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Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Gates

Two of my favorite artists', Jeanne Claude and Christo, installation "The Gates" at NYC Central Park was recently vandalized with graffiti. The graffiti was not destructive but it did pose an important question, "Art?"...Now I do appreciate contemporary graffiti art for its socio-political commentary, aesthetic innovation and cultural roots....but I also do not appreciate the vandalizing of property much less the vandalizing of artworks. Taggers should at least respect other art forms (be it murals, architecture and public art). Now it's probably not a big deal...the graffiti on the gates were simple marker tags that came off with acetone cleaner...but it's just disrespectful. I think art needs to be don't have to like it...but do respect it.

Also, it's not like this argument has not occurred before, so really the graffiti tagging was not reinforcing a critical argument but rather reiterating the question, "Is this art?", which was already pretty obvious. I believe there is more to the intentions of the taggers than just reiterating an obvious argument. Were they perhaps trying to parallel the challenges of graffiti art to be seen as a credible art form to the challenges of Jeanne Claude and Christo? Or were they reacting to the art as a territorial or spatial invader? The second doesn't make much sense, but then again it does since NYC is where the urban graffiti movement emerged in the 70’s and 80’s giving rise to artists like Basquait and Haring.

I am not an expert on Public Art or Graffiti Art so I may completely out of context, but I feel that this may be an interesting example of both art forms coming at a crossroads…not necessarily at odds but rather at a point of interaction and it is going to be interesting to see what art develops over time. And that is what is especially wonderful about art…when different styles come into contact…there isn’t a “West Side Story” kind of tragic clash…but usually a merger and evolution of a whole new style. How exciting and inspiring!

Also, for those at a lost of what the art of Christo and Jeanne Claude is me their artwork is about taking a simple aesthetic element…like the ruffle of a textile in the wind or the curve of a line through a natural landscape…and amplifying it to monumental and dynamic interaction with its audience and its environment. I find it all fascinating because I can relate and I am sure many of you could as well.

For example, when I was younger we used to live across the street from the Police Station in Brownsville and there were three metal flag poles situated in front of the station. One some days when there wasn’t much traffic and the wind was particularly rough, the pulleys on the flag pole ropes would swing around metal poles clanking to movement of the wind…”clank…clank clank…clank….clank clank clink…clink clank…” Sometimes it would clank all day non-stop. I never found it annoying but rather comforting and song-like. It was the song of my home, and in a retrospective sense…a song of my childhood…where the simple elements of my environment were the business of life and there was no better or no worse to experience in life. So when I see Christo and Jeanne Claude’s work, I am taken back to that simple and pure sentiment towards life and from there I appreciate their art. It's not beautiful because it's is beautiful because it is moving.

Here is a picture of Christo and Jeanne Claude’s “The Gates” at Central Park with the Manhattan skyline in the background.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Tercera Cultura Exhibition Press Release

For Immediate Release:
February 24, 2005

Contact: Mayra Cruz
Tercera Cultura Program Coordinator
Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center
(956) 361-0110

NMCAC Announces “Tercera Cultura” Student Exhibition

SAN BENITO, TX - The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center announces the student exhibition for the visual arts education program entitled “Tercera Cultura”, which means “third culture” in Spanish. This program was created to provide Rio Grande Valley high school art students with an opportunity to participate in an intensive studio art course, provide meaningful exposure to the Rio Grande Valley art and cultural community and to prepare their own exhibition. The exhibition will be on display at the center from March 6th to April 6th and the opening reception will be on Sunday, March 6th from 3pm-5pm.

The concept of a third culture refers to the culture that is created when two mainstream cultures merge. The premise of the Tercera Cultura program is a fundamental belief that the Rio Grande Valley’s heritage and history is a wellspring of artistic inspiration because of the constant intercultural exchange between Mexico and the United States. The students will exhibit the paintings and photographs they have created during their course of study at the center. “Their work reflects on the culture of this region and how it has come to influence the formation of their cultural and personal identities, which will make for a very eclectic and interesting exhibition,” says Mayra Cruz, instructor and program coordinator.

The student exhibition will be the culmination of a nine-week guest-speaker and studio intensive program scheduled from January 8th to March 5th. Classes have been held each Saturday at the center in San Benito from 10am to 5pm and have included lessons on Rio Grande Valley heritage, a photography expedition, special quest speakers and seven intensive studios in drawing and painting.

