For PT 1, click here
"COMIC POP: Art by Javier Hernandez" opened on Saturday, April 3. After a whirlwind couple of days in San Francisco, touring comic shops, enjoying the great food in the company of my host/curator Ricardo Padilla, and a return to Wondercon, it was time to get ready for the art show.
After a great breakfast of chorizo and rice and beans at a great little 'hole in the wall' Mexican restaurant in the Mission District (courtesy of the Padilla Family), I took this photo by the giant map that was painted on the wall.
Planning out my tour/invasion of Mexico. With comics, not Conquistadores!!
Later in the afternoon, we arrived at the Gallery, ready for showtime. Here's the front window display:
On the left of the table are 3 tiny paintings, complete with easels. On the right is the famous painting of Choco.
Hanging on the left side of the window is my EL MUERTO screenprint I made while an artist-in-residence of Self Help Graphics in Los Angeles.
Mia Gonzalez, the owner of the Encantada Gallery of Fine Arts. Mia's store/gallery is filled with great art, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to exhibit there.
Among the friends who showed up that evening were Dale Berry and Miguel Delgadillo. Dale is a cartoonist who I met years ago while doing conventions in the Bay Area. His graphic novel series, TALES OF THE MOONLIGHT CUTTER, is now up to 4 volumes. He's always been an extremely amicable person, and I really enjoy catching up with him in the Bay Area. Dale did an EL MUERTO pin-up for me, which was published in EL MUERTO:MISH MASH. Miguel I've also known for some years. He actually worked with me on a project I came up with back in 2005, MEXICAN INDEPENDENT COMIC BOOK DAY. A tour I conceived to coincide with Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16), featuring myself, Rafael Navarro (SONAMBULO) and Rhode Montijo (PABLO'S INFERNO). As Miguel lived in San Jose, he was able to approach a couple of bookstores in the Bay Area to host us for the two-day tour. I suggested to him that we should perhaps try another one, 5 years after the first one.
Dale (L), myself (in a beatified moment of artistic bliss) and Miguel.
Michael Aushenker was actually celebrating his birthday, right in the middle of my art show! And on my right: curator, patron of the arts and good friend, Ricardo Padilla.
Ricardo's wonderful daughter (and Executive Assistant Curator!), Sophia. Sophia was exceptionally helpful in promoting the show, and she's a great El Muerto fangirl!
Sophia's brother Andy even performed during the show, playing guitar and singing Beatles and Los Lobos songs (what a great mix!). If we ever make EL MUERTO 2, perhaps we should have Andy take the lead role??
Me and a sea of ladies! To my immediate right (in the glasses) is Rosalinda, the lovely wife of Ricardo. A true benevolent spirit, that woman.
I have to note that the lettering was personally hand-cut by Ms. Sophia Padilla. A real nice touch, very DIY.
To cap off the evening, Miguel joined me and the Padillas for a cross town drive to Toto's Pizzaria, what Rosalinda calls 'the best pizza in San Francisco'. Who am I to argue with a gracious host? And actually, that pizza was damn delicious!! I'm going to ask, insist, that the next time I'm in San Francisco, we partake of that pizza again...!
The next morning was Easter. Kinda weird not spending it with family, but then again, the Padilla's couldn't be nicer people to spend time with. Early morning, I went for a walk in the nearby Golden Gate Park with Rosalinda. The park, smack dab in the middle of the city, was such a relaxing breather from all the comics and art and frenetic city escapades. It felt good walking some of that pizza off. Course, later, for breakfast, we all went to Chinatown where I was introduced to a mouth-watering breakfast of Dim Sum! Geez were those beef/shrimp filled dumplings heavenly!
Later that afternoon, as the rains came, we returned to the Gallery, as I was scheduled to conduct a cartooning workshop. With the heavy rains, and the fact that it was Easter, we had way less people than we hoped for. But then again, what can you expect on Easter?
My cousin Monica came out to visit that Sunday, and she helped us finish off the sangria from the night before!
After closing up the gallery that afternoon, we once again met up with Michael Aushenker. He was at Wondercon, appearing on a 'Jews in Comics' panel that day. Mikey joined me, my cousin and the Padillas for dinner at a great hamburger joint called Nations. After that, we topped off the day, the weekend really, with a San Francisco tradition, Mitchells' ice cream. Mike and I try to go to Mitchell's every year when we go to APE (Alternative Press Expo). We've been there late nights, in the rain, and there will be tons of people in line! The homemade ice cream is just that exquisite!
Monday morning was time for me and Michael to head back to Los Angeles. To say the weekend was a great time would be an understatement. Before we left that morning, Ricardo joined me and Mike for one last meal, this time in Oakland, at a favorite breakfast haunt of mine and Mike's: Ahn's.
What better way to start a road trip home than with a classic American breakfast?
I certainly could never thank Ricardo enough for putting together my solo art show. And as for the hospitality he and his family had shown me all week...Well, let's say I am forever in their debt. Knowing them though, friendship is more than enough to pay that bill!
Interstate 5, about an hour or so North of San Francisco, heading home.
I've been driving up and down the 5 Freeway since 1998, when I packed up my car and drove up to San Jose to sell my first black & white, photocopied copies of my first EL MUERTO comic book. Since then, every year I've been going back and forth between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Mostly for comic conventions, but once to attend a film festival where my movie played, a couple of art shows and signings. Once or twice just to visit friends and vacation. But mostly 'work'.
It's hard to think of these trips as work though. Sure, I'm selling my art, promoting my brand, networking with others. But really, all this has, for me, been a real privilege. To be doing what I love, making my comics and art, sharing it, selling it, has been wonderful. And at the same time to have been so fortunate to have done so alongside some of the best friends I've ever had, and met so many great fans and made so many new friends, well, I have to thank God for the honor.
The hard work, the hang-ups, the pain in the neck moments. They've been such a meager price to pay for the full package.
I'm ready to jump back on the freeway and drive off into more opportunities. Even at $3-$4 a gallon!