Sunday, December 27, 2015

From gdk to MFA

On christmas day (2015) I started making paintings that I am ashamed of. Sounds a bit weird but I was thinking about 2 things. 

1. a lot of artist have stories that come from their past and have shaped or inspired them in someway. So I thought it would be fun for me to dig and find similar moments in my life. Of course for famous artist it is always a moment or story that is mind-blowing or even zen. 

NOT MINE!! A gang-banger inspired me! haha I guess its part of my condition and where I was raised..etc..etc.. 

2. I think about paintings so much everyday, that I take them way too serious. I decided to make pictures of things that I am ashamed for people to see.  Maybe a guilty please almost... maybe... not sure.  

I also like how they make me feel, those shameful things to paint.  I am not fully ashamed of the memory or the circumstance, but I am ashamed of them being in a picture format. Like, they are too stupid.. 

So I guess for now, I am making stupid paintings about childhood secrets that I am ashamed of. 

Check out the video below!!! 

I am snowed in my house here in roswell., New Mexico... of the irony.. I left chicago thinking I would be away from the snow during winter and here I find myself in New Mexico in the middle of a blizzard.. 

more to come :) I have sooo much more to say about these!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

To make for the divine??

About the video: video

For the past 3 months in my art residency here in roswell I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I reject in my art, what I accept and for whom do I make it for.

I want to do is teach myself how to be free, these videos will help me get there.

Here is the first short video of me in my studio...Christmas eve 2015.

P.s. i think my facial expressions are hilarious I never knew that's what i look like when i speak.. :(

Click here for video

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

RAIR- house provided

  Since Sept 22, 2015 I have been at Roswell, New Mexico for a year long art residency! Multiple Chicago artist have asked me for details about this opportunity. Soooooooo I decided to share my living space with you all.

The residency provides every resident with a 2 bedroom house and a 500 square ft studio.

Here is a silly stupid video of me giving a tour of my temporary casa!! 

Click here for video!

Don't laugh at me too much!!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fun exhibits for this weekend!!! March 7 and 8.

Here are some screenshots of what I think are some freaking awesome shows to go visit this weekend. I mean seriously...street performances, artist run spaces, and not for profits.. doesn't get much better than that playas!!!

Remember when in doubt..Google for more info..DE nada..aka..ur welcome!

Richard Medina's Box gallery is genius. Located inside Sabina Ott's home, a small box becomes a space for artists to exhibit. It's fun, shows great artworks!

The Franklin Outdoors
3522 W Franklin Blvd
Chicago, Il 60624

Sabina Ott's alternative space is amazing!! 

Street there more to say? That's all I need!! 

Union street gallery is the south subs best kept secret. Amazing space and great shows.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

LVL3 : Five..osea cinco


I visited this show during their opening, which was this past Saturday , Feb 28 and let me tell you something ...dis show rocks! I've heard of LVL3 before from online sources. They have been part of expo Chicago and their name just seems  pop up everywhere. u can see the line up for this show is pretty awesome. The owners or co-founders are super nice too. I spoke to them briefly and you can tell they r nice people. That makes for a great venue to go to, in my opinion.

But yea. The show rocks. It has some great paintings by Ben sanders, which is from Los angeles, cali..cali. and Lauren clay from nyc..josh reames which shows everywhere in the world right now, threw in some green arrows that were stuck on the walls of the exhibit..really made for nice flow..seemed like the arrows protruded off the wall just in the perfect placement so that u can either poke ur eye or trip..I thought that was cool. Sabina has some awesome pieces that hang from the ceiling, party like feel that incorporated poetic statements. At least that what I think.. they weren't full statements..more like something in between.. no beginning and no real ending, but threw u mentally into a path of poetry.. it was fun.
Josh reames

I spent some time talking to Lauren clay and Ben sanders, well what nice people they are. Everyone at this show was nice and welcoming.  I even looked really bummy..and I felt zero judgement of my working class outfit :)

I'm sure most of you already know about these artist and this venue..but if u dnt...ur missing out playas. Def a must see show. Really. I dunno why I haven't seen more excitement about this show on social media.. but I think..that it's one of the better shows up in march in chicago. Why?! Many bloggers or artist do their top list of art shows to go to.."must see".."top 5" sometimes not always but I feel like the blogger is just sending shout out about shows they know about or artist they know about...which is cool. No hating hurr.

