This year marks Slanguage’s 10 year anniversary! Please keep updated to our blog and Facebook page for all the latest happenings coming for summer. Opening June 2, 2012




Slanguage Studio is celebrating its 10th year anniversary and participating in a very important exhibition about Slanguage’s history for the first Los Angeles biennial, Made in L.A. 2012, organized by the Hammer Museum in collaboration with LAXART, will be presented at the Hammer, and the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park. Slanguage’s exhibition is called “THIS IS A TAKE OVER!” inspired by the Native American taking of Alcatraz, in which the artists will be taking over the LAXArt Gallery in Culver city and Programming it for three months. Events will include a Teen Art Summit, a music/spoken word Slanguage Festival, discussions, workshops, a mural and billboard. Stay tuned for further details about the events. Also, you can help support the future of Slanguage by voting for Slanguage to get a $100,000 prize in the middle of June. Go Slangasters! (Karla Diaz)

SlangA.I.R. is proud to present:

“What the Palm tree knows…”

Saturday Nov 12, 2011


paintings by Carlitos “Brillante” Madrigal

music performance  by Chicago artist Conrad Feinburg

Window project by graffiti artist Ana Sosa A.K.A “Femi Illest”

“What the Palm Tree Knows” is local artist/musician Carlitos “Brillante” Madrigal   first solo show featuring paintings on palm trees inspired by a personal narrative.  His paintings work as sculptural pieces in which he captures the emblematic portraits of people in his neighborhood and landscapes taken from Mexican and American history books.

Live Performance by Chicago artists/musician Conrad Feinsburg who was Raised in Quincy IL, on the Mississippian artery of music, Conrad blends a traditional folk sound with experimental and improvisational music. His music is rooted in internal processes of examination and external processes of exploration. For the Launch of his tour he will be setting up the Pod of Absence and playing selections from his new album “The Undecagon”

Ana Sosa “Femi Illest” is a teen Graffiti artist from East Los Angeles.

Slanguage has had a great year being able to host a number of art residencies with many talented visual artists. However, we got a chance to host a literary residency for the first time with Mario Davila.  Mario is a man of many visions and ideas it was great getting to know a little more about his work.

Mario Davila on stage


1) I know you are in the middle of curating a series of events for your Slanguage literary arts residency, what’s the focus for these events?

The series of events is called FLOW, the events focus on language as a vehicle for expression and sharing. The events are also meant to facilitate creative exchanges among communities located near the Harbors of San Pedro, Long Beach and Wilmington. Our next project will utilize video to capture spoken word performances, personal stories, and poems from harbor area residents. As an artist in residence, who lives and works outside the harbor area, I felt it was important to work with, and feature local artists. Before working on any of the events, I spent a few months meeting with area residents, attending local events, and getting to know the area. I felt this was important, I wanted to the residency to be relevant to the communities around Slanguage.

2) What is the main focus of your work?

Primarily, teaching and producing. As Joseph Beuys used to say, “to be a teacher is my greatest work of art.” I don’t feel it’s always necessary to create objects, sometimes objects just get in the way. I get the most satisfaction from helping others access and share their creativity.

Project Spellbound

3) What motivates you to teach and direct different art formats to others such as with  young people?

I want to help free up and broaden definitions of art and artist. Imagine what the world would look like if people saw themselves as creative participants, if everyone adopted this mindset and acted accordingly. It’s unfortunate that most people, at least in our society, don’t see themselves as artists. I was five years old when adults first began pointing out my “artistic” talents; it turned out I had a facility for representational drawing. Since others seemed to value this art thing I began to embrace it, soon I became my school’s designated artist, I was in and everyone else was out, everyone. Eventually, in my late teens, the artist label, and definitions of art, began to feel limiting. I now see that anyone involved in a creative process is an artist.

4) Your belief is that “everyone is an artist”,  how do you go about teaching someone who might not be interested in art to become an artist.

As I see it, the main challenge is helping others see that they have always been creative, that they have always been artists.  For me questions about quality and format are secondary, the delineation lines are arbitrary. The way I see it, creativity + action = art. It doesn’t take much imagination to see where things are headed, just look how curators and scholars have been forced to broaden their definitions of what is and isn’t art; photography, video, performance art and aerosol art are now in the museums. Outdated dusty definitions, and issues of quality and individual taste aside, whenever you are consciously involved in creative action, including forming a thought, you are an artist. It’s what I believe, it’s political, and some people feel threatened by the implications.

5) What’s next, what goals do you have with your work?

Continue helping others connect with their creativity and speaking up against those who claim to know what art is. Voicing these opinions about art is often difficult and professionally risky. I tend to find the more time and money a person has invested in these ideas, especially scholars and critics, the more territorial they become with their definitions. I’m also looking forward to continued collaborations with Slanguage, I really admire how Slanguage works at providing opportunities for people to develop the skills needed to become articulate and confident artists.

Members of LAartlab

Keep your eyes and ears open for more projects with Mario in the fall add him on Facebook for more details.




