Interview with POW! WOW! founder Jasper Wong

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Please introduce yourself to the L.A. TACO readers. Who you are and what you do?

My name is Jasper Wong and I’m the founder of POW! WOW! Primarily a mural festival that has become an art and music school, creative community centers, and more. It’s currently held in Hawaii, Texas, California, Taiwan and Japan.

This year is Pow!Wow!’s fifth anniversary. Congratulations. Please describe what Pow!Wow! was when you first started and what it has now become in 2015.

POW! WOW! originally started as an excuse to bring my friends together and paint. A very simple idea that became much larger in scale over the years. What began as a gallery exhibit became a mural festival with 100+ artists painting 70 murals over a period of a week. We’re now expanding globally and creating related programming with our free art and music schools for the youth.

You have taken artists to Hawaii, Taiwan and just recently to SXSW in Austin. How did your journey bring you to Long Beach, California?

There is always a passionate group of people in each city. Individuals that strive to bring art to their city. This is the key ingredient. Long Beach has that in spades. Amazing people that provided a ton of support and helped to bring POW! WOW! to Long Beach.

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Artist Alex “Defer” Kizu at POW! WOW! Hawaii 2015.

To date, only a few artists (Bumblebee, Craola, DabsMyla, SketOne and Witnes are examples), have created legal murals in the city Long Beach. Was it a difficult process to bring Pow!Wow! to Long Beach?

There are always a myriad of obstacles to overcome. It’s never easy, because we’re trying to convince building owners to allow us to paint on their walls. However, Long Beach’s defining quality is their people. The people of Long Beach have been incredibly gracious and generous. It wouldn’t be happening without everyone’s support.

What are your expectations for this inception of Pow!Wow! in Long Beach?

It’s our first foray into Long Beach. We’re just hoping that it is well received and the community enjoys the splashes of color we’re adding to the city. We only have the best of intentions and we’re just hoping to bring people together through art, educate and beautify. If we achieve those things then I’ll consider it a success.

Please give our readers your impressions of the Los Angeles art scene? Also, how does the L.A. art scene compare to the international art scene?

The Los Angeles art scene is one of the best in the world in my opinion. There is such a wide diversity of artist living in the city and some of the best artists all live in LA. We hope we can add just a little more to an already amazing scene.

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The Family Portrait from POW! WOW! Hawaii 2015

Do you have a particularly favorite taco spot in LA? What do you order?

To be honest, I don’t know the names of the spots I’ve been to. I just follow blindly to taco restaurants that my friends take me to. I’m a fan of lengua, so any place with a solid lengua taco is a favorite in my book.

As renowned artist yourself has this venture held back your creative process? Do you have any particular projects outside of ​POW! WOW! that our readers and your fans should be aware this coming year?

​It has to a degree, but it’s also inspired me a ton as well. Watching some of the world’s best artists paint in front of me has been both mind-blowing and educational. I once painted a six story mural in Washington D.C. and utilized a lot of techniques that I learned from POW! WOW! There are a few projects that I’m working on. This includes toys and other collaborative efforts. I’m hoping to paint more soon, but it’s tough to find time when we’re putting together about 4 to 5 festivals a year.​

I want to thank you for your time, we all know your a busy man. Any last words for the L.A. TACO readers?

Thank you so much for supporting us. I look forward to meeting you all at POW! WOW! Long Beach.

Photos provided to us by POW! WOW!.

Keep up with POW! WOW! via Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram.

For information about locations, participants and other events taking place during this week long event visit, POW! WOW! Long Beach.

We Are L.A. ~ Rudolph A. Porter

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Welcome to the first edition of We Are L.A., a regular column by contributor Meet Frankie C. This column’s purpose is to introduce you to interesting people living in our city through photography. Frankie C. roams Los Angeles with his camera, looking for stories to tell and visions to share. The results will be published here regularly…

“This is my favorite image. For me, it just highlights our relationship in this one photograph. For 7 years straight… at the time I would perform in the house of Muhammad Ali, who is still a dear friend of mine. This day while he was on the phone I heard a knock at the door, so I leaned over I told him someone was knocking, and you know Ali had a very serious tone to his voice when he spoke. So he umm said “Man, i’m on the phone can you just get the door?!”. You just had to be there, In that moment the housekeeper shot this image.”

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Celebrating Romana Acosta Bañuelos, Founder of Ramona’s Mexican Food Products

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Everyone knows Ramona’s Mexican food products, especially their frozen burritos which have been available for years in supermarkets and convenience stores all over California. If you grew up in this area, there’s almost no chance you haven’t heated up and eaten a Ramona’s burrito at some time or another.

