Crayola Monologues Screens at Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park

Crayola Monologues will be screening at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park (directions), this Sunday, April 15 at 6:00 p.m. The event, Film School Confidential, will screen student work. If you’ve never been in MoPA’s theater, it’s beautiful. I’m really excited about the screening if only for the excellent venue.

UPDATE: Film critic and curator of Film School Confidential, Beth Accomando, posted a brief review of each film. Of Crayola Monologues, she says:

You can’t get any more low budget than photographing crayons, but Gibbs proves that clever writing and a strong creative vision are worth far more than a big budget. This film is playful and humorous but with a biting social message. The film makes us do a double take as it points out how seemingly trivial things–like the names of colors on crayons–can reflect bigger social issues.

General Admission: $10
Students, Seniors, Military: $6
For more information: 858-422-5564

Crayola Monlogues in Film School Confidential '07

Public Art at Tijuana Border Crossing

During 2004/2005, I spent my mornings waiting in line at the border. The commute from Tijuana to San Diego gave me plenty of time to watch, listen and think. For several weeks, I watched a group of men working behind a shroud of old vinyl banners and recycled plastic sheets. I couldn’t see what it was, but they were building something. Every day, I’d catch a glimpse of color or a peculiar shape. On days when traffic moved quickly, I felt a little disappointed that I hadn’t been able to see more. Day by day, the anticipation grew.

Finally, it was revealed.

The structure stands around 40-feet-tall. The base holds an imprisoned hand; the top, a tile mosaic cityscape with two spires reaching upward. Four engraved Mayan hoops face north, south, east and west. A south-facing plaque reads:

ESCULTURA
“ENTRE VENTANA Y PUERTA”
DEL ARTISTA VISUAL
OSCAR ORTEGA

Sculpture “Between a Window and a Door” By Visual Artist Oscar Ortega

At the time, I was the technical director for KPBS Radio’s The Lounge, a daily talk show covering the arts in San Diego. The show’s producer, Angela Carone, and host, Dirk Sutro, were interested in Tijuana artists as well, so I made contact with Oscar Ortega. We started an email conversation, but unfortunately, there was turnover at work and I was reassigned to a different program. After not receiving Oscar’s reply to a set of questions — and with the changes at work — the story faded into that quiet place where memories go to gather dust.

Oscar Ortega has several public pieces in Tijuana, including a mural just a short distance from the sculpture. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have an online portfolio that I can find. Searching “entre ventana y puerta” returns an image of mine on Flickr as the top result (I’m curious if this blog post will take it’s spot after it gets crawled). So after two years waiting to read someone else’s review of the piece, I figure it’s about time to share my own.

He explained the title as a description of Tijuana’s physical (and perhaps psychological) situation. It’s an incredibly transited city, but has no seaport, making its coastline only a “window.” The “door” refers to the U.S. border — a door locked for many. The piece, like the city, is rich with layered symbols: the hand of Mexican labor, cars circle the base endlessly, the round indigenous blocks carved with the men’s bathroom figure, the jumbled mosaic like the residential architecture covering Tijuana’s hillsides.

Certain patterns line up at particular angles, allowing you to discover each scene as you move around it. For me, Ortega’s sculpture stands as a monument to the culture of Tijuana: a mix of indigenous and modern symbols, a city of travelers, glimpses of family struggle, international labor and commerce, and all of it trapped in a corner at the edge of the world. And I’m curious if the people who pass “between a window and a door” daily manage to see themselves in it.

Non-Hispanic

Every time I go to the bank for anything that requires a conversation with a person who isn’t behind an inch of bullet-ready glass, I seem to get the same lady. She added Rosario to my accounts after the wedding, ordered new checks, and wired money to an escrow company. She’s always been courteous. She keeps a professional distance, not asking more than the necessary questions.

Tall and trim, large brown eyes, long brown hair, medium to light brown skin. She’s got a mysterious look and a subtle accent. But it’s not a Spanish accent so it has me guessing Brazilian.

Today, I walk into the bank, write my name on the clip board and sit in a chair just firm enough to be unwelcoming. I notice my usual helper is with someone else. A guy walks toward and past me saying “I’ll be with you in one sec.” Before he returns, she finishes with the older gentleman at her desk and calls me over.

As she’s entering information into a screen I can only see the back of, a co-worker says goodbye and asks when she’s taking her day off. “I’ll be off Thursday because I’ll be doing the Latin festival.” I jump in, “The Latino Film Festival? Will you be working at a booth or something?” “Yeah,” she explains, working a table for opening accounts.

