Archive for the 'Journal Entry' Category


Posted in Journal Entry, Music, Photography on October 8th, 2009 by Angel Villanueva

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Los Terrícolas – Nostalgia

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Quiero emborrachar mi corazón
Para olvidar un loco amor
Que más que amor es un sufrir.

Y aquí vengo para eso,
A borrar antiguos besos
En los besos de otras bocas.

Si su amor fue flor de un día,
¿Por qué causa siempre es mía
esa cruel preocupación?

Quiero, por los dos, mi copa alzar
Para olvidar mi obstinación
Y más la vuelvo a recordar.

De escuchar su risa loca
Y sentir junto a mi boca
Como un fuego
Su respiración…

De sentirme abandonado
Y pensar que otro a su lado
Pronto, pronto
Le hablará de amor…

Yo no quiero rebajarme
Ni pedirle, ni llorarle
Ni decirle que no puedo más vivir…

Desde mi triste soledad veré caer las rosas muertas
De mi juventud.

Gime, bandoneón, tu tango gris
Quizás a ti te hiera igual
Algún amor sentimental.

Llora mi alma de fantoche
Sola y triste en esta noche
Noche negra y sin estrellas.

Si las copas traen consuelo,
Aquí estoy con mi desvelo
Para ahogarlo de una vez.

Quiero emborrachar al corazón
Para poder después brindar
Por los fracasos del amor.

De escuchar su risa loca
Y sentir junto a mi boca
Como un fuego
Su respiración…

De sentirme abandonado
Y pensar que otro a su lado
Pronto, pronto le hablará de amor…

Hermanos, yo… ¡yo no quiero rebajarme!
¡Ni pedirle, ni llorarle!
Ni decirle que no puedo más vivir…

Desde mi triste soledad veré caer las rosas muertas
De mi juventud…

Enrique Cadícamo
Argentina, 1936

25 Things About Me

Posted in Journal Entry, Writing and Poetry on August 5th, 2009 by Angel Villanueva

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1. I was 11 years old when I understood, in its full magnitude, the burdensome paradox of having no foreseeable desire to listen to others yet always having to live in their world.

2. I am sometimes afraid of the places where my mind goes—self destruction lurks in the shadows. I’ve put measures in place to keep that in check but the knots slip at times. I fear madness may be in my future.

3. Ominous as that sounds, the mind ventures in the opposite direction just as frequently. I have moments of intense illumination that leave me absolutely breathless, to the point that it is difficult to reconnect with my immediate surroundings at will. I hope and pray something like that doesn’t catch me while driving a bus full of people.

4. Life as a flatline is not something I’m interested in. That doesn’t mean I’m committed to going out on a limb to provide myself with thrills at the expense of others (though I’ve been guilty of it, and I regret that, I truly do). What it means is that I strive to experience as much of the spectrum of human existence as my time and capacity will allow.

5. Yet I wish I never had to sleep, eat, talk, have sex… I wish I could exist as a disembodied mind with the ability to see and transform matter, so I could focus on what I’m here for.

6. I have an undying love for the beauty of the desert.

7. I wish I had discovered Ayn Rand as a teenager…

8. …because I understand reality as something that exists independently from the mind. Moreover, I think ultimate truth (the structure of things) is a multi-level, multi-dimensional affair, its reach spanning far beyond our perceptual and cognitive bandwidths. Short of the Einsteins of our kind—whom are/were limited in their own way—most of us can at most aspire to deal with aspects, dimensions, fragments of the whole, which is a recipe for eternal confusion, conflict, and suffering.

9. I am happiest when I’m thinking, alone, and figure something out.

10. I have more art projects in my sketchbooks and notes than I could possibly accomplish in a lifetime.

11. I am well aware of the fact that some (sometimes relevant) people find me troublesome and contradictory, as if undefined or not-quite present. I simply have no reliable way of sharing my internal structure, and fear that even if I could they wouldn’t understand.

12. My particular brand of wicked humor has connected me (personally) with more people than anything else about me.

13. I’ve explored self-perception issues by obsessively photographing myself nude in all sorts of settings… I’ve gotten some interesting results out of that but have yet to decide what to do with the images.

