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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

This is a list of influences for my project. Hope you like.

Joe Sacco, comic book journalist.

Love and Rockets:
By the Hernandez Brothers:
Here's a Bio of Jaime Hernandez.

And to a lesser extent for this project, Warren Ellis:

Most importantly "Transmetropolitan."

Friday, March 26, 2004

Here is our VERY UNOFFICIAL Fronteras Cruzadas press release. This version is just for informative purposes and not the official announcement. Our REAL press release will be ready by the end of next week, so if want to obtain to get a copy, e-mail me and I will be happy to send one your way.


The Brownsville Heritage Complex will be the site for, Fronteras Cruzadas, a new art exhibition showcasing border art from five high schools in Brownsville, Texas: Hanna High School, Lopez High School, Porter High School, St. Joseph Academy and Valley Christian High School. The University of Texas at Austin's College of Fine Arts and the University Cooperative Society is sponsoring this event through ArtsReach, a program designed for undergraduate students to establish residencies in their home communities. “The University of Texas at Austin is dedicated to the long term development of the State of Texas as a whole. This wonderful project is an important part of this effort, and I salute the imagination of our young people in making this happen,” says Dean Robert Freeman of the College of Fine Arts.

The resident coordinators, Mayra Cruz and Francisco Diaz, hope to cast light on Brownsville’s local culture and history through an exhibition of local high school artists. "Through this project it is hoped to help students get in touch with local culture and history. It'll open their eyes and increase awareness of their surroundings. It'll show them the importance of history in Brownsville and Matamoros, Mexico and it'll benefit the citizens because it gives them an opportunity to go to the museum and see border art. Too often people forget this museum is here, " says Carmen Zacarias, Executive Director of the Brownsville Heritage Complex which includes the Stillman House Museum. Frank Diaz further comments, “We intend to stimulate curiosity through this project. We feel a working knowledge of history, especially from an underrepresented point of view, is essential for students to understand their role in society, and consequently the world.” The Brownsville ArtsReach program aims to foster this understanding so students can realize art as an opportunity for civic engagement.

The opening reception for Fronteras Cruzadas will be on Saturday, May 15th, 2004 at the Brownsville Heritage Complex located on 1300 East Elizabeth Street, Brownsville, TX, ph. 956-541-5560. The exhibition will be open to the public for two weeks and will be located in the Bruce T. Aiken room until Saturday, May 28th.


“ Artsreach provides an opportunity for students to learn how to give
back to their home communities. The students who participate in the
program follow a very professional agenda in the development and
implementation of a specific project. They learn how to use their
educational training to have a positive impact on a community through
professional collaborative efforts. In turn the chosen community
learns first hand the value that the University of Texas has in
enriching their lives.”
Ken Hale, Chair of the Department of Art and Art History

"While a central aspect of the mission of the University of Texas at Austin is the education and training of our students, we are also dedicated to the long term development of the State of Texas as a whole. The wonderful artistic project in Brownsville put together by Mayra Cruz and Frank Diaz, two of this year's seniors, is an important part of this effort, and I salute the imagination of our young people in making this happen, work notably facilitated by the University Cooperative Society."
Robert Freeman, Dean of the College of Fine Arts

Q: How do you see the art exhibition benefiting the students and citizens of Brownsville?

A:" Well, its helping students get in touch with culture and history. It'll open their eyes and increase awareness of their surroundings. It'll show them the importance of history in Brownsville and Matamoros. It'll benefit the citizens because it gives them an opportunity for people to go to the museum and see border art. Too often people forget this museum is here. "
Carmen Zacarias, Executive Director of the Brownsville Heritage Complex

Thursday, March 25, 2004

The first student seminar is coming up fast! So far we have 4 guest speakers confirmed from the Brownsville community. The most interesting part though is how the students will react to this...will they respond to a room full of leading figures in Brownsville education and culture, giving them their full attention and time? Will they know just how cool this seminar is and how some college students would love to get this sort of personal attention and interest from 4 professionals in one afternoon? Maybe some, but most probably won't. That is what will make the seminars so interesting!

Monday, March 22, 2004

I thought I would put up our most recent ArtsReach program statement so you all can know what's up with the program. Any feedback would be great!


