Tuesday, October 25, 2011
After having made the Friends prints/shirts using the vintage images, I decided I wanted to do a gay line with those images. I wanted the gayness to be subtle, as the images are pretty gay already. I selected a number of images and typed a number of words that came to my mind. I then went off to make photocopies. Back at home I combined the text with the images. I don’t think I realized what I had done until I printed the first shirt. The colors jumped at me and I loved it.
Being a huge fan of the Smiths and Morrissey, I decided to make some pieces as a tribute. I wanted to do something very simple, with just text from my typewriter. i didn’t want to use the computer. I enlarged the text to the size I wanted and made the screen with that. So in the end I only used my typewriter and a photocopier.
We had to do a 4-color print for my class. I have this vintage exercise book from 1938, that’s where I took the image from. I wanted to give the print a vintage feel, so I picked colors for that effect. I did a number of prints, playing with the colors. I was a big fan of the results.
The first assignment for one of my screen printing classes was a stencil. We were to tape a paper stencil to a screen and create prints. I had never done a stencil before and had no idea what image to use. After some trial and error, I decide for the image you see here. I saw a picture of some pandas and decided to give it a shot. I added the letter with some letter stencils I have at home. I decided to add the fire as a second screen.
I started taking some screen printing classes this fall. It has been a lot of fun. I’ve been learning plenty and watching my art grow. The image for this print was from a very small early 70’s picture. I scanned the picture and then applied a halftone to it. The text is from my typewriter.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Romeo and I were having fun messing with gay terms and taboos. I think we both knew that even though what we were doing was at a small scale, it was a big project. What we were doing was not only unique, but it was forward-thinking and challenging to both straights and gays.
I learned from Romeo the use of the word “obvio”. I guess a simple way to describe it is that if you’re gay and people can tell you’re gay, then you’re obvio. It’s normally used with a negative connotation. I applied that to the playful image that Romeo had intervened. There’s nothing wrong with being obvio, I think that’s what the final message is. It’s like saying I’m obvio and I don’t care.
“Todos Somos Putos” is a play on male promiscuity.
The next few days went by pretty quickly. I was now a guest at the house were Romeo was staying. I would get up in the morning and go directly to the studio. I’d never had that luxury in my life before.
Usually the way we worked was that Romeo would intervene an image, usually with acrylic paint. I had to come up with the caption for the image and create the stencil. This sounds a lot easier that it actually is. Sometimes I would stare at the images for what seemed like hours. Some captions came to me very easily, some were almost forced out of me. Each stencil was handcut and applied with acrylic paint. Sometimes I would get nervous to apply a stencil to Romeo’s finished work.
The house were Romeo was staying now was simply amazing. A beautiful yard, a pond and a huge studio. There was not much more I could ask for. We start working right away, after eating a giant chicharron preparado, though. I had some letter-size photocopies so we start working with those images. We were to use two solvents – paint thinner and bleach. I think that first night we worked on three different shirts. We were both nervous about the experiment, but became quite confident after the first attempts.
The next day we had to make photocopies of the images I had selected from all the ones I took. The issue was that most of these images were nudes. We were to make these photocopies at a local miscelanea. A female was operating the photocopier, so it was just a bit awkward to hand her a handful of nudes to photocopy for us. “We need to have some photocopies made”, I say, “but many of them are nudes. I hope you don’t mind”. She didn’t mind and made all the copies. I think she kept one of my female nudes because I simply never saw it again.
When I sat down with romeo at the café, I realized he did not want to waste any time. I wanted our art show to be called ‘Romeo y Leopoldo – Los Jotos del Futuro’ (the fags of the future). He wanted my to clarify my ideas and simply show him what I had in mind. After a few hours of talking we had an idea of what we wanted. We had talked about our gay lives, relationships and many things that tend to bother us about the gay world. We are the fags of the future. Yes, we were both aware that joto (fag) is an offensive word. We were not using it in that context. We are the fags of the future, a future were insulting words like ‘fag’ don’t matter.
The plan now was to make t-shirts together. Each shirt would be unique, there would be no duplicates. We would use the images I took with me. Somehow these postcard-sized images were going to turn into t-shirts. “Let’s start today”, he says. I pay my hot chocolate, pick up my stuff and off we go to his house.
I met Romeo last year when I went to Chiapas for the first time. I was in San Cristobal de Las Casas, one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. I remembered I was walking around the city. I pass by this gallery on my way to the Mercado and see a young man putting out a sign that obviously was from a restaurant. Instead of the menu of the day though, he had listed what was on sale. Shirts, postcards, etc. I liked his approach and decided to stop by after the Mercado. “I thought you weren’t stopping by”, he said as I walked into the gallery. Then I saw it – the gay art all over the walls and all over the articles he had for sale. The common themes here were religion and sexuality.
I ended up hanging out with Romeo quite a bit during that trip. We’ve become good friends since then and I proposed that we work together for this trip. We exchanged some ideas through email. I packed images, photocopies and blank shirts for my trip to Chiapas. When I get to San Cristobal, I text him while having some tacos by the mercado. “Let’s meet at the usual place”, he says. So I head off to meet him at the same place where he once read my chocolate cup after I was finished with it.
Along with the pins I made for Las Hermanas Vampiro, I made the candles you see here. I’ve been making candles in LA for a while. I thought that having their images on candles would be very appropriate. I made the images in LA and decided to add them to blank candles once in Mexico City. Of course obtaining the candles was part of the fun. Before I knew it, I found myself searching for the candles. Through the clues of some friends, I ended up deep in Mercado Sonora. Live animals, santa muerte everywhere and candles candles candles. You can find candles for just about everything. I found the candles I needed (blank ones) and bought a box of them. “I hope the box doesn’t tear, I’m taking the metro”. After I said that, the guy reinforced the box with string and over my shoulder it went. I crossed the Mercado again during my exit, stopping for some quesadillas and a calculator watch.
So much could be said about Las Hermanas Vampiro. They’re a Mexican drag ensemble. They’re performances are always full of surprises. You never can know what to expect from one of their shows. I met them last year when I was in Mexico. I wanted to do something for them for this visit. I came up with these pins. I wanted blue to be prevalent on the pins, since they are known for their blue wigs. Some of the backgrounds on these pins were painted by me, others were taken from vintage textbooks. I sold these pins at their shows in Mexico City. I’m proud of knowing my little creations are being worn by people in support of the great Hermanas Vampiro.
I made a series of gay pins for this trip to Mexico. I mainly used images from vintage American gay magazines. I used words and sayings that are very unique to Mexico. My favorite are the pasivo/activo/pasiva/activa ones. I always think that sexual roles are always taken too seriously. Turning activo and pasivo into feminine can be interpreted in many ways. As usual, I like to leave the interpretation to the viewer.
This summer I went to Mexico. I spent most of my time in Mexico City, but I also spent 10 days in San Cristobal de Las Casas, in Chiapas.
I made some pins for my trip. I’m a big fan of 70’s and 80’s singers. I made these pins in their honor.