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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.