Sunday, June 22, 2014

El Mas Chingon

       Anna and I first saw George Lopez live on stage about 10 years ago at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal Studios. Laughing at the jokes that at that time we had only heard on his CDs who would've thought years later we'd be invited to hang back stage in his VIP section? Not me but we were and this time, just like at the Gibson, he killed the crowd again.

           It was a cool surprise to see Alysha Del Valle there too. Anna and I have become friends with Alysha based on the work we both do and Alysha's interest and support for both. Alysha was there with her awesome family. Alysha, please thank your mom again for the slice of pizza she gave us.

           "Who would've thought?" is something I've found myself asking a lot over this past year.

Who would've thought...

I'd ever have a book out?

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti would accept one of my photographs as a gift to City Hall and offer to display my book, Lowriting, at City Hall?

I'd be a regular at the Northeast L.A. Artwalk

George Lopez, "El Mas Chingon" himself,  would invite me and my friend, Santino Rivera, to sell copies of Lowriting at his show at the Honda Center because he likes the book and wants it to succeed?

           Anna and I had an incredible night. George treated us to "All Access" passes entitled us to hang out in his lounge area with celebrities like Tito Ortiz and Terrence Howard. How crazy is that!? Oh and 3rd row seats to his show which was as hilarious if not better than his show 10 years ago. This time we were able to see him without watching those huge screens hanging from the rafters.

           I've been a fan of George's for a long time. I read both of his books and am beyond honored to have him in my corner. Wow! Thank you, George. For everything.


          I also have to thank my friend, Mike at Frame Monster for believing in my work, connecting me w/ George in the first place and helping to make this all possible. Thank you, Mike!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Greatest of Them All

 "The Greatest of Them All" art/photography exhibit - April 26th at KGB Studios

I found out about this show about 10 days prior to its opening bu after hearing that it was "L.A." themed I knew I had to get in. I felt confident my stuff would fit and it would be a great opportunity to get my name and work out there. Luckily for me, after seeing my work, Gabriel Polanco agreed to bring me on board.

What an experience to be a part of. Graffiti art and photography inspired by Los Angeles. My city. Here are a couple of highlights.

At one point of the night I saw a photograph, taken by another artist in the show, of a graffiti piece done by the brother of an old friend of mine and it really took me back. I began to trip out just being there in that gallery. I never thought of myself as an artistic person. My name is Art bought I thought that's as far as it went. I never thought I'd have any kind of artwork up in any gallery and/or people buying my stuff for that matter. But here I was. I had 5 pieces in this show called "The Greatest of Them All" and 3 of them were already spoken for. I pulled my son to the side and let him know what I was thinking. I reminded him to take his talent and work hard at it. I got lucky and somehow fell into this. I never thought I'd be doing stuff like this. I hope my advice didn't sound like a lecture to him. I know it usually does.

People stopped to talk to me all night complimenting my photos, the frames and the attractive price point. I owe so much thanks to my friend, Mike, for making my stuff look so good. He's been a good friend to this rookie photographer.

My friends Janette Ewen and Jef Hancock came to check out my work and bought the first two pieces of the night. Support from them is huge to me because the way I see it, in their line of work they see talent all the time so for them to pay attention to what I do and encourage me really means a lot to me. I can't wait to see what the photos look like in their Parker Barrow design studio.

Another friend who came through Saturday night was Art Beltran. If you've picked up a copy of my book, Lowriting, you might remember his name from the S/O I gave in the book's acknowledgements. He's a great guy and has become a real good friend to me and my family.  

It usually irks me when I see people taking photos I post online and reposting them as their own but I saw a few people taking pictures of my photos hanging on the wall and I gotta admit, it was a very nice compliment. Again, I never thought this would happen. 

I had a great night. I felt the support from family and friends. My dad has been to all my shows so far. He even showed up to this one even though the scene was a little different than the shows I have previously participated in. Anna and the kids were tired by the end of the night but were happy for me and my successful showing. They're proud of me.

I left the show feeling confident knowing I had did my best and hung with The Greatest of Them All. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

'64 Buick Riviera

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Sense of Place

       Everyone knows that the sense of smell is the strongest one tied to memory. I know that and am reminded with every visit to my Dad's garage. Or should I call it a workshop since for as long as I can remember he's always been working on one project or another.

      The house, a small white bungalow at the top of a hill, the HUGE yard in front filled with so much greenery the City of L.A. should be paying him for the oxygen he provides, and even the outside of the garage have all changed in appearance over the years but one place has remained the same. Dad's workshop.

      Hanging out with him in the garage, his neighbors walk up the street, on the return trip home, arms weighed down with grocery bags, or walking down the street toward Sunset Blvd. with hands that won't stay empty for long. He'a known most of his neighbors for years. Decades even. Some stop to chat. Others walk by taking a quick glance into the garage satisfying their curiosity. He introduces me to new neighbors or old ones I haven't already met. "This is my son." always brings a smile to my face.

I have my own key to the garage so once in a while I stop by to pick up or drop something off. Usually something that he worked on for me. I flip the light switch up, enjoy the cool air inside and inhale deeply. The smell of wood, metal and years of elbow grease make me feel right at home every time.

During my last visit though I make sure to take a look around. Studying objects that stick out to me reminding me instantly of pieces of my childhood. I smile at everything that has been in the same place in the garage as far back as I can remember and notice those that seem out of place.