Lauren clay!

I'm just saying, I walked into this exhibit as a stranger, experienced some fuckng nice art, met four really kind people and walked out #likeaboss

Here are some pics of the show!!

Sabina ott pieces are on the ceiling..and a Ben sanders piece on the bottom

Ben sanders painting. For mo 411 go to or Google him..duh

This painting by Ben sanders reminds me of la danza de la pluma..haha

La danza de la pluma

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Craft of Uncertainty (teaser pics)- MFA exhibition by Luis Sahagun

And... so it is time. My MFA exhibition is a week away. All of the work that will be presented was created in late January early February (2015). At this time, some of the work is still in process, and some of the work will be created on site.

It should be a fun exhibit. I think it will be kinda funny actually. Some pieces just decided to go that route.  I have been playing around with new materials.. bubble gum is the most recent.. well see if I am able to pull it off. So far I think the material is working well in my is playing nice with it studio buddies..aka cement and fabric.

I feel like I should right (write) this grand huge hurrah.. but I am not really motivated to. I worked really hard to make an interesting show, but I think this is not a hurrah kinda moment..

It is more of a..Hey! check out these really cool ways of making that I discovered for myself this month of February in my studio. Its funny, creative and smells weird. Please come help me clean my studio after the show!! :)

Ok.. its late and I dont know what I am talking about now.. soo without further adu (sp?) haha here is the info for my show.

Oh and the pictures I post are just teaser shots, gotta go to the show to see the work, playa's.

alrighty then, time to go watch the walking dead.. ciao!!

The Craft of Uncertainty

An exhibition that celebrates my engagement to form, color, and culture. The collection of works in the show highlights my current processes, risks, and discoveries that have developed throughout my MFA studio practice. The range of materials used to create the work include bubble gum, cement, plaster, Paper, wood, and fabric.

The exhibition runs from February 23rd until February 27th.  

A CLOSING reception will be held on Thursday, February 26th from 5:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m.

Gallery 214- located at the Visual Arts Building, Northern Illinois University 
313 Gilbert, Dekalb Illinois 60115

Gallery Hours:
Mon-Wed: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Thurs: 10 a.m. -9:00 p.m.
Fri: 10 a.m.-12 p.m

toxic crusader sex scene changed my life
Jaguar Head.. thinking about the spreading of the jaguar skin

PaperMache- I love the color brown!!

Bio hazard warning..smells like warm glue and hamster poop.

made with foam, metal, concrete, and then I took a hammer to it! 

plaster, cement, and lots of shiny colors..oooh lala

cement and alot of anger to make this cucuy..el chamuko nagul hahaha

not sure if this will make the final curators cut..but its a fun piece

chikle..osea bubble gum and some sexy and juicy and shiny saliva

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Revolutionary art as official culture- An essay/ investigation on the impact of Mexican Murals on the country.

I thought it would be a good idea to share an essay I wrote about the Mexican Muralist. It is not an essay that talks about what the muralist are or did, but rather how their work was shaped into a culture by official government.  The sharing of this essay is simply to do that..share. I am by no means claiming this writing as a thesis, nor as a means to an end.   Perhaps it would just taste good with your coffee on a bored and lonely morning....

Hope its worth the read..

Mexican muralism has become known as revolutionary art.  Its visual language has become a symbol for Mexicanidad, labeling what is Mexican.  This idealization of a new Mexican culture was not created by accident, rather it was strategically imposed onto the country.  In my essay, I will speak about the networks/connections that took place by President Alvaro Obregon, the minister of public education- Jose Vasconcelos, and the Mexican Muralist “los tres grandes” (Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros) after the Mexican Revolution.  In addition, I will write about how murals and museums played a large role in creating the concept of mestizaje, a cultural blending between Europeans and the Indigenous population (Spanish and Indians) to unify the country.

