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Navidá 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We will definitely get the awareness we seek.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Daniel’s work will be shown today in the MexiCali Biennial 2013 at the Vincent Price Museum.  His piece is an interactive jacket titled: “We will definitively get the awareness we seek”. The mobile and pervasive technologies that surround us are never completely benevolent.  This piece explores the side of technology that pushes us to devour our awareness, which he refers to as technocannibalism. The jacket is full of sensors that help people navigate life, since our own bodily sensors will one day be devoured.

There will also be an afternoon of performances on Saturday April 13th at 2pm, which his piece is a part of.


MexiCali Biennial 2013 opens January 19th
Monterey Park, CA—Vincent Price Art Museum is proud to host the MexiCali Biennial 2013: Cannibalism in the New World.
This project will include the work of more than thirty-three artists and collectives working in a variety of media spanning painting, video, installation, performance and sculpture. Press preview is Friday, January 18, 2 p.m.


Opening Reception
Saturday, January 19, 6 to 9 p.m., Large Gallery
Join MexiCali Biennial 2013 artists and curators for the grand opening of the exhibition.
Live performance by HELL-(O), and by Kio Griffith with Carmina Escobar.

Walkthrough with MexiCali Biennial 2013 Curators
Saturday, February 9, 2 p.m., Large Gallery
MexiCali Biennial 2013 curators Ed Gomez, Luis Hernandez, Amy Pederson, and several artists, will lead a tour of the exhibition.

Performance & Popp
Saturday April 13, 2 p.m., Vincent Price Art Museum
Performances by art metal bands HELL-(O) and Los Nuevos Maevans, Daniel Lara, and an intervention by Nancy Popp.

MexiCali Biennial 2013: Cannibalism in the New World continues to April 13, 2013.
Reception beverages provided by Jarritos Company.



¡Feliz dia de los Reyes!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reventon casero from AguiLara on Vimeo.

Sliding into 2013

Saturday, January 5, 2013

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

China Tropical: Oppressed and Destroyed by Communism

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ma Yongfeng, "The Swirl" (2002); Photo courtesy of the artist

It was not only my first time in Beijing but also my first time in China and I was eager to learn about the burgeoning contemporary art scene that the art world has been talking about. Years ago I had seen Chinese artist Ma Yongfeng’s work at MOCA in LA and so I was excited to finally meet him and learn more about his work.  Fortunately, I was able to attend the opening of a group show he was in at the Iberia Center for Contemporary Art in Asia’s biggest art district, 798 Art Zone.

Yongfeng first came to international attention with his video The Swirl in 2002, in which six Koi fish are literally swirled around a washing machine for an entire 15-minute wash cycle.  And when the water begins to drain, I can’t help but hold my breath… It’s a tense and powerful piece, which makes a strong statement about China and the Chinese.  However, Yongfeng told me that his work has completely changed since then.  For example, in 2009 Yongfeng started Forget Art, an independent organization of ongoing projects that radically play with institutions and events (such as exhibitions, art fairs, and street performances) and become social interventions in daily life.  His work now deals with the social realities that surround him in China.


Ma Yongfeng, "Sensibility is Under Control" (2012); Photo courtesy of the artist

His piece in the show titled Installation as Part of “Bernard Controls Project”(2012) is a large spray painted stenciled graffiti on recycled cardboard that reads “SENSIBILITY IS UNDER CONTROL”.  The piece comes from a project that Beijing-based Italian artist Alessandro Rolandi started, in which he invites artists to “stage interventions” for a two month period at Bernard Controls Asia.  Yongfeng’s statement was randomly generated from talks between the artist and employees.  The signs are meant to be a reflection of the working environment and the strict procedures the workers abide by.  The stenciled messages seem to act as a reinterpretation of Mao’s propaganda from industrial and revolutionary times that would be painted on factory walls for workers to see.  But rather than brain washing, Yongfeng’s subtle graffiti raises questions and creates creative thinking about the environment the employees are in.  Yongfeng explained, “People should start with low-level resistance by doing minor things that engage people around them.”  When we walked around Caochangdi, Beijing’s up-and-coming art district nearby 798 Art Zone, Yongfeng took me to where he had tagged the walls in the area: “Sensibility is Under Control”, “Action is Thinking” and “No Compromise”.  All three had already been painted over, yet the messages were still clear, if not clearer…