Thirteen students from San Benito High School, Harlingen High School and Lopez High School in Brownsville are active participants of the program and were admitted through a selective application process. The students whose artwork will be on exhibit are: Enrique Lozano of Harlingen High School, Raul Izaquirre, Benjamin Mora and Rachael Rudnik of Lopez High School and Carmen Arias, Brenda Gonzalez, Cassandra Lopez, Hector “Rudy” Golina, Relleny Mungia, Bobbie Sue Naranjo, Jacqueline Ortiz, Monica Rodriguez and Briana Taylor of San Benito High School.

The guest speakers who have graciously volunteered their time to the program are: Cristina Balli, Director of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center, musicians and cultural activists Joe and Rosa Perez of Rumbo al’ Anacua, Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center founders Rogelio Nuñez and Dr. Ramon de Leon, musicians Rigoberto Garza and Jose Moreno of Los Patrulleros, artist Frank Diaz of Brownsville, art collector Bitty Truan of Brownsville, Michelle Wibblesman of Texas Folklife Resources, artist Izel Vargas of Alamo, artist Carl Vestweber of McAllen, photographer and artist Noe Truan of Brownsville, Rey Avila of the South Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame, artist Daniel Govea of San Benito, artist Roel Flores of Weslaco, Dr. Manuel Medrano, social sciences professor at The University of Texas at Brownsville, artist Ted Estrada of Houston, artist and poet Nephtali De Leon of San Antonio, Carmen Zacarias, Director of the Brownsville Heritage Complex, Daniel Tyx, Education Director of the International Museum of Art and Science, Priscilla Rodriguez, Director of Public Relations and Programming at International Museum of Art and Science and Jeannie Floyd, features reporter for The Brownsville Herald.

Sponsors who have graciously funded the student’s lunches are: Jason’s Deli of Harlingen, Alberto Gonzalez, Executive Director of the San Benito Community Economic Development Corporation, Bitty Truan, owner of Bitty Truan State Farm Insurance of Brownsville, Esiquiel Padilla, Manager of the San Benito Chamber of Commerce. Special supporters of the program are Sue Tarrant and Linda McGonigle of the Lopez High School Fine Arts Academy in Brownsville, Image Formula Creative and Marketing Services of Brownsville and the online literary magazine The based in Austin, Texas.

The Tercera Cultura Program is an extension of “Fronteras Cruzadas,” an arts outreach program implemented by Mayra Cruz and Frank Diaz in Brownsville in the Spring of 2004. Supported by the College of Fine Arts of the University of Texas at Austin, “Fronteras Cruzadas” served 15 high school art students in Brownsville. Due to its success, the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center has adopted the program. “This is a very important program for local art students,” says Cristina Ballí, NMCAC director. “Currently there are few opportunities for Rio Grande Valley students to enhance their art skills outside of regular school instruction, and few opportunities to exhibit their work. The Tercera Cultura program has provided them with added instruction and solid experience to use in college applications.”

The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center preserves, promotes and develops the rich cultural heritage of the "Mexicano" community through programs in the visual arts, music, theater, dance, literature and media arts. NMCAC is located at 225 E. Stenger Street in San Benito. For information, interviews and inquiries concerning the Tercera Cultura program contact Mayra Cruz at (956) 361-0110.

# # #

Cristina Balli
Director of Programming & Development
Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center
P.O. Box 471
225 Stenger Street
San Benito, Texas 78586
(956) 361-0110

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Yup Yup Yuppers

I wrote a pretty decent post last night and then I erased it. Sometimes I am not sure how personal I want to get with the blog, but then I figure how can I be a good blogger without getting personal to some point? This blog is about Brownsville and to a good extent about the Valley and Mexican Border, and its my home so sometimes I can't help but be personal. ack. I juggle between making this blog an informative resource and a reflective resource...sometimes I like it being both..and many other times I decry a personal post I wrote at late hours by erasing it first thing in the morning. You see folks, I am not an open book, so when expressing my personal thoughts and opnions I tend to get nervous or regretful. Just a habit from my shy days. I am still shy by the way but pretend to be extroverted because I like working with people. Does that even make sense??? I think all I have accomplished with that is to be shy and socially awkward. Oh well.

Anyways...enough about that!

Here is a quickie update.

