Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Erica Rivera Interviews Friedman and Iverson

Erica Rivera sat down with David Friedman and Blake Iverson, partners and founders of Friedman Iverson PLLC, for an in-depth interview. These two esquires were bandmates and roommates before they began representing creative clients in the Twin Cities. Read about their unorthodox firm in the December 2013 issue of Minnesota Business magazine.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Erica Rivera Reviews "Buy Now Cry Later"

Patrick Martinez: Buy Now Cry Later

Public Functionary opened its third—and final—installation of the year on Friday. “Buy Now Cry Later” by Patrick Martinez is a solo show that examines the contemporary crisis of mainstream consumerism. An L.A. born and bred artist who is of Filipino, Mexican and Native American heritage, Martinez studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. This exhibit at the Kickstarter-funded gallery in Northeast Minneapolis is Martinez’s first in the Midwest.

Public Functionary proves the perfect size for this intimate and thought-provoking collection. The room has been transformed into the landscape of L.A. with walls painted the bright colors typical of homes in urban California.

What’s immediately striking about Martinez’s art is his velvet hammer subtlety. Neon signs that read “Money Order$ Everything” and “Pawn Your Dreams For A 9-5” demand a double-take and beg the question of what we are, in fact, giving up to satisfy our insatiable need for consumption.

Martinez makes these social statements via juxtaposition. The pedestrian nature of the fluorescent signs clashes with the bourgeois elegance of the paintings. In “beer, wine and guns,” a firearm is shoved casually into a fruit bowl next to an unassuming 40-ounce of Olde English 800. What’s disturbing about this piece isn’t the weaponry or the malt liquor—it’s that they don’t look so out of place on the dining room table.

And what of the delicate, fluffy fake cake that features the picture of hardened gangster rapper Tupac? Even the concept of a birthday cake for someone who will celebrate no more birthdays is a morbid statement cloaked in buttercream…and a tempting one at that, were it edible.

Indeed, food is a consistent theme throughout Martinez’s work. “Buy Now Cry Later” begins with “break bread…gluten is not free,” a cheekily-titled still life of baked goods and pastries. Further on, Martinez pairs Flaming Hot Cheetos, Wild Berry Skittles, and a Coca-Cola alongside a skull in a piece called “what’s the problem.”

Martinez—who said he’d been treated to Matt’s Jucy Lucy and Monte Carlo’s chicken wings while in town prepping the show—both condemns the nutritional vapidity of these foods while also highlighting their abundance in his art. We know these things are bad for us—just like guns and greed and alcohol—but we can’t stop ourselves from abusing them. These are sad and illuminating truths, not unlike the art itself.

As the exhibit winds to a close around the far side of the gallery, Martinez’s work becomes more abstract. Rather than tidy squares and clean lines, Martinez uses shattered acrylic plex with red and black paint violently slapped across its surface. The titles tell grim stories: “domestic violence still life” neighbors “I don’t have the words to express the way I feel, but I do have this bat,” which rests on the floor.

The last piece in the show is a plain black square, outlined in blue neon, hung high on the wall. It’s called “I still don’t want to talk about it.”

Martinez admitted the piece was autobiographical.

“The neon has become very popular, especially online,” Martinez said. The artist felt the signs had, well, painted him into a box. “That piece, it’s a step back.”

One senses Martinez, who said he enjoyed the opportunity to don a heavy coat and his beanie while in chilly Minnesota, has plenty more up his sleeve.

“We want to surprise people every time,” Tricia Khutoretsky, the director and curator of Public Functionary, said of the gallery’s mission. They’ve certainly accomplished that this year with their emphasis on culturally diverse installations and out-of-state artists. Khutoretsky hinted that 2014 will bring more local acts to the forefront while ensuring high quality art is accessible to all. They’re also partnering with The Lab to make owning art affordable. Khutoretsky showed off the 5x7 prints of Martinez’s work that will be available for $125 during the show’s run through December 20. As for the rest of Martinez’s pieces, which range from $2,800 to $6,000?

“Everything has its price,” Khutoretsky said with a smile.

