Mexicali Border Art Scene

mexicali rose media art center

Mexicali Border Art Scene

The name of the city itself connotes a mixture of the Mexican & California cultures, yet for years Mexicali artists have been involved in the creation and underground dissemination of a creative force all their own. Not as ubiquitous or prominent on the national or international circuit as its neighboring border-town macrocosmos, Tijuana, the artistic sensibility of Mexicali’s underground seems like a welcome breath of fresh reverence towards the anarchic. There is a sense of urgency and immediacy flowing through the veins of the fiery existence in the art underbelly of this particular border. Through scant resources and proud independence, the scene and its accompanying artists seemingly move around uninterrupted, not being entirely susceptible to any form of paralyzing intrusion. The city’s remote and arid landscape is twice removed from the spotlight which institutionally provides an inexplicable detachment from the streets, something the major metropolises seem to possess. Not entirely makeshift, the Mexicali art scene has seen a united and burgeoning development of do-it-yourself (d.i.y.) spaces in its recent years. In a city, state, and nation where most of the cultural funding seems to be destined, as if by default, to bigger cities producing more sedate and reputedly polished work, the d.i.y. aesthetic and total liberty of curation find a home in these imperfect spaces and shows. Perhaps that is the reason unconventional artists seem to be flocking to this city more often; it seems more like a sanctuary of mischief than any sort of formal presentation, screening, or reception.

marco vera/mexicali rose media art center (director)

The spirit of Mexicali


Ismael Castro and Heriberto Castro Mexicali, Baja California Photo by Abel Alejandre

The spirit of Mexicali: An interview with the Castro brothers

Ismael and Heriberto Castro are two phenomenal visual artists based in Mexicali, Baja California. Recently they have collaborated with one another on several projects. Having worked on several public works they have become more ambitious with each new project. For this interview we drove to CEART (formerly Casa de Juventud) where one such project is in the form of a mosiac.

See Artist Registry to see some of the Artists’ work http://ateliervisit.com/profiles/

—Abel Alejandre

Atelier Visit: An investigation of the creative process

Abel Alejandre in Long Beach Studio photo by Raphael Noz

Atelier Visit: An investigation of the creative process


Almost twenty years ago, I had an idea for a project. I wanted to publish a magazine about the established artists I knew. More specifically, I wanted to capture the conversations that we had. The emphasis wouldn’t be so much on the work but instead the process of making art. However, for lack of: time; funds; storage space; technical know how; experience; scalability and/or network of contacts the project didn’t happen. Time has certainly changed all of that; the most significant change being the Internet and the “open source movement.” There is a new spirit of collaboration that makes my vision timely. Niche publications and low production cost are now the future of publishing. Through this beautiful opportunity I am able to compose a modest online publication.

I am a Visual Artist publicly and have been consistently exhibiting work since 1984. I am mostly a Los Angeles artist wanting to do my own work wherever it may be welcomed. While continuing to search for my artistic voice I worked as an Illustrator, Designer, Art Director, Production and Creative Manager. Through the last twelve years I have spent in publishing, I have learned not only about content management, but the technical aspects of putting together print and online publications. I have worked with more than forty publications throughout the course of my career. I am fortunate to say that I’ve worked on daily, weekly, monthly and annual publications with large, small and no staff. This experience has given me a realistic expectation of what is possible.

Atelier Visit, for now, is only a two-year project in the form of an online magazine with January 01, 2010 as the planned soft launch date. Since there aren’t enough funds for a launch party or a full marketing campaign, the promotion and marketing of Atelier Visit will begin with social media and RSS feeds. As opportunities make themselves available, promotion will be made.

Atelier Visit is an investigation of the creative process as our contemporary art makers practice it. The project’s objective is to document the creative process by interviewing, broadcasting and archiving video interviews of artists in their creative spaces. Video, written work, and photography will make the core of Atelier Visit’s content. It will be available at no cost online over the next 24 months with a planned annual print edition. This project is a labor of love so I do not expect to make any money. I do, however, hope that funds from online advertising will help offset equipment and print costs.

Collaborators will include Visual Artists, Writers, Editors, Filmmakers, Poets, and Musicians.

In the spirit of collaboration the interviews will be in the artist’s native language. Translations will be made available when they are possible.

Major goals hoping to accomplish

    * Exposure for Artists
    * Educational resource for other artists, curators and art lovers
    * Introduce artists to the 2.0-generation
    * Create an artists’ registry

— Abel Alejandre
abelalejandre.com