Archive for the 'Arts and Culture' Category

Never Meet Your Heroes

Posted in Arts and Culture, Work Update on October 29th, 2017 by Angel Villanueva

A (juicy) disquisition on the arts between yours truly and the host of the dawning Never Meet Your Heroes Podcast, juggling topics from forty thousand years of painting, Blade Runner, Hieronymus Bosch, and the Baja Desert, to darkroom shenanigans, the Mayor of L.A., dissing Isabel Allende, and much more. Feel free to forward to your art-loving friends, family, and foes! Enjoy!

Fata Morgana

Posted in Arts and Culture, Painting, Work Update on May 21st, 2017 by Angel Villanueva

Something witchy this way comes…
All new work, emerging in the time of the Thin Veil.
Stay tuned.


Pacific Standard Time

Posted in Arts and Culture, Photography, Work Update on April 15th, 2013 by Angel Villanueva

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Over the years, my work in photography has covered many territories. There is however, an area at which I have developed something of a specialty: largely as a result of documenting my own work as a painter, I’ve become quite adept at photographing artwork, doing so for artists such as Gronk, Raul Pizarro, Kirk Kain, Ruben Acosta, Guadalupe Vidales, and Steve Comba. I was however, still surprised when I was asked by my friend and former colleague, Pilar Tompkins, to aid in the documentation of artwork for an exhibition catalog. Acting as a guest curator for the Getty Research Institute’s initiative Pacific Standard Time, her research and exhibition project would be titled Civic Virtue.

Like a tidal wave, Pacific Standard Time swept over the Los Angeles artscape, affecting everything it touched in one form or another. An unprecedented collaboration between dozens of art institutions, Pacific Standard Time set out to historicize and celebrate the artistic developement of the Los Angeles area between 1945 and 1980.

Civic Virtue by Pilar Tompkins Rivas


Civic Virtue: The Impact of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and the Watts Towers Arts Center is a formidable work, documenting the history of these two seminal institutions and their influence on the Los Angeles cultural landscape.


Civic Virtue, Cover

Images of works by Noah Purifoy, Charles White, and Richard Wyatt were needed. The pieces were to be photographed under natural light at their locations in the offices of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the Hollyhock House.

Noah Purifoy, Black, Brown and Beige (1989) (pp. 98-99)

At the Hollyhock House, space was limited and light was challenging, but I managed to capture Purifoy’s large works in their complex splendor just fine.

Noah Purifoy, Lace Curtain, 1993. (p. 61)

Charles White, Juba (1965) (p. 82)

I had to be careful with the color balance on Charles White’s lithograph so as to not compromise the paper tone.

Richard Wyatt, I like Bread, 1975. (p. 125)

Richard Wyatt’s pencil on paper I Like Bread was photographed in its glass frame. The final image for print is in fact a digital composite of best exposures without reflections.

Both the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the Hollyhock House sent me copies of the catalog, along with nice thank you notes. I had all but forgotten about it when the books arrived. It’s nice to see one’s name in the credits. 🙂

Many thanks to Pilar Tompkins-Rivas for the opportunity to contribute to such seminal work, and my sincerest commendation on the caliber of the work. This is top-notch art history research!

Thank you for reading. Cheers,




Angel Villanueva: An Interview

Posted in Arts and Culture, Painting, Work Update on November 9th, 2011 by Angel Villanueva

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My dear friend and colleague Delaine Ureño, Development Coordinator for the dA Center for the Arts, asked me to answer a short yet complex set of questions regarding my work, life, and philosophy, in relation to the Center’s yearly Chicano art exhibition, which I am currently participating in. I would like to share this with you. I hope you will enjoy the stories in this brief tour of an eccentric man’s mind:

dA: You’ve expressed to me before that you don’t really consider yourself to be a “Chicano Artist”. Can you please also speak to this a little bit?
I see you wield the key to Pandora’s box. This is a challenging issue to address, because both Chicano art history and my own history are complex documents in constant revision as our self-understanding matures and evolves. There are strong identifiers between my sensibilities and those of Chicano art, but also some radical divergences. My parents were illegal immigrants, farm laborers. I was born in a California barn…”

You can read the full interview on the dA’s blog at:

Interview: Angel Villanueva

I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Delaine and the dA Center for the Arts for the opportunity to express my views, and for highlighting my work during this show.