- The White Ribbon campaign is still underway. Thanks to Daily Texican about the suggestion for media coverage. I am not too sure about it yet...I am wondering if this campaign should be more of a grass roots effort and then work its way up, and then to get media coverage from its own accord. My sister and I went to buy the materials last week and she helped me make some ribbons (Thanks Angie!), and we should have some 200 to pass within the next couple of weeks. I want to add some quotes to the ribbons by great figures of the past and present on the topics of peace, understanding and civic enagement. I also want to include quotes in Spanish. So it may be a while before the ribbons get out because I am pretty busy these days. I was also thinking of making it like a "Pay it Forward" kind of thing (man I loved and hated that movie because you are so happy towards the end and then they go off and kill Haley Joel Osment! I came out of the theatre bawling like a baby!) if you get one should pass another three...but I am not too sure how happy people will be with that...hmmm...I have more to think about in concern to this campaign.

- My Tercera Cultura students will be having their exhibtion at the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center in San Benito from March 6th to April 6th. The opening reception will be Sunday, March 6th from 3pm - 6pm. Go and check it out! The center is located in San Benito near the intersection of Stenger and Sam Houston right across the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. It's going to be an interesting and eclectic show so don't miss out!

- Charro Days has begun! I am so happy about it. I can't wait to take part in the fun. I had a horrid dream last night that Sombrero Fest was charging $15 to get in. I bet they wish! Some years the $3 fee was too much even for my family and I...right now it is at $5. I can do $5 so I am going this year...I didn't last year because I was a poor student...but this year I can so I will let you all know how it goes. I will also look into recording some sounds. I really like how the Venice blog uses audio recordings and webcams to capture the sights and sounds of Venice...something that would make this blog especially nice...but for now I am hoping I can atleast get a grito for you all.

- Yay! I finally have good amount of money where I can finally develop like 30 rolls of film that have been waiting for my attention. Included among that stash of undeveloped film are my pictures of Brownsville Snow. will take me about 2-3 weeks to get them up. I have a pretty full plate right now...but that too is pending for this blog so I will get it up by towards the end of March...maybe they wil still be appreciated 4 months after the fact...who knows!

Ok. Gotta go! I have to get ready and drive to work! Bye-bye folks and have a nice Charro Days weekend!

Friday, February 18, 2005

!!!Charro Days!!!

I love Charro Days! This year it will take place Feb. 24-26...and for future reference it is always held the last weekend in if you cannot make it this year...make it next year!

YAY!!! Once a year...all Brownsville residents and visitors unite to celebrate the Mexican heritage of the city. Those who attend the parades will hear the familiar "Coooookes! FIFTY CENTS! Coooookes FIFTY CENTS!"..."CANDY APPLES!"...devour leche and tamarindo raspas after a winter long the frijolympics and jalapeño eating contest and hear the air filled with long gritos from Sombrero Fest.. AAAAAAaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeoooooooohhhoooyyyyy!!!!!! El grito mas largo y alto gana! Watch your siblings and cousins particpate in the downtown parades and try to get a picture with Mr. Amigo....Mr. Amigo Association I would like to nominate Gael Garcia Bernal for Charro Days 2006! lol. Ride the zipper and Kamakozee at the carnival until you puke. There is just so much fun to be had during Charro Days!

Some of my earliest memories are of my mom dressing my sister and for the event each year. My mom even sewed us our own costumes for a while! I remember my earliest memory of charro days...I was in day care and I remember being at the Jacob Brown Auditorium wearning my charra costume waiting in line with my dance partner...I even remember his name! It was Ivan and I think he was my little boyfriend and I remember being all nervous when he got to see me in my costume for the first time and he said I looked cute! I must have been four or five years old!

So yes, I always look forward to Charro Days because the whole city gets into a fun tizzy...yes fun tizzy...and everything is alive 5-fold! I would suggest you try to catch Sombrero Fest (try to catch the grito contest, it is by far one of the most fun activities), The Elizabeth Street Parades (The Saturday parade is the best because schools from Matamoros participate and their bands dance along to the music), the carnival and ofcourse to the Amigos Artistas Art Exhibition to be held at the Historic Brownsville Museum on Madison and 7th street. Here is some more info:

Amigos Artistas will open their annual exhibit at the Brownsville Historic Museum on Friday February18, 2005. This year the exhibit will feature an art, sculpture and jewelry show by artists Oscar Zamarripa and his daughter Alejandra Zamarripa of Guadalajara, Mexico. The exhibit will run through March 31, 2005.

