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Thursday, December 25, 2003

Hello Ya'll! I know it's been a long time but hey I needed the break! Also, this blog was really a prototype of a facet I wanted to test and for now I'll just use it as a update of sorts for the ArtsReach program and Brownsville. I have gotten some good cotacts in Brownsville (purley as reserach) and Frank and I are still waiting on word from from the UT staff. Wait...wait.. wait...that's the way of beauracracy (did I speall that right?). I wish we had way to jump start this program, but after working in at the International Office for 3 years I can appreciate the slow grind of institutional process being that it makes way for learning and imporving on mistakes much faster, as well as the leverage of teamwork.

Oh by the way, MERRY CHRISTMAS! I have been in Brownsville for a week now and I have realize how much I need my family and how much I need this place. This past tuesday, Elda, Marlene, Frank and I drove around Brownsville and visited two museums, C&C wings (which had good buffalo wings that we all gobbled down quickly) and then to this new cafe downtown called "Greg's Palette" which just rocked! Turns out it is owned by my friend Giana's uncle. I so miss that Brownsville is small feeling. I love feeling those "It's a small world after all" feeling and Brownsville really strached the limit on that feeling. I met someone from Brownsville who was close with my friend Letty in Castiglione, Italy! I miss Brownsville and yeah at first I was bored with my limited choices in recreeational activities but things are changinga and diversifying and I want to be a part of the evolutionof Brownsville and make sure that which is authenic and precious about Brownsville remains an important facet of the future of Brownsville.

Ok, I am going to bed and to play with my niece a bit. Merry Christmas again!

Sunday, December 07, 2003

I know I am running thin on material for this blog. Please excuse me, just finals are thinning me out too and I just cannot concentrate as much as I would like to. So here are some links to art organizations whose resources may come in handy later:

Americans For The Arts
Texas Arts Education Association
Texas Commission on the Arts
Arts Deadlines List
UTB Art Department

Don't you think it would be interesting to create some land artworks at the high-tide lagoons located bween Port Isabel and Brownsville? Sort of like the Spiral Getty in Salt Lake...just not exactly that. I wonder who owns these lands and if anyone has already done some sort of artistic endevaor concerning this landscape. I remember watching countless sunsets and few sunrises driving through these lands and once my family decided to stop and make picnic. Within a few minutes, the mosquitos began to devour us. So if I ever do research for this, I will need to buy plenty of Off Skintastic.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Washinston Park in Downtown Brownsville should be decorated now and having grown up in that neighborhood, I remember going over to see them with my parents. Now the downtown area is pretty much neglected for the "prettier" and modern development in North Brownsville and it really is a sad story. Downtown has so many beautiful buildings that could just use some leving renovation, and which I think would make wondeful apartments and offices. The University of Texas at Brownsville has invested in some downtown buildings, most recently in buying the Amigoland Mall complex. Business went bad for this complex once the renovated Sunrise Mall opened and no arrangements were made to relocate the train tracks that haltered traffic into and out of the mall. I think the city could have lobbied more for the removal of those tracks, but I think that had to do more with politics and less with red-tape logistics. Now UTB uses the space for classrooms and banguet hall rentals. It'd be interesting to see what will become of Amigoland Mall in the coming years, and personally I think it will make a wonderful location for a grand concert hall.
I know it may seem like I am comparing Brownsville to something it isn't, to something I want it to be, (like Austin) for one, but that is something I am trying to get past of and I really think people should give Brownsville credit for what is it now and build from there. I cannot lie and say that I won't miss Austin, becuse after going to UT-Austin for 5 years, it really does grow on you. But Brownsville is my hometown and the roots of my character and indentity. I hope that when I return in May, I can bring something substantial to my community. But I still have to get my ideas together and hopefully art will be the best vehicle to understanding my roots.
So one time, I tried to sell my highschool art from my mom's restaurant and nothing sold. But then again who would want my wierd high school art? I guess it would be of no value until I have some sort of art career. When I return to Browsnville, I want to open space at the restaurant for local artists and promote it more. Wish me luck! Maybe it will hit this time!
The 77 flea market, located North of Brownsville along Highway 77 is a great place to see Brownsville culture alive. I went there about a year ago and got some awesome pictures which you can view at my website galleria. There are many colors to be seen and good food like Elotes and Raspas to be tasted! A lot of people also import goods like furniture, stoneware, leather, etc from Mexico to sell here which some Brownsville foreigner may seem as a good deal. But talk to any Brownsville resident, and they may know of some good deals that are not available on the the tourist market.
Charro days has always been a climax point in Brownsville history for the celebrations of culture and the arts. I was little my mother would dress us up in costume for this event that would take 3 days of our year. There would be three parades, a festival, ceremonies with our sister city across the border Matamoros, Tamaulipas, and the carnival would also come into town at the same time. This event also brings in tourists from all around the nation and I can also recall a time when a Canadian came close to winning the "Grito" contest at the Sombrero Festival.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Hey are you a local Brownsville artist? The register yourself at Texas Online Art! Get the Brownsville representation out there!
If you ever visit the local Denny's or any other nice restauarnt establishment in Brownsville, keep a look out for a Mesquite Review magazine stand. This magazine rocks and it promotes and reports on the arts from all over the Rio Grande Valley. I belive it runs on a bi-monthly schedule, but just incase I will also include their website!
I found a website for Sunrise Mall, which is the be at, be all place in Brownsville right now. The site says that about 17 million people visit it each year. I believe it. If the mall could get any fuller, it might become the astronomical location for a blackhole! I think the architecture in the mall is great and I especially enjoy the higher skylights and lighter color scheme. The mall also has space available for art and I am hoping to apply for some space for the ArtsReach program. Hey maybe, they will let me put up an installation but who knows huh? I'll keep you all informed about this.
I found this awesome site about company called NaCo. that is based out of Mexico, City. Brownsville has a strong legion of Rock en Español fans who I think will appreciate the t-shiort designs they have to offer. So check them out. I personally just bought the "Se Habla Español" t-shirt which rockero Juanes sported at the Latin Grammys this year. Es muy chido!
Right now I am in a coffee shop in Austin, and some girls are playing some very awesome piano and violin duets. Except when the girl sings its bad. I think she wants to make it sound cool, bad (like Bjork, Alanis Morrisette or Shakira), but really it's no fun. Brownsville also has some cool coffee joints, although they are not always open to the public at late hours and there isn't enough of a booming college crowd to keep business booming. I heard a rumor that there will be one opening downtown with gallery space so I will have to check in on that.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