What you may not know too much about is the amazing life story of Romana Acosta Bañuelos, founder of Ramona’s, which started as a tortilla factory back in 1940. Romana was born in Arizona in 1925 (she turned 90 last month), but due to anti-immigrant backlash and the great depression, was forcibly “re-patriated” to Mexico in the early 1930’s by the U.S. Government. Back in Mexico, young Romana learned the basics of Northern Mexican cuisine, including the baking of tortillas and other staples.
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Dorian Lynde ~ Unbroken

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The following piece is by artist, author, and activist Phil America, who we welcome into the TACO universe…

In early 2015 I met up with Dorian Lynde, a Canadian artist, to photograph her while working on her year-long photo series Peace By Piece. The series itself is more than just a collection of photos, it is a performance. It is a meditation. It is a reminder. It is a lesson on life. The photos show her work with “unbroken meditation”, a practice she took on over the one year’s time in which she broke a piece of china(porcelain) every day and glued them back together.
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Video: Big Sleeps x Psycho Realm Signing

Tattoo artist Big Sleeps dropped a new series of t-shirts with Los Angeles based rap group Psycho Realm. L.A. TACO’s own Erwin Recinos was in attendance for the first leg of the release at the Tee Shirt Spot on Pasadena Ave. in Lincoln Heights, and made the video seen above.

The Photography of Meet Frankie C

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We first met Frankie C. when he shared his remarkable photos of Sikhs in Los Angeles with us earlier this year. His low profile and humble approach are rare in the era of social media and self-promotion, but his work speaks for itself. A native Angeleño, Frankie is deeply connected to the people of Los Angeles, and you can see that in his portraits of the city’s residents, and the details he captures on his sojourns around every part of L.A. Please enjoy this selection of his photography along with a Q&A with this emerging local artist.

What’s your favorite taco?
-Cheese tacos from Taqueria El Tapatio in Glendale. Traditionally made with cheese in between 2 small tortillas. I’m hungry thinking of them now.

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SAND ONE Presents “The Bottle Issue” Charity Event in DTLA

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One thing I like better than beer is a great cause. Come out and support an incredible one on Thursday, April 9 at Ebano’s Crossing (http://www.ebanoscrossing.com) during the Downtown LA Art Walk with the one-and-only SAND ONE (www.sandoner.com).
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RIP TEEN ANGEL ~ By Richard Castor

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Artist Richard Castor is one of the successors of TEEN ANGEL, and is the art director of TEEN ANGELS magazine. Teen Angel died last weekend, here please find Richard’s obituary and tribute to his friend and mentor.

This past weekend a friend and I were in Arizona selling T-shirts and TEEN ANGELS MAGAZINES. About 2 years ago, I began building and working on the magazine along with the sons of TEEN ANGEL. We had a successful weekend promoting to youngsters, and making veteranos reminisce about the good old days they spent with the magazine. People became followers once again, or for the first time. The hard work was paying off. At the end of the weekend, we received the News that TEEN ANGEL, the founder of the magazine had passed on. Many close to him knew he was in his last days, but the news still came much too soon.

TEEN ANGEL was a legend. An artist and pioneer, and founder of TEEN ANGELS MAGAZINE. Many are unaware of the impact and influence this one man had in the lowrider and the kustom communities, not to mention the people of the Varrios across the Southwest. His influence today has even stretched out to parts of the East coast, Japan and Europe.
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Interview with Artist Scom RK

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In the past two years SCOM RK has been placing his characters in high traffic areas for the people of Los Angeles to view. With a specific style that blends his unique characters into graffiti productions, billboard & bench ads, SCOM has found a niche that melds graffiti and street art. L.A. TACO’s own Erwin Recinos was able to interview SCOM and get some insight into his art.

What crews do you rep?

RK.

What’s the story behind the name SCOM?

It stands for Society Creates Only Monsters. I came up with that because I used to write odd / obnoxious phrases on walls. For instance I would write on an elementary school, “here at ___ school, we like to brain wash your kids and make them feel like idiots”. Or, “Jesus is not the only person who loves you, Lucifer does too..,” on a church. So I found myself writing “Society Creates Monsters” more and more often on things, but it wasn’t until my friend told me that I should shorten it into an acronym and write an actual name – “because you’re confusing people out there.” [laughs] So I added the Only and that’s the story behind Scom. Why I started painting… that’s a whole different story.
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The Photography of Rick Rodney

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Rick Rodney is a Los Angeles native who grew up in the Valley and toured the world as the frontman of hardcore band STRIFE. He began documenting the moshpits, stages, and people he met on his travels and back home in Los Angeles. The quality of his compositions and his ability to find something special everywhere he looked led to photography taking over his life and becoming both his passion and his job. We’ve long admired his work for its tenderness, attention to detail, and no-compromise style no matter who he’s shooting for.  Plus it’s always a lot of fun to see the madness and brotherhood of a really good mosh pit. Please enjoy this interview along with a selection of recent works. 

Favorite taco spot?
I love the homie Steven Arroyo’s spot Esquela for the restaurant vibe. His food is insane, authentic Angeleno, and he has the best taste aesthetically. And the refried beans are the best I’ve ever had… Seriously. There used to be a truck called Tacos Tamix right by my building near Macarthur Park that make my favorite Al Pastor but they had to split (I think they’re down near Pico/Union now).

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Sikhs of Los Angeles ~ Photography by Meet Frankie C.

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Photographer Frankie C. is an L.A. native with a deep appreciation for the city and its residents from every culture, neighborhood, and lifestyle. He was recently invited to the Sikh Gurdwara Temple in North Hollywood to observe and document the rituals and community there, and make portraits of some of the temple’s members. Please read his statement on the project, and then enjoy the images he created.

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