Love Letter to Sunset Heights mural highlights border history

It took three years to bring a love letter to El Paso to life in the historical neighborhood of Sunset Heights. Pearl Properties unveiled the mural, Love Letter to Sunset Heights, during the neighborhood’s annual tour of homes last fall. The mural is painted on the side of the Pearl apartment building at 220 Yandell, which overlooks I-10. The Pearl’s owners commissioned Alejandro Lomeli as the artistic director in charge of the painting, but the project didn’t happen overnight. Lomeli, who has lived in three different Pearl buildings – including the one where the mural is now – went off to work as a steelworker in Albuquerque for a while as funding for the project was secured along with permission from the El Paso Historic Landmark Commission.

Explicit lyrics in Latino music worries some, but simply reflects popular culture experts say

The Dominican Republic recently decided to ban certain Latino music due to obscene language, sexual content, and lyrics that talk about drug trafficking and consumption. Critics in other Latin American countries are claiming that explicit music is having a negative impact on the their culture. But some scholars say the content that offends one generation is just part of a normal evolution for popular music and society. Roberto Avant-Mier, a professor of communication at the University of Texas at El Paso specializing in popular music and film explained that music and society have a reciprocal relationship. “I know for a fact music has an effect on society but also, society has an effect on music.

What language do you play in? Online gaming chatter a mix of voices in global matchups

The success of the early online multi-player games like Doom laid the groundwork for successors like Halo and more recent titles such as Fortnite. Since then, there have been significant improvements in network capabilities that now allow hundreds of thousands of people from English and non-English-speaking countries all over the world to play a game together. So what happens when you connect with someone that speaks a different language than you do? Many players use microphones to communicate so this creates an obvious barrier. But Luis Rodriguez says that there have always been ways to get around such language barriers if a player is willing to look for them.

This artist is asking how border residents think about air, water, land

Zeke Peña, an illustrator and cartoonist has spent most of his work as an artist living on “la frontera,” the border, reflecting the reality and issues faced by Chicano and Mexican-American generations. “I think about how the border identity is binary. It isn’t about this side or that side, it’s way more complicated. But that’s the beauty of it,” he says. Sitting in battered, squeaky wood chair in front of a drafting table that displays his work in his studio, the 35-year-old Peña looks the part of a committed artist with his black-rimmed glasses and his shoulder-length dark curly hair and black ball cap.

Rare look at Mexican photographer Manuel Carrillo’s work in color on display at UTEP library

The photo collection of Manuel Carrillo – one of Mexico’s most influential photographers – resides at UTEP’s Special Collections Department and his work is often compared to that of famed American icon Ansel Adams despite both photographers being widely known for different types of photography. Carrillo focused on photographing the people of Mexico, while Adams concentrated on landscapes, but both were wildly influential, said David Flores, UTEP’s photo archivist. “Carrillo was passionate about the people (of Mexico) who worked for a living, showcasing his gente (people) in a humbling light with his photographs,” Flores said. The collection, containing about 14,000 negatives, 10,000 prints, 3,00 slides and seven linear feet of papers, also contains numerous publications with Carrillo’s work or biographical information, according to Flores who dealt with the images first-hand. The collection also includes many awards and trophies, while the prints vary in many sizes from contact sheets to giant mural-sized enlargements.

Cinco ‘Expectativas’ cumplidas por Enrique Bunbury en su último disco

En noviembre, mi cantautor preferido Enrique Bunbury se hizo acreedor a un Grammy Latino en la categoría Mejor Álbum de Rock con “Expectativas”, disco que publicó en octubre de 2017. Como este espacio es reducido, describiré en cinco puntos por que creo que este disco es justo ganador de dicho reconocimiento. Lleno de romanticismo español puro

La música de Bunbury ha sido para mí un reflejo de varias épocas de la literatura. La letra de sus canciones está llena de metáforas con significados abiertos a la interpretación de la audiencia, algo muy característico del romanticismo literario. Él hace uso de ésto para mandar diferentes mensajes al mundo, desde dedicarle palabras a un amor, hasta criticar a la política y a los aspectos débiles de la sociedad.

Indy bookstore Literarity nurtures unique space for readers and writers in El Paso

In a little more than a year after opening, the bookstore Literarity has become an important fixture in El Paso’s literary community in promoting regional authors and poets for readings and book sales. The locally owned store sells new and used books as well as collectible books, rare books and signed first editions. Owners Bill and Mary Anna Clark wanted to create a welcoming shop for book lovers to browse through and included events where they can mingle with writers. “With most authors, it’s really focused on their new book,” Bill Clark said. “At the same time, we did an event with Alfredo Corchado and his new book Homelands, which deals with Mexican-American migration and immigration.”