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The Tree of Knowledge

Posted in Arts and Culture, Painting, Work Update on June 14th, 2011 by Angel Villanueva

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Click play. Scroll down. Enjoy.

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The Tree of Knowledge
Oil on Canvas, 24 x 36 in

This is the gate.
These are its guardians.
Are you ready to fly?


Click to see more of my painted works.

Building a Mystery

Posted in Arts and Culture, Painting, Work Update on May 19th, 2011 by Angel Villanueva

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A detail of the first in a series of paintings about forces at play in the time before time.
The rest will follow shortly. I for one am excited.

Thank you for your continued presence,

~Angel Villanueva

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Posted in Arts and Culture, Photography, Work Update on November 2nd, 2010 by Angel Villanueva

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Click play. Scroll down. Enjoy.
Vorspiel, Epilogue
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D.C., Milan, Turin, Ceva, Garessio, Mondovi, Serralunga d’Alba, Barki, Monaco, Rome, The Vatican, London, Gravesend (the final resting place of Pocahontas), St. Monans, Dublin, Peebleshire, Paris, Edinburgh. And the great crossing, racing against the forward edge of the night, West across the Ocean Sea…


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The City

Posted in Arts and Culture, Journal Entry, Photography, Writing and Poetry on April 25th, 2009 by Angel Villanueva

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The term urban grit, like most labels, functions as a kind of cognitive shorthand, a free admission pass to the claim of understanding what it describes. It has a faint ring of the inevitable, but it mostly conveys the notion of an evil that can be avoided through a careful routing of our experiences, should we be so fortunate.

The city resists this idea. From the loose debris unevenly coating the streets—a debris that includes human lives—to the steel and glass cages poised like great vessels in the sky, the city unfolds as a continuum, a tapestry with no clear edges. Urban grit as a realm is the result of a process, and it becomes integral to the world that cradles it. There will always be something occupying that space, and that something will always escape the boundaries of notion.

Like an interplanetary spacecraft, cutting across orbits, I traverse the city periodically and gather more data with each pass. Returning from each harvest, in the late hours of the night, I compare the readings in my memory with those captured by the lens. Rather than matching, they complement each other. A different picture emerges each time. It is like observing from the inside the ceaseless inner workings of a giant, undying organism, sprawled over the land. The city is far more than a structure: it is a living process… Its nature reveals the basic traits of the creatures that give rise to it and sustain it, and which it in turn sustains and consumes. The city is nature, in a different guise.

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I also find it useful to think of the city as a weather system. Here, currents meet and coalesce, sometimes becoming storms, sometimes merely dissipating in the night’s breeze. At any moment, a tenuous string may suggest itself between two entities, threading its way through the links between others.

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He’s following me, I think. Three blocks, four galleries, perusing some of the same artworks. Our eyes meet a few times. His are blue, intense or just cold I can’t say… No smile. Faces and voices around us become transparency and silence.

Strange alchemy.

I start to envision possible outcomes; including, why not, my lifeless remains in a body bag.

I recall a similar scenario, a lifetime ago it seems… It began in the desert , under a merciless sun, amidst a dense ocean of people. I think of that story and all that it meant.

I walk on.

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Louise Bourgeois: A Retrospective

Posted in Arts and Culture, Impressions, Writing and Poetry on October 30th, 2008 by Angel Villanueva

By Angel Villanueva

Image: Brian Morris for The Curve.