“Buy Now, Cry Later” indeed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Erica Rivera Speaks At Macalester College

Erica Rivera spoke to students at the Psychology Department of Macalester College. It was Rivera's fourth invitation to speak at her alma mater since the publication of her memoir Insatiable (Penguin, 2009). The undergrads read three chapters of the book as part of their Psychology of Gender course. Rivera graduated from Mac in 2001 with a double major in Psychology and Spanish.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Erica Rivera Interviews Margaret Cho

Q&A: Margaret Cho

Born and raised in San Francisco, Margaret Cho began performing comedy at the age of 16. Her big break came shortly thereafter when she won a comedy contest and was awarded an opening spot for Jerry Seinfeld.

Now known as the “Queen of All Media” and a “Patron Saint for Outsiders,” the 44-year-old Cho has incited laughter worldwide, starred in several network and cable television series, recorded a Grammy-nominated comedy music album, toured an off-Broadway one-woman show, and boogied her ass off on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Multitasking aside, Cho’s strength truly lies in her stand-up routine. Nothing is off-limits, not even the ins and outs of colonics, porn video rental habits, or her distaste for anal sex. Of all her jaw-dropping material, however, Cho’s most beloved subject is her Korean mother, whom Cho impersonates so hilariously that even she gets a kick out of Cho’s performances.

Vita.mn spoke to Cho in anticipation of her appearance at Thursday’s installment of WITS.

Q: How autobiographical is your stand-up routine?

A: I think it’s all autobiographical. A lot of it is stuff that happened recently or not too long ago. It’s all pretty much memoir.

Q: In one of your stand-up routines, you said that when you started, an agent told you that Asian people are never successful in entertainment. How did you, and do you continue to, combat that stereotype?

A: I just didn’t care about it. I just kind of continued on. You hear a lot of different things when you’re starting out, regardless of race or gender. I really loved the art form and I didn’t really care about anything else. It was more important to me to just do it and try.

Q: How do you reconcile speaking openly about sex when the tendency towards women who do is to slut-shame?

A: It’s an important topic. I think it’s okay to talk about whatever you want to talk about. For me, it’s really liberating. It’s less about judgment of others than it is about what satisfies me as an artist. I’d rather do what I think I should do as opposed to worrying about what other people think.

Q: You’ve also been upfront about having had an eating disorder. How has the entertainment industry affected your body image? How do you feel about your body now?

A: It was really hard when I was younger because I was so affected by what people would say about my body or about my weight. Now that I’m older, I don’t really care. I don’t really think about it. I try to be happy with where I’m at. I think there’s all these levels of satisfaction that you have, especially if you come from that kind of history. I’m at an age where it doesn’t make a difference to me. I don’t care anymore.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who experiences or witnesses discrimination? Is humor an effective way to interrupt the cycle?

A: Humor is a way to cope with the suffering from it. There’s a lot of things that can be gained from having a sense of humor. You can deflect everything if you have humor.

Q: Do you feel like the entertainment industry has changed since you started or is it still rampant with stereotypes and discrimination?

A: I think it’s different. There’s more multi-culturalism. There’s more different kinds and types of people that we’re hearing from, especially with the Internet. I think the mainstream sort of remains the same but we have a larger universe to navigate.

Q: You are active in the anti-bullying movement. What about that cause specifically spoke to you?

A: I grew up feeling isolated and bullied. This is something that kids really have to deal with if they’re queer or are just not the same as the other kids and it’s very hard. It’s wonderful to be able to support them and get some awareness about it out to everyone.

Q: Is there anything you won’t joke about? Does anything offend you anymore?
A: I think the intention of humor, in general, is noble. If you’re going to entertain someone, you want to make someone laugh. So I don’t know if I would be offended by somebody with that intention. I don’t know what offends me anymore. I’m always looking for that spark of people trying to entertain one another and I think that’s what comedy and humor is about.

Q: You’ve been an advocate for gay marriage. For you, personally, is marriage something that you’re interested in or does that not fit your lifestyle?

A: I think it is very important. It’s about family. It’s about connection. Mostly I’ve been involved with marriage equality because I want the government to treat everybody the same. It’s important to have equality more than anything else.

Originally published on Vita.mn in Nov. 2013.