Ma Yongfeng, "Sensibility is Under Control"; Photo by Daniel Lara

Ma Yongfeng, "Action is Thinking"; Photo by Daniel Lara

Ma Yongfeng, "No Compromise"; Photo by Daniel Lara

Yongfeng admires the work of China’s most famous dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who also lives in Caochangdi.  As we walked down the street to Ai Weiwei’s house and studio, surveillance cameras filmed our every move.  This didn’t bother Yongfeng, as he has learned to push the limit and fight against the rules and regulations that hold back citizens from freedom of expression.

Surveillance cameras in Caochangdi near Ai Weiwei's house; Photo by Carlyn Aguilar

Surveillance cameras in Caochagdi near Ai Weiwei's house; Photo by Daniel Lara

Unfortunately what I found in Yongfeng’s work I could not find elsewhere in China’s art scene.  I noticed that most of the artworks were not challenging and hardly oppositional.  But I also understood that the artists who dare speak their minds against the government are also putting themselves at risk.  We can all remember that in 2011 Ai Weiwei was taken by the police and detained for three months.  Nobody knew where he was or what was happening to him.  Earlier that year the international community also saw him beaten and threatened after he created  “Namelist of Student Earthquake Victims Found by the Citizen Investigation” in 2008.  Just by creating a list of the names of children who had died in the Sichuan earthquake and making it into public artworks and installations, the Chinese government decided to crackdown on his every action.

As I walked around looking for street art, I couldn’t really find it, unless it was something commissioned.  The walls near 798 Art Zone seemed artificial and an imitation of the West.  But as I hiked the Great Wall I did find some graffiti that spoke out against the government.  I asked my Chinese friend why someone hadn’t painted over it.  She said that because we were in such a remote part of the Wall the officials probably hadn’t even seen it.

Wall surrounding 798 Art Zone; Photo by Daniel Lara

Great Wall of China; Photo by Daniel Lara

Great Wall of China; Photo by Daniel Lara

The Great Wall of China; Photo by Daniel Lara

When I got back to LA I couldn’t help but think about the effects the Mural Moratorium has had on our city.  But I also noticed that artists were taking huge risks and still making murals illegally. And now that the ten year halt has come to an end with the Mural Ordinance on its way, I can’t help but reflect back to the 1930s when David Alfaro Siqueiros, exiled from Mexico, dared to paint his opposition to Western imperialism on a wall in Olvera Street.  In the center, there is an image of an indigenous man hanging from a cross with an American eagle peering down.  In the corner, two revolutionaries aim their rifles at the national bird.  City authorities immediately covered the mural and within a year whitewashed the infamous mural América Tropical: Oppressed and Destroyed by Imperialism.  In a documentary from the 1970s, Siqueiros explained, “América Tropical was a land of natives, of Indians, Creoles, of African-American men, all of the invariably persecuted and harassed by their respective governments.”  Now we see the tables have turned, and Siqueiros’ mural has been unveiled and restored partly with money from the City.  Just a few days later the Mural Moratorium is ended.  Let’s hope that the same will happen in China and that works by these dissident artists will also one day be resurrected.

“América Tropical”, David Alfaro Siqueiros; Photo by Daniel Lara

Tijuana Makes Me Happy!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Let’s face it, Tijuana has always had a bad reputation.  In the past, Americans would come here for “tequila, sexo, marijuana” as the song goes.  I remember Avenida Revolución in the 90s full of frat boys, marines and gringas dancing on tables at Papas ‘n Beer.  Yes, it was nasty.  Well, the good news is that most of that scene has withered away.  However, now the media is portraying Tijuana as a war zone, with bullets flying all over the place and people being kidnapped and decapitated.  Yes, it’s true that the drug war is happening, but it’s also true that the media is exaggerating and using fear culture for its own self-interest.

