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Food Arts


The Great Tortilla Conspiracy in action.

A Friday night at a gallery in the Mission District can be, at the very least, an illuminating experience.  Who knows what might happen? Will there be performers naked save for body paint, a guerilla marching band or a fully stocked ice cream truck handing out free rocket pops and “subversive” literature? I’ve seen all of the above.

Last Friday, at a benefit for the Red Poppy Art House held at the Mina Dresden gallery, a belly dancer, live nude model and a handful of San Francisco chefs vied for attention, while guests sipped good Italian wines and gin and tonics (made with Distillery No. 209 gin). Best of all, The Great Tortilla Conspiracy was on hand. The Conspiracy, the brainchild of Rio and Rene Yañez, bills itself as “the world’s most dangerous tortilla art collective.” The artists heat-transfer images onto corn tortillas, ranging from traditional Milagros-style art to the decidedly more edgy portrait of a thugged out Frida Kahlo (think neck tattoo, swilling from a 40-oz. of malt liquor).

Though they tackle larger social issues with their tortilla art (including themes of identity, immigration, the high price of tortillas in Mexico and the rise of transgenic corn) it can also be taken, happily, on face value.  It was the best part of Friday’s event and now can be added to my “Friday night in the Mission” list: body paint, guerilla marching bands, ice cream trucks AND the Andy Warhol of tortillas? This is a great town.