We are two students from Brownsville, Texas who want to give back to the art community of our hometown. Brownsville’s culture and history is a wellspring of artistic inspiration. As a product of the Mexican American War, the scene of the final battle of the Civil War, and a point of great intercultural interaction, it is the second most historical city in Texas. However, we feel that these rich resources are being neglected in favor of homogenization and commercial growth, not only by outside regions, but also by its own residents. We envision a program that would promote awareness about Brownsville’s history and identity, a culture in constant evolution through the dialogue between Mexico and the United States. Issues like immigration, trade, cultural exchange, economy, and education clamor for attention from Brownsville residents. The recent boom of corporate and suburban development has swelled the pride and economy of Brownsville and its residents. Yet this becomes problematic if this new pride homogenizes understanding of Brownsville as a growing commercial center, and not as a unique reservoir of culture and history. It is the local art community’s opportunity to reignite interest in these issues.

We endeavor to strike a match through a community ArtsReach program. It will involve direct communication with residents using art as a platform for cultural awareness. We are currently coordinating an art exhibition at the local Brownsville Heritage Complex, home to the Brownsville Historical Association and city founder Charles Stillman’s homestead. The opening reception will be held on Saturday May 15th, 2004 and will be open to the public at large. It’s an event titled “Fronteras Cruzadas” (crossed frontiers/borders), to resonate the border art theme of the exhibition. We will involve at most 14 student artists from Brownsville’s seven high schools in this project, working in a variety of media, two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and four-dimensional (video, film, performance). Our artwork will also be exhibited, which will also adhere to the theme of the exhibition. We will also offer two students seminars to be held on April 3rd and May 8th. The first seminar will cover the theme of the exhibition by introducing students to border issues addressed in art, history and literature. We have invited special quest speakers from the Brownsville community to discuss research methods and resources available to the students. The second seminar will be an artist workshop, which will introduce the students to conceptual and hands-on methods of coordinating an exhibition and an introduction to the business of art.
I think I've settled on an idea for my part of the show. The one about paralleling the experience of immigrants crossing the river with the experience of suburban kids crossing the bridge to Mexico. Mayra liked it. Then I liked it more. Then I told my Anthropology Professor about it and he called it an MTV type thing. I don't know if that was good or not. So I nodded and smiled back and told him "yeah, MTV anthropology." Then he offered to help me with research, cuz he has tons of stuff on immigration.
I'm happy. Its the Mountain Dew. I'm going to need a lot more Mountain Dew to get through next month.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

LOL. I thought I would share this with you all. I found this quiz called "what novel do you belong in" at this blog called About Last Night which is about the arts in New York City. Pretty good blog. Hope I can make this blog as good as that one some day.

Here are my results by the way. I belong in a Margaret Mitchell universe.

Darling, it seems that you belong in Gone with the
Wind; the proper place for a romantic. You
belong in a tumultous world of changes and
opportunities, where your independence paves
the road for your survival. It is trying being
both a cynic and a dreamer, no?

Which Classic Novel do You Belong In?
brought to you by Quizilla
So much has happened this week in concern to Fronteras Cruzadas that it is difficult to assess the progress that has been made. The progress feels good in Brownsville, but I am so afraid that when I get back to Austin I will learn that something was done wrong. It really is this big juggling act. But so far, the feeling is positive and hopefully it will be the same in Austin as it has been in Brownsville.

I had also found a blog for artist Gary Panter, who has done art for The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, MTV and Rolling Stone. He was actually born in Brownsville and in his blog, he says the local sights and sounds (with their Mexican influence) had influenced his artwork, especially the huge movie posters that used to hang outside the old Majestic theatre downtown.

I will probably do more research on his work so I will post more about him when I can. I also took a closer look at the grafitti on Jefferson and 4th. I have to say it's pretty good. I am sure that the artist had done his research by looking at other grafitti samples and planned the piece because it is well composed. Maybe next time I go to Brownsville I will take a digital camera with me so you all can see what I am talking about. Okay, I have to go to bed now. I leave for Austin in about 6 hrs. I want to avoid the Spring Break traffic so I am leaving early. Goodnight!

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Ok. So I've been in Brownsville for about 1.5 days. I am also realizing that my pool of friends is shrinking. How sad. People get married, move, have babies, get new friends, have lives, and so on...and in the end you feel like this big loser with no friends. Which isn't true, but it feels like that. Is this what happens as you get older? No, I think this is the sort of thing that happens when you've been away at college for 5 years.

But so far, I have been plugging Fronteras Cruzadas to many different people (which is keeping me on a schedule) and will begin work on my artwork in my backyard. My dad and I are going to be cutting plywood and glueing shoes down! I am going shoe hunting which I always find as a blast! I attended my first Comadrazo with the Brownsville Comadres . It was fun to meet these women from the Valley and they were all very receptive to the program and wanting to support our effort. I am glad to know this.

