Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Relevant Family and Drag Queens of Course

WOWZA! What a beautiful day in LA! 

This past week I watched Rupual’s Drag Race Finale. Along with that, I’ve been thinking about the word relevance in regards to art. 

During Rupaul’s Drag Race, Roxxy Andrew has a breakdown on stage. It brought tears to my eyes. I can’t imagine being left at a bus stop by your own mother. After her breakdown, Rupaul says, ‘we get to choose our family’. Even she had tears in her throat. Throughout my youth, I never understood the age-old saying ‘blood is thicker than water. As much as I love my family, I went through a phase in my life where family was not so meaningful. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t love them, but that I had wanted the freedom to choose whom I wanted in my life. In doing so, I created a family of friendships that have lasted a lifetime. This is relevance. 

But as I think about relevance in regards to my art, I realize that, relevance, in any form, is in the eye of the beholder. As much as there is simplicity in my work, there is a depth that goes beyond words. It defines who I am; that is what matters. It’s relevant! According to an online dictionary, relevance is defined as, “a: relation to the matter at hand b: practical and especially social applicability.” And though I can question my work according to the outside world, it remains relevant regardless. It matters because that is how I see our world. I couldn’t possibly see it through anyone else’s eyes other than my own. But (and yes there’s a but) I couldn’t possibly see this world though the eyes that I do had I not had the most amazing family, blood or not. 

I love you all for embracing the person that I am and continue to be. And to all the drag queens I’ve been blessed to meet, you inspire me greatly. 

A most special shout out to my little sister Blanca; she inspires me not just as a sister, but also as a mother, friend, daughter and human being. I love you hermana! The piece here is a painting of one of my very first Little Girls; it’s called “Blanca Cuts Her Hair.” When we were kids, our other sister, Moni, had the idea to play hairdresser and cut Blanca’s hair, or rather, she chopped it. The idea of it makes me laugh. To Blanca, you are the LIFE in my party! 

Food for thought: Existence is no more than the precarious attainment of relevance in an intensely mobile flux of past, present, and future. – Susan Sontag 

Have a beautiful weekend!!!! 

Monday, May 6, 2013


It’s another gloomy day in LA, but this time around, I feel much better. I’m enjoying being home and being creative. 

Over the weekend, I finished reading Will Ellsworth-Jones book about street artist, Bansky, The Man Behind The Wall. It’s definitely left me feeling inspired about doing street art. However, in the last chapter, the critics come to disagree about Bansky. Is his work too accessible? What you see is what you get. Does art need to be complicated and full of hidden meaning? I don’t think it need be. Rikka Kuittinen of the V&A Museum in London said it perfectly; “…I think contemporary art, sometimes unfairly, has this reputation of being difficult…I don’t think accessible means bad at all.” Over the years, I've spent doing art that is uncomplicated; I don’t see the need for it to be. With life already being a challenge, I can’t imagine adding any more complication. 

This morning, I started reading an Isabella Blow biography by Laruen Goldstein Crowe. I’m only a few pages in. The book immediately starts off with Phillip Treacy and McQueen attempting to figure out what to bury Ms. Blow in. Other than being a fashion icon, I don’t know much about her life. I’m curio to find out, if at all, what lead her to commit suicide. The piece here is my Pink Sheep inspired by Ms. Blow. Those who have the courage to live life according to their vision inspire me. Cheers to you Ms. Blow for being unique; it’s beautiful to be different. 

Leo Tolstoy once wrote, "There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth." Ah yes, words to live by and to use creatively. Have a beautiful week ahead. Keep it simple.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy Sheep

Oh boy, I’m just getting back from my long morning walk. I wanted to break down in tears as soon as I left my apartment. Though I’m easily affected by this gloomy LA weather, its more than that. I’m feeling discouraged with my art career. 

Immediately I started feeling gratitude for everyone and everything in my life. I’m blessed in every way. How could I possibly be sad? Yet being grateful didn’t alleviate the sadness. I kept walking and thinking about how to get out of this, yet knowing I had to feel it through; I need to cry. I’d wait until I got back home to let the tears flow. They haven’t come yet. 

In the middle of my walk I had a mini epiphany. I had to stop focusing on where I ‘wasn’t’ and start focusing on where I want to go. This is the clue. I’m being pushed to think bigger and outside of myself. The uncertainty feels scary! I’m feeling overwhelmed and curious at the same time. 