I have a question: How come the Chicano movement never got movement in Brownsville? Honestly, I don't think Brownsville has a Chicano culture. The Chicano movement began in the 1960's in California as a social uprising against assimilation and inequality. Therefore, this was a minority culture rising up against a larger macroculture. In Brownsville, the "minorities" are the macroculture. About 96% of the Brownsville population is Mexican-American or of hispanic descent. So an interesting question is, how does Brownsville fit into the scheme of Mexican-American macro-cullture? What is its identity as a microculture? And finally, how do the local arts represent and adapt to these facets?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Right now I am listening to Cyndi Lauper's "Time after Time" and I am magically transported to my younger days in Brownsville, or atleast to a recollection of the dance scene in "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion". I remember when I was in High School all I could think about was getting away from Brownsville, and to move on to the bigger and better things. And honestly in a way I have, but just to different things (not necessarily bigger and better). It is in Austin where I have better understood the culture of my hometown and have learned to better appreciate it. I didn't even know who Americo Paredes was until I came to Austin. I guess the saying "a prophet is not known in his own land" is true. I knew about Rudolfo Anaya before I knew about Paredes, and he's from New Mexico! I love Anaya but you would think I would have known about the major contributions Paredes gave to the scholarly and preservational endeavors of South Texas history and culture. It's kind of sad that you have to get away from your roots to get a better perspective on it, but I guess that's how human nature works. We aren't trained to assess or question the standards or environment we are raised by, rather we deem it righteous to judge other cultures or societies as wrong and out of date or different. Or as in the case for many Brownsvillians as was for me, we deem it right to judge Brownsville without understanding anything about its culture or history. I think that is a big problem with American society as a whole but in essence every society has this problem. If we were all willing to think outside of our own boxes once in a while then maybe our world could be a bit better off, or as to put in analogous form "to walk a mile in someone's else's shoes". The same problem occurs for art. Since childhood, people are trained to appreciate realistic and traditonal art over abstract and modern art. Most people are not interested in art that doesn't have a flower vase or a weeping Maddona. I think it stems from the basic probelm that people prefer not to challenge their own notions of what right and wrong is. Truth is there is no such thing as reality, only perspective. In a way I think artists have an understanding of this and create art to visualize their own reality, their own truth. Okay, I think I have gotten way out of topic, even if there wasn't one. I just think if Brownsville could get out of its own little shell for a moment, they can already see the wonderful beauty of culture and history that surrounds them, rather than look to capitalistic hopes to substantiate their identity as a city. Nothing wrong with capitalistic hopes, hey everyone has a right to dream and make their way in this world. But if it comes at the cost of culture then we need to stop and evaluate what our city's objectives are in terms of building a history and culture that will give back and represent us to the world. I have added some links about Intercultural education (which has a lot to do with the theories behind my argument) as well as to the Brownsville Herald. That Herald site has a pretty cool message board system where people love to give input about Brownsville politics, news and society. Just avoid the squalls betwen McAllen and Brownsville residents who bicker about who has more retail and restaurant chains in their mall. So in final point, if you wish to support a better cultural and social development in Brownsville, then support your local artists and fine arts programs and education.
Hello Blog Readers,
Finals weeks are coming up and so far, everything is consumed in tedious logistics and not in art work. Or if it's in art, then it in dreadful ceramics which I am no good at. The good news on the horizon is that I have a meeting with the finance coordinator of the UT-Austin Art Department on Friday. My friend Frank and I have submitted a proposal about starting an Arts Reach Program in Brownsville for the Spring. So far our proposal has more of a community art bent and we want to go into the community to raise awareness about Brownsville identity and history. It's like Edward T. Hall said "A culture knows the least of its own people." and if I had to put Brownsville in a nutshell then that quote would be the nut, or would it be the shell? Anyways, we have many things in mind, such as creating installations in the mall, making comic books and creating flash mobs. This blog is a protoype of the eventual blog I want to make to stir the creative and artistic juices of Brownsville, Texas, and mostly flash mobs are usually promoted by blogs such as this one. Also check out this site that is specifically dedicated to recent flashmobs in Austin, Texas. Till laters then!