Sensuality, pathos, self-reflection, and humor all find their way into Louise Bourgeois’ sculptural expressions. Born in Paris in 1911, and familiar from a young age with the arts and crafts of her region, Bourgeois’ work spans seven decades, with many of her most iconic and telling works present in the exhibition Louise Bourgeois at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

The installation, rather than attempting a chronological narrative, clusters the works according to their material commonalities. Greeting visitors is a large-scale sculpture, a giant metal spider embracing one of Bourgeois’ self-enclosed constructions, which she calls cells. The work immediately establishes the artist’s strong affinity for material processes and the poetic redeployment of the particular significances of found objects. While walking around it, and within its legs, the sculpture unfolds as a revelation: the spider—a spinster, a crafty wonder of nature—acts as a protector around the cell, as if holding onto a precious and fragile egg sac. In the cell, wire, keys, thread, and other symbols, speak of treasures held in an intangible space, a deep niche of self-reflection in the artist’s mind, a place where memories and hopes can believe themselves safe from the prying eye of the outer world.

Other work clusters reveal the artist’s astonishing array of capacities: Bourgeois’ sculptural hand delivers soft marble forms resembling shapes in nature: the clouds, living creatures, parts of the human body. In their ambiguity, these entities tease the mind with hidden meanings and thoughts, offering no more than a sensual hint at the existence of such ideas. Her cells, constructed with linked doors, effectively transform points of entry into barriers. The resulting enclosed spaces contain yet another fragment of the artist’s negotiations with her memories and dreams. In a more representational series of material explorations, Bourgeois presents us with human figures engaged in various identifiable yet mysterious—even disturbing—activities: hysteria, illness, sex, perhaps death.

Overall, the exhibition invites the viewer’s mind to connect with the artist’s past and psyche, using shared experience as a translator for what is ultimately an alien perspective on life, and the world it unfolds in.

On view at MOCA Grand Avenue, October 26, 2008 through January 25, 2009.
250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
For more information please visit .

Birth of The Visionary

Posted in Arts and Culture, Journal Entry, Work Update on March 1st, 2008 by Angel Villanueva

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Today you get to visit me at work.

The work in question is a visual metaphor conveyed through simple elements: in a barren landscape, a lone organism (resembling a cactus flower) sprouts from hard-edged, geometric elements, and emits a cluster of messages into the night, which may or may not eventually be heard.

For paintings on wood, I make my own substrates. Here a solid, heavy 24″ x 48″ birch panel has been sealed, primed, and hand-sanded to a smooth eggshell finish, a process taking approximately one week of continuous work to complete in dry weather. Not visible here are the mounting provisions on the back; a steel cable held by hooks double-anchored directly into the wood. The edges and rear surface are painted black. Rubber feet are placed at each corner to prevent the hard edges of the wood from scraping the wall if the painting is to hang unframed.

On this board, a detailed graphite sketch (here barely visible) and the beginnings of an acrylic underpainting are laid out.

The acrylic underpainting solidifies the location and volumetric character of the composition’s elements and provides a color field to begin building the sky on. When the acrylic layers are dry, the oil layers follow.

Depth in the dark blue sky is achieved by applying consecutive translucent layers composed of a 50/50 mixture of Prussian Blue and Ivory Black, thinned with orange rind spirits and poppyseed oil, and progressing towards transparency at the horizon line.

After several passes and their mandatory drying periods, the basic sky is arrived at.

A last, carefully blended translucent layer is applied to create the athmospheric gradient. The base color of the ground field has been applied as well. Note that the last layer covers the flower’s emissions, which is fine since their outlines are still perfectly visible through the translucent paint.

The acrylic shadows of the rocky ridge on which the dead tree/cactus flower is standing are deepened.

The star field is painted in, and right with it…

…the flower’s emissions, a cluster of shreds of silky material carried off into the night by the breeze.

The colors for the cactus flower are mixed on an oil-rubbed, plasticized masonite palette. The white surface of the palette helps test the color transparency before it is applied. For the flower petals and stem I am using premium grade, high-density pigments.

Work begins on the petals…

…and continues down the stem. The geometric elements at the base are rendered, followed by the rocky ledge. Finally, the ground field is darkened and texture added to it… and The Visionary comes to life, the product of endless hours spent with a 1/8″ flat brush in aching hand…

You will find a complete image of the finished work in the Paintings page.

Thank you for visiting me today, hope to see you at the show! 🙂