This past week, aside from working on painting my apartment (because I need a fresh start), I’ve also worked on my Pink Sheep. There’s something magical about these pink sheep; I feel joy doing them. And though they’re very simple in nature; they’re meaningful. The series is a representation of not following the norm, off not conforming to standards other than your own. The piece here is titled, “Will Work For Sex.” The idea of a sheep working for sex is silliness. How could I possibly feel sadness in seeing this? It cracks me up. 

And as for the rest of the day, I can’t say. But I'd rather be a happy pink sheep than a sad one. 

Be Bold, Be Weird, Be Random, Be AMAZING!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

PINK Sheep

Happy Belated Birthday Mr. John Waters! 2 Days ago, on your actual 67th birthday, I finished reading Role Models, what a great coincidence and an amazing book. I felt like I took a college course, Cult 101. I learned so much about fashion, art, pornography, books, and even religion. The last chapter titled Cult Leader was especially brilliant. It's like you took the words right out of my mouth. “I had little use for dogma that was drilled into my young mind. I mean, “original sin”? The idea that newborn babies come into the world already soiled before they can let out their first cry? “ I've thought the exact same thing. Hogwash! If you’re going to be a cult leader, I want to be a sheep in your herd. Where do I sign up? 

Speaking of sheep, a few weeks ago I started a new series based on pink sheep. There’s so much to explore. I've always felt like an oddball in life and instead of being a black sheep, I’d like to think of myself as the pink sheep. I’m curious to where this newfound inspiration will take me. It’s very different from anything I’ve done before, but there’s something magical in a pink sheep. I can see this being bigger than I'm thinking. 

The piece here is a simple sketch of my Pink Sheep. It’s called Baaahdass. I think Mr. Waters would approve of the simplicity, I hope. I’ve never been one to follow the status quo. He once said, “It wasn't until I started reading and found books they wouldn't let us read in school that I discovered you could be insane and happy and have a good life without being like everybody else.” How is it that God hasn’t brought us together? You've forever changed my life. Baaaaahhhhh! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

FREE Ricky

Sometime this week, possibly tomorrow, I’ll be starting my art campaign titled ‘Free Ricky.” I immediately thought of 80’s song 'Free Nelson Mandela' by Special A.K.A. But, it was more than just a song: it became a slogan against apartheid. 

In no way could I possibly compare this art campaign to Mandela’s Freedom. But in some way it’s still freedom nontheless and in this case it’s also about free art. For however long it takes, I will be tacking on 1,013 signed mini prints onto trees, mostly around my Miracle Mile neighborhood. Because I'm a little odd, I've chosen an odd number. I like 13 and so far 2013 has been a very good year. I like the idea of free art on trees. Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree inspires it. Every time I walk by a tree stump, I think of this beloved story and I’m reminded of how much more I can give back. 

I’m curious as to how the project will evolve, if at all. In some way, it's a 'pre' prequel to a bigger art project in mind. I have my work cut out for me, and though it feels a little impossible, it also feels possible. It's with this little grain of possibility that I'll move onward. Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” And as much as I'll appreciate the journey of of this bigger project, I'll look forward to looking back once it's done and knowing I believed its possibility. He also said, “There’s no passion to be found in playing small- in settling for a life less than the one you are capable of living.” As I write, these words have brought tears to my eyes because I have played small in many ways and I can’t no longer. I want to play bigger than I can dream for myself. And this to me is freedom. 

The piece featured here is my LITTLE Pop portrait of Nelson Mandela. Thank you Mr. Mandela for being the man that you are, for the inspiring our world. 

Always remember to give back, to give freely. Have a beauty of a beauty of a week.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Troubled Waters

Happy Monday! 

After all these years, I'm finally reading one of John Water's books; it's Role Models. 

And so of course, I started thinking about my troubled teenage years. But looking back they actually weren't so bad. As a ‘goth’ teenager in an all boys private high school, I was the weirdo. If I had known John back then, I think we would have been best friends and I'd now be an old cult legend. A few days after smoking some mysteriously laced marijuana, I asked my parents if I could see a shrink; surprisingly, they said ok. And though I only had two sessions, because I felt it was a bunch of hooey, my shrink did come to say that I needed to stop drinking soda and start drinking water. Otherwise I'd develop diabetes; it was life changing! But now, I wonder if he could have been forecasting something else? 