Sunday, November 30, 2003

If you have read my previous entries, I must apologize for my bad grammar. I was never good in grammar and I will never know how I tested out of college english my HS senior year. I attended the Lopez High School Fine Arts Academy in Brownsville and I mostly took art classes. I was under the instruction of Sue Tarrant I think I must have taken an art class with her every semester until I was a senior. The Lopez Fine Arts Academy is a fine program and in 1996 it was one in 5 schools in the nation that received a humanities grant from the Getty Foundation. I was lucky enough to be a student participant for this program and I found it interesting to write a paper in English class on Titian or an analysis of TLC's "Waterfalls" with Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall". I also remember when Ms. Tarrant came into our History course to teach us modern art analysis and how to associate it with our history lessons. You know, it's lessons like these that really open your eyes to the world and to help you understand the humanity behind art and to connect it to your own. I this will always remain a staple of art education at Lopez. It really made me feel like I was a part of something special. Also, check out this recent project the Lopez Art students worked on with The Nature Conservancy.
Hi! Well I was in Brownsville this past Turkey Day weekend and I tried to work in some "research" between eating meals. LOL. I guess that's what every college students does when they go home...Sleep, Eat ALOT, Sleep, Eat ALOT, and the ocassional movie at Movies 16. Well about my research...I went to the Border Patrol office at "El Puente Nuevo-- Viejo"(now outdone by El Puente Viejo--Nuevo and Los Tomates) and I was disappointed to hear that I was not able to collect the clothes refugees leave behind. I was hoping to use them for an installation. The agents were very nice but were puzzled at my request for clothes. It was the same look I got when I went to the Goodwill Blue Hanger at Austin when I paid for mismatched shoes. I will probably not go to the river bank looking for clothes because in reality it does seem like a very dangerous job and I do not want to get shot down by some coyote or mistaken for one by the Border Patrol. Too much danger involved and I think I can recreate a scene for an installation just using items I would collect by a safer means. After I left the Border Patrol, I went scouting the Brownsville neighborhoods for graffitti. Austin has some good graffitti artists and I always think that a community that has a great fine arts venue would also have a counter or underground art community usually occupied by non-traditional artsits like graffitti artists. Please note that when I say graffitti art, I do mean art and not gang graffitti. In larger cities, some gang graffitti may have more of an artistic bent, but as I had noticed in Brownsville, most of the graffitti I saw were scratchy territorial markers by local gangs. I know most Brownsville residents would hate to see a rise of hip-hop graffiti in their community, but I really think that if art is not being expressed through young artists by this mean, then something is amiss in Brownsville art education. Just to clear this through, graffitti has been a part of urban culture since early civilization. From my search, I did not see a concern for aesthetics or conceptualization in Brownsville graffitti. Some how art is still not an embedded presence in the youth culture of Brownsviile. I am still working on my theory, so let me develop more ideas on this before the tomatoes get thrown my way! By the way, I am not a graffiti artist and I don't think I have the guts to be one. I am just aware and appreciative of its presence as an artistic outlet and venue, but I do not support the vandalization of private and public properties. I have added some links about Graffiti to my links list so check them out! It's pretty cool!
Here are some links about graffiti that I want to share. Enjoy!
Texas Graffiti
Keith Haring
Jean Michel Basquiat

Okay. So I have added three links to the Blog's link index. The first link goes to Brownsville Visitors and Tourism Bureau's main site. This site will connect you to all that is pretty. The second link is to my website (yes you may call this shameless self-promotion...well yeah maybe it is. But actually a lot of my work for the upcoming months will derive so much from Brownsville, so keep a look as I will add more to my galleries there.) The third link will take you the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art. II know that this museum will bring many good things to the Brownsville community for years to come. I recently heard that they had a fundraiser at the Ytturia Ranch and charged a $100 p/plate. Which for some Brownsvillians costs a pretty penny, but can you just imagine the fundraisers in Hollywood or Washington, DC where people charge $1,000 - $20,000 per plate?! I hope they came closer to their quota as they are trying to raise money to build their new museum space that will be located in the downtown Cultural Mitte District.
Hello welcome to The Art of Brownsville Weblog. This blog is dedicated to the promotion and dialogue of art and artistic endeavors in the Brownsville, Texas area. My name is Mayra and I will be maintaining this blog. You can learn more about your blogmaster at my website. For now enjoy and I will be posting often as I can.

Art by Rosendo Sandoval - Title:"La que bailo con el diablo " contact:

Art by Rosendo Sandoval - Title:"La que bailo con el diablo " contact:

Historic Brownsville Museum