I am also headed to McAllen tommorrow to visit the RGV Texas Commission on the Arts satellite office. (As I write this, the Dave Matthews song comes into my NEways, yes, I am heading into ENEMY territory. As some or some may not know, McAllen and Brownsville have a friendly air of competition between them. Most of it bickering as to what mall has the more popular chain stores in it. Well anyways, I hope to get loads of info tommorrow concerning Rio Grande Valley cultural policy.

Glad to know you like the blog Frank. Don't you like how in my last entry, I included the word HOPE like 100 times? I need to reread what I write more often.
I love that post Mayra. And those are great sunset photos of Brownsville. Especially the one with the Resaca. Yeah I haven't posted much in a while. Mostly out of confusion.

Friday, March 12, 2004


The recent terror bombings that killed nearly 200 people and wounded about 1,400 more in Madrid is a devastatingly tragic and shocking event. It's amazing, and not in the good way, that these acts of horror have to remind us of the constant presence of hate in the world. But despite the presence of hate in the world, we should always, ALWAYS keep a place for hope. HOPE is what will keep the good in humanity alive and hope will never allow the fear terrorists wish to gain from their acts. For now we must keep our thoughts and prayer with the people of Spain and anyone in the world who is suffering the acts of hate; not just by acts of terror but acts of hate in their countries, towns and homes. We have to hope in the goodness in humanity. It is a huge leap but none the less, not impossible. If you ever doubt humanity, then take a look at this photo of millions of Spaniards filling the streets of Madrid, silently protesting the acts of terror, know that you are not alone in striving for hope. We must hope and strive for a better world.

"Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must ever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Last semester I got to see Richard Florida give a lecture about his book "The Rise of the Creative Class". Like so many lectures, I got all excited in the end feeling like I was going to join his legion of creative class innovators. I have yet to sit down and read his book, but be reassured it is collecting dust on my desk waiting for my attention. Anyways, what I got from his lecture and from a bit exploration of his website, he bases his economic research on the role of creative influences in the economy. Here is a bit I got from his website:

"The Rise of the Creative Class gives us a provocative new way to think about why we live as we do today — and where we might be headed. In a book that weaves a storytelling with a massive body of research, Richard Florida traces the fundamental theme that runs through a host of seemingly unrelated changes in American society: the growing role of creativity in our economy.

Just as William Whyte's 1956 classic The Organization Man showed how the organizational ethos of that age permeated every aspect of life, Florida describes a society in which the creative ethos is increasingly dominant. Millions of us are beginning to work and live much as creative types like artists and scientists always have - with the result that our values and tastes, our personal relationships, our choices of where to live, and even our sense and use of time are changing. Leading the shift are the nearly 38 million Americans in many diverse fields who create for a living — the Creative Class.

The Rise of the Creative Class chronicles the ongoing sea of change in people's choices and attitudes, and shows not only what's happening but also how it stems from a fundamental economic change. The Creative Class now comprises more than thirty percent of the entire workforce. The choices these people make already had a huge economic impact, and in the future they will determine how the workplace is organized, what companies will prosper or go bankrupt, and even which cities will thrive or wither."

One of the things he also proclaims is that the gay community has a huge role in the economic devlopment of a region. I am assuming what he means is, if a region is tolerable enough to keep a social climate open to the gay community, then it can also cater to a diverse crowd whom all different needs and wants (mostly recreational and artistic), thus stimulating the region's economy to meet the needs of its diverse and creative consumers. I may be totally off from his point, but I think that touches some light to the matter.

So from his research of about 300 regions in the US, he ranked them according to his findings. He placed Seattle, San Francisco and Austin in the top 10 (Austin being #2, which makes everyone love Richard Florida in Austin). The Brownsville-San Benito-Harlingen region ranked #135 overall, over the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission region's rank of #164, which took me by suprise because most people see the upper Valley as having the upper hand in the valley economy.

He also ranks the cities on the following sub-categories. Here is the Brownsville data with their ranks following: Creativity(114), Diversity-Gay(76), High tech(106), Innovation(257). I am shocked to see the innovation factor so low. I am interested to know more about the data that supports this ranking. His "creativity firm" Catalytix offers their services and a detailed report for any of the regions he researched. I would love to get my hands on the 2002 detailed report for Brownsville, but so far it costs $500. Anyone have spare change for a good cause?

