2 for 99¢

Jim Mendiola, Rubén Ortiz-Torres

Exhibition: Jun 22 – Nov 26, 2023

2 for 99¢ showcases the artistic collaboration of Jim Mendiola and Rubén Ortiz-Torres, a relationship that began during their residency at Artpace San Antonio in 2001. While independently selected by Mexican curator Cuauhtémoc Medina residency, the two artists began to explore their mutual interest in history, popular culture, and monuments resulting in a multi-media installation. Their residency installation featured San Antonio’s most popular historic landmark, the Alamo, with a particular focus on the site’s multi-faceted personifications (a blend of myth, conquest, holy shrine, tourist site, and archeological site). The dialogue created in their Artpace residency exhibition continues to be ,a subject of contestation, where ideologies and histories continue to collide. 

Since their residency at Artpace, both Jim Mendiola and Rubén Ortiz-Torres have continued to explore mainstream American histories, monuments, and the influence of Chicanos on pop culture  in the United States. The artwork in 2 for 99¢ reflects Mendiola and Ortiz-Torres’ decades-long friendship and shared approach to storytelling, combining biting critique with wry humor. Throughout the space, the audience is presented with an array of mediums that mine moments of cultural exchange and the globalization of popular culture. Photographs by Ortiz-Torres’ are displayed frameless, sparing all pretense. The images were originally used as props in an early screenplay by Mendiola, which revolved around a Latina photographer documenting taquerias in and around San Antonio. The Mapping of the Mascot Genome is a collaborative series of digitally manipulated videos which blend baseball players and fans with cultural rivals Ballapeño and Puffy Taco; the official and unofficial mascots of the San Antonio Missions since 1989. Their mutual appreciation for the baseball stadium’s on-field antics showcases the celebration of Mexican American cultural icons.

Created across decades, the exhibit 2 for 99¢ weaves together photographs, video graphics, 3D immersion, and mural work that produces a masterful commentary of the that is at once poetic, disturbing, and hilarious.


Jim Mendiola

San Antonio, Texas, USA

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.

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Rubén Ortiz-Torres

Los Angeles, California, USA

Rubén Ortiz-Torres was born in 1964 in Mexico City, Mexico. He received his BFA in visual arts from the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, Mexico City, and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to attend the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, where he earned his MFA in 1992. Working in various media, Ortiz-Torres has exhibited his work throughout the United States and internationally. Exhibitions and screenings include the Galería de Arte Contemporaneo, Galería OMR, and Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, Mexico; Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Getty Center for the History of Art & the Humanities, Los Angeles, CA; Museo Nacional Centro Cultural La Raza, San Diego, CA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY; SITE Santa Fe, NM; and, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Antonio, TX.
Ortiz-Torres’s work has been collected by such prominent institutions as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, and the New York Public Library, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Grunwald Art Center for the Graphic Arts, UCLA Hammer Museum of Art & Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Mexican Museum of Fine Arts, Chicago, IL; Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain.
Ortiz-Torres has received numerous recognitions and awards for his art including grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts (2000), Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (1999), Andrea Frank Foundation Award (1997), and a TVVS, PBS shared grant (1993). The artist has written abundantly on contemporary art and culture. Recent co-authored books include Customized: Art Inspired by Hot Rods, Low Riders and American Car Culture (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, New York, 2000) and Desmothernismo (Smart Art Press and the Huntington Beach Art Center, Huntington Beach, CA, 1998). The artist is an associate professor of studio art at the University of California, San Diego.
Cuauhtémoc Medina, independent curator and art critic from Mexico City, Mexico, selected Rubén Ortiz-Torres 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

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