My City

Artist Abraham Cruzvillegas Gives CULTURED His Ultimate Guide to Mexico City

Image courtesy of Abraham Cruzvillegas.

Mexico City is more than just home for Abraham Cruzvillegas. The prolific artist's precarious, often sprawling works of sculpture mirror and heighten the freewheeling, scrappy construction tactics he witnessed growing up in the city's Colonia Ajusco neighborhood. This ingenuity is crucial to his almost archaeological process, which involves collecting and repurposing the materials available in his immediate vicinity, like discarded objects or the stone of old buildings.

New fragments of this environment are born out of existing ones, their true meaning uncovered or otherwise amplified. Cruzvillegas equates his signature method of “autoconstrucción” to one’s journey of self-discovery—each piece of a sculpture is a portion of that which makes us who we are. Who better to clue CULTURED in on the pulse of CDMX ahead of the city's annual Zona Maco art fair, which opens tomorrow evening? Below, the artist, writer, and cultural critic offers the ultimate guide to his hometown haunts.

Where are you right now? What do you see, hear, and smell?

I’m working in my studio. I’m looking at the beautiful hammock woven to represent a dragon fruit, a gift from Mónica Manzutto. I’m listening to "Juguete de nadie," from Puerto Rican Power’s album Men In Salsa, and I just ate a little green matcha Kit Kat, while sipping an espresso macchiato.

What’s the best neighborhood for a visitor to stay in? Any hotel recommendations?

Hotel Downtown, right there, in downtown Mexico City, near Zócalo square.

Where do you go to escape the crowds?

I go to Cosmos, my barbershop in Tacubaya, after or before stopping for a good steamy menudo bowl at El Matador, across the street from home.

What are you most excited to see during Zona Maco?

I love seeing friends visiting, inviting them to my place or to my studio.

Artwork by Wendy Cabrera Rubio, on view at Salón Silicón in Mexico City. Image courtesy of the artist and Salón Silicón.

Your ideal art-viewing itinerary?

National Autonomous University campus’ murals and architecture, Anahuacalli Museum, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s studios designed by Juan O’Gorman, Museo del Chopo, Museo El Eco, Salón Silicón, Galería Agustina Ferreyra, and Kurimanzutto.

Favorite place for a quick bite?

Tlacoyos outside El Chorrito market.

Best place for a late-night drink?

Cantina Montejo, in the corner of Nuevo León and Benjamin Franklin.

Underrated Saturday-afternoon activity?

Visiting La Murciélaga bookstore in San Miguel Chapultepec.

Who hosts the best dinner party in town?

Ticuchi. They serve delicious snacks, and the ambiance is cool, normally with a good DJ.

If you’re in need of a bathroom while out and about, where do you go?

Any Sanborns bar…

Go-to spot for dancing?

MiMi: they have the best sound system ever, and the place is nicely crafted in wood.

Rosetta in Mexico City. Photography by Maureen Evans. Image courtesy of Rosetta.

What is your pick for a local restaurant you can actually get into for dinner?

Rosetta in colonia Roma: the best in town.

Favorite places to shop for clothes?

In Tepito you may find all brands you can imagine, hysterically cheap…

For gifts?

La Ciudadela Market, Fonart, Onora.

For everything you didn’t know you needed?

La Merced Market.

What is something someone can do, wear, or say to look like a local?

A big issue about gentrification is that people started hating visitors pretending to be "local," so you better act naturally, do your thing the way you would do it at home, and as much as possible avoid cursing using Mexican slang.

Any tips for getting the most out of Mexico City?

Teotihuacán pyramids. It’s a whole day trip, but it’s still a good spot after some centuries of experience.

For insider tips on how to navigate cities around the globe, check out David Castillo's guide to Miami, Gisela Capitain's tour of Cologne, and Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel's advice for visiting Paris