Hey y'all! So after tossing the idea around for a couple of months, I finally decided to start an official YouTube channel for my work and vlogs that I want to do about the growing art and music community that has been growing here in my hometown for the past few years. If you know me in person, you'll know I have a complicated relationship with my hometown which it's slowly becoming better. I'm making these vlogs to help me appreciate the good things that we have here and to show that there is so much more to this than what the news and media portraya it to be. Hope you'll subscribe and stick around to see how all of this plays out! Below is the first vlog I made about a new store that has recently opened up here in Laredo. They are a big supporter of the local art and music community so I hope you enjoy the walkthrough. 

December 2015 - Austin Trip

(Scroll down for the photos from this trip!)

For a couple of months, my friend Shellee Laurent and I had wanted to get out of town for a while. We'd been wanting to take a break from Laredo in hopes of replenishing our minds and even get some sort of inspiration. My friends over at AcoustiCanvas were having a "Holidaze" show and vending opportunity so we took it as an excuse to get out and just go have some fun and try to make some extra cash on the side.

The morning of December 11th, we loaded up my car, grabbed some coffee and embarked on our little adventure! Despite the crazy truck drivers switching lanes without checking their blindspots, the drive to Austin went smoothly and took about 3.5 hours (as per usual). Shellee and I talked the whole way over and only stopped at Buck-ee's for cough drops since I had been getting sick and a quick restroom break. As soon as we hit the Travis County line, my excitement to be back in the city was radiating out of me and could not be contained.

Our first stop of the day was of course food. We decided on burritos from Freebird's since we'd actually had been craving a good burrito just days before. On the way over to the South Congress location, I was showing Shellee all the places I had been and talked to her about all the good memories I've had and the other awesome restaurants that were just right down the street from our destination. She seemed to have liked the vibe the city was giving off and it was honestly such a perfect weather day that it gave a better likeness to it.

After eating half our burritos, we decided to hit up the HOPE Outdoor Gallery (aka Castle Hill). We ended up spending a few hours walking around and just taking in the city from the amazing view on top. We saw a couple of graffiti artists working on their craft (one in particular named @____flat____) and even spotted @DaddyOtis walking around but wasn't able to say hello to him since he was talking to a couple of folks and then disappeared when we got back to the bottom. We even had the chance to talk to Lakey for a brief moment as he was eating what seemed to be a giant cereal marshmallow treat. I pointed out to Shellee all the cool pieces on the wall done by graffiti artists that were part of the Spratx family and that I followed on Instagram. We were slightly bummed that we didn't bring any cans to do a bit of painting but as we were walking out, we saw a little trailer that was selling some nifty spraypaint. (Assuming they were some of the folks from Spratx.) We bought a black and a green/tealish color and did a couple of cheesy things where it wasn't blocking or covering any cool pieces that were already up.

Since it was getting close to traffic time, we decided to head north so we could be closer to our vending destination later in the evening. We decided to stop at Terra Toys to go see if my wonderful friend Liz Hermanson was working. Luckily we were able to catch her at good time. We caught up for about an hour and talked about a million things. Luckily she's one of those types of friends that you continue from where you left off even though you haven't seen each other in a while. It was like if I had just seen her the day before and we were still living close to each other. She shared some exciting news with us and she said that EAST went very well for her, so I was very happy to hear that. Shellee bought her kids some cool gifts and we had a fun time looking around.

Finally we headed to our main destination for the night. Since I had not been near the Lakeline area very much, I had the hardest time finding the Austin School of Music over there. So bad to the point where I turned into a nonexistent road and onto some grass. We called my friend Jasmine Jew to help us find our way. Luckily we were in the right plaza, just on the wrong side. We unloaded the car and set up our tables. I was so excited to see all my artist friends such as Jasmine, Amber & Christina (from the Austin Batbox), Angel, Brenda (also known as GrannyGoodfish), Anissa, and Mooncat. As the night progressed, some of my other Austin friends joined us. I got to see my best friends Alexis and Anastasia. Even got to see my art school friend Rachael and her boyfriend and finally got to meet Jaime, one of my Instagram friends, in person. For some reason the vending part was a blur. I met a bunch of new folks and even talked shop with some guy who was starting his own screenprinting set up. I remember drinking half my beer and feeling already buzzed since I was feeling the high from all the excitement and not eating dinner.

Then as always after an art show, some of my friends, Shellee, and I headed downtown to go get a couple of drinks and go dancing. Now this part was more of a blur than anything. I was fine, I did not drink much but I was feeling the cold I had kicking my ass but I pushed through it. As per usual, we hit up Barcelona and Rain on 4th. We met up with my hometown friend BJ who I hadn't seen in a very long while and even got to see my friend Jerry Martinez. Since we were staying with Anastasia for the night and she had to work the next morning, Shellee, Anastasia, and I headed back to her place. (Shoutout to Stephen and Anastasia for being so kind and letting us crash with her.)

