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Van Ma grew up in San Francisco. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in Human Biology and a minor in French Literature. Having left her heart in San Francisco, she returned to work across the Bay Area as a behavioral therapist, teaching verbal and nonverbal children with ASD. She maintains an active lifestyle by practicing yoga and running daily. In her spare time, she loves to read at local cafes, work on art projects, watch sports, and rock out to country music. Wherever she is, Van loves to try new restaurants and check out events around the city. She lives by the motto: “I work to live and I live to travel,” so she always looks forward to local and foreign adventures.

The McLoughlin Gallery In San Francisco Presents American Family By Cristobal Valecillos


A glimpse of The McLoughlin Gallery during the opening reception of American Family.

The McLoughlin Gallery is a warm and inviting gallery located in lively downtown San Francisco. The mission of the gallery is to educate and intrigue by showcasing unique and colorful work from established and emerging contemporary artists. A portion of proceeds generated benefit Glide and Stanford Breast Cancer Research. The gallery is currently showcasing American Family by Cristóbal Valecillos.


MoE, Joan McLoughlin, Cristóbal Valecillos inside the cardboard house.

With a trademark editorial style and provocative narrative, Valecillos has been in the film industry for two decades, creating commercials and music videos. His past and present projects include working with  artists such as Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, and Madonna. I was fortunate enough to sit down with the Venezuelan native, Los Angeles based artist amidst the hectic installation. Valecillos uses his film background to help him create emotions and feelings through the characters. “[In film] every second is 24 frames or 60 frames. With a picture, you have to tell a story within one frame.”


Shine – Archival Digital Print on Metallic Paper. Photo credit: Cristóbal Valecillos

His latest body of work is a reaction to the diversity of American society and taps into the world of today’s family. The American Family captures the ever-changing influx of backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures in our society. Valecillos emphasized his inspiration stems from the variety of cultures that exist from coast to coast and is honored by the possibilities people, including himself, are open to by moving to America. The artist observes, “There’s so much we can do and we can actually make things happen. Some other people are not so lucky.” The models, Valecillos informs me, are all second or third generation American families. He looks for models that people can connect with and invites each to be a part of his vision and the story.


Broken – A young boy is sad his bicycle breaks and his sister shows compassion. Photo credit: Cristóbal Valecillos

Valecillos has had the opportunity to meet and interact with a wide range of people from celebrities to the homeless from the East to the West Coast which is exactly what encouraged him to capture the American family. Valecillos offers this for thought: “All the famous people, they have it all…You look at them twice and you think really? Are you happy? Because happiness is not driving a $300,000 car…Or marrying a fabulous gorgeous girl or a super handsome man.” However, the other extreme is that some people choose to live in cardboard boxes.  He continues to explain, “I talked to a few people; they just got tired of paying bills, having a job…For a lot of people being homeless is a way of living; it is a choice.”


Valecillos spent the eve of the opening reception collecting boxes from the streets of San Francisco to finish the house.

Valecillos chose to use cardboard and other recycled materials as the vehicle for creating the story and the architecture. For him, recycling is not just throwing paper into a bin. “It is about giving materials a second chance and turning it into something beautiful,” says the artist.

Joan McLoughlin, the gallerist, was eager to showcase Valecillos’ work, “I really wanted to represent work that makes you think. I like how he has been able to take cardboard and trash and make it elegant.” The exhibition also incorporates an installation component so the viewer can become immersed in his work and the story from the minute they walk through the door.

Go check out the thought provoking pieces. You will not be disappointed!


Valecillos contemplates the perfect position for the bicycle.



Friday, March 29, 2013 until Saturday, April 27, 2013.

Tuesday – Saturday from 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.


The McLoughlin Gallery
49 Geary Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94108
Ph. 415-986-4799

PARKING: Click here for information.


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