I myself never feel out of place when I'm in here. I'm always at home.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Story Before Mine

This is a post I've been wanting to write up for a long while and I guess it'll be a work in progress. I want to tell you a story. A story before mine. The story my Grandparents wrote together starting in Los Angeles back in 1948.

Guadalupe Cruz and Javier Meza (1948)

One of my favorite pictures on display at my Grandparents house was one taken on their wedding day, December of 1950. Sixty-Three years ago and the world was a different place. Los Angeles moved at a much different pace and was second to only Detroit when it came to producing automobiles. The city's population was half of what it is today at just under 2 million and although we still may not be producing more cars, we sure are producing more people, and in turn, more drivers.

Wedding Day ( Oct 1950)
 I was blessed recently with more family pictures when I was asked to make copies for the rest of the family. Pictures from the day Guadalupe Cruz said, "I do" and became Javier Meza's bride. All these years, two generations later I feel like I received an invite when I look at them. They say a picture speaks 1000 words. Well, I've got 6 of them PLUS a recording and they'll tell you a story alright. They'll tell the story before mine.

Grandmama getting ready. Her cousin and Maid of Honor, Josephine Nuñez holding her veil.
On her way to La Placita Olvera to say "I do".

Time to cut the cake. 

Cake for everyone.

Smile! You're married now.
     My Grandmama's cousin, Josephine Nuñez, was best friends with a major player in Los Angeles at the time. His gift to my grandparents on their wedding day was an 8mm camera, film, projector and screen. It's because of his gift that I am able to enjoy this footage 63 years later and share it with you.


 Thanks for watching. More footage to come.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Field Of Dreams. Field of Memories.

   If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you'll see a timeline filled with many car pictures. Mostly old Fords and Chevys with the occasional Plymouth and De Soto if I happened to get lucky at the car show. My friend, Rafael, noticed my love for cars and invited me to tour his workplace, Dodger Stadium. He knew there were a few vehicles bearing the Dodger logo I'd love to see and photograph.



This was a great opportunity for me and to think my photography got me through the door. Well, that and knowing the Director of Community Relations sure helped. There was no way I'd pass this up. Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1980's was incredible. The Raiders had a Commitment to Excellence, our Lakers had Pat Riley and Showtime and the whole city had Fernandomania.

I took Rafael up on his offer on a Friday morning. Step out from office and you're right there in the game, along the third base line. Now, this was the off season and architects were present preparing the park for some much needed renovations. No game was being played but that doesn't matter. Dodger Stadium and the 352 acres the stadium sits on IS the field of dreams. Chavez Ravine is filled to the brim with memories both good and bad. Joy and Heartbreak. Wins and Losses. Maybe the renovation will make space for more memories...and Championship trophies?

 As we toured the stadium I couldn't help but drift off into a memory of my own. We came upon the batting cage area Kirk Gibson used before hitting the walk off Home Run in the 9th inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. I wasn't at the stadium that night. I was at home watching the game with my Grandpa Chino on a 13 inch T.V. in his bedroom. Kirk Gibson's HR shocked Oakland just like the Loma Prieta earthquake would the following year. The excitement traveled through the L.A. streets and the cheers he received reverberated through the hills of Elysian and Echo Parks. Grandpa Chino and I heard those cheers in stereo because we were just a mile away from the epicenter.

 I'd like to thank you, Rafael, for the amazing tour and experience. I've been to many Dodger games but to be able to walk the same halls as many of the greats that wore the uniform is something I never thought I'd do. I thank you for the new memories and for helping to bring back old ones.

 I bought a white jersey that day and am planning on adding my grandpa's last name to it. I'm proud to carry his blood in my veins. Catch me at a game next season representing the "Gonzalez" name on my back. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hijos de Los Angeles

     It's been a while since I last posted anything but I figured I'd pick up where I left off a few posts back. In that post I talked about believing how people are put in your path for a reason and that's because I believe everything happens for a reason and it's up to us to put the pieces together, figure out why and what we're supposed to do with them.
    Mike de la Rocha called to invite me and my wife to a party being thrown for Eric Garcetti (L.A.'s next Mayor) and say no more, we'd be there. I have tremendous respect for both these guys. I've written about Mike in a previous post. I'm a big fan of his as a musician and as a person. He sets a great example.
    Some of you know I've been working to promote the library I work for. My dad told me that people are always willing to help but sometimes need one person to step up first. Mike was that first person to step up and Mike, if you're reading this, I appreciate your help and I'm always ready to return the favor. Thank you.
   About a year ago I wrote a post about my Grandparents and El Paso, the city they were born, raised and married in before moving to Los Angeles. I was excited to hear from Eric Garcetti (on Twitter) telling me he read that post and we chatted (tweeted) briefly about the similarities between our Grandparents. When I met Mr. Garcetti in person about a month and a half ago, he remembered the post and who I was. He was very cool in person and even read about the Open Mic program with Mike at the library the night before. That meant a lot because not only did I feel my efforts were paying off but Mr Garcetti is concentrating on running for Mayor of Los Angeles and still reads the tweets of the people (libraries) he follows on Twitter.
    I still haven't completely figured out why these guys were put in my path but I'm convinced that if anything at all I should learn from their examples and continue to put in work for my city, our city, the City of Angels.