Month: May 2014

Jose Aldana with Aldana’s Restaurant in Santa Fe New Mexico

I had the great honor of photographing Jose Aldana, the owner of Aldana’s Restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico on May 31, 2014. The restaurant has a family, mom and pop atmosphere and serves Mexican and New Mexican food. The most popular plate comes with a tamal, an enchilada and a sopapilla (fried pastry) covered with red or green chile sauce. The restaurant appeals to Mexicans, Mexican Americans and New Mexicans alike.

Jose is originally from a little town called Jilotepec located in Estado de Mexico, which is a state in central Mexico. As a young man he worked in the fields in Mexico. When he moved to the United States, he started washing dishes, sweeping floors and later began to prepare food. His experience in the restaurant industry let him to start Aldana’s Restaurant with the help of friends and family.

Mr. Aldana has come a long way. He said that he remembers his life in Mexico merely as his “infancia” (childhood). He has spent roughly 22 years in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His life has been mainly shaped by living and working in United States.

Jose Aldana with Aldana's Restaurant in Santa Fe New Mexico

Jose Aldana with Aldana’s Restaurant in Santa Fe New Mexico. May 31, 2014.

Jose Aldana with Aldana's Restaurant in Santa Fe New Mexico

Jose Aldana with Aldana’s Restaurant in Santa Fe New Mexico holds a menu at the main entrance. May 31, 2014.

Miguel Angel Torres and his wife Evelia Segura with “El Tapatío Tacos y Tortas” in Santa Fe New Mexico

Started in 2009, El Tapatío is a lonchera or “food stand” housed in a truck based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s a small, friendly place with a family atmosphere that serves lunch and breakfast. The founders are Miguel A. Torres who is originally from Aguascalientes and his wife Evelia Segura who is from Guadalajara, Jalisco. Both states are located in central Mexico.

El Tapatío serves tacos, tortas, burritos, campechanas, sincronizadas, enchiladas, menudo and more traditional Mexican snack foods or antojitos. The menudo plate is apparently a big hit at El Tapatío. The Saturday I visited the food stand, there were plenty of customers requesting it. Furthermore, Miguel has a humble sign that he places on the sidewalk to advertise menudo. The sign reads “hoy tenemos rico menudo” in hand written, capital letters.

El Tapatío Tacos y Tortas in Santa Fe New Mexico

Miguel Ángel Torres Galván and his wife Evelia Segura with with El Tapatío Tacos y Tortas in Santa Fe, New Mexico. May 31, 2014.

El Tapatío Tacos y Tortas in Santa Fe New Mexico

Miguel Ángel Torres Galván and his wife Evelia Segura with with El Tapatío Tacos y Tortas in Santa Fe, New Mexico. May 31, 2014.

Theresa Gonzales Co-Director at La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque NM

I met Theresa Gonzales at La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The organization works with the most marginalized and vulnerable population of the South Valley, which is a neighborhood just south of Albuquerque. Theresa experienced an unfavorable upbringing due to poverty and addiction problems in her family. She also faced education barriers and spent time in the streets. She refers to that experience as “street knowledge”. Despite the odds, she is an avid learner and is constantly looking to improve not only her life but also the community of the South Valley, New Mexico.

The South Valley is also referred to as the Town of Atrisco or the Atrisco Land Grant by people in the area. Theresa is a land grant heir of 2 historic land grants – the Town of Atrisco and Cañón de Carnué.

Theresa Gonzales Co-Director at La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque NM

Theresa Gonzales Co-Director at La Plazita Institute holds the organization’s Impact Model. The main categories are Personal Development, Family Wellness, Community Engagement, Institutional Engagement and Cultural Healing Services. In the background to the right, there is a photography exhibition highlighting La Plazita Institute’s programs. South Valley, New Mexico. May 30, 2014.

Theresa Gonzales Co-Director at La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque NM.

Theresa Gonzales Co-Director at La Plazita Institute poses in front of a mural that symbolizes oneness of spirit. The mural makes reference to Indigenous people, land, and water. The eagle represents strength, transformation and resiliency. Mural by Lonnie Anderson. South Valley, New Mexico. May 30, 2014.

