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.
EL PASO — Whether they were dressed as a banana, boxing champion, a huge hand flipping the bird, or just plain decked out in glow sticks, one thing was certain, they celebrated the first Halloween of its kind running through downtown. Thanks to Downtown Glow, the first annual event by Flow Entertainment, El Pasoans had a place to celebrate Halloween in a healthy, fun and bright way. The event took place on October 31 on one mile of closed streets including Oregon and Main. “We had seen this concept in other cities and saw that it was very successful,” said Crystal Bocanegra, co-founder of Downtown Glow. After seeing an event like this in Las Vegas, Crystal and her husband Alby decided to use their experience in event planning to create one where participants could enjoy what their own city had to offer.
EL PASO – This city on the U.S.- Mexico border known for the strong Mexican-American culture experienced a dramatic growth spurt in music and entertainment in the past two years as nightlife fizzled in violence-plagued Cd. Juarez. “Many people expected the Juarez violence to spill over the border, but the only thing that spilled over that border was the real electro nightlife,” said Silver IsReal, head of Estylow Junktion clothing design. Juarez’s nightclubs such as Hardpop and Morocos concert halls were host to many shows that attracted well-known DJ’s. When the violence in Juarez began to increase, many El Pasoans stopped crossing the border to see those shows and the nightlife followed them north.
EL PASO – Accustomed to a free and easy fashion style best described as “desert leisure,” the Sun City has belatedly and slowly begun incorporating world-class fashion design into its culture. Fashion consciousness is progressing in baby steps here compared to fashion forward cities such as New York or Los Angeles, but this traditional southwestern city started developing a more sophisticated fashion sense during the past two years. “I have noticed that the fashion industry in El Paso has grown but we still have a long way to go,” said Denisse Hernandez who participated in Fashion Week of El Paso 2012 as a designer. El Paso Fashion Week (EPFW) aims to become a bi-annual event. The first official EPFW took place this year from March 23 to the 31.
CIUDAD JUÁREZ, México – La vida de la pequeña de 11 años cambió por completo cuando la Orquesta Esperanza Azteca llegó a Cuidad Juárez. Jaqueline, cuyas calificaciones en la escuela no eran las más altas, sentía que le faltaba llenar un vacío dentro de si misma. “Antes de incorporarme a la orquesta me faltaba algo que me hiciera sentir más viva, más plena”, dice Jaqueline. La Orquesta Esperanza Azteca de Cuidad Juárez, un proyecto iniciado por el gobierno municipal y operado por Fundación Azteca, del Grupo Salinas en la Ciudad de México, es un proyecto social cuyo propósito principal es contribuir a la formación de mejores seres humanos a través de la música. “La orquesta consiste aproximadamente de 230 niños y adolescentes de seis a 17 años de edad que provienen de diversos niveles socioeconómicos de la ciudad”, dice Jove Garcia, coordinador del proyecto.
EL PASO – Entre risas y anécdotas Daniel Centeno presentó ante aficionados de la literatura su libro Retratos Hablados en la Universidad de Texas en El Paso (UTEP). Retratos Hablados es una recopilación de 50 entrevistas a personajes de la literatura y la música entre las que destacan las de los escritores Elena Poniatowska y Carlos Monsivais y los músicos Gustavo Cerati, Manu Chao y la difunta Chavela Vargas. En 444 páginas Centeno no sólo comparte las respuestas resultado de sus cuestionamientos, sino también revela detalles que solo pueden ser percibidos al conversar frente a frente. “Centeno abandona por momentos el oficio de cazador para volverse un pescador. Si no de almas, al menos de confesiones inconvenientes”, dijo Luis Arturo Ramos, profesor de creación literaria de UTEP, quien junto a Lourdes Cárdenas, editora del portal de noticias Somos Frontera, acompañaron a Centeno en la presentación de su más reciente libro.
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.
CANUTILLO, TX – At the border, a few yards before the tiny town of Canutillo becomes the busy city of El Paso, cars whiz by a run-down gas station without a second glance at the caution tape wrapped around the gas pumps, missing what many believe to be the best sandwich shop in town. Maracas, located at 911 Talbot, is the home of the Cuban sandwich, the sandwich that made the eatery famous in El Paso. What many don’t know however is that it is also home to a vast variety of Puerto Rican food. “I come Friday’s because he has the comida criolla… That’s the type of food I really like,” said Raymond Valles, a regular customer who was enjoying Pollo en Fricasé. Maracas owner Raymond Ortiz explained that to prepare Pollo en Fricasé, they must let the chicken marinate overnight in a stew-like marinade made with pureed vegetables.
