Friday, December 24, 2010

Felices Fiestas - Deer Digital Mural at Galeria

I created this mural and adjacent window installation for Galeria de la Raza. Read about the inspiration for this digital mural here. The staff of the gallery work hard to get the mural up, even after days of non stop rain! The mural went up not only to celebrate the holidays - but it also coincided with the winter solstice, and during a recent lunar eclipse. I think it was very appropriate - for many ancient cultures in the Americas, the deer was a sacred animal in charge of bringing back the sun. I wish happy holidays to everyone, warmth, y mucha felicidad!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Frida Munny. On auction for a Good Cause!

Check out my Munny Frida Kahlo! I made her for a charity auction that benefits NLGSF, my day job. It is sponsored by Galeria de La Raza. You don't know about what a Munny is? They are fantastic art collectible toys by Kid Robot. Many artists have designed these toys, I'm glad I gave it a shot, this is my first one. Check out another Munny toy designed by the very talented Carlos Villez. He was inspired by "El Catrin", from the Mexican Loteria board game. He seems to be courting Munny Frida...But she is playing hard to get!

There are many more amazing items up for auction! If you are in San Francisco, go check it out! The NLGSF Holiday Party and Auction will be held tomorrow, Friday December 10 at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, at 6:00 pm.

The Cartoon Art Museum is located at 655 Mission Street between New Montgomery and Third Streets, is around the corner from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and a dozen other museums which comprise the Yerba Buena Gardens cultural district of San Francisco’s South of Market area.

Friday, November 26, 2010

New Holiday Mural - Sweaters and Raindeer

Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco has a one of its kind program that allows artists to create large scale digital murals. Check out the digital mural archive here! This season I'm honored to create a holiday mural for Galeria.

Here's a sketch I came up with. The deer is a traditional animal for the season. For the Yaqui people, it is actually a sacred animal. Reindeer will be the central element for my mural. The sweater the deer is wearing is inspired by the popular textiles created in Chiconcuac, in central Mexico.

According to MexChic on Etsy: "Marilyn Monroe in the 60’s and Starsky & Hutch in the 70’s made these sweaters famous in the United States, but they’ve always been a staple in Mexico."

More to follow. In the mean time, keep warm!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chocolatada: Day of the Dead Chocolate Party

I threw a chocolate party last Friday to commemorate the Day of the Dead holiday. Why chocolate? Well, everyone loves chocolate! Chocolate was also a sacred food to ancient Mexicans so I found it very appropriate to celebrate this ancient holiday using a chocolate theme. Here's some tips if you want to organize a Day of the Dead chocolatada (chocolate feast) of your own:

Start your party late in the evening so your guests get a chance to eat dinner on their own, if they choose to. Any time after 7:00 or 8:00 pm should give your guests plenty of time to eat a light meal.

I set up two food tables: one with dark chocolate and vegan alternatives, and a more festive "ofrenda" (offering) with more traditional Mexican elements and milk chocolate. My ofrenda had the customary pan de muerto (pictured above), fruit, paper cutouts and traditional marigolds that have been used to honor the dead in Mexico for centuries. I baked two batches of chocolate cutout cookies the night before for both tables. They are relatively easy, and a lot of fun to decorate.

I served two kinds of chocolate fondue with fruit skewers for dipping. Chocolate melts better if you apply even heat slowly. Start melting your chocolate at least an hour before the party starts on a double broiler. Make sure all your utensils are dry and no moisture gets in the chocolate or it will clump. In order for your guest not to get overwhelmed with too much sweetness its a good idea to serve some savories. I made some black bean guacamole and mango salsa and served them with blue corn chips and beet chips. I also had mini pastry shells with mole sauce and roasted veggies. To complete the dark chocolate table I added cascades of black lace, dry pasilla and negro chiles, figs, black grapes and plums. A chocolate cake and brownies completed the table.

No chocolatada can be complete without some hot chocolate. I used tablets of Chocolate Ibarra and Chocolate Abuelita and mixed them with hot low fat milk and soy milk. A little bit of the pasilla and negro chiles was added to the blender in order to make a delicious spicy and sweet drink. A little bit of Mexican vanilla also gives the chocolate a wonderful scent. Please make sure you get authentic Mexican vanilla, it really makes a big difference. One of my guests said it was the best hot chocolate she had ever tasted! You can get Ibarra and Abuelita hot chocolate tablets at MexGrocer, I get my vanilla from Xanath in San Francisco.

The black clay skull and candle holder come from Oaxaca, but any dark hued pottery or tarnished silver will do if you want to create a dark table. The man shaped candle comes from a botanica on the Mission district. I also found several goodies and decorations in my neighborhood and on-line. The chocolate cosmos and dark dahlias are from Birch. The chocolate skulls and licorice/chocolate lentils are from Miette. The plastic plates and cups are reusable. I got them from Smarty Had A Party. Have a safe and fun holiday. And remember to brush your teeth!