Theresa Gonzales Co-Director at La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque NM.

The tattoo represents Theresa’s spiritual and physical journey. It represents her hardships in life, her transformations, her Indigenous roots, and desire to help others in need. The tattoo depicts a dragon, an Aztec serpent, a jaguar, an eagle among other symbols. Photographed at her office at La Plazita Institute on May 30, 2014. Mural in the background by Woody Bitsie.

Ali Morales and his family in The South Valley in New Mexico

Ali Morales is 25 year old enthusiastic law student from Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua. He is a first generation Mexican American and is setting up roots in the United States. His wife and young daughter Aliana were born in the United States.

Ali’s plan after finishing law school is to practice law in the areas of Criminal law, immigration and worker’s compensation. He currently works at a law firm called Abogado Elias Law that serves Mexican Americans and Hispanics in the South Valley, New Mexico. The South Valley is located just south of Albuquerque.

I asked him what the term Mexican American means and he replied that he thinks of someone who immigrated to the United States from Mexico. He considers his young daughter, Aliana, also to be Mexican American because she has an American mother and a Mexican father. “She is a Mexican American, she represents both cultures” he said.

I also met Ali’s parents and sisters at their home in the South Valley. We drove south of Albuquerque for like 20 minutes and we got to a neighborhood outside of the city. When we got there we found Ali’s dad, Jesus Morales, working on a project to restore a mobile home. We toured the backyard and gathered the family for some photos.

I would like to thank Ali for inviting me to his parent’s house to get a glimpse of Mexican American life in the South Valley.

Ali Morales and family in Albuquerque's South Valley

Ali Morales with his wife Mercedes and their daughter Aliana. Photographed on May 28, 2014 behind Abogado Elias Law in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Ali Morales in his small office at Abogado Elias Law Albuquerque New Mexico.

Ali Morales in his small office at Abogado Elias Law in Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 28, 2014.

Ali's father Jesus Morales at his home's backyard

Ali’s father Jesus Morales at his home’s backyard in Albuquerque’s South Valley. May 28, 2014. Jesus Morales has a home construction and remodeling business.

Ali Morales with his family in Albuquerque's South Valley.

Ali Morales with his family in Albuquerque’s South Valley. From left to right: Mercedes, Ali, Jesus (holding the dog’s leash), baby Aliana, Manuela, Jessica and Diana Morales. May 28, 2014. South Valley, New Mexico.

Ali Morales with his family in Albuquerque's South Valley.

Ali Morales and his family inside their home in New Mexico’s South Valley. From left to right: Jessica, Diana, (sitting down), Jesus, baby Aliana, Manuela, Mercedes, and Ali Morales. May 28, 2014.

Alma Martinez Owner of Nena’s Food in Albuquerque New Mexico

Alma Martinez is from Mexico City. She learned to prepare antojitos (Mexican snack foods) from her grandmothers and her mom. Alma has continued the family tradition by establishing Nena’s Food in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a third generation preparer and seller of antojitos such as quesadillas, and pambazos.

Alma has lived in Albuquerque for 15 years but still identifies more with the Mexican culture than with the American one. Learning English has been slow for her but that has not been a big obstacle for her business. She has family members that help her out in case translation is necessary.

Alma loves Albuquerque and is proud to have her business in the city.

Alma Martinez with Nena's Food in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Alma Martinez with Nena’s Food in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photographed on May 28, 2014.

Alma Martinez with Nena's Food in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Alma Martinez with Nena’s Food in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photographed on May 28, 2014.

Alma Martinez with Nena's Food in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Alma Martinez with Nena’s Food in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photographed on May 28, 2014.

Alma Martinez with Nena's Food in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Alma Martinez with Nena’s Food in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photographed on May 28, 2014.

Frank Chavez Restores Vintage Chevrolet Cars and Trucks

I visited Frank Chavez’ auto shop on May 25, 2014. Mr. Chavez specializes in restoring Chevrolet trucks 1937-54 and cars from 1935-65 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I spent a few hours talking with him about low rider symbols such as dice, tattoos, religious symbols.