EL PASO — A man in a panda costume walks lazily into a conference room where other people are dressed up as Storm Troopers, Iron-Man, and Pokémon characters and sits down with leisure waiting for the next panelist to arrive. Costumes are a regular sight at a comic book convention, however the panda still elicits an “Oooh! A panda!” comment from a small girl in the crowd. The conference room, located in the El Paso Convention Center was part of this year’s El Paso Comic Con (ep-con). Hosted September 14th through 16th, EP-CON gathered people in El Paso for the third consecutive year to celebrate both comic books and pop culture.
EL PASO – On Labor Day I went to the Food Basket, bought a gunny sack full of hot green chile and had it roasted. This is an annual tradition. Looking to the winter and smelling the incomparable smell of roasting chiles today, it has to happen. Even when I think I will pass just this once, buy it when I need it. The smell curls up in your soul; it gets to you, the tradition. I have room in the freezer now. Five hours later, fire-roasted fingers, and a mess in the kitchen, I now have 18 quart size bags of peeled chiles, a gallon bag stuffed with “I’m too tired to peel any more, this one didn’t want to slip its skin, too curly to contend with” and a large plastic container of chopped green. On Tuesday, I pick tomatoes in the garden, gather up onions, jalapeños, serranos, garlic, cilantro, and limes. I put on my apron that announces El Paso/Cd. Juárez as the Mexican Food Capital of the World. Today I am learning to can salsa, from my neighbor Marion who, judging from her open shelf bookcase filled with Mason jars, appears to be an expert. I have purchased a giant canning pot and some new jars at a place called Do It in anticipation of this lesson. All this and my chopped green chile I take over to Marion’s. First, we roast tomatoes in the oven to make them easy to peel, and get the water in the canning pot warming. While the tomatoes are roasting, we go out to her garden to cut basil because, after the salsa is done, we are going to make a batch of pesto, yum. The garden is more than a garden; it is an organic sculpture, carefully tended.
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.
CHICAGO – No importa el país ni la cultura, pero la música siempre ha servido como forma de identificación y expresión. La música mexicana no es excepción: Es tan colorida como la cultura del país. Existen rancheras, corridos, mariachis, norteñas, y muchas más, pero un género que está creciendo rápidamente en los alrededores de Chicago es la música del tamborazo. Este particular género consiste de sólo instrumentos y no va acompañado de voz. Tarolas, tambora, saxofones, trombones y tuba son algunos de los instrumentos que se escuchan en un tamborazo.
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.
EL PASO – Una vez que empieza la temporada de calor en la frontera, que siempre empieza en una fecha diferente, se antoja comer mariscos estilo mexicano, y es entonces que me viene a la mente un pequeño restaurante en la esquina de Mejía y Américas en Juárez, muy cerca del Puente Libre, donde se pueden degustar frescos cocteles, tacos de marlín o camarón, una parrillada de mariscos, sin faltar una michelada bien fría y aguas de sabores tradicionales. Playa Azul ha estado abierto al público desde 1982 en Juárez, desde 2007 inició operaciones en El Paso, en Zaragoza, sin embargo, hace unos cuantos meses abrió su tercer sucursal cerca de la calle Yarbrough, a un lado de la I-10, ubicación más accesible desde cualquier parte de la ciudad. El restaurante va en la segunda generación, el Sr. Eloy Corral inició con la primer sucursal mencionada renglones arriba, y su hija Karla se las ingenió para convencer a su joven esposo de que dejara su exitoso negocio de carrocería para dedicarse al negocio familiar. Marco Antonio Simental y su esposa Karla fueron quienes abrieron el primer restaurante en El Paso, al principio un lugar pequeñito, y luego de algunos años de trabajo, se cambiaron a la ubicación actual, en Zaragoza y Vista del Sol. Visito el tercer restaurante de la ahora joven cadena, elegante y moderno, diferente del original de Juárez, con unas esculturas que simulan árboles o ramas de metal y vidrio soplado, en color acero y rojo, muy originales, de un artista juarense de 24 años, que desea permanecer anónimo por el momento.
