Sunday, November 18, 2007

Political Equators, Transitorio Public and Amtrak Back

Running a week long, the glistening silver tendrils of thought and dialogue emanating from the gathering of artists, activists and scholars aptly titled TRÁNSITOry PÚBLICO | PUBLICo TRANSITorio continued unabated, culminating in a two-day trans-border event that criss-crossed the Tijuana-San Ysidro checkpoint. Disappointed at not being able to attend a daytime program called L.A.’s Un/Freeways: Collectivized Practices in the Dispersed City on Thursday with presentations by Daisy Tonantzin of Proyecto Jardin, Womyn Image Malers (WIM; a collective of activist filmmakers that includes Aurora Guerrero, Dalila Mendez, Maritza Alvarez and Claudia Mercado) as well as platica, arte y poesia from Gloria Alvarez and Yreina Cervantes, I followed work on an Amtrak Surfliner and inadvertently landed in the middle of The Political Equator II, a think-tank rendezvous with San Diego-Tijuana architect and artist Teddy Cruz, who led a group of international artists and urban strategists who work with public space and concepts elaborated around the issues of social justice and equity on a similar train trip south. I was amazed to discover a newly restored 1927 storefront designed by Louis Gill in San Ysidro and now owned by Casa Familiar, a community development organization that is transforming the very core of a marginalized and neglected border community. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ms. Space Chola herself, installation/conceptual artists and photographer/printmaker Sandra de la Loza as well Luis Alejandro Vega, both El Sereno proud..

I forewent the walking tour over the border to observe the wall that fails to truly divide what cannot and should never be divided, Baja y Alta California and opted instead for a drive to the U.S. side of the said divider as it spills out into the ocean at Border Fields State Park, a recreational retreat that marks the end of the Tijuana River Valley and its link to the Pacific. Trippy and revolting at the same time. And I hear it used to be called Friendship Park before the onslaught of anti-immigrant hysteria. The Amtrak ride home after a hot pastrami in San Diego's Little Italy--the Mona Lisa Deli and Restaurant to be more precise--was highlighted by convesation with de la Loza and her two firme camaradas, Jessica and Joy.

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