(:= X

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vivo: Day of the Dead Community Celebration!

Thanks everyone for attending the community celebration for VIVO, the Day of the Dead exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California. last weekend. Despite the bad weather many visitors enjoyed the show, as well as music, food and community altars. A community group created the beautiful fresh flower ofrenda in front of the mural I painted. It was dedicated to amaranth, the wonder food I blogged about recently.

I dedicated the mural to Aurora Reyes. She was a renowned Mexican muralist (and a childhood friend of Frida Kahlo) that I got to meet when I was young. Ms. Reyes was very talented, but seldom heard of outside of Mexico. She inspired me to be an artist. I also dedicated the mural to Dolores Olmedo (a Mexican philantropist and art collector) and to Oscar Grant, the unarmed civilian killed on BART.

This year's exhibit make reference to Prehispanic traditions that are the origins of the Day of the Dead holiday. This wonderful pyramid (El Templo Teotl) represents the four cardinal points, as well as the four elements and ancestral forces. It was created by Jesse Hernandez.

These are some photos of a tortilla making demonstration, ofrendas created by community groups and live music.

The show and mural will be on view until December 5, 2010. To learn more about the show visit OMCA's website. To view more photos of the celebration and to read a brief article about the show visit In Oakland blog. By the way, you can take BART to the Oakland Museum, but watch out...You'll never know what dangers lurk near by.

That is actually my wonderfully free spirited friend Fennel. She is harmless. I wish you a happy and safe Halloween and a thoughtful Day of the Dead.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Galeria de la Raza turns 40!

Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco was one of the first galleries to ever show my work. This year, Galeria turns 40! So far, the celebrations and programming have been exceptional. 40 years of archives, activisim and history can be seen at the Galeria Retrospective, on view until January 29th, 2011.

Without Galeria, the city of San Francisco would loose one of its more important outlets that showcases the richness of Chicano/Latino art and culture. You can support Galeria by attending the Gala Celebration on November 21st at The Brava Theater. Tickets in advance are only $40! You can buy tickets on-line

Galeria also holds many youth arts and education activities open to everyone in the neighborhood. Recently I helped out with Galeria's family day. Thanks to the wonderful families that came down to learn how to make this awesome dog piñata!

I hope to post instructions on how to make your own dog piñata in the future.

In the mean time, please continue to support Galeria's mission by donating to the cause on-line.

My dog Mysti approves!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mano, Mundo, Corazon Opens!

Artwork by Don Colley

Installation by Maximo Gonzalez and Eduardo J. Villanueva

La Araña by Mario Castillo

La Corona, by Michael Velliquette

I am part of a group show in Chicago: Mano/Mundo/Corazon. See my previous post. I am proud to be featured among such talented artists. A review of the show is available in Spanish from La Raza. The show was also mentioned in the Chicago Tribune's Fall Exhibition's Preview. For more photos, visit CBPA's Flickr page

Friday, September 10, 2010

Announcing VIVO: Days of the Dead 2010

I'm thrilled to announce I'll be participating in the Oakland Museum of California's (OMCA) Days of The Dead exhibition! I was asked to paint a large scale mural that promotes the show and educates visitors about the tradition of Days of The Dead.

Artwork by Jesse Hernandez

More about the Show:
Ten artists, local schools and community groups will create installation and ofrendas (offerings) focusing on local and international issues. According to Guest Curator Jaime Cortez this year's title "VIVO" connects beautifully with the exhibit's concept. Vivo literally means "alive" but it also means smart, clever or astute. Vivo also means vivid, or bright. "The word vivo also reminds us that Dias de los Muertos is a living, ever-evolving tradition" said Cortez.

The exhibit will be on view from October 6 to December 5, 2010. A community celebration is scheduled for October 23rd, from 12:00 to 4:30 pm, included with the regular OMCA admission. Please join us and enjoy food, dance, music and gallery tours.

To learn more about this exhibit please visit OMCA's website

Friday, September 3, 2010

Coconut Horchata - A Recipe from Tapachula

Finally, blogeritos and blogerinas! After a cold Summer seems like we have some sunshine in San Francisco. Like I always say, warm weather reminds me so much of Tapachula, in Chiapas. I lived in Tapachula for only a year, but I used to visit often way before hurricane Stan destroyed the Soconusco region in the Southern most region of Mexico.

Tapachula's cuisine is very alluring, mixing Mayan and Spanish traditions, with some touches of African, Chinese and Japanese influences. The cuisine is not what folks usually think of as "Mexican Food" north of the border. It includes exotic local vegetables and fruits, savory tamales and unusual seafood and game (wild boar, iguanas, round water crustaceans called chiquirines, and turtles).