EL PASO – John Steady stretches the title musician to new limits by ignoring musical genre borders and playing multiple instruments while still remaining a Hip Hop lyricist artist at heart. At age 16 El Paso’s Steady began compiling verses in his school notebooks. He still keeps all the old notebooks in a box. Although he admits he’s come a long way from those initial rhymes, he still recognizes his attachment to them. He looks back to what he wrote in his youth and can see how much he has progressed since then, now 10 years later.
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.
EL PASO – The six-foot-four Miner who stood out from the sideline with his golden locks, Matt Camilli is waiting to hear from the NFL in the coming days. Long snapper Camilli had a phenomenal career playing for University of Texas at El Paso. Starting off as a walk-on freshmen and ending his career with the Miners with a scholarship. Camilli was selected 2011 All Conference USA first Team his senior year, as well as special teams captain his senior year and ranked one of the top five senior long snappers in the country by Pro Football Weekly. He is now hoping to take his career to the next level with an NFL team. “There has only been one long snapper drafted in nine years.
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.
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.
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.
EL PASO – Durante esta temporada de primavera y renovación en todos los sentidos, entrevisto a Alejandra Chávez, la Chef y propietaria del restaurante Thyme Matters, quien sabe una o dos cosas sobre reinventarse y seguir tus sueños
En realidad nunca imaginé que alguien tan joven iba a contarme una historia con tantos sueños alcanzados y audacia. Resulta que Alejandra en su corta pero intensa vida, estuvo viviendo en Iowa, en un tiempo en que los únicos latinos que conocían en ese remoto pueblecito eran los trabajadores agrícolas que llegaban a cosechar el maíz. Ella llegó a los 22 años, como una joven financiera recién graduada de UT Austin, a comerciar en la bolsa de valores los futuros del maíz. Después le ofrecieron irse a trabajar a Enron y su intuición, junto con sus análisis financieros, le dijeron que había algo raro que no encajaba, así que dejó su exitosa carrera financiera y una vida cosmopolita en Houston para regresar a su tierra, El Paso. Ya aquí y después de preocupar a su papá, que no sabía que iba a hacer esta hija suya, nuestra chef decidió un fin de año que ahora sí se iba a dedicar a lo que más le gustaba en la vida y se inscribió el 2 de enero de 2003 en un curso de gastronomía en Florencia, haciendo uso de todos sus ahorros.
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.
EL PASO – El viejo que solo puede ver en blanco y negro, mientras que platica con un muchacho se da cuenta de las diferencias de la vida para poder experimentar y entenderlas. Un rito de pasaje de la niñez a la vejez es un tema fuerte en las escrituras de Roberto Perezdíaz. Él describe cómo a través de la madurez una persona es capaz de recorrer los senderos de la vida y los coloca en el desierto de la frontera. Con el lanzamiento de su nuevo libro Más sabe el diablo, Perezdíaz ha reunido una colección de cuentos que exploran temas de inocencia y cinismo, a través de cuentos que incorporan el humor y la introspección. “Cada cuento con la excepción de El papalote y Tomasito es de una verdadera idea independiente.
EL PASO – The old man is color blind, but as he converses with the younger man he brings to life the contrasts and dilemmas they must go through in order to understand la vida. A person’s rite of passage from childhood to adulthood is a powerful theme in Roberto Perezdíaz’ writing. He describes how maturity makes people more adept at walking the paths to life and he places them in the desert of the borderland. With the release of his new book Más sabe el diablo, Perezdíaz has assembled a collection of short stories that explore themes of innocence and maturity through a collection of funny, insightful stories. “Every story with the exception of El papalote and Tomasito are independent ideas. But I noticed that one of the themes bubbling through the surface of the stories is that of oneself and the more you mature, the more knowledgeable you become,” Perezdíaz said.
EL PASO – It’s dark and late, usually around 2 a.m. when the faint notes of the Tiger fight song begin to sound, then, more clearly, cheerleaders cheering and students laughing, and stamping feet cascading into a pep rally – in a locked empty auditorium. You are hearing ghosts. “You might also think New Orleans is the most haunted city in the U.S but it is actually El Paso,” said Tobias H. “Toby” Tovar, 55, a math instructor at El Paso High School, “and El Paso High School is the most haunted building in town.”