14. Because I think images, in that sense, are ultimately a cop-out.

15. I’ve internally declared war on various causes, systems, and people over time, but get bored halfway through the effort and never carry it out.

16. I think of knowledge as something to be consumed.

17. My hatred for television peaks anytime I’m exposed to Latin American telegarbage.

18. I find it easiest to be friends with people I admire in some way.

19. I find it easiest to love people who share their processes of self-discovery and self-creation with me.

20. My life unfolds in 11-year cycles. I took possession of myself at 11. It was like waking up. That’s how I divide my life now: pre-11, post-11. 22 was quite the year as well. I think I know exactly what will happen at 33.

21. When I was 12 years old, my mother fell ill and could no longer take care of us. This is how I learned to cook, iron my clothes, etc. Today I can iron a dress shirt in 90 seconds (I’ve timed myself!).

22. I used to create land art as a child, using rocks, twigs, and earth. I didn’t even know there was a term for it, or that anyone would care to see it. I just wanted to put my signature in the land, to bring an element of creative order to it in some way.

23. I grew up in rural Mexico, in the Baja California desert. We lived for years without electricity or running water. My grandmother had a water pump in the patio. Shoes were something we would only wear to school. In the summer I worked picking cotton or harvesting grapes in the fields, along with other kids from my school; I remember it was grueling work under a merciless sun, but also a great deal of fun. People bartered food and services all the time. We used to get citrus fruit, cucumbers and fresh milk from nearby farms. We always grew our own chickens and often harvested wild plants to eat. Life was a day-to-day survival process that required a direct connection with the land and the people around us. For all this, I am grateful. I cannot imagine what sort of dull creature I would have become had I grown in the urban conditions that are known to me today. I cannot imagine life as a child without that great open sky, nights ablaze with stars, the riverbank, and the creatures whose secret lives I came to know. To me, civilization was a set of human dwellings that could be traversed from end to end by foot in minutes… then there were the fields, and beyond, the vast expanse and mystery of the desert. I lived in an ideal world and was immensely happy.

24. This is not a ‘woe is me’ note, I’m actually quite content today. 🙂

25. And, as Frida Kahlo once said: “I hope the exit is joyful, and I hope never to return.”

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Angel Villanueva
August 5, 2009
Claremont, CA

Under the Midnight Sun

Posted in Journal Entry, Photography, Work Update on June 25th, 2009 by Angel Villanueva

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Click play. Scroll down. Enjoy.
Björk – New World

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My host, teacher, guide, and companion of wonders.
Thank you Max, now and always.


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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Bedtime Stories

Posted in Journal Entry, Photography on January 7th, 2009 by Angel Villanueva

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Photo taken November 30, 2008

The moon and companions over Orange County, California. The hazy air is the result of lingering smoke from the devastating fires of November 15th (my birthday…) which left so many without homes… It was strange to see these beautiful, distant, uncaring celestial bodies as a direct a backdrop to earthly dwellings in their atmospheric circumstance.

More to come,


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! 🙂



Posted in Dreams, Journal Entry, Writing and Poetry on April 11th, 2007 by Angel Villanueva

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The children had been missing for four years. One day they showed up at their parent’s front door, as if nothing had happened.

They will not speak at all.

As we enter the experimental facility I am puzzled by the presence of multiple polyglass walls defining an enclosure that extends beyond my field of vision.

I am part of a team, three other people walk in with me: a doctor, a psychologist, and a reporter. I am the artist. We will each evaluate the children, then our reporter will compile our findings and submit them to the powers that be.

We turn a corner and the kids’ enclosure comes into full view: the girl is about twelve years old, the boy eight or nine. Their glass prison is filled with toys and comfortable furniture, just like a normal living room, here awash in clinical light. There are cameras and massive banks of electronic equipment beyond the transparent walls.

I wonder what the reason is for keeping the children in a bulletproof cage.

The boy sits on the carpeted floor. His eyes are fixed on me. As I am cleared to enter the glass enclosure I recognize him.

Years back, before his disappearance, we played with crayons and paper at someone’s house, at some sort of gathering, perhaps a birthday party. We doodled and colored farmhouses, mountains, trees, cattle, flowers, birds… I remember he was perfectly articulate and extremely bright.