The next day we got up early since Anastasia had to work and we normally don't sleep much anyways. We were both feeling the night before hitting us but we were alright. We got lunch at Mesa Rosa off of FM 620 with my friends Angel and Priscilla Serenity since Priscilla was not able to go to the AcoustiCanvas show and we hadn't seen each other in a year. It was very nice seeing her again since she has been offline for a while. Alexis also met up with us there one last time before we headed out so it was a good time.

As we were finishing eating and paying our tab, I got a message on Twitter from my online friend Matt Magill asking if we could meet up for drinks since we were in town. I slightly panicked 'cause I was definitely not expecting a message from him and especially 'cause I rarely check my Twitter messages and I was surprised that my phone even alerted me. I asked Shellee if she was up for meeting another artist and she gave the A-OK. I messaged him back and we ended up meeting at Stay Golden. The first thing I noticed about him was how amazingly tall he was. Like I still can't get over the fact. (Sorry, Matt!) He bought us a couple of beers and we sat outside and all talked for a good while. He definitely remembered a lot of things about me that pretty much made me blush 'cause he's one of my favorite artists living in Austin. I definitely felt really shy the whole time (and slightly hungover) but I was very excited to have had the chance to have met him. He even gave me one of his drawings, a print, and a bunch of stickers and that I was blown away by his kindness! Since I had my art stuff with me, I gave him a couple of my pieces in return. We all took a picture together but had to take several because I didn't realize my manual focus was on.

Finally, we said our goodbyes and headed out to do a couple of last things before we returned to Laredo. We wanted to go to ToyJoy but since their newer location was downtown, it was hard to find cheap parking especially where they are located. But since we were in the area and wanted to get some sweets before we left, we went to Voodoo Doughnuts. We got there at the perfect time and it only took us a few minutes to get our treats for our families.

The trip back seemed to have taken forever. Maybe because we were tired, sleepy, and we kept stopping for small breaks. By the time we hit San Antonio, my cough was worse than ever, I was losing my voice, and my mind was going numb. But we made it back in good time and after dropping Shellee off, I passed out for 12 hours.

I feel like this was a much needed trip for the both of us and I feel like it's made our friendship stronger because we were able to be around each other for over 24 hours and we still had a really good time. All my friends loved Shellee and thought that she was the sweetest. I don't think I have felt as happy as I did then in a good while so it was great to have done this trip. Even writing this a couple of weeks later, I still feel that high from the trip. It put a lot of things into perspective that I had been trying to push away or just didn't realize how I was feeling internally. It helped me realize that I really need to push myself creatively and find a way to get back to Austin. It's going to be hard and might take a while but I really need to do what makes me truly happy. Laredo is home and always will be no matter what. But being in Austin has turned me into a better person and I truly enjoy the big city life.

So as the year comes to a close, I've been looking back on all the things I have accomplished and done. I've been a part of several shows and even had my first solo show, which even though it was just at a cafe, it's still a pretty big accomplishment for me. I've been a part of a print trade, worked with a model for my "clothing line", done a lot of vending ops, and I am very thankful for all of it. I'll be making another blogpost soon with photos that summed up 2015.

Thanks for reading and for all the love and support. So let's give it up for the new year!


Ashley Tristán

Laredo Free Art Friday

Since moving back to Laredo, I've beenntrying to get involved in the art community more. At first it was kind of rocky but now I feel pretty comfortable to the point where I'm going to shows by myself, meeting new folks, and being highly aware of all the cool art things going on around town. One awesome thing that has been happening is Laredo Free Art Friday. My artist friend Shellee Laurent had made a post about Free Art Friday sometime back in January. We talked about it for a bit and she suggested we start it up a group for it. Now we have a Facebook page and having been getting a lot of positive feedback. My friend Louis San Miguel wrote an awesome article about us and it came out in the local paper today. I woke up this morning to a bunch of messages about it. So it's been pretty exciting! I have bittersweet feelings about my hometown. I love it because it is home. But sometimes it's hard for people to want to change around here. So far all of this have been a positive experience and I am so grateful for that. Hopefully we'll be able to do more creative things with Laredo Free Art Friday. I am looking forward to the future.


Me and Oil Paints Don't Mix

For some reason I have never been able to get the hang of painting. Granted that I never had an art class before college (shocking, I know) so I was not really able to practice like every other art kid I knew in college who had taken art classes in middle or high school.

My very first painting class was actually really awesome. I felt cofident even though I had no skills compared to others. Plus, my teacher was sarcastic and had a dark humor so I liked her a lot even though half the class thought she was terrible. She wasn't bad at all. In a way, I guess she reminded me of myself but as an older lady. (I could spend an entire blog post talking about her but that will be saved for another day.)

