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.

El Pasoan who spent more than 40 years buying art considers how to leave it for others to enjoy

With altruism as the main drive behind his art collection, UTEP librarian Juan Sandoval has amassed over 1,000 works of art that he keeps in his modest Sunset Heights apartment. “I always had poor friends growing up, so I would help them out by buying their art,” said Sandoval. The first time he bought a piece was in 1975 to encourage a friend. “In college, I used to buy original works of art for $25,” he joked. The works Sandoval has acquired throughout the years range from simple Native American tapestry to intricate and abstract lithographs made by prominent artists such as Luis Jimenez, Francisco Toledo and Marta Arat.

Artist Margarita Cabrera works through challenges to engage communities on social, political issues

EL PASO — Translucent white porcelain clays, rulers, pencils and pieces of guns are scattered in Margarita Cabrera’s workspace as she peacefully sits inside her sanctuary surrounded by her sculptures and creations. Cabrera, a local sculptor, educator and mother of two, focuses her art on the difficulties related to immigration. “I address issues of cultural identity, labor practices, craft, community, empowerment, and violence,” Cabrera said. Cabrera, 42, was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, but moved to the U.S. at around the age of 10, when her family was in search of better opportunities. Her inspiration to become an artist began in childhood.

Luchando por el bienestar social y la saluda pública


EL PASO — La lucha contra el uso de drogas y la prevención de enfermedades de transmisión sexual (ETS) ha sido enfocada por el Programa Compañeros A.C. en las dos comunidades mas vulnerables — las personas que se inyectan drogas y sus parejas y los hombres que tienen sexo con hombres. Esta observación llevo a Nora Gallegos unas de los directores del programa a tomar acción rm Juarez igual que en El Paso, no solo en la cuestión de enfermedades de transmisión sexual, sino también en el impacto del consumo y uso de drogas en la comunidad. “En el camino nos dimos cuenta que había dos poblaciones en ese entonces un poco más vulnerables, las personas que usaban drogas inyectadas y sus parejas sexuales y los hombres que tenían sexo con hombres”, afirmó Gallegos. La lucha contra el uso de drogas y la prevención de enfermedades de transmisión sexual (ETS) en la frontera de Ciudad Juarez/El Paso, han sido los motivos principales que han llevado a la fronteriza Gallegos a ser reconocida en varias ocasiones. Uno de sus mayores logros fue una celebración que se llevó a cabo en la Casa Blanca en el mes de mayo donde Gallegos fue reconocida por su labor comunitaria.

Health coalitions key to helping high-risk groups, says Mexican community organizer honored by U.S.


EL PASO — With more than two decades in the battle against against drug addiction and sexually transmitted diseases here and in Juarez , Programa Compañeros has successfully focused on the two most vulnerable communities — people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men. It was the realization that these were the ideal groups to target that led program director Nora Gallegos and her team to take action, not only in the STD’s area, but also on drug use in both cities. “As we went we found out that there were two communities that, at that time, were a little bit more vulnerable; the people that used injected drugs and their sexual partners, and men who had sex with men,” said Gallegos. The fight against the use of drugs and the prevention of STDs in the border cities has given Programa Compañeros widespread recognition in both countries. Gallegos was honored at the White House in May, where she was recognized for her community work.

U.S. Poet Laureate, Philip Levine, at a recent visit to the University of Texas at El Paso. (David A. Reyes/

Borderzine remembers U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine

Editor’s note: U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine died Feb. 14 in Fresno, Calif. at age 87. In 2013, the poet known for giving “a voice to the voiceless” spoke at UT El Paso and spent time visiting classes and talking with students and faculty. Here is Borderzine’s story of that visit, originally published March 29, 2013.

Comics-loving siblings make serious collectibles business out of child’s play

EL PASO – Like many children, Yvette and David Lomeli were obsessed with toys and comic books as children. But instead of putting childhood things aside as they grew, this brother and sister duo built their passion for collecting into a successful home-based business that led to their opening of Mayhem Toyz and Comics store in the spring of 2014. “This has kind of been in the making for over 15 years,” Yvette Lomeli said. “I started with a business similar to this one, but the goal was always to have a store. At the time we had a website, we traveled the country and did trade shows, eBay, local flea markets, or sometimes out of the garage, but the goal was always to have a store.”

Diseñador jóven fabrica ropa de sueños

El Paso- Hace un año, Héctor Fabián Ruiz, de 24 años de edad, cumplió su sueño desde niño al comenzar su propia línea de ropa en El Paso designando ropa para familiares y amigos. Inspirado en los búhos ahora se ha convertido en uno de los jóvenes diseñadores con más auge en la cuidad. “Desde que estaba en kínder, me encantaba dibujar, pintar y ahora que estoy grande me gusta mucho la moda, especialmente la ropa de modo urbano”, dijo Ruiz, que actualmente estudia diseño de moda en EPCC. “La idea de fabricar ropa fue de uno de los miembros de mi familia, el me dio una idea muy grande y por eso estoy haciendo esto ahora”, comentó Ruiz. Desde hace tres años, Ruiz trabaja tiempo completo en Talecris Rescursos de Plasma (TPR), por sus siglas en inglés, un centro de recolección de plasma.

Decades of helping migrant farm workers leads to founder of El Paso shelter meeting the Pope

EL PASO – When Carlos Marentes decided to help migrant farm workers who slept on cold sidewalks in Downtown El Paso he never imagined it would one day lead him to meeting the Pope. Marentes, who opened El Centro de los Trabajadores Agrículturas Fronterizos (The Border Farmworkers Center) in 1995, was one of three people selected from the U.S. to take part in the World Meeting of Popular Movements conference at the Vatican in late October. The conference was an open discussion about poverty, unemployment, loss of homes and land that affect people around the world. Marentes was surprised to receive an invitation to the conference. “I was meeting the pope,” Marentes said.