A year or so later at UC Berkeley, I was introduced to the cult works of John Waters and Divine. At the local theater, I saw my first double feature of Pink Flamingoes and Polyester (in Odorama). Like quitting soda, it was life changing. On screen were the biggest freaks of all. And though I still consider myself an oddball today, at the time after watching those movies, I no longer felt like the freak I thought I was. And about a year later, I was lucky enough to see John Waters give a talk on campus. Like the good student I had always been, I sat up front. Who would have thunk? 

In Role Models, I'm immediately drawn to Mr. Water's storytelling, enjoying each and every odd nuisance. I'm already learning so much about old films I've never scene or even heard about. In leading a class about filmmaking at the Maryland prison, he asks the inmates to do a little improve and to act “the exact opposite of [themselves].” As I read and rode the stationary bicycle at the gym, I wondered about who was ‘my’ complete opposite? The answer revealed itself easily. My complete opposite is an aristocratic straight blonde haired blue-eyed man with an English accent. He’s polished and ignorant to any and every subculture and probably a CEO or even a lawyer. Or maybe even both. I laughed at the thought; I sat up straight with my chin up and I looked around at the measly members working out alongside me. Did they know who 'I think' I was? 

The piece featured here is titled “Waters: Lost Doggie.” I found this old poster on the street as I left the gym. It’s in homage to the infamous scene of Divine eating dog poop. Ah, good times. And since I'm thinking about troubles, Walt Disney once said, “All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” I feel the same way. I wouldn't change anything in my life. And how appropriate this qoute is, especially in just having seen Llyn Foulkes retrospective at The Hammer Museum, whose work spoke up against Disney and corporations. 

Is it possible that with all our troubles, the world itself can be the happiest place on Earth?! I think it can. 

Have a beautiful week. And make sure to drink lots of water. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

BULLSHIT In The Art World

Bullshit is defined as ‘Stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense.” 

After 2 months, I’ve finally finished reading Sarah Thorton’s Seven Days in the Art World. As a behind the scene into the art world, it was an intriguing read. It’s a must read for any artist thinking about what it must be like. It’s left me seriously thinking about how to take my art to a different level. Because as of right now, it feels like the entire process of receiving recognition is a bunch of bullshit. It seems even more daunting than the entertainment industry. Who do I know and who have I slept? 

Is it even possible? 

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been debating over a new idea, but it will be costly. Yet I know that money can’t be a determining factor in whether or not to proceed. If I can think it and visualize it, then it needs to be brought to life. And whether anything comes from it, I can see it being interesting doing the work; and most of all, I’m curious. I’m calling this new project “Free Ricky.” Aside from it being a slogan about my own freedom as a human being, it’s also about giving back to the world a little FREE art. I’m in the works of figuring out the details. 

The piece here is a sneak peek of what I’m thinking. It’s a portrait of Muhammad Ali. He once said, “The man who has no imagination, has no wings.” These words reminded me of Mr. Stover, my high school English teacher who once said, “You can’t be bored as long as you have imagination.” Since hearing those words 30 years ago, I’ve never been bored in my life. It’s like he gave me wings to always keep imagining, anywhere, anytime. No bullshit! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Charming Queen

I think the Brits are coming! 

After all these years I never believed that a man would magically come into my life and make all my dreams come true; I never believed in prince charming until last night. The preview show, "Lie Down I Think I Love You" by British artist Charming Baker at Milk Studios was amazing! 

I had just been introduced to his work and there aren’t enough words to describe how beautiful his images are in person. Last night, I was moved. Not since seeing the 2008 Marlene Dumas exhibit, at the MOCA, had an artist touched me. There’s a simple beauty about it that grasped me when standing in front of his paintings. The titles said it all, especially while going through my own beautiful transition in life. I’m not sure what it is yet, but I’m enjoying the process. e.g. "I Look Forward to the Day When Knowledge Gives Way to Understanding." 

Yesterday, I also finished reading Alexander McQueen’s (another Brit) biography, though it was more a reflection on his shows than on his personal life. What I found most interesting was to read the ideas behind his inspirations. There was so much more to his work than meets the eyes; it was truly a reflection of his soul. Of all his collections, I most loved the 2008 Summer Show, La Dame Bleu - a tribute to Isabella Blow who had just committed suicide. The clothes were beyond beauty; if I were a woman this is what I would be wearing. 