Counting on her accent not being Spanish, I ask what she thinks of the term “Hispanic.” She tells me she’s often asked to fill out forms at work that show they’re hiring a diverse workforce, but she always fills in “other.” “I’m from Brazil and I speak Portuguese, so I’m not Hispanic. Here they think you’re all the same. In Brazil, you call it by your color: white, black or in-between. In Brazil I’m white,” she explains.

“Do your Mexican clients ever get upset you don’t speak Spanish?” She says they get frustrated, not angry. “They do get angry with this other guy who is third generation Mexican-American ’cause he doesn’t speak Spanish. You know, he’s like, get angry at my parent’s; it isn’t my fault.”

She hands me the receipt and the transaction is over — just in time to keep me from embarrassing myself by regurgitating my thesis.

The Sound of a New Year in Tijuana

The night sky in one of Tijuana’s neighborhoods explodes with energy in the early hours of 2007. My nephews and I share in the improvised community pyrotechnics to welcome the new year. The spirit of celebration emanates all around us.

Photos Included in Exhibition in New Zealand

About nine months ago, Geoff Budd commented on a set of photos I have on Flickr called Shoe Dump, a collection of shoes hanging from powerlines:

Primo set Nathan! I’m a photographer based in New Zealand putting together an exhibition on the topic. If you’d like to have some of your images included please check my website & let me know…

A few months after submitting some photos, the project started coming to life. Here are a few images from Geoff as the collage was coming together.

Mosaic V1!
For the Santos Cafe ‘mini-exhib’ I’ve been producing the shots onto various thickness PVC blocks at 100mm square. With the limited wall space at this venue I am only able to produce a mosaic of around 50 images though the main exhib will feature the rest of the group. There’s been a few late nights as it’s quite labour intensive but it’s looking sweet!

Will update more pics as it progresses…

Thanks again for all your shots & stories!

Originally uploaded by sole intentions.

Mosaic V1 contd…
Originally uploaded by sole intentions.

Mosaic V1 contd…
Originally uploaded by sole intentions.

See if you can spot this one of mine nestled in there. It’s one of my personal favorites, and ranks as #4 for interestingness (800 views, 11 favorites, 6 comments) of my photos on Flickr (also see #1, #2, #3). It also is holding steady at around #235 on Flickr’s Explore for the most interesting photos uploaded on December 5, 2006 (see all photos of mine that made Explore pages)

Shoes On The Line #6

Read more about the exhibition and Geoff Budd in the article Exhibition with plenty of sole, check out the exhibition flyer (PDF), and if you’re near Auckland, New Zealand, the opening is this Tuesday Jan. 30 at Satellite Gallery from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

SoleIntentions.com

True Mexican Novelas

After visiting the tomb of her daughter in Guadalajara, my mother-in-law Luz sits quietly in the backseat with her sister Esperanza. The high-beams guide us in the darkness. Rosario takes advantage of the two-and-a-half hour drive to León, Guanajuato to interview her aunt about her youth. “Tenía ud. muchos novios? Did you have a lot of boyfriends?” she asks. “Uy, sí. Oh yeah.” They both chuckle. Esperanza continues, explaining how she dated three boys at the same time, one being her future husband. Once, she was out dancing with one boyfriend, and another boyfriend arrived. Her friends quickly alerted her “Ahí viene José Here comes José” so she could excuse herself from the dance-floor.

Rosario asks her aunt how she eventually married José. “Por accidente! By accident!” Esperanza explains how different times were back then. She was a good girl who held hands but didn’t kiss. One day, she got angry with a neighbor and the two exchanged heated words. Later, Esperanza’s father, a man who rarely spoke to her whatsoever, asked her if what the neighbor told him was true. She reluctantly agreed. What she didn’t know was that the neighbor actually said Esperanza and José were having inappropriate relations. Her father obliged José to marry Esperanza. She liked José but had no interest in marriage at age 16. Her father insisted. The Catholic train couldn’t be stopped and the two were married. It wasn’t until several years later, while talking with her mother, she realized what had happened.

But the story didn’t stop there. She describes José’s drinking, the beatings, the 20 pregnancies, and their first kiss after over 50 years of marriage. After an hour of her stories, all those telenovelas with ridiculous plot turns somehow seemed a little less ridiculous.

Meet Esperanza:

Esperanza