As I watch the news, I wonder why the media hasn’t put Tijuana’s food scene in its headlines. This city has 1.5 million people, making it one of the largest in Mexico.  Due to its border with the US and its many factories, Tijuana is one of the most diverse places in the country; Migrants are coming from everywhere, so you can find everything from a Poblano chile en nogada to a Sonoran steak or Sinaloan seafood.  Times are changing and I really believe that Tijuana, along with its other neighboring towns in Baja California Norte, is going to be the next big thing.  All you foodies out there, Welcome to Tijuana!

Now I’m not the first person to realize this.  In January, the New Yorker wrote a feature about Javier Plascencia, master chef of the famous Misión 19 in Tijuana.  Soon after that, Anthony Bourdain also made a trip there for his Baja Episode of No Reservations.  Even at Comic-Con a couple of weeks ago in San Diego, Bourdain was heard telling people to go for dinner in Tijuana rather than on this side of the border.  And last weekend at the LA Street Food Fest, Mariscos “La Guerrerense” from Ensenada won “Best in Show” for its sea snail tostada, giving Baja California the top prize for its second consecutive year (Javier Plascencia won for his oysters with chicharron and sea pickle in 2011).

With all of this in mind, a group of us Angelinos departed LA early in the morning to spend 24 hours in TJ para comer y comer y comer.  Our guide for the day, Omar Foglio, from the Tijuana-based media art collective Bulbo, met us out in front of Sanborns (sort of a fancy Denny’s) on Avenida Revolución.  No, we did not eat at Sanborns, as I’ve had my share of enchiladas suizas.  Instead we headed towards Colonia La Cacho for 24 Horas, a restaurant that never closes.  24 Horas is actually not its real name.  It’s called Restaurante Mexicano, which is the most common name a restaurant in Mexico could have.  So instead, locals just call it 24 Horas.

When you walk into the restaurant, you literally enter the kitchen, full of cooks and action.  This is an informal family-style place that serves authentic and traditional plates.  We were the only tourists in the place…and we knew this was a good thing.  We started off with sweet café de olla (coffee brewed with cinnamon and piloncillo).  For breakfast we ordered huevos rancheros (3 fried eggs on an open fried tortilla covered in a spicy red sauce), red enchiladas filled with queso fresco, and cecina de res (thinly-sliced aged beef) with grilled cactus and scrambled eggs.   All entrees came with chilaquiles, refried beans, fried potatoes, chorizo, chicharrón guisado, tortilla chips, several salsas and homemade corn tortillas.  There is also a fruit bar that makes freshly squeezed juices and healthy salads.

In this area there are a lot of very good restaurants nearby.  Just across the street is Las Ahumaderas or “taco alley”.  This street of taquerias was happening in the 80s and early 90s.  It was a traditional place to go for tacos, but lately this strip has been forgotten, especially with so many new taquerias popping up around town.  However, Anthony Bourdain ate a campechano taco (carne asada and chorizo) on his show, so maybe the area will come back in fashion.  And just around the corner is La Fonda Roberto’s that specializes in food from Puebla, Dolce Salato which does amazing pastries and El Taller, which serves “Baja Med”-style pizzas among other things.  This is definitely an excellent gastronomic area to visit.

We were so full and needed to walk it off, so we ended up at Mercado Hidalgo, a block-long street market full of produce from all around Mexico.  This is where the chefs come and find ingredients such as epazote (wormseed), huazontle (a prehispanic plant), squash blossoms, tomatillos, chayote, cactus leaves, miel de maguey (sweet maguey nectar), chiles of all kinds like habanero, jalapeño, guajillo, chile de arbol, chile pasilla, and much much more.

After walking around in the sun, it was time for some Tijuana-brewed beer at la cerveceria.  Up on a hill, the Tijuana Brewery is big and definitely makes its presence on Blvd. Fundadores.  The inside is wooden, with an English pub feel to it, but better because it’s full of Tijuanenses.  The best thing to do your first time there is to try the Taster, 6 beers from the light Guera to the dark brown Cerveza Bufadora.  Now that we were all nice and drunk, it was time to eat some tacos.