The next painting class I took was with a completely different teacher. Since day one, I had gotten a really bad vibe from her. I tried to ignore it but as the semester went on, I just wanted to throw turpentine on her. She was very peculiar and always wanted me to do things a certain way. She even asked me once why I paint so oddly. I told her that one: I had never taken painting classes until a semester ago, two: I was primarily a printmaker, and three: I wanted to go into design but I didn't get accepted into the program. She scoffed at me being a printmaker and said that it was such an outdated form. Then her and the TA decided to basically to write off a whole list of art professions that didn't have to deal with painting. That same day, another girl who was also a printmaker mentioned that she wanted to be an illustrator. My teacher's faced dropped and basically told her that there weren't that many illustration jobs and that our school was meant for "serious academic artists" and not for people who wanted to paint cartoons. I found this kind of ironic because one of her star painters wanted to be a game designer and all he ever did was anime/manga-like paintings. Clearly this woman played favoritism. She was also really judgemental about our ideas and anything to deal with culture was automatically written of as folk art and she hated it. Another thing was that she let people in our class to also use acrylics instead of oil and even let some girl do embroidery on canvas but she didn't want to let me use watercolor because I probably would be able to handle it. Jokes on you lady, I had taken watercoloring classes before and I excelled in them. So all in all, I basicallly started to hate painting because she drove me nuts and put a lot of bad thoughts in my head.

After that class, I promised myself that I would never do painting again. With my luck, I was forced to take another painting class because there were no other art classes available that worked with my schedule. This time around I had a teacher named John Yancey. He was this tall older black man who had an awesome voice and was always super chill. He was always interested in everybody's stories, their background, and appreciate different types of art forms. He was the painting version of Lee Chesney who was the head of the printmaking department, which later we found out that they both shared an office together. Anyways, John made me feel comfortable with painting again but I was still always on edge. I told him how my last painting teacher destroyed me and he understood how it affected the way I worked. To make me feel better he would talk to me about my Hispanic-Latin@ art club, politics of being a PoC, and even talked to me about printmaking. John Yancey gave me hope in painting again.

Finally it's been a year and a half later and I've decided to pick up a paint brush again. I still feel those negative emotions nipping at my neck but I'm trying to push passed it. I told myself that if I wanted to be a better artist and learn to be more confindent, I needed to push passed my comfort zone and practice every medium there is. 


So here I am back at square one and I'm trying. 

Open Avocado

"Come give me your heart, I will put it in a jar on the windowsill like an avocado." - Kim Boekbinder


Some nights are harder than others. I see all these things happening around me and I want to move. I want to be a part of it, but I stay stuck inside my human shell. Austin became my home these past two or three years and now I miss it every day. It's been hard to cope with the move. It's been hard to cope with the heartbreak, but that doesn't matter much anymore.

While talking to a close friend the other day, I came to the realization that the recent drawings and sketches I have been doing have become very symbolic of the past two years. I realize that right now I am stuck in my head. Stuck in an imaginary place that feels a lot like purgatory where I am trapped in a giant white space fighting with my own thoughts. I feel like god and the devil are raging inside me some days tearing me apart. I really don't like to talk about what happened anymore. I spent the past two months explaining to many friends what happened, questioning why it did, and becoming unsure of everything that I had done or what I was even doing. Two months of staring into a blackhole that sucked the life out of me. You can ask me what happened face to face, but other than that, I am pretty much done with it for now. It has inspired a lot of my work lately. It's been different than what I had been doing.

Somewhere in the transition of all this, I found my old self. Pre-heartbreak, pre-art school. In a way, I have been taking some elements from her and fusing them with the reinvented person I am becoming. I am becoming aware again of who I am and who I want to be. Hopefully I'll be able to escape this shell and push myself to get back home.

Migration & Other Nomadic Notions

Life has tossed me through a loop again and right now I am currently stuck in Purgatory. While I've been here, I've decided that it was time to reinvent myself. Art school put me through a terrible creative block because it was always "don't do this, don't do that, illustration sucks" etc. Now that I'm out of school and moved out from a very negative household, my ideas and ways of seeing have been changing and I even revisited the person I was prior to the whole messy situation. I was in Austin for the past three and a half years and the just within the past year and a half I got involved with some negative vibes that basically made me filter everything I did or said. It drained me, broke me down, and made me turn into this bitter person I had never seen before. I lost all motivation and dreams that I had. I turned off my happiness for the sake of others and it killed me. A couple of months have passed and I have been rebuilding myself again. I'm feeling better, I've been producing more work and ideas. I've been making new friends and connections that I wouldn't have had before. My happiness has not fully returned but each day that goes by has been better and better. Finally taking care of myself again and finding confidence with each step I take. Hopefully by the end of all this, I will be back in Austin. I give myself at most two years because as much as I love my hometown, I have become a big city gal.

With all that said, hello and welcome to my new site! Decided to migrate from one web host to another so we'll see how all this goes. Hopefully will be producing some good stuff this year!