General Alvaro Obregon became president in 1920, following the conclusion of the Mexican Revolution.  According to Robin Adele Greely in her article titled Muralism and the States in the Post-Revolution Mexico, Obregon realized that the country needed to be reconstructed due to its devastating effects of the war, however the reconstruction did not solely depend on economic recovery but it also required a “comprehensive manipulation of symbols of Mexican identity on both cultural and political levels“.  In his first year of office Obregon appointed philosopher Jose Vasconcelos as Minister of Public Education. 

Vasconcelo’s initiated a program with the concept of Mestizaje.  He believed that the artist-intellectual was a “redeemer” for the oppressed.  “Art and knowledge must serve to improve the condition of the people”- Vasconcelos.  It is important to note that Vasconcelos was a Criollo, a  Mexican of pure Spanish blood with a philosophy that dealt with the idea that racially mixed people were superior to pure races.  Obregon and Vasconcelos both were true believers in the political power that the arts possessed.

In the book Mural Paintings and Social revolution in Mexico, the author Leonard Folgariat explains that in the pursuit of Vasconcelos nationalistic goal to define what is Mexico, he was granted by Obregon 33 million pesos and an extra 30 thousand pesos to be spent at his discretion.  Vasconcelos used the money to decorate buildings with mural paintings.

In a letter from Vasconcelos to Alma Reed an American researcher of Mexican art, he wrote “ the majority of the painters under our department worked under orders. Left to himself, the painter does not know what to do with his brush…..”.  By commissioning Muralist to deliver his message of Mestizaje he believed that the spirit of the people would be lifted.  The artist hired were many, however I will focus mostly on David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jose Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. 

The murals produced during 1920-24 strategically omitted violent imagery or any reference to the Revolution.  The murals became more of a history allegorical type of paintings.  A perfect example of such style may be found in Diego Rivera’s mural titled Creation (1922-23). 

Located at the National Preparatory School in Mexico, the mural speaks about the biblical story of Adam and Eve.  Its figurative imagery relates very closely to a Italian classical style.  However the figures seem to be depicted as a cross breed between the two cultures- European and the Indigenous.  Anna Indych-Lopez stated in her article titled Horrores, that the mural visually had to deny the horrors of the war.  Rivera’s indegenismo style of painting- chose not to represent revolutionary acts to the public.  Again, public murals that were commissioned by Vasconcelos prohibited the use of violent imagery. 

In the article titled Muralism and the State in Post-Revolution Mexico, the author Greely stated that the mural by Rivera titled Creationemerged as the principal symbol of Vasconcelos’ mystical nationalism…in order to give art a redemptive, regenerative role in post-Revolutionary Mexico“Vasconcelos was also quoted saying “Diego danced to the tune that I played!…Rivera painted in a docile and submissive manner whatever he was ordered to.”

Another Example of a Mural that was dictated by the Vasconcelos is Maternity.  This mural was painted by Jose Clemente Orozco, at the National Preparatory School in Mexico City.  Maternity May be described as a mural that addresses Italian Renaissance paintings.  It is a figurative mural with six women and a baby that takes center stage.  The blonde Madonna is sitting in the middle of the mural nude and holding a baby. The other women are depicted as angels and are hovering over the Madonna. This mural similar to Creation by Diego Rivera, does not make any reference to violence.  Instead it reflects on a non-indigenous beauty, a nude female figure with European features and blonde hair.  The attention that highlights European beauty is what makes Orozco’s mural different than Riveras‘.      

Robin Adele Greely describes three reasons that Obregon and Vasconcelos created government patronage for.  First, it was to communicate to the world that Mexico was modernizing, Secondly, to “use Muralism internally to construct an ideology of cross-class national consensus” and Thirdly to include the peasantry masses as a symbol of a unified state.  This symbol would be urban and rural and therefore unifying the classes under the term Mexicanidad.  The Obregon and Vasconcelos artistic strategy lasted less than four years.

After 1923, Vasconcelos artistic dictatorship and his strategy ultimately came to an end with Obregon term in office.  Obregon was subjected to internal and external political and economical pressures and in 1924 Obregon was forced to name Plutarco Elias Calles as his successor.  In addition, Vasconcelos went into exile and Obregon put a halt to all the mural projects.