Corchado, a border-Mexico correspondent for the Dallas Morning News, turned his book reading event into a conversation with border journalist Angela Kocherga about immigration, journalism and cultural identity that was followed by a Q&A session with attendees.

Rubin Center exhibit explores migrant culture

The works of Mexican artist Betsabee Romero offered a reflection on themes of migration and belonging in an exhibit featured recently at the The Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center at UTEP. The exhibit of large-scale sculptures, prints and installations titled Tu Huella Es Tu Camino (Your Tracks Are Your Path) will be up through Friday, Dec. 14, 2018.  

El Paso’s position as a multicultural border city is one of the most defining aspects of its unique character. For Romero, the Rubin Center was a natural landing for her exhibit.

Iconográfika Oaxaca exhibit at Rubin Center until Dec. 14

EL PASO – Oaxaca has become known as a cultural center in Mexico with many art galleries and artisan crafts. An exhibit at the Stanlee & Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual arts gives a glimpse of life outside of the big cities of Mexico. Titled “Iconográfika Oaxaca: Contemporary Prints, and Works on Paper,” the exhibit showcases artwork that delves into topics of poverty, border relations, immigration, family, and indigenous culture in Oaxaca. The exhibit also features a wide range of art mediums including prints, photography, paintings, tile work, and sculptures. “I think that people coming to this exhibition can get a preview of…

Robot sheriff play co-written by autistic teen rises to the stage in El Paso

When the curtain closed this fall on an unusual play about a robot sheriff and his band of outlaws at the downtown Philanthropy Theater, playwright Robert De La Rosa, dressed in black jeans, cowboy hat, and a bandana around his neck, was there to receive a standing ovation from the packed auditorium. The post-apocalyptic tale, “The Ballad of Roobie Rookie,” that he co-wrote with a local playwright was no small accomplishment for De La Rosa who was diagnosed with autism as a child. His mother, Maria De La Rosa, says her son has never allowed being on the autism spectrum to stand in his way. She first became aware that the youngest of her three children was different when he was three and she noticed him methodically arranging toys and VHS movies on the floor of their Northeast El Paso home. “He would become very involved with that toy, he would just get really happy and flap his hands and that was different to me; I didn’t know why he was doing that,” Maria De La Rosa said.

Vegan merchants sharing their bounty with community shelters

An El Paso couple are providing homeless people and others in need with meals and educational services to promote plant-based living. Roman and Adriana Wilcox, owners and operators of One Grub Community, are following a mission centered on giving back to their community where five percent of their sales and 100 percent of their tips go toward the purchase of healthy food for meals for people at non-federally funded shelters like Annunciation House, Villa Maria, The Opportunity Center and others. “We needed to make sure that we are able to cook together and eat together,” Adriana Wilcox said. “I think that’s when you get the community involved and you’re able to get personal with them.”

Through various “pay it forward” events and demonstrations of plant-based meals, the Wilcoxes keep the community involved. Mayela Duran, housing coordinator for Rapid Rehousing for chronically homeless residents at The Opportunity Center said, last year’s holiday event featured a vegan pozole for the 25 participants who lived in the housing center.

Loot boxes and gacha games dubbed newest forms of gambling

Loot boxes and gacha games where players purchase virtual items have become a topic of debate within the online gaming community according to aficionados and regulators who consider them just another form of gambling. In these online games, it’s not unusual for a player to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to buy options to customize their favorite character or to purchase weapons and armor. In one published report, a Japanese player spent $70,000 to participate in the gacha game Fate/Grand Order, also known as FGO. The release of Electronic Art’s (EA) online game Overwatch in 2016 and Sony’s mobile game Fate/Grand Order in 2015 have contributed to the international debate. Loot boxes, also called loot crate or prize crate, are an in-game purchase item that contain implements for the players to use.

What can creatives learn from arts communities on the border?

Arizona theater professor Mary Stephens was pleasantly surprised when a recent arts tour bus ride took less than 10 minutes to get from El Paso, Texas, to Juarez, Mexico,

“This is my first time to El Paso and Juarez and I’m just so delighted by realizing how close these cities are with each other,” she said. “Families are on both sides crossing all the time, and culture is crossing all the time. Stephens was visiting the borderland for La Frontera: Art+People+Place, a two-day convening on arts in border communities presented by the El Paso Museum of Art and the Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juarez. The Sept. 7-8 event was part of the fifth Transborder Biennial 2018 exhibition, which featured the work of 32 contemporary artists that live across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Double identity: Beauty apps make it too easy to change your reality online

Bigger eyes, smaller nose and even a breast enhancement are available through several beauty apps South Koreans are routinely using to modify their virtual appearance. I tried it myself when I was living in Seoul, South Korea, while studying abroad and got hooked. To this day, I still use the apps. Editing your digital image is so easy to do through the apps that many in the younger generation in South Korea expect everyone to tweak their looks. “Editing is so common that you seem to be a rebel without any edit done your looks,” said one app fan, SeungHae Ro.