Anyways, I am not proposing that Florida's Creative Class is the save all of the Brownsville economy. But I think it deserves scrutiny and attention. If someone did an economic profile of your region, wouldn't you want to know what they found? Has anyone in Brownsville already studied these findings? It would be good to know.

Just practicing my blogging skills. As some may notice, I've changed the formatting of the blog a bit. I found these great pictures of Brownsville sunsets online at this website. I think Brownsville has some of the most magnificent skies I have ever seen.

I revised my artist statement. It was inspired by my most recent critique about some installations I made about Brownsville. My mind has been consumed in conceptual thought about my art and it's really stressing me out, in the good challenging way that you will learn lessons for life kind of way. I will try to post images of the installation later on during Spring Break.

I really need to do more research on border art and border artists. But I also don't want to get sucked into the Chicano artist/activist train of thought. Is it bad to not want to be identified as a Chicano artist? I just don't feel quite right identifying myself and my heritage to a socio-political movement. And it's not that I don't appreciate the Chicano movement because if it weren't for the chicano activists, I'd have much less privilege to be speaking my mind right here. I just dislike the idea of a label all together. Call me an individualist if you need a label, but I never felt in line with anything much of my life. Even in Brownsville, being raised Southern Baptist within a large Catholic demographic put me at odds; worse now that I am agnostic and thinking of going Unitarian! Also, minority underrepresentation has never been a big issue in Brownsville (on micro-social terms) unless it's an issue for people who are not Mexican-American. Hmmm...that would be an interesting topic to research, how do other ethnicities in Brownsville feel like as minorities in a micro-society with a large Mexican-American demographic that is underrepresented in macro-society? There are so many ways to approach these topics, but I think the most difficult thing is to pin-point what you want to address rather than present an arbituary and general commentary that would just confuse everyone in the end.

I need to involve myself in dialogue about border issues and to find other artists for an exchange of ideas and support. On this topic, I went to a screening of Alex Rivera's "The Sixth Section". This documentary is moving and educational, and prior to learning about his visit to UT, I never knew about the existence of Mexican hometown associations in the United States, raising funds to economically develop their hometown. What was even more amazing was that these small groups have gained political ground and influence in their state from 2,000 miles way. I recommend this documentary to anyone.

About finding artists or people for dialogue, if you are interested in contributing e-mail me. Until then, enjoy the great weather because it's been a beautiful spring!

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Frank and I went to a Franklin Covey (Of 7 Habits of Effective People Fame) workshop on Project Management yesterday to fine tune our management skills for implementation of the Brownsville UT ArtsReach program. Thanks to Dean Dempster who funded our enrollment fees! It went very well until the end when they began to promote their own products. It was a bit demoralizing...we paid $150 for someone to conclude that their products are the best tools to organize our lives with. But hey, whoever came up with the idea at Franklin Covey to use project management seminars to push their own own line was pretty clever. But the actual skills taught in the seminar were actually very usual and for the first time, I feel like I have a grasp on "Fronteras Cruzadas" and how we can approach this project!

Anyways, so things are going underway for Fronteras Cruzadas and so far there are 5 schools on board:

Valley Christian, Hanna, St. Joe, Porter, and I think Lopez. (I need to confirm with them.)
We have yet to hear from Rivera and Pace and it's been difficult to track them down. If anything, persistence will be our foremost tool, which will make us either very effective or very annoying. LOL

We may have to change the location from Sunrise Mall to a museum, which totally deviates from the public art facet of this program. Yes, museums are open to the public, but by using the mall, we wanted to reach a public that doens't usually visit a museum or isn't aware of artistic endeavors in Brownsville. We want to avoid the preaching to the choir effect. We also know that this exhibition would reach much more warrant from the Brownsville public at large by showcasing at the Mall, but so far we may have to pay $1000 a week to use in-line space which we have no room in the budget for. Also, there are issues of security (not just for the artwork, but the actual management of the exhibition since Frank and I would have to return to Austin to graduate leaving no one to open and close the exhibtion for two weeks straight), and mounting (like we can't drill holes into the wall). So far, the cons outway the pros logistically. Hopefully we will have the space issue resolved within two weeks.

Spring Break is also coming up but I doubt I will party hardy. Much time will have to be taken advantage of to lobby and make connections with the Brownsville Fronteras Cruzadas stakeholders. So yes, work is coming, which is a good thing because it means the vision is materialzing getting us closer to a product and an end!

