MY TOWN: Mexico City’s
Miguel Calderon Prefers the City’s Non-Chic Side
“I hang out with musicians mostly. Sometimes I feel like a rapper,” says 34-year-old artist and Mexico City native Miguel Calderon, sporting a Black Flag T-shirt and a big grin. “I could diss so many tight-ass artist types!”
Calderon is sitting in La Covadonga, a cantina filled with the noise of clinking glasses and conversation, surrounded by an ever-changing crew of friends that includes filmmakers, set designers, writers, and, yes, musicians. “Tomorrow night will be better,” he forecasts, referring to the all-night party happening directly upstairs in celebration of Mexico City’s third annual film festival.
Yet Calderon never makes it out the next night. Instead, he finds himself recovering from a full night of partying, a full day of film-festival screenings, and the looming opening of his untitled (“very schizophrenic,” as he describes it) solo show, now on view at Mexico City’s new gallery, Kurimanzutto.
Best known outside the fine-art community for his paintings of masked bikers in the wilderness (one is prominently displayed in Wes Anderson's Royal Tenenbaums), Calderon -- who has been represented by the Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York for the past 12 years -- could be considered a bad-ass: “I like to be able to break the law without major consequences,” he blurts out. “I feel I have absolutely no limitations.” That’s exactly why we enlisted him to be our Mexico City tour guide.
“I like going from one side of town to the other, because I often feel I’m in different countries,” says Calderon, who spends more time at “random bars” than trendier, tourist-ridden spots. “When things build up here, they explode like nowhere else,” he adds, referring to spots such as the sleek rooftop bars at the Condesa DF and Habita Hotel, which attract a nightly crowd of trust fund kids and fruit-juice heirs; as well as the ultra-modern, light-flooded gallery spaces of OMR and Nina Menocal, which have recently earned international buzz.
Despite the city’s past reputation as a mecca for kidnappings and muggings, a new slew of boutique hotels, burgeoning contemporary art scene, and non-stop nightlife have provided a much-needed facelift. But Mexico City’s 26-million-strong population and 400 colonias (districts) ensure you’ll find more than just slick minimalist interiors.
So where do Calderon and his friends hang out? There’s the late-night, always-crowded taqueria, El Califa, just down the street from Calderon’s house: “My favorite taco is called Gaono -- yummy!” Or, he heads 20 minutes away to Downtown, “where I end up meeting criminals of all sorts.” There, he spends time at El Centenario: “I’ve been drinking that place dry for more than 10 years.” Or, Xel Ha, when El Centenario is too full: “I love this place. There’s a bit more space and you can consume whatever you like.” And, of course, Covadonga -- “which used to be an escape, but now it’s really hip, especially on Thursdays. As you can see, cantinas rule my world.”
See more of Miguel Calderon and Mexico City on psychopedia.com’s Dusk 2 Dawn
Check out Calderon’s solo show (“It has no title and is about coming up with things without trying to think about them too much”), currently on view at Kurimanzutto, Mazatlan 5 depto., t-6, col. Condesa 06140, 52 55 5286 3059, kurimanzutto.com
Condesa DF houses a rooftop sushi restaurant and basement screening room. 102 Avda. Veracruz, Condesa, 52 55 5282 3100, www.condesadf.com.
Hotel Habita screens films (like Barbarella and Sex and Lucia) on a building facing its rooftop bar, Area. 210 Avda. Presidente Masaryk, Polanco, 55 5211 5280, hotelhabita.com
El Califa, 22 Calle Altata, Condesa, 55 5271 7666
La Covadonga cantina, where you’ll find Calderon most weeknights, Puebla 121, Roma, 55 5533 2922
El Centenario, Vicente Suarez 48, Michoacan, 55 5211 0276