Tapachula is sweltering hot! Hence the tradition of cooling and nourishing drinks all over the coast of Chiapas. This is a recipe to prepare a refreshing, milky Horchata de Coco. To prepare it, you'll need the following ingredients:

  • A fresh coconut
  • A dry coconut
  • One cup of rice
  • One cup of slivered almonds
  • A stick of cinnamon
  • Lemon peel
  • A vanilla bean
  • Sugar, or agave nectar to taste

Start by soaking the rice, almonds and Cinnamon overnight in six cups of water. The next day, you'll be ready to start adding the flavoring ingredients.

Split the vanilla bean in two. Using a dull knife, scrape the inside part as shown in the picture. Add some lemon peel as well to your previously soaked ingredients.

Add all your ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Boil only for one minute so the rice has softened a bit but it is not mushy. If the rice cooks and it gets very soft it will change the texture of the rice and the flavor of the horchata.

Let the rice mixture cool. In the mean time, prepare some coconut milk by combining the water of a fresh young coconut and the fleshy white part of a dry coconut. You can open the young coconut with a very sharp knife or a cleaver. You can also use the thin, gel like coconut to flavor your drink.

Check out my instructions on how to split a dry coconut on my previous post - Fear, gifts and Sacrifice: When the Coconut Cracks

Combine the coconut water, the coconut flesh and the young coconut gel using a blender. You now have coconut milk ready to use!

Process the rice mixture in the blender as well, in small batches and strain*. Add about four more cups of water, the coconut milk and sweeten to taste. That's it - serve very cold!

*Note, according to your taste, you may need to strain the horchata again after you add the coconut milk.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

La Loteria: Hand, World and Heart (and the Devil)

I received this card on the mail the other day. The Devil! No, it was not some weird form of hate mail asking me to repent and mend the error of my ways. I was an invitation to participate in the Center for Book and Paper Arts' exhibit -Mano/Mundo/Corazon: Artists Interpret La Loteria

La Loteria is a game similar to Bingo. The most popular version of this game was probably drawn in the 1920's, but the game has been around since the 1800's. Each card features iconic and archetypal images. Some of the cards have symbolic meaning dating back to Pre-Hispanic times, while other cards could also correspond to the Tarot's major arcana:

El Sol /The Sun/Tonathiu.

La Luna/The Moon/Coyolxahuqui.

La Estrella/The Star/Citlali.

La Muerte/Death/Miclantecuthli,

I was actually thrilled to have received El Diablito. The image was up my alley - devils seem to make their way into my art often. The obvious symbolic meanings for the devil are evil, fear and basically everything that is bad. But my personal mythology interprets Diablitos (little Devils) as naughty, playful, mischievous characters related to the basic element of fire. They represent passion, a spark of creativity and our desire to "let loose", to do things often frown upon. If we are extremely fearful, overly prudish, judgemental, and repress our genuine feelings unfairly, something minor could come back in more sinister ways. This is my version of the card:

Mano/Mundo/Corazon: Artist Interpret La Loteria opens on September 9, and it runs to December 10 in Chicago's Center for Book and Paper Arts The opening reception is on September 9, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. To learn more about the Center for Books and Paper Arts visit Columbia College in Chicago

Monday, August 16, 2010

Red Hot Chile Salt

Hello Blogeritos! I've been busy but I have lots to share! Stay tuned. I hope everyone is having a great Summer. One of the things I love about the Summer is the produce. Corn, tomatoes, Summer squash and so many other fresh veggies are in season. I saw some juicy red chiles at the farmer's market the other day, so I decided to make this delicious red hot chile salt!

Street vendors in Oaxaca and Chiapas make chile salt similar to this one to season peanuts, pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds) and fresh fruits and veggies. It is super simple! You'll need the following ingredients and utensils:

  • A cup of salt
  • 5- 6 fresh red peppers, like Thai, Mirasol or Tabasco
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Salt shaker
  • Coffee grinder (optional)

Grind the chiles and the salt together in the mortar. I'm using a small marble mortar and pestle, but traditionally this is done in a volcanic stone molcajete. Choose only the freshest, juiciest chiles, or you'll have a hard time flavoring the salt and breaking the chiles apart. Work the skin and seeds into the salt, so everything starts to break down.

Transfer the chile salt to a plate and spread it evenly. Let it dry on a sunny window for a couple of days before you store it in a salt shaker. Look at the picture below. The salt on the right was ground twice, the salt on the left is a bit more chunky. If you want a finer salt, grind the skins and the seeds in the mortar once again, or process it in a coffee grinder. I have two coffee grinders, one for coffee and one just for spices (let the salt rest for a minute before opening the coffee grinder! The salt may become airborne!)

Enjoy this red hot salt over roasted corn, pico de gallo, crispy jicama or any dish that needs a little spicing. Have a fiery hot summer!