA home.

The process was great. I was surprised at how refreshing it was to play with these materials again and explore new mediums. I got such great responses about this silly painting that in turn resulted in commissions! So in addition to my other 3 jobs, I've been painting pooches and now kitties for flow$$$.
Here are a few others.
Milo and Gracey (who poor baby is battling cancer). These are going to my dear friend Meg Allan Cole in Brooklyn as a anniversary gift to her hubby.

But the one I really need to thank is this little guy:

The one and only Reginaldo!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spanglish is my primer language, meng.

If you've lived in Miami or New York or even Los Angeles (the west side doesn't count), chances are, whether you chose to absorb it or not, you've been exposed to some form of Spanglish. See, Spanglish was my first language. It is still my language of choice. I think in spanglish. I make art in spanglish. I still watch Que Pasa USA (the first bilingual sitcom ever) when I get homesick and miss my crazy Miami cubichis. And regardless of how predictable and progressively heavy Sofia Vergara's accent gets on Modern Family, I eagerly watch and anticipate the peppering of spanish in the show. I speak to my parents in spanglish. Surely, you get the gist by now.
So once I discovered Junot Diaz's work, it just added to my go to Homesick toolbox, big time! Even though Diaz's work, language wise, is pretty specific to Dominican spanglish, there is so much overlap in Caribbean slang, enough for me to find so much comfort in his writing, heavy post-colonial trauma and all. (Anecdote Cue:) It brings me back to the year I lived deep in the Bronx so my commute to Sarah Lawrence wasn't such a tirada since my modest scholarship was nowhere near enough to allow me to afford living on or remotely near campus. It reminds me of how much of an outsider I felt in that IV league school I worked so hard to get into, only to later realize A. Apparently I'm brown ("sometimes") and B. no matter how many papers I wrote on Caribbean history in the hopes of better understanding where and what I came from, I was just tapping into something much bigger than I could have ever imagined for the trajectory of my work as an artist, woman, latina. And finally, it reminds me of the first time I was referred to as "the latin girl" by a fellow student because well, what else was that ignoramus pendeja going to call me if she couldn't remember my name, right? Woof.
I apologize for the anecdotal rant but...come on, this is a blog right....
Anyway, back to Junot the Genius. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao rocked me. I know what Fuku is and I'm pretty sure it extends beyond the DR and Trujillo. God, it was comforting to here a name for "it".  FUKU. I actually think fuku has developed into a cloud that hovers over most of Miami, minus Wynwood of course. (If you read the book, you know what I'm talking about). So in The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, Oscar was the comic book, sci-fi  tragic sacrificial lamb. Pobrecito. Yunior, was Oscar's confidant, as well as the surprise narrator and academically aspiring hetero-chulo who can't seem to keep his pipi in his pants, like a good Dominicano. Yunior is expanded on as the protagonist for This is How You Lose Her. To my surprise, despite my initial utter excitement at the release of this book, I forced myself through the first 100 pages. En serio. Waiting to feel more than slightly sorry for Yunior and his bitter madre and his sick delinquente brother. Yunior's hyper-active sex life bored me. It bored him too. Once he started to really experience irreparable consequence, emotionally, physically, the kind you can't fuck away... then, I was there with him. Suddenly, his progressively tragic life, his failing body, his emotional complacency then void felt very real.  I know several Yuniors. Maybe not as academically motivated but certainly just as afflicted. Use their machismo and sexuality as a sport, compulsively in their youth, maybe even into adulthood as a means to feel alive, in control and conquer something...anyone. 
While I was not totally swept up by How You Lose Her the way The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao had me bawling at the end, it definitely proposed the opportunity to consider a parallel. Maybe my twisted Cuban upbringing imposed me to feel that machismo is valued as absolute power, privilege, indestructible, a given. Whether I liked it or not. This is just our "culture". And when I say "our", I can't really think of what that would exclude. Yet, here we have a man who has performed to his best ability as a man as he knew fit, only to be utterly crippled by all of it. 
Not often do I say this but, the intimate progression of Yunior made me, dare I say, sympathetic. Ser hombre no es facil. No es nada facil. 
I was honestly stumped as to how to tie my nostalgic adoration for Diaz's use of Spanglish and the inevitable tangent on machismo so, never being shy to ask for directions, I asked my amazing friend and writer Daniel Carmichael for some general insight and response. The following is his:

"What I was thinking was that both things (machismo y el spanglish) are very linked to identity, whether perceived or practiced.  Spanglish is a compromise, drawing from tradition as well as from lived experience (aka growing up as an American) to create an entirely new way of speaking and a new type of identity that becomes its own tradition.  But machismo seems to be a lot harder to subvert, a lot harder for the culture to shake.   I think an interesting question to pose is, What would be the Spanglish equivalent for a cultural evolution of machismo--like how to diffuse it or subvert it into something that is fluid and creative and productive instead of static and destructive? "

I found it interesting to think of Spanglish as a comprise. I personally don't see it as a step toward assimilation but can see how it can be perceived as such. However, as Daniel insightfully brought up, what would be the spanglish equivalent for a cultural evolution of machismo?

What would Junot say?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Scouting for a new place for my very restless transient soul, I went to Seattle to:

feel winter, frost, rain and cold, in a great way.
Space needle

Meet a new and gorgeous budding human in my life while rekindling a once again very tender friendship.
Eero (aka coconut monkey) y la Natalie

Eating ramen, like ramen that takes 4 days to make kind of ramen experience. Just crazy amazing.
Tsukushinbo in Downtown Seattle. They only make 35 bowls a day. The broth takes 4 days to make.

Finding the best specialty, quirky spots like:
Pates, beautiful cuts of meat, sausage, even pork skins for your pups. Gorgeously designed in every way.

Leaving a little calmer, a bit more focused, yet still, carrying the heavy sense of perpetual transience.
Seattle was wonderful regardless.

Back to LA.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thank You For Coming hosts MIAMI!!!

It has been a crazy whirlwind of a week.

No more 9-5. Goodbye health and dental insurance, consistent income and security. KaBoom.

Moving on....
Working souly on my first residency is.....WORK! So much work, but then again I tend to be enthusiastically masochistic in my practice, and I savor every second of the self perpetuated chaos! Well, mostly.
Designing the space, menu and creating relationships with the hommies at Thank You For Coming, the whole thing is somewhat unreal, in the most delicious way possible.
Can I just say that the Thank You For Coming crew is pretty amazing for taking on this feet!
This is such a great place and I'm so honored to have my first artist residency there!!

Here are some details:

LA Novela Special - December Residency

As you walk through the entrance door of Thank You For Coming, you are greeted by intoxicating smells of sazon, mojo and manteca wafting in the air causing you to hyper-salivate. You try your best to focus on the disclaimer / menu of the night written on the glass door despite the hurricane of distracting colors, d├ęcor, Spanglish and music commotion bouncing around.
Packed with a fantastic Thank You For Coming crew, visitors and surprises, you have found yourself in the flurry of a live novela / restaurant. That’s right.
Maybe Miami’s cupid skills cause a love connection totalation among the crew! Maybe Miami’s ex-lover unexpectedly shows up to profess his undying love to her. Picadillo and Arroz y Frijoles to be on the menu, his favorite dish. Or maybe Miami misses her long lost Mami Miami
, causing her to serve Croquetas in her honor. Or maybe Miami’s arch nemisis, Cuquita challenges Miami to a live cook off…Ay Dios mio!!...who knows.
Once you are seated this gives you a moment to take it all in, or as much as you can before SHE, the infamous Spanglish speaking hyper embellished booty shakin’ Miami, comes to ignite your dining experience. The walls and tables are bright and steaming with Who knows what will happen today, but regardless you are hungry, intrigued and committed to experiencing…L.A. NOVELA SPECIAL!
And Miami shall deliver! (cue dramatic music)

First night of the drama is December 5th!


We had our "soft opening" (I love that expression!) on Saturday December 1st and it was a complete blast. It had been sometime since Miami  re-emerged but once the patrons started walking in the door, it felt quite natural despite the anxious anticipation. The crew, flowed right into it too.

La Miami - Foto by Paul Choi @ahoyPaulChoi

ThankYou For Coming mid Bling out - Foto by Paul Choi @ahoyPaulChoi

Flan divino- Foto by Paul Choi @ahoyPaulChoi

Cafecito Rico - Foto by Paul Choi @ahoyPaulChoi