THE BORDER: ART OR CONSEQUENCES
I recently visited the most southerly western edge of the United States. I was checking out an art installation happening at Border Field State Park. The 51st anniversary of Friendship Park was being celebrated on the Tijuana B.C. side. But the U.S. side was closed. On the U.S side, Friends of Friendship Park were calling for action on relaxing restrictions to allow people on both sides of the border to connect. This was the reason for the park in the first place! The outdoor placement of chairs in the form of a broken heart was displayed. The empty chairs were sponsored by those who want to see access to Friendship Park begin again.
Friendship Park has been closed off to the U.S. for over 10yrs. Some access to the 2nd border fence had been routine until Covid restrictions. Friends of Friendship Park would like to see the Border Patrol reinstate this policy. The history of the park informs one of the complexities involved and the joy of those who have visited there. One of the ways the people of this region channel frustration that can spill over like a boiling pot is through art. Cooperation among artists and groups like Friends of Friendship Park is part of the answer. If you are interested in helping you can learn more here.
Activism is not the only artistic lens used on the border. The consequence of art is connection. This connection is with others and self.
A great example of this connection on the southern border is the SD Art Society. The artist collective was founded by Julio Martha. It wasn’t always a collective. He started out with an Instagram account with the handle @sandiegoartsociety, and a desire to share art. Julio highlighted what moved him. His travels took him throughout the San Diego / Tijuana region and beyond. He said he found art thru a photo his father took with a 35mm model A1 camera. This photo still holds a place in his home. When asked about his influences Julio said “As many kids that grew up on both sides of the border I’ve been exposed to Indigenous, Latin American, and North American Art. I’ve admired the artwork from rock albums, history books from school in Mexico which are rich with art, magazines, comic books, TV, stamps, newspapers, local markets with piñatas, curios at the border brought from different parts of Mexico, etc.” I asked him about his preferred medium “I have always been interested in learning different mediums. I don't have a specific style when I create. “He answered, continuing “I do photography, Wheatpaste art, abstract, experiment with spray paint, markers, stencils, and clay. “ Other artists seeing his work contacted him and a connection was born., Aaron Asis, Gerardo Meza, and Veronica Aranda, were a few of the already established artists to contact and help form the direction of the collective. Julio now states. “Our goal is to become a hub and help other artists become successful and recognized globally” Julio sees this as an opportunity to lift up others. This opportunity manifests as pop-ups, gallery exhibits, as well as offering consultation services to businesses that want to beautify their locations. Visit sandiegoartsociety.com to see the present roster of artists.
When done well we enjoy experiencing art. Borders both geographic and otherwise are broken down and we all for moments share our humanness. The consequence of losing that is unthinkable.
Story and Photography By: Mike Caro