Tijuana Urban Art

Local urban artist El Norteño wins state award

Store to Fix Sad Faces

This past week, on Monday, Dec 12, local Tijuana urban artist Alonso Delgadillo, who paints under the name of El Norteño, was awarded the Premio Estatal de la Juventud de Baja California 2011, giving an official stamp of approval to the life’s work and trajectory of this local artist whose most important work appears in the streets.

Alonso Delgadillo in front of his mural on La Nueva Vision Rehabilitation Center

“The award signals an important recognition of my trajectory, and it will open doors for me, bringing me closer to other institutions who can help make it possible to develop more projects,” says Delgadillo, born in Guadalajara but native to Tijuana since he was a child.

But equally important for Delgadillo and other urban artists, is that this government award is an important moment of recognition of a still widely misunderstood art form: graffiti or urban art.




Virgen painted inside an abandoned house

Delgadillo’s art follows the path of many urban artists today: with a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design, international art experience painting urban art in the streets of Buenos Aires Argentina, and projects that allow him to give back to the communities of Tijuana.

Many still see urban art and tagging in the same light, as negative scars on the urban landscape. Yet urban art has enjoyed wide public support in Tijuana in recent years. EnTijuanarte  has commissioned murals along Avenida Revolución while this past year, community arts group Reacciona Tijuana organized a group of local and international artists to paint murals in Colonia Camino Verde,  while Festival Tijuana Interzona 2011 teamed up with local artist to paint murals in outlying colonias to the east of the city.

El Norteno, on Calle 5ta, Zona Centro Tijuana

And this official government support grants a lot of legitimacy to the form.  “It’s important,” says Delgadillo,  “to know that a representative of urban art has been recognized by the government as a talent of the state.”

The intention of the Instituto de la Juventud de Baja California is to celebrate young people in Mexico, supporting young leaders who are working on solutions to come of Mexico’s most pressing social & economic problems.

“Lo que pretendemos en el Instituto Municipal de la Juventud y en el Instituto Mexicano de la Juventud, es tener ejemplos de vida y ver que la juventud no sea el problem de México, sino que sea la parte que va a superar los problemas de México,” explicó Juan Angel Estrada Cruz, Director de IMJUVENS.

Fashionista, painted in a colonia in east Tijuana


Delgadillo’s beautiful and moving murals speak for themselves. His love of portraiture and narrative come together in his art, generating lovely folkloric characters like the “Fashionista” (to the left),  the man who fixes sad faces (top photo), or the urban street dweller who guards over the house of abandoned dogs on 5th Street.  Alonso Delgadillo has painted fourteen murals in the city of Tijuana.


Traditional Mexican Caballero, painted in a colonia in eastern Tijuana

But even more than this, his work with university students at UABC-CITEC on art and community projects will leave yet another last legacy: The next generation of young leaders.


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  1. Alimoghaddas89 says:

    WOW! It is great to hear that city officials in Tijuana are beginning to see the true beauty of urban art and the distinction between graffiti and the latter is finally being recognized. Hopefully San Diegans can start to adopt this attitude and we can see some of that art down here. Great work Jill and looking forward to hearing more about this movement..


    • Jill Holslin says:

      Yes, there’s definitely a lot more vibrant and dynamic street art scene in Tijuana than in San Diego. Even permitted art in San Diego tends to be called into question, and unpermitted pieces, regardless of quality (like the recent Surfing Madonna in Encinitas), are toppled by rigid graffiti laws. On the other hand, Mexico has a long-standing tradition of mural art, and on the popular level, you see hand-painted signs and storefronts everywhere in the city as well. I think people appreciate the vernacular traditions more in Tijuana. But even so, people still fear gangs, and many automatically associate certain graffiti styles–like Wildstyle and other lettering styles–with gang activity.

  2. is one of these murals en colonia Guadalajara store on the corner of Zapopan numero uno ?

  3. en que colonia esta la casa ??

    • Jill Holslin says:

      Hola Javier, a cual casa refieres? La primera foto es un edificio chaparrito por la Calle Segunda en la colonia Lindavista o puede ser Herrera, pasando el Panteon Jardin y pasando una Tapicería, en la curva, mano izquierda. La casa abandonada con la figura en linea negra con fondo rosa que dice Yo Soy! estuvo por Santa Fe pero creo que ya esta tumbada la casa. El mono encima de madera esta por la Calle 5ta en el Centro y está todavía. Las dos fotos de abajo son murales en la colonia Granjas Familiares Sección División del Norte. La de la muchacha ya se borró, pero estuve en un edificio frente de los taxis, frente del centro comunitario. Y el otro del vaquero, pues yo sé como llegar pero no puedo explicar donde está. Desde la Primaria, más adelante y a la derecha, más o menos.

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