THERE’S been an outburst of new activity in Tijuana lately. But it’s not what you think. That sound you hear is not the angry sputter of cartel violence threatening to spill over the border into pristine San Diego.
What you’re hearing now is the hissing sound of spraycans as mural artists take back the streets and walkways of Tijuana.
See a slideshow of my photos here on Flickr
Grey concrete walls are popping with brilliant red, bright kelly green and rich teal blue. Here you can find giant happy fish leaping out of splashing water, and bright orange frogs hopping through a jungle of green leaves, and a cool blue sunbather relaxing under her beach umbrella, observing the scene through her sleek black sunglasses.
This past year, a group of 50 muralists was commissioned by a non-profit organization called FestiArte, to paint 25 murals along a mile long stretch of the beachside boardwalk in Playas de Tijuana. The administration of the previous mayor of Tijuana, Jorge Ramos, invested about $3.4 million in remodeling the promenade and the Parque de Amistad near the landmark lighthouse (El Faro) on the south side of the border fence separating the U.S. from Mexico.
My friends Anselmo Juan, Kafy of HEM crew, and James Mercado were out working on their pieces the day I was there, Sunday, January 23, preparing for the big inauguration of the FestiArte Proyecto Murales en el Malecón Playas, celebrated Sunday, January 30, 2011.
The 25 murals are just the first phase of the project, coordinator Claudia Alamina noted. The second, planned for the next four months, calls for replanting gardens and remodeling stairs and walkways. G12 (Grupo de 12), a coalition of environmental organizations headed by Proyecto Fronterizo de Educación Ambiental, will work on landscaping the park with a garden of native plants.