Born and raised on the mean streets of San Francisco's Mission District, Rio Yanez is a multimedia artist, photojournalist, and gallery curator. He has a degree in photography and media from the prestigious California Institute of the Arts (Calarts).
In addition to being an artist, Yanez also dons a Mexican Wrestling mask and assumes the identity of El Rio. As El Rio he fights in the name of equality for Latinos and against foes who want his casket closed. El Rio has appeared in video, photographic, and comic book projects as an avenger who "Never kills for the thrill but cuts for the cause."
The life of Rio Yanez has been largely shaped by his experiences as the only child of two semi-famous Latino artists and growing up and finding love in the Mission District. Other Wonder Years style moments in his life have included being robbed at gunpoint inside a McDonalds, getting drunk for the first time under the tutelage of artist Chynna Clugston-Major, the first time he kissed the love of his life, and winning a freestyle rap battle in a crowded Detroit nightclub (okay, maybe not that last one). His favorite artists are Jaime Hernandez, Nikki S. Lee, Shizu Saldamando, Pierre et Gilles, and Daino.
Having dodged more bullets than Neo in The Matrix, much of Yanez' work is a meditation on the urban Latino experience . His latest project is a series of photographs entitled Ghetto-Lomography. The images document the cause and effect of gentrification in the Mission District with a Lomo Fisheye camera.
Yanez has exhibited at Galeria de la Raza, the Mission Cultural Center, and the Richmond Health Center. His most recent curatorial project was Color Exchange a collaborative exhibit featuring contemporary artists from California and Tokyo's Tama Art College. He currently works at the South of Market Cultural Center and is on the photo staff of the bilingual newspaper El Tecolote.