Dona Junta


Bio: Throughout his career, Mario Davila has focused on helping people discover their creative talents and gain an appreciation for the creativity of others.  Mario currently serves as Director of the After School Arts Program (ASAP), the arts education department of LA’s BEST. Established in 1988, LA’s BEST is an afterschool enrichment program currently serving over 28,000 children at 179 public elementary schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District on a daily basis. LA’s BEST serves communities with the greatest needs and the fewest resources, providing children with safe and supervised education, enrichment and recreation activities at no cost to their parents and families.

Mario joined LA’s BEST in 2003 and helped create the ASAP department to ensure that all LA’s BEST sites have access to quality art education programs. To date, over 55,000 children have participated in a 20 hour visual or performing arts residency. In addition to hands-on workshops led by professional artists, LA’s BEST program activities include homework assistance, team sports, science, computer literacy, conflict resolution and nutrition.

Both an educator and an artist, Mario began working in arts education in 1991 as an artist educator for the education department at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Since then he has taught at hundreds of schools and a number of institutions and organizations including; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Watts Towers Arts Center, California State University of Los Angeles, I Have a Dream Foundation, HeArt Project and the Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Internship Program.

In 1993 Mario founded Poetic Action, a co-op of young artists who volunteered their time to produce multimedia events throughout Los Angeles designed to help make the arts, especially poetry, more accessible and relevant to younger and broader audiences. For eight years, Poetic Action events showcased various forms of creative expression at venues throughout Los Angeles and long Beach.

Mario is also the founder of LAartlab, a self funded,  independent, all volunteer collective helping teens and young adults engage in the various  facets  of  the Los Angeles  arts community  and  California’s  creative  economy  by  providing  hands-on opportunities to help design,  produce and host free art events! LAartlab has produced and hosted events at a number of prominent venues including; JANM, MOCA, The Music Center, Ave 50 Studio and LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes. In June of 2011, LAartlab awarded its first $500 scholarships to graduating high school students for their leadership and volunteer work in helping make the arts more accessible to their peers and the general public.

In addition to his work with the above institutions and organizations, Mario Davila has volunteered as a teaching artist for a number of organizations including: the Los Angeles Children’s Court, Aids Project Los Angeles, the Cesar Chavez Foundation and Artists for a New South Africa, he currently sits on the Governing Board of the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation. (courtesy of  M.D)

Free Workshops on painting, poetry, music, and performance led by Harbor Area Artists. Saturday June 25, 2011, 12-4pm @ Slanguage Studio. Word Play is part of FLOW, an event series organized by SLANG AIR Literary Artist in Residence Mario Davila.

The guys sat down for a longer interview in the days leading up to the show. Here’s what they said about their collaboration and work.

First off, both of you are from Puerto Rico. How has that influenced the work that you do?

Juni: In my case, it’s obvious that the lifestyle of Puerto Rico has a great influence on my work. The climate is also a great influence in the sense that it lends itself to being outside, going to the beach, the rivers, the countryside. See, I live in the city, and so that influences me a great deal. But also when you go out, so see a ton of color.  And since I am a painter, that lifestyle has influenced me a lot.  I’ve noticed that I am really influenced by all things tropical, life at the beach, that type of thing.

Chris: I think for me this influence is not as evident. But perhaps artists traditions, like the strong graphic tradition in Puerto Rico has been important in my work. I have been exploring it in different ways. In this case I have been working with serigraphs. But beyond doing a print with ink, I have been developing it more as a drawing, which is very present in my work. Also the use of graphic images for tattooing, that has also influenced me a great deal. But not an influence that is very obvious, at least not one that I observe.

Juni: But also, even though we are Puerto Rican, with respect to our political condition and in other ways we have become more Americanized. We have access to lots of information, and I think that allows to be more like a hybrid. Yes, we are Latinos, but we are also a combination of things. We are constantly discovering ourselves, and in a process of self-exploration, and seeing who we really are.

Chris: And it is not that we don’t have an identity, because we obviously have one. But to have this status of a colony, because really we are the oldest colony in the world that still exists. But as Juni says it puts us in a situation where we are influenced by several places, and we are somewhere in the middle. 

Why were you interested in collaborating and how has that translated into this residency? What are you doing in the space?

Juni: Well the initiative really came from Mario [Ybarra Jr.]. And it worked out quite well because Christopher and I have worked on exhibits together, but we had not had the opportunity to collaborate in this way and create a project starting from nothing, and coming from both of us. It has been super productive, because ideas have come out, and we didn’t expect it to happen this way. In just one day we came up with the exhibition project. We had some idea of what we wanted to do and in what direction we wanted to go, you know the music Scene, the propaganda or advertising put out by bands…all this stuff. But being here together is when everything became clear.

Chris: And like Juni says, yes we had collaborated a bunch of times before, we have been friends for a few years thru the music Scene and exhibitions. But when the invitation came from Mario, we were like oh damn, how cool we’re going to collaborate. And all kinds of ideas came to mind, ideas that were concretized here, so yeah, super productive.