December 9, 1923 dates the genesis of El Machete, the Syndicate of Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptures.  “To the Indian race humiliated for centuries; to soldiers made executioners by the praetorians; to workers and peasants beaten by the greed of the rich; to intellectuals uncorrupted by the bourgeoisie” - excerpt  from the manifesto.  The author of the content was David Alfaro Siqueiros and among the signers were Xavier Guerrero, Fermin Revueltas, Diego Rivera, Ramon Guadarrama, Jose Clemente Orozco, German Cueto, and Carlos Merida.

 It is important to note that shortly before Vasconcelos gets forced into exile, the manifesto El Machete is published.  Was the manifesto a response by the unionized artist to the unstable Mexican Government that they would no longer have their art context be corrupted?  Lets remember that at this time artists were no longer receiving any patronage from the Mexican Government so does that show that the Manifesto posed little (if any risk) in being published.  Meaning that if patronage was already cancelled then they had nothing to lose with their rebellious manifesto.  Or perhaps the Muralist felt that enough was enough and they would no longer put up with the governments artistic dictatorship.  I believe this is a question worth asking.

During the Post-Vasconcelos era the muralist began individual endeavors.  According to Greely and other sources Orozco began his series of drawings, Horrors of the revolution, which were the exact counter part of the murals previously painted.  Rivera continued to develop his stylized, now iconic images of workers and peasants.  Siqueiros put away his brush and decided to engage into political activism.  It is also noted by Greely that Orozco exiled himself into the United States.

The art work that is created after 1924 is important to discuss because it reflects the artists true intentions to paint “for the people” of Mexico and it highlights their feelings of turmoil after the revolution.  This is especially true for Orozco and Siqueiros, since they both witnessed the revolution first hand.  According to author Anna Indych-Lopez, Orozco became an illustrator for a newspaper called La Vanguardia, during the Mexican revolution.  This gives evidence that Orozco lived the revolution at first hand.

Los Horrores de la Revolucion was a series of ink drawings that Orozco created as a commissioned piece for Anita Brenner, an American journalist and writer of Mexican artist.  These drawing were produced from 1926-1928.  Orozco finally makes the revolution his subject matter in his art and depicts it as truth- violent and bloody. 

Orozco’s ink drawing series may easily be compared with Goya’s, Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War).  The Rape, is a black and white drawing from the series that depicts a half-naked women, pinned to the floor by soldier.  A bottle, and two soldier hats are found on the floor of the room where the disaster took place.  The drawing contains a lot of tension and violence described as the visual destruction of the revolution by Anna Indych-Lopez.       

While Orozco was creating his commissioned in drawings, Diego Rivera was could be found in The United States.  In December 1931, Rivera had an exhibition at the new Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  “His exhibition at the preeminent museum represents one of the most significant events of the 1930s through which to examine not only his appeal to audiences in the United States but also the way Mexican muralism came to be understood by and exhibited and promoted to U.S. residents.”-Anna Indych-Lopez .     

Finally in 1928, Alvaro Obregon’s successor Plutarco Elias Calles started a campaign for social renewal, the last year of his presidential term.  His idea for social unification was to finish rebuilding the Palace of Fine Arts.  The goal for the palace was to house national dance, theater, music, and fine art.

If we interpret the manifesto El Machete correctly it would be clear to assume that the muralist had a straight-forward agenda since before of the inauguration of the Palace of Fine Art in Mexico City.  In their declaration they stated they would no longer be subordinated by government and they would not allow their subject matter to be corrupted.

Three of the signers of the manifest El Machete would eventually emerge as Los Tres Grandes.  Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Jose Clemente Orozco.  However according to Mark Coffey in his book titled How a Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture the Mexican government commissioned Jose Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera to execute permanent frescos in the palace.  However, throughout the decades more muralist such as David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo and Jorge Gonzalez Camarena would also added to the list of commissioned artists.

The Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City was inaugurated on September 29, 1934.  Permanently painted at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City is the controversial Rockefeller Mural or Man at the Crossroads.  The infamous controversy over the portrait of Lenin that Rivera painted in the New York version of the Mural was destroyed.  However, Rivera was given an area inside the palace to re-execute the mural. 

