When José Esparza Chong Cuy took a job as a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art last year, he came with a mission: to spotlight artists from south of the border. The Mexico City transplant, 32, had made a name for himself back home with shows like Pasajeros, about the influence of artistic visitors from abroad on Mexico. I Am You, his second curatorial project at the MCA, runs through April. Here, he shares some favorite things.
Hidden local gem
The young galleries in West Town: Volume, Document, and Western Exhibitions, which are a block from my home. Efrain Lopez and Anastasia Tinari Projects, too.
Best Chicago meal
Carnitas Uruapan in Pilsen is superauthentic.
My signature garb
Guayabera shirts by Mexican designer Carla Fernández.
Marina City and the Mies buildings on Lake Shore—I’m a trained architect. I was about to sign a lease in the Mies towers but thought I shouldn’t live so close to the MCA if I wanted a social life.
Fashion item I’ll never retire
Vans Old Skool low-tops. They’re timeless. Eight-year-old kids and 70-year-old men can wear them.
The Graham Foundation. The Madlener House it occupies is incredible; everything it presents is impeccable.
The Architects Club by Carlos Huber. He re-creates historic spaces through scents. This one’s based on a real 1900s architects’ club: leather and tobacco.