Juni: And from this we hope to take advantage of it and do it again in other places and contexts, unifying music, with the underground Scene with bands, integrating this whole [music] world, which really unifies us more, than perhaps even the art world.

Chris: It is more specific.

Juni: It has its groups and gives you the opportunity to meet interesting people that contribute super great ideas.

What is the story behind the title, “War Spectacle: The Last Paradise”?

Chris: In reality, this took a bit of time to figure out. In a practical sense, we said in this collaboration you will have a part, and I will have a part, and that it should be something that sounds concrete and makes sense. But in part because we were using the music influence, the departure was this idea that it should be a song title, or be influenced by a song.

Juni: Exactly. Or even like a concert. Instead of an art exhibit, the idea was that it should like a concert and we would make references to bands we like. So the title really came out of trying to name a band-based music event. They [the bands] don’t exist, but still it is an event inspired by the advertising with the use of flyers, that type of artwork.

Chris: The words “War Spectacle” came from a real song, right Juni?

Juni: Yes, I was listening to a band that I friend lent me and I began to bring together different references [in my head], and that’s how it came about.

Chris: And the “Last Paradise” also more or less comes from a song. But also in thinking about an idea to connect the space, the way it happens in shows, a type of paradise in the sense that everyone has come together behind this one cause, the music. At these types of music shows, this type of an environment is very obvious in the mosh pit, for example. The mosh pit is very interesting, and it is something that I am still exploring. Everyone is united, there is internal rules that it is ultimately for fun, to enjoy the moment of the concert. I mean there are always fights too, and that’s where War Spectacle comes from.

Juni: So there is also a war, but a war that just stays amongst us.

Chris: It’s almost utopic, or not exactly, but still a moment where everyone is united.

Juni: You feel free. So it’s a type of war, but a creative war, not one used to harm anyone.

How has it been being in Los Angeles, and how has that translated to the elements you have put in the gallery.

Juni: It has been, surely for both of us, a really great source for the creative process. Mario and Karla gave us a tour through the city, and it was parts of the city that if we had come on our own, we wouldn’t have encountered. And these types of routes, which aren’t the typical ones, activate things in your mind. This influenced us a bunch. And meeting Mario’s friends! And obviously Mario’s work too, he becomes like a community explorer and he integrates all of those elements. 

Chris: I agree that also helped us a lot in the creative process. It is the first time I came to Los Angeles, and not knowing L.A. well what you think of is well, the beach, Hollywood, what attracts tourists.

Juni: Plastic boobs.

Chris: So what have seen is the real Los Angeles. And the graffiti culture which is considerably old. The graffiti exhibit [at MOCA] too.

Juni: If you notice, we are doing printmaking, painting, redimex, so in reality what influences us is the full context.

Chris: Yes, of just being here, of being with people, Mario’s friends…we went to a street show as well.

Juni: We have met MCs, singers, and that is what we really came to do. It has been a real organic process, without it being forced. Everything has sort of just appeared before us.

Are there any pieces you would like to talk about that are currently in the show?

Juni: The bottles sculpture. What we noticed is that here you can’t drink on the street and everyone is worried about getting a ticket, that the police will see them, etc. We also saw that one way that people camouflage this or are more discreet is by putting a paper bag on the bottles. Which has a name right: “brown bag?”

Chris: And we’ll use it in the title. But it is also something that happens in Puerto Rico, but here it’s more…[severe].

Juni: Yeah, because L.A. is supposedly the place that has more police, that invests more in protection. But also while we have been working here, we have been drinking beer while we work. So what we have been trying to do is really take advantage of everything we are experiencing, and make it part of the project. So we decided that we would keep all the bottles of the beer we have been drinking and make a sculpture with the bottles. Really using everything we have consumed while we have been producing the work.

Chris: The graphic prints [with the show title] are inspired by how important advertising is in music events, these flyers made to announce different events. More than the viewers simply looking at the print made from the wood cut, I want people to do their own rubbings and take home their own posters.  With the geometric line piece I was approaching it from previous works that I have done to incorporate visible and invisible spaces in established architecture, in a space like this for example. There is a native space within a space, spaces like those that hold these types of music events.

Bay Area  based artist Angelica Muro will be our third artist invited for our Slangair artist residency. She will be opening up her show, ” Packing Heat” this Saturday, September 11, 2010.  Check out an interview with Angelica regarding her art and how she blends in powerful messages regarding women and their exposure and influences in media.

“Packing Heat” is a response to female representations in the media, specifically representations of the femme fatale in Mexican cinema, and how those images play into postmodern notions of gender identity and feminist theory… Angelica

Read the rest after the jump…..

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Sarah Castillo was not able to make the trip down to Wilmington for the ” Homegirls” residency, but she is a loved and  active member of Mas Rudas.  Sarah shares an open letter she wrote to Kristin, Mari, Cristina, and Ruth describing a beautiful story of her background and childhood.

More after the jump….

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