7 quirky El Paso experiences that beat driving to Marfa

Last October I was in Marfa, Texas at the Chinati Foundation—an art wonderland in the middle of nowhere known across the globe for its use of minimalism. It was open weekend so exhibits and galleries were free and open to the public as artists from across the nation flocked to Marfa. Solange Knowles performed a free show at Chinati in the center of a grass field where only fifteen concrete Donald Judd sculptures sit. As an audience member there were only two rules: we all had to be dressed in white and we could not carry cell phones. The whole experience was mesmerizing.

Festival gives El Paso a taste of the Middle East

EL PASO – The annual Feast of the Middle East is an opportunity for border residents to sample great food and learn more about the culture of their neighbors who trace their roots back to the Mideast. Parishioners of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, 120 Festival, work for months to prepare authentic specialty dishes and arrange live Arabic music and folk dance for the weekend festival. Guided tours of the church will be available. The 2018 festival will run from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 2 and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 3 on the church grounds at 120 Festival Dr. Tickets are $2.

Neon Desert Music Festival caters to local talent

EL PASO – When Neon Desert Music Festival kicked off for its eighth time this weekend, many local bands in the lineup represent the Sun City. From the festival’s inception in 2009, Neon Desert Music Festival has continuously strived to be a yearly music event catering to its host city as a creative outlet “for El Pasoans by El Pasoans”. Cumulatively, NDMF has hosted over 170,000 attendees, with over 40,000 music fans joining last year’s two-day celebration. By reserving 15 city blocks in downtown El Paso, this west Texas music festival is one of the largest venues for a street festival in the state, according to the organizers. This year’s lineup features a mix of well-known artists such as Cardi B, Martin Garrix, Café Tacvba, GTA, and local groups such as SleepSpent, The Swell Kids, Fat Camp, and Gila Monster.

United Way helps millennials give back to the Borderland through RISE

When Hollie Jacobson accepted the job of marketing and communications manager for United Way’s Rise program six months ago, she was so excited about the program’s mission of engaging millennials in community volunteer activities that she recruited her boyfriend, Saul Williams.

The 25-year-old intern for the CEO of the El Paso Children’s Hospital says he didn’t think twice.  

 

“I was raised in El Paso and really care about the city so being able to give back to the community that helped mold me into the young man I am today is a great opportunity,” said Williams, who joined four months ago. “The volunteer projects and speaker series are a great way to get involved as well as stay updated with the growth of El Paso,” he added. The United Way’s extension program called RISE is a unique way for millennials to connect with the El Paso community through hands-on volunteer projects such as RISE for Hunger and informal hangouts. The program took off September 2017 when Stephanie Gorman was hired to run RISE.

Hueco Tanks attracts rock climbers from around the world, but few locals realize what else this Texas state park offers

For about 10,000 years, Hueco Tanks in East El Paso has been a destination for people of all types. The rock formation brings nature enthusiasts from all over the world to practice rock climbing, bird watching, camping and to know about its unique history. But, despite its worldwide fame, many El Pasoans do not know about the picturesque rock formation in their own backyard. “Not a lot of people know we are out here,” said Kendra Moore, park ranger and interpreter at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site. Moore provides interpretation tours of pictographs and background information on how the rock formation was home in the past to Native Americans and later to white settlers.

Aspiring Juarez photographers continue to develop one year after National Geographic Photo Camp came to town

Last April, National Geographic photographers Dominic Bracco, Tyrone Turner, and Amy Toensing brought Photo Camp to Cd. Juarez to encourage young people to share their perspectives on life on the border through photography and writing. Now, a year after photo camp, some of the participants reflect on their experience and how their lives changed after participating in this workshop. “This was a really interesting workshop because I didn’t have any knowledge about photography. Although what stayed with me the most is the human side before taking a photo, they made us get to know the person before capturing their portrait,” said Miriam Cortez, 21 years old, a participant of the Nat-Geo photo camp.

