Art in the calle

072413 TJ art1
The sold-out event pulled together 35 tourists, transported in two buses. We were in the smaller one, which was adorned with art of its own.

Last Saturday, Steve and I participated in another of Derrik Chinn’s Turista Libre tours — this one focusing on Tijuana’s street art. In some ways it was very different from the wacky Lucha Libre tour we took last summer. But there were also similarities. Derrik’s outings are as far from the canned Standard City Tour as one can imagine. They feel almost impromptu — a little chaotic, a lot genuine. They don’t always follow the script. Saturday’s event had been billed as winding up around 6 p.m., while in fact we didn’t actually get back to the border till 8. We never did reach Anulacion, a downtown building that supposedly has been tranformed into “a monumental work of minimalist sculpture.” Still, we covered an awful lot of ground.

072413 TJ art2
Panca, expounding on the bus

Sharing the guiding duties with Derrik for the day were the artists Paola Villasenor (aka Panca) and Once Cero Dos, a sweetly earnest young man who explained that his nom d’aerosol can was inspired by his passion for the Mexican Day of the Dead (which takes place on 11/02 — once cero dos in Spanish). We saw a number of the duo’s works — in a makeshift temporary gallery thrown up a partially completed house designed by rising architectural star Jorge Gracia, in an inner courtyard of the diviest of TJ dive bars, in Panca’s Zona Norte penthouse, and — of course — on the street.

Panca, who spent the most time on our bus, could have an alternate career as a stand-up comic. Her riffs were a highlight, as was our quick stop for tacos at Los Paisas (off Boulevard Aguascalientes and recently hailed by Anthony Bourdain). Most of all, I appreciated the chance to see things I’d have a hard time finding on my own.

Some of the images from our adventure:

072413 TJ art3
Both Panca and Once Cero Dos painted murals on the wall of this contemporary mansion, on the road to the Tijuana playas. The owner commissioned them to do the work (for free). More often, the street artists appropriate their canvases without getting formal permission.
072413 TJ art4
A mural by the artist known as El Norte, one of many painted on a very long fence near Tijuana’s long-distance bus terminal.
072413 TJ art5
Another mural from that same fence.
072413 TJ art6
Here tour leader Derrik Chinn captures another form of street art — on the back of a passerby near that wall near the bus terminal.
072413 TJ art7
A major work by Once Cero Dos. He got permission from this owner to paint it. The graffiti reflects tensions between Tijuana’s resident tagger community and the street artists. Once Cero Dos told us the tags don’t make him angry. “That’s just the way it is on the street.”
072413 TJ art8
Another work by Panca, on a building just off Revolucion.
072413 TJ art9
Once, posing next to one of his pieces, executed on a door in downtown Tijuana.
072413 TJ art10
La Pueblita is an amazingly derelict storefront on Revolucion — with an amazingly lively scene in its inner courtyard. When our group of 35 gringo tourists trooped in, the young Tijuanenses looked stunned but remained affable.
072413 TJ art11
Yet another work by Panca.
072413 TJ art12
The view from the rooftop deck of Panca’s penthouse apartment. With a bit of artistic philosophy to temper the view.