(Graphic Design by Raul R. Saenz)

My personal Fever Chart perspective on the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict

EL PASO – I am extremely content to have been part of this risky play, The Fever Chart. It changed my perspective of the Arab-Israeli conflict and I hope the production taught other young minds to not be oblivious to a continuing war that is happening this very second. The Arabs and the Israelis have been ripping each other to threads ever since I can remember. War kills love and joy, along with piles of people. And the only question I ask myself is this.

Rembrandt, Rubens, and Golden Age of Painting in Europe, currently at El Paso Museum of Art. (Christina Duran/Borderzine.com)

Understanding the Baroque through paintings, music and theater

EL PASO — Using words such as chiaroscuro, castrati, and rima to describe paintings by Caravaggio and other Italian artists, Jon Seydl explained the blend of music, poetry, and theater in Baroque paintings. ‘The Lute Player,’ a painting by Caravaggio in the late 16th century was one of the images explained by Seydl. It portrays an androgynous figure believed to be a castrato in a camerino, a small room in houses used for private performances. In the image, the castrato is playing a lute, a violin, a tenor recorder, a spinetta, and a musical score in front of him. This painting is a perfect example how the different aspects of the Baroque culture are shown in the paintings.

San Elizario’s unique revival gathers local history, gardening and hundreds of artists

SAN ELIZARIO, TX – There’s only one place in El Paso County where a family can see work by hundreds of artists, visit a veteran’s museum, get a homemade empanada at a café, see a live band at a restaurant that’s right next to the jail that once housed Billy the Kid, then walk a few blocks down the street to a community garden. This is the San Elizario Historic district, also known as “San Eli,” home to the only art district in the county, located about 10 miles east of the city limits. “We started this madness out here in 2009 with the Main Street Gallery and things just quickly grew,” said Al Borrego, a self-taught artist who invests most of his time promoting San Elizario and all the artists. “I take pride in my community and I think with the history and talent out here, it’s the perfect place for something like this.”

There are over 100 artists exhibiting their artwork in about 40 galleries, with more venues on the way. The artworks range from traditional acrylic and oil paintings, to iron and woodwork as well as sculptures, stained glass and jewelry.

The Plaza Theatre reopened as the Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center on March 17, 2006. (Oscar Garza/Borderzine.com)

The Classic Film Festival to welcome Al Pacino at El Paso’s historic Plaza Theatre

EL PASO – Nostalgia is a wonderful thing when you are well along in life. The memories of youth many times built around classic films are resurrected during the very rare film festivals held from time to time. Well, more than 80 classic films will be shown in El Paso in August. The Plaza Classic Film Festival will be held August 2 – 12 at the historic Plaza Theater. The festival was created in 2008 to celebrate this country’s rich cinema history and rekindle the joy of going to the movies.

The Lounge also works as an art gallery. (Kristopher Rivera/Borderzine.com)

Music and art now pervade the ambiance of the Sumatra Hookah Lounge

EL PASO – A new lifestyle is sprouting on the corner of Mesa and Rio Grande where the Sumatra Hookah Lounge weathered by a blend of cultures and creativity has become a point of origin for many talented artists in the area. “The culture is kind of growing into more of like a musical inclined thing,” said David Zubia (bass/vocalist) of Squids Ltd. “We have a lot of electric music scene, and it’s kind of cool to see these rock bands come out and then connect with the crowd, have a good time with the crowd, and involve them.”

The Genesis of this movement began with the ambitions of David Aver, owner of Sumatra Hookah Lounge, took over the tavern from its previous owner on December 2010. “With Sumatra it was primarily a hookah but there were so many young artists that would come and visit my establishment that I decided to kind of make it my mission to contribute to the community by providing an outlet for local musicians,” Aver said. “So as far as on the music side we’re having a lot of people and everyone’s welcomed.”

David Zubia, Stan Zubia and Manuel Hernandez have played a few shows at Sumatra and are an example of the local talent that use the venue as a starting platform.