He stands up and goes to a corner, where he keeps a box and a big sketchpad. He takes them and walks back, sits where he was before, and looks at me again. It’s almost a command. I walk over and sit next to him. He opens the box: it is full of crayons. He then finds a blank page in the sketchpad. He does not invite me to draw with him. Instead, he picks a crayon without even looking to see what color it is, and gives me a look that can only mean: Are you paying attention?

I realize with a chill that he is about to tell me, in drawings, what happened to them during those four years.


That’s it. That’s when I woke up. My subconscious mind often weaves these mysteries and then catapults me back to daylight without an answer. It somehow feels perversely planned… I tried falling back asleep, concentrating as much as I could on the last image in the dream, but of course that would not happen. Nothing left to do but write the vision down before it faded into nothingness.


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The Great Flood

Posted in Dreams, Journal Entry, Writing and Poetry on April 3rd, 2007 by Angel Villanueva

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Claremont is flooded. I don’t understand how this happened. I am chest-deep in water under a deeply overcast sky. All that is left of the Claremont Village are fragments of buildings protruding from the waters. Even the trees are gone. There are other people walking around in the water at some distance, here and there, each of them lost in a search. The mountains have disappeared as well. I am in the middle of an endless ocean, the silver smooth surface of the water extending as far as the eye can see in every direction, a liquid horizon all around. I recognize the archipelago of dilapidated ruins around me as the Claremont Colleges, ironically self-proclaimed Islands of Beauty, now nothing more than piles of rubble surrounded by a silent sea.

I start walking through the water, not sure of where I’m going. I am near the partially collapsed shingle roof of what was once a church, fragments of its once quaint wooden architecture now dark with moisture, the ruins of a spire sticking miserably out of the water like a forgotten hope. To my surprise, as I walk by it, I find my dog. Rose swims out through an opening in the broken spire to meet me. She is as happy to see me as I am to see her, swimming circles around me in joy. Her radiant whiteness is a welcome and uplifting sight in this grayscale nightmare. I don’t want her to swim away so I hold her. She feels big in my arms when I restrain her, but she stays there paddling the water softly and does not try to get away.

People call out to me from a distance, waving their hands. I hear them but there is a strange, muffled and increasingly louder noise in the air drowning out their voices. I tilt my head to hear better, try to decipher what they are screaming, but I can’t make out the words. The noise is turning into a roar. One terrified-looking man points to the north. I turn to see what he’s pointing at, and find my emotions flattened by awe…

Spanning the entire horizon, an immense wall of water approaches, shining like an enormous ripple on a sheet of polished steel. It is a tsunami of epic proportions, the likes of which humanity has never seen. I can see foam flying off its crest and sea birds riding the air wave in front of it as it gets closer, covering more and more of the sky every second. The realization is instantaneous: the endpoint of my human fate, the moment of complete annihilation, is here, and there is no escaping from it. Even if I survived the force of the crush, I could never swim my way to the surface in the chaos that will follow. I comprehend this so readily and on such a profound level that I accept it instantly. Death is on its way, and its utter inevitability leaves me at peace to enjoy the wondrous sight of its arrival.

But the dog in my arms has a different idea.

Rose’s eyes are fixed on the oncoming wave. It does not scare her. She is focused, determined. Suddenly I feel like I am looking at her for the very first time, and as I do, I am reminded of her true nature. Rose is a Labrador, a fisherman’s dog thinly disguised as a pet, a tight 70 pounds of lean muscle, head like a seal, tail like an otter, wrapped in a waterproof coat and equipped with the same webbed feet that enabled her distant Northern ancestors to swim tirelessly through freezing waters, making their way across tangled roots and floating seaweeds, helping their masters to drag fishing nets ashore. Rose, St. John’s dog, hears her genes calling out to her in the moment of truth and eagerly responds in kind. Her waterdog paws tread the water in nervous anticipation, like a racehorse held at the gate. Hold onto me, I’ll get us through this. The realization is at once surprising, humbling, and deeply moving. Tears cloud my vision as the truth of the moment is revealed: Rose is here to save my life.

Deafened by the approaching roar of the tsunami, I hold onto Rose, take a deep breath, and wait for the crush.

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From the Dream Journal
April 3, 2007