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I think somewhere along the line, I am going to turn this blog into a BONAFIDE website that will be a useful resource for information about the arts in Brownsville in general. It would have useful links and the such that any good, professional website would have. But now I don't have time to devote to a website. Maybe when I graduate and have the grace period between school and work.

The State Board for Educator Certification will most likely pass a resolution on April 7th to allow people with only a Bachelors a temporaray teaching certification; thus meaning they can avoid enrolling in a special program for certification. Click here to read more.

I oppose the idea, but it's also an advantage since I dropped teaching sequence in the fall. I felt very demoralized in my teaching sequence program and I am still confused if I want to teach or not. I almost don't want to take advantage of this opportunity just to protest this certification. Quite a moral dillemma on my hand.

Monday, March 01, 2004

I found this interesting article at this website by Oscar Casares on the issue of cultural and ethnic identity. I tried to find info on his work without being hounded about buying his book and this is what I is the cream of the crop!
This is an interesting article on the subject of immigration and assimilation.
Tell me what you all think and I may post your responses on the blog.

The Americano Dream
The New York Times (February 24, 2004)
Section A; Page 25; Column 5; Editorial Desk

“Samuel Huntington is one of the most eminent political scientists in the world. His essay "The Clash of Civilizations" set off an international debate, and now Huntington sees another clash of civilizations, this time within the United States.

"In this new era," he writes in his forthcoming book, "Who Are We," "the single most immediate and most serious challenge to America's traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially Mexico."

These new immigrants, he argues, are not like earlier immigrants. Many have little interest in assimilating. "As their numbers increase, Mexican-Americans feel increasingly comfortable with their own culture and often contemptuous of American culture," Huntington argues.

Instead of climbing the ladder of success, he says, Mexican and other Latino immigrants are slow to learn English. They remain in overwhelmingly Hispanic neighborhoods and regions and tend not to disperse, as other groups have. Their education levels, even into the fourth generation, are far below that of other groups. They are less likely to start companies or work their way up into managerial and professional jobs.

Most important, Huntington concludes, they tend not to buy into the basic American creed, which is the bedrock of our national identity and our political culture. "There is no Americano dream," Huntington writes, "There is only the American dream created by an Anglo-Protestant society. Mexican-Americans will share in that dream and in that society only if they dream in English."

Obviously, Huntington is not pulling his punches. You can read an excerpt from the book in the new issue of Foreign Policy magazine at You'll find that Huntington marshals a body of evidence to support his claims. But the most persuasive evidence is against him. Mexican-American assimilation is a complicated topic because Mexican-Americans are such a diverse group. The educated assimilate readily; those who come from peasant villages take longer. But they are assimilating.

It's easy to find evidence that suggests this is so. In their book "Remaking the American Mainstream," Richard Alba of SUNY-Albany and Victor Nee of Cornell point out that though there are some border neighborhoods where immigrants are slow to learn English, Mexicans nationwide know they must learn it to get ahead. By the third generation, 60 percent of Mexican-American children speak only English at home.

Nor is it true that Mexican immigrants are scuttling along the bottom of the economic ladder. An analysis of 2000 census data by the USC urban planner Dowell Myers suggests that Latinos are quite adept at climbing out of poverty. Sixty-eight percent of those who have been in this country 30 years own their own homes.

Mexican immigrants are in fact dispersing around the nation. When they have children, they tend to lose touch with their Mexican villages and sink roots here. If you look at consumer data, you find that while they may spend more money on children's clothes and less on electronics than native-born Americans, there are no significant differences between Mexican-American lifestyles and other American lifestyles. They serve in the military – and die for this nation -- at comparable rates.

Frankly, something's a little off in Huntington's use of the term "Anglo-Protestant" to describe American culture. There is no question that we have all been shaped by the legacies of Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin. But the mentality that binds us is not well described by the words "Anglo" or "Protestant."

We are bound together because we Americans share a common conception of the future. History is not cyclical for us. Progress does not come incrementally, but can be achieved in daring leaps. That mentality burbles out of Hispanic neighborhoods, as any visitor can see.

Huntington is right that Mexican-Americans lag at school. But that's in part because we've failed them. Our integration machinery is broken. But if we close our borders to new immigration, you can kiss goodbye the new energy, new tastes and new strivers who want to lunge into the future.

That's the real threat to the American creed.”

The full text of the Huntington article in Foreign Policy can be found at:

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