In the Palace you will also find the mural titled Catharsis painted by Orozco.  The mural contains elements of the Futurist art genre.  Mechanical destruction, prostitution, and violence would be the best way to describe its subject matter.  Orozco’s mural is very different that Rivera’s in a couple different manners.  Orozco’s mural deals with a more confrontational and negative view of contemporary Mexico, while Rivera deals more with agriculture and symbols.

Alejandro Anreus argues in his article Los Tres Grandes, that although the three muralist were tied by the manifesto and its ideology- they individually had radically different views of art and politics.  And as a result they chose to rarely been seen together in public. 

In 1947, Mexican President Miguel Aleman was able to successfully have their pictures taken side by side.  However the picture taken was a production of a publicity stunt done by the President to represent them as a trinity of Mexican mural painters, as described by Anreus.  Furthermore, Anreus also mentions how the three muralist were always in argument with each other since they were divided by their profound ideologies and stylistic differences.

Anreus uses a an article written by Siqueiros to continue his argument of the feud between the three muralist.  The article was published on May 29, 1934, ten years after the manifesto was signed.  According to Anreus, Siqueiros defined Rivera’s art as “retarded, incapable of working outside the traditional fresco, and lacking the technically inventive capacity needed for revolutionary art“.   

In December of 1935, Rivera published a retaliation to Siqueiros article.  The response was published in Argentina’s magazine Claridad.  Rivera calls Siqueiros an “opportunist,…. and an artist who had not yet produced a consistent body of work in a mural format“.   Rivera defends his work by stating that it is his right to sell to capitalist patrons, because this would allow light to shine on his work in a non-socialist world. 

Ultimately, the feud although important to note does not necessarily depict the muralist as enemies.  At Rivera’s death, Siqueiros praised his colleague and in addition according to Arneus each muralist wrote or dedicated autobiographies or memoirs and felt strongly that in writing they could set the record straight. 

What is interesting about this feud between Rivera and Siqueiros is that there is a clear path of connection that may be seen as a residue of the event.  From Siqueiros article being published in the issue of New Masses  Rivera’s response in Claridad magazine in Argentina.  This linage of writing indicates that publicity was active for the Muralist in the Americas. 

Siqueiros was the only muralist that actually fought in the Mexican Revolution.  Therefore, it may be easier for a muralist viewer to note the differences in Siqueiros and Rivera’s visual language.  For example, In Siqueiros mural From the Porfiriato to the Revolution is a perfect example of Siqueiros ideology.  The mural symbolizes the “will of the people”.  Composed with  peasants gathering and mobilizing with sticks as weapons to confront the soldiers the mural stands as a symbol for revolt.  The workers faces are painted with anguish as in stating enough is enough, the composition contains direction given by a fallen peasant that is now being carried by the marching masses. 

If any muralist carried a more straight-forward depiction of Mestizaje, that would be Diego Rivera.  Diego Rivera arguably the most popular of the three big muralist focused his murals on meshing peasants and workers a cross-class ideology that Vasconcelos concept dealt with.  As stated before Rivera was in Europe during the Revolution.  He was seen as a Mexican painter that adopted a French style and a painter that was disconnected with his country.  Even in the beginning of the patronage provided by Vasconcelos, Rivera was forced to live in an rural town for a month in an attempt to have him re-connect with his country.  Only after that was he able to receive patronage from Obregon and Vasconcelos.

In Conclusion, Mexican muralism has proven to be one of the greatest modern art movements of the twentieth century.  Its genesis may even be compared to the Parisian Academy, which its main purpose was to produce propaganda.  President Alvaro Obregon and philosopher Jose Vasconcelos Mestizaje concept initiated a visual language that became a national identity for Mexico.

The Mestizaje concept was initially intended to hide the true realities of an unstable and corrupted Mexican government by  providing “ideal images” of cross-class integration to the public. By painting murals that omitted violent images and visually represented cross-class assimilation, it was thought that peasants and workers were less likely to revolt against its government. 

Vasoconcelos and Obregons initial project became the origin of the Mexican mural movement.  Their network and the patronage that they provided to the artist allowed for artist to meet and work together.  Coincidentally or not, after the conclusion of Obregons presidency in 1924 mural artists unionized and wrote a manifesto title El Machete.  This manifesto was created to represent the artists ideals and to state the fact that they would no longer be corrupted by their patrons and that they were making murals “for the people”.   