Ramen restaurants win over the Borderland with fresh, spicy style

EL PASO – Ramen restaurants are trending in the Sun City, and some are changing the way people see the brothy noodle dish. When you say ramen, many people think of the dry squiggly pasta that comes in cellophane-wrapped blocks or Styrofoam cups most popular among budget-strapped college student. Now restaurants, such as Nishi Ramen in Downtown El Paso, Kaedama near the University of Texas at El Paso and, the newest addition, El Cuartito Ramen on the West Side, are serving up their spin on this traditional Japanese fare. El Cuartito is a small 20-seat restaurant located at TI:ME at Montecillo, in the up-and-coming entertainment district on Mesa Street. Owned by Pan Y Agua Restaurant Group, Octavio Gomez, Nick Salgado and Chef Rudy Valdez, who are behind the successful Crave concepts, Hillside Coffee and Donuts, Malolam, and Independent Burger, decided to give their Mexican flair to their ramen.

Martial Arts organization teaches discipline, respect and self-defense to children

It started with a promise to share the martial art Kai Ki Do with others. “A promise I made to the late Supreme Master Albert Robinson. He was the founder of Kai Ki Do. Myself along with a few other individuals in our organization thought it would be good for the children,” said David Cory, an assistant Kai Ki Do instructor. Cory teaches for the local Kai Ki Do organization and has taught students, ages four to 14, for more than two years a mixture of martial arts, but their core is Shotokan Karate, a form of Karate.

La Cocina De Martha: Food like abuela’s

Martha Flores, 57, says she began her food business seven years ago selling snacks out of a small room in Central El Paso from 5 to 10 at night. “It was corn in a cup, chilindrinas, papa locas, just the good stuff,” says Flores who two years ago expanded the business into a full-fledged restaurant on Montana Avenue named La Cocina de Martha. “I had a dream–my dream was to have my own place, my own restaurant,” said Flores, who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and moved to the United states with her family when she was a child. She graduated from Bel Air High School in 1978 and graduated with her bachelors degree in history from UTEP in 2000. She then accepted a full time day job as a property manager for a local business and ran her mom-and-pop food business at night.

Chalk work leads arts student on a journey to be a working artist

Babak Tavakoli, 25, an Art major at the University of Texas at El Paso, has gained recognition for his chalk art at Hillside Coffee, Independent Burger, Crave, and other locations in El Paso, landing him a new project for Eastlake High School. “I barely recently started getting jobs like this” he said. “I had never been a working artist, just a student artist.” Until about four months ago, Tavakoli never had an Instagram, but when he finally made it he got various request from business owners asking him to embark on art projects to attract people to their businesses. In this case, Eastlake High School’s flag team was in need of a mural-sized banner to travel with for their competitions, and this year the theme was graffiti.

Cheech Marin’s Papel Chicano Dos collection featured at El Paso Museum of Art

The entertainer Cheech Marin is well-known for his “Cheech and Chong” movies and his upbeat, unapologetic humor that has brought laughter to homes around the world for decades. Marin is no longer making movies but he is an avid collector or art, some of it by Latino artists. An exhibit of his collection, Papel Chicano Dos, is now on display at the El Paso Museum of Art through July 17. It features Chicano artists from different border cities such as San Diego and Los Angeles. The show includes 65 different pieces by 24 artists.

Topgolf expands entertainment options for the borderland

MRI tech Patricio Ruvalcaba, a 26-year old El Paso native, was thrilled when he heard a few months ago that a popular new restaurant that caters to golf aficionados and their families was about to open in West El Paso. To celebrate his acceptance into UTEP’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, he recently headed to Topgolf with a group of friends. “It’s a nice atmosphere, different families, different age groups. It’s an overall positive experience and everyone is out here to have fun,” Ruvalcaba said. Another El Paso native, Kristi Albers, also stopped by the entertainment venue just after it recently opened to check it out.

Rubin Center offers a place for UTEP art faculty to display their work

EL PASO – Art History Major Alejandra Valdez recently spent an hour at the DoArt Faculty exhibit on the UTEP campus where she had the chance of seeing for the first time the work of her instructors. She said the experience was “inspiring.” “I felt inspired,” said the 21-year-old Valdez. “I found that some of my professors participated in the exhibit. My art appreciation professor Alexandra McGovern displayed some pieces, my art history professor supervised a description of an art piece that a student wrote and even my advisor Terri Bauer was involved,” she added.

Vendors shop health foods to El Pasoans browsing farmers market

Farmer’s market vendors said they set up booths in El Paso in response to efforts trying to stem preventable diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease – the leading causes of death in the county. “We cater to a lot of people that have diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure,” said Ulises Cordova, owner of The Green Ingredient, a business that sells health food at a local gym. “We teach them how to eat right and give them different alternatives.”

Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in El Paso County, according to the 2013 El Paso Community Health Assessment. Cordova and his wife started The Green Ingredient after several family members contracted cancer. They have been vendors at the Saturday El Paso Downtown Art and Farmers Market for the past 5 years.