The piece featured here is titled ‘Queen of Thrones.’ It’s a photograph of my Queen Elizabeth (another Brit) sticker placed on the street ad of HBO’s Game of Thrones. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but the idea of royalty fascinates me. I don’t understand it. What’s the big deal? We’re all still human. Regardless of history or title, she bleeds just like you and I. (Shakespeare, another Brit) 

Thank you Mr. Baker for bringing beauty into this world. You are my prince charming. “Beauty can come from the strangest of places.” – Alexander McQueen. And speaking of strange, what exactly do the lyrics mean to The Smiths lyrics of a Charming Man? 

Why pamper life's complexity 
When the leather runs smooth 
On the passenger's seat? 

Was Mr. Morrissey being seduced in a car by his own prince charming? I have a feeling he had sex in a car, just like myself when I had sex for the first time with a strange man up in the Berkeley Hills, except that I was drunk and he was no prince charming. But I digress. 

The End. 

(P. S. This one's dedicated to you Annatte... maybe a cardboard truly exists, maybe there is a real prince charming.)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Reading Riding and Breaking Rules

Happy Friday and here's to the 3 R's: Reading, Riding and Rules. 

After 4 years of not belonging to a gym, I finally decided to join again. After 20 years of belonging to a gym, I called it quits, mostly because of the ‘gay vanity’ crap that our gay culture is so consumed by: youth, body, and looks. I couldn’t take this idea of having to fit into a mold of perfection. I had to break the rules in some way. 

I decided to rejoin because, aside from walking and little workouts at home, I needed a change of pace. I’m mostly looking forward to reading books while riding a stationary bicycle; it felt good this morning. For 45 minutes I cycled and caught up on reading Alexander McQueen’s biography. It’s been cool to read his biography and later Youtube the fashion shows being referenced. 

Alexander once said, “You’ve got to know the rules in order to break them.” I loved this! Not so much because I like breaking rules, because I actually do follow the rules, but rather because I like making my own set of rules. It makes life more interesting and I live according to who I am, me. My little sister Blanca once referenced it as being 'Ricky's world.' 

The piece featured here is from my artist inspired “Little Girls” series. It contains two seperate canvases; it’s titled “Light My Fire.” It’s inspired by David LaChapelle’s photograph of both McQueen and Isabella Blow. It was she that really took him under her wings and introduced him into the fashion world. 

Thank you Ms. Blow and thank you Alexander for breaking the rules so beautifully. 

Have a great weekend and cheers to breaking rules even if they’re your own, especailly if they're your own.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Clean Yourself Up.

Ah, it’s a beautiful Saturday in LA. I’m now on day 6 of 21 days of cleansing/detox. Will I make it? I think I will. A week before my Vegas trip last week, I started reading Clean by Alejandro Junger. It’s been 30 years since I fell in love with reading books. And of the hundreds of books I’ve read; only about 25 of them have left a lifelong lasting impression. Alejandro’s book is now one of them. It’s changed my perspective on eating and the habits revolved around it. It’s not that I won’t now be eating burgers and stuff, but I’ll think twice about what I put into my body. 

While doing this clean program, I’ve thought about Gandhi. He not only fasted as a way of protest, but he was a vegan, before being vegan became almost fashionable. Though I didn’t enjoy his biography much, it did leave me wondering about man’s ability to fast and above all our willpower to survive. The piece featured here is in Gandhi’s honor. He changed our world and inspired great leaders in Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. 

The first couple of days were a bit tough especially with not having my morning coffee and walking while drinking it. The ritual was the toughest. This morning I went for a 2 hour walk and it wasn’t too bad. I ended up finding tons of stickers on the street from our local LA artist. I’ve already added them to my scrapbook. I, of course, left a few of my own out on the streets of my beloved city. This newfound project has brought so much joy in my life. It reminded me that I used to collect junky stickers when I was a kid. And the best part is that I found a large sticker that read, "Eat Good, Poop Good." It was little sign from God to keep going with this clean program. 

Indian guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba said, “Krishna insisted on outer cleanliness and inner cleansing. Clean clothes and clean minds are an ideal combination.” I’d have to add a clean body as well, inside and out. But if all this is to be true, I must now do some laundry and a little house cleaning. 
… and maybe a nap and warm bath. 

Keep Clean, Carry on. 

Happy Saurday.