It is made clear in Anreus article that “los tres grandes” ideologies were not the same and that the idea of authenticity also came into question.  Diego Rivera was in Europe when the revolution was taking place, Jose Clemente Orozco participated in the revolution as a cartoonist for a magazine titled La Vanguardia , and David Alfaro Siqueiros was the only muralist to have fought in the war.  This created tension between the three muralist as to who’s art was more valid.

Those facts call into question on how in today’s art world “los tres grandes” or the big three are packaged together as a movement.  Similar to Leja’s argument on how Abstract Expressionism was packaged so that it was made easier for the rest of the world to acknowledge as powerful and important.  It was too important for Mexico to be able to convey to the world that they were civilized and modern.  And they did that by unifying the muralist into one group that represented Mexicanidad- what it means to be Mexican. 

Mexican culture has always been visual rather than literary.  Perhaps this is the reason why Mexican muralism was able to be transformed into a revolutionary art form that became official culture. 

***pictures were taken by me during my visit to Mexico City in 2014.  I added them to make the reading more fun, but they do not necessarily correspond to the essay***

A quarrel between artist and public- Mental struggles in my studio

I spend a lot of time in my studio, as most artist do. Usually collecting about 10 hours in a day. Making making and thinking.. I feel it would be interesting and a learning experience for myself to write about these studio events in this blog.

Here I go:

John Van Dyke author of Art for Arts sake, has been in my mind for a while. Especially during my studio practice.  The quarrel between artist and public. In his book he speak a bit intensively about it, but what captivated me the most was the simple idea or understanding that an artist is not a philosopher, scientist or novelist.  An artist in his opinion is a person with the vision to identify beauty found in the world.

"The sense is that of sight, and the training of it has enabled him/her to see more beauty and deeper meanings in nature than the great majority of mankind"

Keeping in mind this book was published in 1898. But I like knowing the frame of thought during this period. AND! Van Dyke, explains things really well and even predicts the type of work that will continue to be seen throughout the years. The book "What is painting" by Julian Bell is actually very similar to this book, and art for art sake was written 100 years before.. So that puts its in perspective..I think.


So this way of thinking is nice because it's a very micro way to think. It isolates everything else, especially for me. I love making and being inventive with materials, pushing their boundaries, learning about them as if they were a lover. breaking, tearing, caressing, gluing, denting, etc.. In this way of making art, it is not always about having a narrative. OR trying to tell a story..

It seems like everyone now a days wants a story.. Beauty seems to fall short.

I like to work with content.. each material I have contains content.. I, as a human being contain content because of my personal history. You add my personal content to the content of my material choices, and sprinkle the content of my process in making.. and BANG! instant story.. Or rather a snapshot or glimpse of a story.

So the quarrel continues. at the end who is the audience? Who really becomes the public, is it other artist? Is it your community, is it an online community? Making these decisions are difficult, and maybe they are not necessary to make. As an artist for now, I will continue to make and make and think.. some questions can answer themselves in the future.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Between Culture and Form

Luis Sahagun

January 2015
Title: Between Culture and Form
300 lbs of concrete mix

Here is an installation I did for an invitational art exhibition hosted by Lion Vs Gorilla!! Super fun to do, but a lot of work. about 15 hours installation time, 300 lbs of concrete.  Not sure what was harder the installation or the de-install. Nevertheless, it was a super fun exhibit!! I am happy with the documentation shots, I decided to do a blur filter on the background to make the ephemeral sculpture "pop" a little more.
The exhibit was held at the Hairpin Art center in Chicago (avondale/logan square).
The raw nature of concrete reminds me of the strength and character found in an urban street. The idea of grit is my utopia, a place where form and culture connect to define a persona. 

Title: Between Culture and Form
300 lbs of concrete mix

Title: Between Culture and Form
300 lbs of concrete mix

Title: Between Culture and Form
300 lbs of concrete mix


Special Thanks for Sergio Gomez review on my exhibit " Land where it doesn't snow).

Please follow the link to read the review!!