Winding up and around the city to the barrio of Tomas Aquino, we ate at a Sinaloan taqueria Mariscos El Mazateño.  Little did we know that at the same time we were there, this restaurant was winning the “Judge’s Honorable Mention” at the LA Street Food Fest for its taco de camarón enchilado (a spicy shrimp taco dressed with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, crema and green salsa).  Yes, we tried this taco as well as taco de pescado empanizado (fried fish, tempura style), taco de marlin, taco de pulpo (octopus), and my favorite, the delicious taco de chicharrón de pargo (fried fish) like no other.  All tacos come with a shrimp consommé as an aperitif to prepare the palate for an incredible adventure.

At this point we were about to explode and trying to drive a car full of 6 people uphill in Otay made us realize how much heavier we had become.  Everyone was too full for dessert, but one place I love in Tijuana that is perfect after lunch is Tepoznieves, an ice cream and sorbet parlour with over 100 interesting and exotic flavors: anise, fig, mezcal, guanabana, tequila, black zapote, papaya, cactus fruit, red plum, guayaba, cajeta, rose petal, mamey, piña colada… But my friends were too full, so we drove to Playas, the beach town that hosts the US/Mexican border.

Fortunately when we got there, the Festival del Pescado y el Marisco was going on, so food from all the local restaurants had booths set up with free tastings. We walked a bit on the malecon and danced some cumbia, but we couldn’t help but try some of the local delicacies and drink some more tequila.  My tequila was served in a clay cup with tamarind, lemoncello, margarita mix, soda water, hot sauce, and a spicy tamarind candy that acted as an edible straw.  I got warm in about 2 seconds.


After drinking and dancing alongside the border, we drove to the neighborhood of La Mesa to eat at my absolute favorite taqueria, Tacos Salceados.  This taqueria makes tacos like no other- the famous quesotaco, a taco with a slice of toasted grilled cheese filled with any kind of meat or fish, pineapple and a strawberry sauce wrapped in a homemade tortilla.  It’s like dinner and dessert all at the same time.  We also ordered a taco with grilled jalapeño filled with carne asada and guacamole and a taco with New York steak and shrimp.  My vegetarian friend had a quesotaco filled with cactus, mushrooms and melted cheese.

Now that we had hit our eating limit, it was time to go back to drinking.  La Sexta (6th Street) off the Avenida Revolución has some great bars all right next to each other.  We first stopped at the  Tijuana classic Dandy del Sur, a nostalgic dive bar with a juke box that has been around since 1957 and became even more famous when members of Nortec Collective hung out there (We actually spotted Hiperboreal at the bar!) and then wrote a song with the same title.  After some tequilas and beers, we crossed the street for a mezcal tasting at the ultra hip La Mezcalera.  You can try mezcales puros (Minero, Tobala, Pechuga, Gusano, Reposado, Añejo), mezcales de sabor (mint, anise, maracuya, mango, raspberry), or cremas de mezcal (coconut, cajeta, piña colada, mocha, hazelnut, coffee).  We drank our shots of mezcal with slices of orange and chapulines (grasshoppers) cut up and mixed with chile and lime… ¡que rico!

Driving back to the border I knew I would be coming back to Tijuana muy, muy pronto!


Photos by Conrad Starr and Daniel Lara


Mural Update

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Check out Carlyn’s latest post on Notes on Looking: It’s still illegal to make a mural on private property! City Planning Commission delays Mural Ordinance.

Lisbeth Espinosa, historian and co-founder of UPPA (United Painters and Public Artists) explained that “Yes, it is illegal to paint a mural in the City of L.A. however in 2008, a motion was passed that allowed for a cease on mural citations to take place, meantime the City of L.A. came to a resolution on its mural ordinance…However, please note not everybody or not all entities are aware of the motion and law enforcement have enforced the law that currently exists.”


Hecho en Los Angeles

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Check out Carlyn’s latest post on Notes on Looking about Made in LA.

Stop, Drop and Roll!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Our passport photos

Thursday, June 21, 2012