Born in 1963 in San Antonio, Texas, independent filmmaker Jim Mendiola grew up harboring a strong interest in creative writing, photography, and television. He studied photography at the University of Texas at Austin and, while working at the 1992 TENAZ Theater Festival in San Antonio, was inspired to begin experimenting with filmmaking. Pretty Vacant, his first narrative film, was released in 1996 and funded by San Antonio and San Francisco art grants. The film, about a Chicana punk rocker obsessed with the rock band Sex Pistols, was critically acclaimed and screened in numerous film festivals in North America, including the 2000 Havana International Film Festival and Generation ñ exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. In 1997 he received a Rockefeller Intercultural Media Fellowship, and in 1999, Mendiola was awarded the Gateways Fellowship for documentary research on Mexican-American family photos in South Texas.
The artist’s second film, Come and Take It Day, was chosen for participation at the 2000 Sundance Filmmaker’s Lab and premiered in 2001 at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s CineFestival in San Antonio. Funded by the Independent Television Service Project and PBS, Come and Take It Day will be broadcast nationally in spring 2002. Starring Jesse Borrego and Jacob Vargas, the film uses Texas history as a backdrop for a multifaceted story of betrayal, greed, and friendship. The sequel to Pretty Vacant entitled Speeder Kills is due to be released in 2002.
Mendiola worked as the first Curator of Media Arts at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco from 1995-97 and was the director of the San Antonio CineFestival in 1996. He contributes regularly to The San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Antonio Current, Frontera Magazine, and the Internet magazine Politico. Mendiola divides his time between San Antonio and Los Angeles.
Cuauhtémoc Medina, independent curator and art critic from Mexico City, Mexico, chose Jim Mendiola for his ArtPace residency. Medina has written extensively on contemporary art and is a former curator of contemporary art at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil in Mexico City.