Centro de Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos at Oregon St. and 9th St. (Annette Baca/Borderzine.com)

Puro Borde murals show the colors of hope in the border cities

EL PASO – Local artists from El Paso and Ciudad Juarez have joined together in a network that spans the border, dedicated to painting the streets of both cities with hopeful art to refocus the minds of many who see this area as a war zone. The network known as Puro Borde, consists of more than two dozen artists from the El Paso-Juarez area who help each other exhibit their murals, turning their cities into more colorful communities. They also place their work in local galleries. Self-described “border artist” Arón Venegas, is a member of Puro Borde in El Paso who believes that art communicates with power. Venegas, a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, has worked on a variety of murals with Puro Borde and has exhibited his work in both Mexico and the U.S.

As for creating a sense of pride in a community through public art, Venegas suggests that a single mural cannot have the power that many with the same objective can.

Coroto Magazine's website showing its second issue focused on Japanese Literature. (©Coroto)

UTEP Resources Help Launch Magazine

By Sandy Hicks

EL PASO – Webster’s dictionary describes serendipity as “an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.” UTEP Master of Fine Arts in creative writing students Daniel Ríos Lopera and Daniel Centeno, and 2011 graduate Diego Bustos, could have written the book on serendipity – or rather the magazine – and it seems they have. Revista COROTO is a slick literary magazine brimming with poetry, prose and photographs contributed by more than 20 writers, some of them Nobel Laureates and Cervantes Prize winners from five Latin American countries as well as France, Japan and England, all translated into Spanish. The first issue, printed in December 2011, is a compact, full-color edition with the theme El Fin de la Inocencia (the end of innocence). The weight of its 150 pages makes it feel more like a softcover coffee table book than a magazine, and the cover has a velvety feel. The circuitous swirl of serendipity began when Columbian international students Ríos from Medellín, Columbia; Bustos from Bogota, Colombia; and Centeno, from Puerto de la Cruz, Venezuela, met in UTEP’s Department of Creative Writing while pursuing their MFAs.

Hearts of Fire exhibition at La Galería de la Misión de Senecu. (Erika Lopez/Borderzine.com)

Women in the arts hope to inspire “Hearts of Fire” in their students


EL PASO – The artworks along the hallways displayed rich colors and vivid patterns of nature, people, and religious motifs, images that sprang from women artists creating their own art. The exhibition, “Hearts of Fire,” at La Galería de la Misión De Senecu Ysleta ISD Fine Arts Department, was presented recently by the Art Swap program of the Union de Viejas Artistas (UVAs), a group of practicing and retired women art teachers who support art education and encourage personal artistic growth. However, they confess that their true devotion lies in providing their young art students with the best possible education. “Educators have little access to support and professional development. That is how the group came to be,” said Lorena Williams, the founding member and creator of UVAs Art Swap.

As far as the eye can see. (Ezra Rodriguez/Borderzine.com)

Viewing the world through photography keeps the artist motivated and inspired

EL PASO – When my passion for photography started six years ago my sensei, friend, and fellow photographer, Victor Peña told me that photography was like marriage. “Many people think that being a photographer is a piece of cake, but it is much harder that it appears to be,” he said. He also told me that to achieve a successful marriage a person has to work hard to get it. Photography is not much different. I have found that not all days are going to be happy and cheerful; there are days when things are not going to be as one plans.

Stands were scattered across Lincoln Park as people danced, enjoyed oldies music, savored delicious Mexican food, and enjoyed a variety of artwork. (Cassandra Morrill/Borderzine.com)

Community groundswell advocates for the preservation of the historic Lincoln Center

EL PASO — Hundreds of El Pasoans gathered here recently in a peaceful protest to  remember Chicano activist César Chávez and to demand that the city reopen the Lincoln Cultural Arts Center, El Paso’s first school and the city’s first Hispanic art center. The Lincoln Center, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, first opened as a school and later changed into an art gallery. It is located near the Chamizal neighborhood, were 97 percent of the population is Hispanic. Traditionally a place for children to keep busy, instead of causing trouble on the streets, the Lincoln Center  also provided the community with computers and Internet access. The Center was shut down by the city due to a mold infestation after heavy rains in 2006 and  according to Hector Gonzalez, the head of the Lincoln Park Conservation Committee, which is dedicated to saving the center, city officials say it will cost $3.6 million to reopen the center.