Tijuana Urban Art

Collective consciousness

Published in San Diego CityBeat

Francisco Nuno, president of the Mercado de Artesanias de la Línea’s merchant association - Photo by Enrique Limon


Two students are out to change your conception of Tijuana, one tchotchke at a time

by Enrique Limon

Tuesday, Jun 07, 2011

Seeking cover from the sun beneath the overhang of a building locals refer to as La Concha (The Shell) on a sleepy Saturday afternoon, Amy Sanchez is hopeful. Having recently broken her foot, she’s also in a wheelchair.

“You were really easy to spot from the crowd,” says Michael Ruiz, part of a handful of artists meeting up with Sanchez by a taxi depot, pointing at the chair. “You couldn’t have planned it better.”

The destination is the nearbyMercado de Artesanías de la Línea—an oblong crafts market that separates the right and left sides of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Patiently, Sanchez and partner Misael Diaz, whom she met while both were students at UCLA, wait for the remaining artists to show up and share their vision for what could turn the Mercado into a burgeoning cultural hub.

“Until now, it has only represented convenience because people flank it all the time, and the vendors’ focus has solely been selling to passengers in cars—which translates to having a constant audience that could be exposed to different types of possibilities,” Diaz explains. “What we’re trying to do is re-conceptualize the site as a meeting point, as a dynamic space that can emerge as a space for the exchange not just of merchandise, but also ideas and cultural proposals.”

It’s with this out-of-the-box perspective that the twosome created Cognate Collective, an initiative that Sanchez says is out to “try to bridge gaps and create visual affinities between both sides of the border.”

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