El Paso High located at 800 E. Schuster, opened for classes in 1916 and since then “Lady on the Hill” has graduated many prominent citizens, and has captured hundreds of trophies, plaques, and championships in all fields. “Since the days of its construction, paranormal events have taken place at the school,” said Tovar. There have been numerous interior modifications designed to accommodate a growing student body and changing educational theories.
EL PASO – Ivan Niño may be able to portray someone else every day in the career path he has chosen, but at the end of the day he is just himself – a gay Hispanic struggling to become a successful actor. Niño, 20, has already been featured in a few films, is teaching an acting class for other aspiring actors and is currently filming a pilot for a children’s TV show. “I’ve done everything, a lot more than just acting. I’ve done the ‘dirty jobs.’ The people that I’ve met or have worked with are often of different ethnicities, but are usually more often than not Caucasian. It can be a little intimidating,” he said.
EL PASO – Steel walls cut and scar the border, while robotic eyes search for movement like predators for prey and border agents patrol the line in choreographed patterns raising clouds of dust, but none of this can keep out the music. This fixed fence prevents illegal migration and keeps America less subject to foreign influence, but it cannot stop a constant transfusion of Mexican culture from becoming ingrained in the U.S. lifestyle, especially in the borderland. “If we’re from El Paso, we often have U.S.-American tastes…but we also have the Mexican culture in the background somewhere. And I think people from Juarez and elsewhere have the same thing,” said Roberto Avant-Mier, a professor of Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso. He added that the people in the border have two languages, two cultures, several identities, and numerous musical influences, which according to him can come from at least two orientations.
EL PASO – An intoxicating yet intriguing aroma wafts through the restaurant and as the hissing sound of the grill catches the attention of the patrons, a plate leaves the kitchen and makes its way to a table, the spices and condiments with their bright colors alerting the onlookers that they are about to experience a true delicacy. In a city that is almost entirely dominated by the Tex-Mex cuisine, a few spots stand up against this “giant” in order to offer variety and culture to the Sun City. Some of these restaurants are Sinbad Restaurant located on the bustling and dynamic area of South Mesa street, offering its customers Middle Eastern cuisine; The Döner Kebab Shop situated close to Fort Bliss, presenting traditional as well as modern German fast food; and Zino’s Greek & Mediterranean Cuisine on the corner of Mesa and Resler, bringing authentic Greek food to the Texan west. What make these three choices stand out from the rest are not only their authentic and delicious dishes, or even their excellent service and readiness but their management. In May, 2002, UTEP PhD graduate Naser Yousif, opened Sinbad Restaurant, which is managed by him and his family in order to preserve the genuine flavor of his native Palestine.
EL PASO – Botas largas y picudas, pantalones entubados y música de cumbia electrónica son algunos de los elementos de la nueva moda en la frontera llamada Tribal. El movimiento tribal nació en México D.F. alrededor de los años 2000 ó 2001. Entonces el movimiento utilizaba sonidos más indígenas como ritmos Aztecas. Después al momento de llegar a Monterrey se convirte en Tribal Guarachero que es más parecido a la cumbia y guaracha colombianas. Existen varios grupos de baile tribal en las comunidades mexicanas de Estados Unidos y en México. Su forma de vestir es muy particular y lo más llamativo son sus botas picudas.
JESSICA ALVAREZ (Reporter): While the violence in Juarez has increased significantly over the last 3 years, so has the safety and unity of El Paso’s Electronic Dance Music (EDM) community. Since 2008, many kids and young people have ceased going to Juarez to see their favorite DJs and acts and El Paso has become the place for such events. The EDM scene that existed in Juarez has now jumped across the river and is now thriving here in El Paso making it safer for young people to attend the events. [Nats: Borderline Skitzo’s “Technopal” track]
ALVAREZ: Rasmiyeh Rishdi Asam, also known as Miss Mia, is a regular party-goer and she is also a photographer for the local Electronic Dance Music scene. [Nats: Fredo Maci’s Original Track- “Something Made Simple”]
RASMIYEH RISHDI ASAM: “Because of how the violence has escalated in Juarez, it’s just dangerous to be in the streets in that kind of city or environment.