So get your costume ready y celebra nuestra cultura! Arriba!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Idealism Not Shunned

I have gotten some interesting responses to yesterday's post. I understand that my request for change is very idealistic and almost too big to handle, but none the less I believe and strive to keep hope, despite the pessimism and fear. The biggest hurdle is not changing society...but overcoming the fear in your own heart...once that is dealt with...all is possible!

In concern to yesterday's post let me know what you think in the comments section. I know it's a pretty big issue to tackle...but you don't even have to give an opinion...maybe you have a link or experience you want to share on the matter. I look forward to reading some of your responses.

Calling on Soul Force

There has been a recent surge of violent acts in this region. Most of them have been attributed to drug smuggling and the most atrocious acts have occurred to women. A Brownsville woman was strangled to death by her husband and one young girl from Reynosa was found dead in a plastic trash bag and another woman was found alive but with her hands severed.

Those a just a few samples of recent acts and there are many more domestic acts that occur that often go neglected and ignored. I am not trying to put a bad light on La Frontera, because I love where I am from...but I won't sugar coat it here it seems is a bit more dangerous in some aspects. And with recent events, it is hard not to be afraid, especially when crossing the border is a common activity in your life. It is is also scary to wonder if similar occurances will occur in Reynosa as they have in Juarez, where about 300 women have been murdered most horrendously and mysteriously. Is this something we need to be afraid about?

Yes, but the relevant question should not be if we are afraid, because fear would be the obvious reaction to this. The question should then be..What are we going to do about it?

We as a frontera community need to stand up against acts of violence and say no more! No longer shall allow for such acts of violence to go ignored! No longer should we allow our frontera community (Mexican and US) wallow in fear. No longer should we carry fear in our hearts! No longer should we allow for our home to be a breeding ground for violence, poverty, corruption, ignorance and terrorism! We as a community have the power to make a positive change and we already possess the most effective tool against fear and oppression: SOUL FORCE.

"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.

The other day, I was a bit scared during a trip to Reynosa. I thought over and over why I couldn't shake my fear and why I had to feel it in the first place? What could I do about it? Immediately I though about Dr. Martin Luther King and seeked some peace in his wisdom. I wanted to do something not only to cleanse my fear but to make an ultimate make my home feel safe because it is safe..not because I make myself safer by putting bars on my window or rolling up my car window and locking my door as soon as I drive into Mexico or go into the more runned down parts of town.

But making this happen is something that cannot do alone. Such a social change like this would require the most powerful tool upon which the great civil rights movements of the past century were fueled by, SOUL FORCE. So I am asking you, would you answer this call for Soul Force and take a stand against violence and fear in Tamaulipas and the Rio Grande Valley?

One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.
--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

So how can you take stand? Let’s begin a white ribbon campaign for Soul Force and Peace in our frontera community. By using white ribbons, we can get the message out that we will no longer allow for fear, violence and oppression to breed in our home communities.

Rather than spread a message of fear, retaliation and anger, we should spread a message of love. To our hurting communities in Tamaulipas and the Valley, let us comfort and embrace them rather than live in hesitation with them. Let us show them our support and care.

So I encourage you within the next week to obtain white ribbons and decorate your cars, offices, mailbox, palm tree, pinky finger...what ever you can tie a knot too...but get those white ribbons out to spread a message of love, a stand for peace and call for Soul Force.

"If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. ", -Martin Luther King

So the ultimate question then is, what will you do?

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

Friday, February 11, 2005

Squeezed for time

I have been squeezed for time these past few weeks..and its not so much that I am consistently busy...but more that I have a full plate and need to get an established time management strategy going for me. There are so many arts activities going on but I just have not had time to get it all listed together for this blog. I will try to do so this Sunday. (The only day I really have to myself)

For now...please go to the online literary magazine The Backword. I recently had an artcile published about Tercera Cultura and a writer who grew up in Mission, TX also had an interesting article about life as a "reformed Gringo". The folks over at The Backword have been so great and go an visit their site and support their efforts as much as you can. Thanks and have a good weekend!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Last Minute Call

Just heard about this exhibition this morning.

Artist Kirk Mangus Exhibit
at UTB-TSC Richardson Art Gallery.
Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m.,
Exhibit closes March 3.

Patron Art Show exhibit prices
$3 for faculty and student shows
$5 for visiting artist shows

This exhibition is part of the Patron of the Arts series, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Here is more info on them.

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