The conversation started because Mr. Chavez took out a book from his archives called Low ‘n Slow: Lowriding in New Mexico by photographer Jack Parsons. It’s a beautifully illustrated hardcover book that illustrates the culture of low riders in northern New Mexico.

Mr. Chavez is also a member of the Duke’s Car Club Albuquerque Chapter. According to the club’s web site, the organization is “the world’s oldest lowrider club in continuous existence.”

I met Mr. Chavez at the 30th Annual Car Show presented by the Albuquerque Museum and the New Mexico Council of Car Clubs on May 18, 2014.

Frank Chavez with Duke's Car Club Albuquerque Chapter

Frank Chavez specializes in restoring vintage Chevrolet Trucks and Cars. Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 25, 2014.

Frank Chavez with Duke's Car Club Albuquerque.

Frank Chavez with Duke’s Car Club Albuquerque Chapter. Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 25, 2014.

Frank Chavez with Duke's Car Club Albuquerque

Frank Chavez with Duke’s Car Club Albuquerque Chapter. Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 25, 2014.

Eliseo “Cheo” Torres author of “Curandero A Life in Mexican Folk Healing”

Eliseo “Cheo” Torres is the author of “Curandero A Life in Mexican Folk Healing” and “Healing with Herbs and Rituals” with Timothy L. Sawyer, Jr as editor. Both books were published by the University of New Mexico Press.

Eliseo Cheo Torres

Eliseo Cheo Torres author of Curandero A Life in Mexican Folk Healing. University of New Mexico. Albuquerque, New Mexico.  May 22, 2014.

Eliseo Cheo Torres author of Curandero A Life in Mexican Folk Healing

Eliseo Cheo Torres author of Curandero A Life in Mexican Folk Healing. University of New Mexico. Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 22, 2014.

Eliseo Cheo Torres author of Curandero A Life in Mexican Folk Healing

Eliseo Cheo Torres author of Curandero A Life in Mexican Folk Healing. University of New Mexico. Albuquerque, New Mexico.  May 22, 2014.

Juanita’s Comida Mexicana

In the Barelas neighborhood of Albuquerque, New Mexico I found Juanita’s Comida Mexicana. It’s a Mexican Restaurant run by Juanita who is originally from Namiquipa Chihuahua. She offers food inspired by her hometown’s ranch. Food prepared at Juanita’s Restaurant is enjoyed by Mexicans and Americans alike. She told me that Americans love the food because it reminds them of the food their grandparents would cook. Photos from May 20, 2014.

Juanita with Juanita's Comida Mexicana. Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Juanita with Juanita’s Comida Mexicana in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Barelas Neighborhood. May 20,2014.

Juanita with Juanita's Comida Mexicana. Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Juanita with Juanita’s Comida Mexicana in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Barelas Neighborhood. May 20, 2014.

Juanita with Juanita's Comida Mexicana. Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Juanita with Juanita’s Comida Mexicana in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Barelas Neighborhood. May 20, 2014.

Freddy Gutierrez and his 1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe

I visited the 30th Annual Car Show presented by the Albuquerque Museum and the New Mexico Council of Car Clubs on May 18, 2014. In the show I found a 1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe with a Mexican American themed interior. The car was customized by Freddy Gutierrez with Duke’s Car Club of the Albuquerque’s chapter who was kind to let me photograph his vehicle.

Inside the car, in a small tray, there is a cracked black and white photograph of Freddy’s dad who served in World War II. The car seats are covered with Zarapes and a Howdy Doody toy rides in the passenger’s seat. The mix of Mexican and American references inside the vehicle in very interesting. As a third generation Mexican American, Freddy pays tribute to his Mexican origins and embraces the American culture. I was very happy to make these images.

Freddie Gutierrez honoring his dad Frank Gutierrez

Freddie Gutierrez honoring his dad Frank Gutierrez. May 19, 2014. Albuquerque, NM.

Freddie Gutierrez and his Low Rider Memorabilia

Freddie Gutierrez and his Low Rider Memorabilia. May 19, 2014. Albuquerque, NM.

Freddie Gutierrez and his 1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe

Freddie Gutierrez and his 1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe. May 19, 2014. Albuquerque, NM.