I had time to sleep on it…
This one’s posted for those of you who are curious as to what you may have heard… David Bowie \”Space Oddity\” (Lisa Carbon RMX)
Makeout Weird just happened this past Thursday and it occurred to me that three of the four artists included for the night are from South Bay. Both of my parents are from the mid-western United States and grew up on farms, I however was born in Bay View Hospital off of H st. in Chula Vista. My existence started here along with many others, being of French-German heritage and growing up in one of the most southern parts of California was pretty rad: minutes from the U.S. / Mexican border, excellent climate, the beach, and amazing cultural diversity just to name a few. The grade school and high school I attended were, and are still around about 80% Hispanic. My father spent 30 years working for the U.S. Navy, and was often away, my mother worked full time and at the tender age of three months I was under the watchful eye of a loving Italian woman who took care of me for many years to follow. I’ve always felt detached from my own heritage / culture and instead found comfort and understanding in others.
As soon as I turned 18 I discovered the neighboring city of Tijuana. Although I had gone before on family excursions, going on my own had a completely different feeling. I could see the skyline of Tijuana from my backyard growing up; it always had allure and mystic. So by the time I turned 18, the legal age of adulthood, I hit the ground running and found a safe haven on the dance floor at Porky’s Place. 80’s cult classics like “Happy House” by Siouxsie & The Banshees played all night. The set list was predictable, the faces were friendly and the dance floor was always packed. It was here that I became completely comfortable within a country other than my own.
So this past week I got to thinking about all the amazing life changing experiences I’ve had, all the people I’ve met, and all the friends I’ve made. I am proud to support artists from this area (Chula Vista) and I’m pleased that I have the opportunity to do so. Shayna Why, Esteban Flrores, and Ana Brown all grew up in South Bay, create amazing art, and were all part of this month’s Makeout Weird!
Esteban Flores is the mind behind Monochromacy, which is solo experimental noise/drone/skronk/doom. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?fbid=155897139143&id=657884143&aid=113829#!/monochromacy
Shayna Why is a female artist, her work is quirky, fun, and light hearted. She makes all kinds of gems that may appear to be beautiful mutants but in fact are curious creatures of her imagination. Her drawings, paintings, bags and interesting others are made of recycled and refashioned materials. She has painted in oil as well as acrylic and has an excellent eye for the unusual. www.unordinary.org
Ana Brown is part of a grass-roots art collective called “The Roots Factory” based in Barrio Logan, San Diego. Their mission is to “foster a space that promotes global consciousness through a message of peace, protest and collectivity by employing a provocative blend of cultural imagery and music.”
Founded by “local San Diego artists Bob Green & Ana Brown, and craftsmen Milo Lorenzana & Chris Zertuche, The Roots Factory is a screen printing shop / performance arts space which is also used as an art school and an open print studio.”
Their purpose is creating “culture, tolerance, self-empowerment and awareness.” Hosting “regular events where we invite the community to take part in events that combine art & music within a peaceful family setting.”
IFC (Independent Film Channel) recently stopped by The Roots Factory to record for a new series, where different aspects of six different cities are discovered. So if you got cable keep your eyes peeled.
Local weekly City Beat also found interest in The Roots Factory, here is what they caught:
“Just off a quiet alley in Barrio Logan, a revolution is growing. It’s a place where a dog can be president, children can become activists and a rooster serves as a meaningful mascot. Located blocks from Chicano Park, the Roots Factory is a collective of do-it-yourself consciousness raisers who use guerilla arts, like spray-can stenciling and screen printing, to raise awareness of the group’s many political causes.”
“We’re just trying to basically tap into our roots,” explains Bob Green, one of the collective’s co-founders. “We’re all about tapping into the universal cultural thing,” he continues, referring to the group’s goals of global consciousness and multiculturalism. “So, our Roots Factory is a place where we can all get together and make it happen.”
Started earlier this year, the Roots Factory has grown exponentially in the short five months it’s been active. It hosts daytime, family-friendly events that teach attendees everything from screen-printing to DJing—all for free as part of its School of Guerilla Arts (donations are highly encouraged). There’s also spoken word, music events and more.
“We open the shop to the community and give kids and our friends a little hands-on in what it is that we do,” says Ana Brown, another founder and local artist. “It’s also a place for everybody to get together, and it’s all-ages. There’s kids, grandparents, moms—a little bit of everything.”
The Roots Factory began last year when Brown and Green started their clothing company, Phat Roots, and wanted to do something more for the community. After rounding up some key folks from various artistic and political circles, the Roots Factory was born.
A little Chihuahua mutt found on the street was named Chico and appointed the group’s unofficial president, while a rooster serves as its ubiquitous mascot, adorning everything from posters and paintings to T-shirts and hats. Green gives a tongue-in-cheek explanation for the pervasive poultry presence.
“The rooster is No. 1 on Lotería [Mexican bingo] cards, and, culturally, the chicken is everywhere—there isn’t a race that doesn’t eat chicken.”
Then Green turns serious. “The Roots Factory is also about cultivation, rising from the Earth,” he says. “The rooster makes a call that it’s a new day. Right now is a new day—we’re making the call that it’s time to wake up, time to get to work.”
To wake up San Diegans, the group hosts events about twice a month, where as many as 200 people cram into the courtyard and small warehouse off of Cesar Chavez Parkway.
“It’s created a buzz; the phone don’t stop,” jokes Milo Lorenzana, another founder. “It’s kind of crazy, but it’s cool because all we’re trying to do is send a message. The support is endless, and that’s all we want.”
To illustrate the message the group is sending, Brown points over her shoulder at the many posters that line the wall behind her, explaining the group’s work. “A lot of the things with T-shirts and the posters, we have some sort of message. We’re trying to send a message and also make people aware of certain things, whether it’s boycott Arizona or seize BP,” Brown says, referring to British Petroleum’s Gulf Coast oil spill.
With the School of Guerilla Arts, the collective shows attendees the process of making art in hopes that it will translate to political message. “We’d been doing work with youth and young adults,” Green says, noting partnerships with local service groups including the Voz Alta Project, La Entrada and the Downtown YWCA. “It was something that we wanted to bring onto a larger scale, where it would be young and old together, not just learning to silkscreen, but understanding the power of it to bring a message and promote positivity through that artwork.”
There’s also the allure of taking what is thought of as graffiti by some—tagging with a marker or spray-paint stenciling—and elevating it to street art and political speech.
“When I was growing up, anything that had to do with a spray can or any kind of marker was like, ‘Oh no, it’s bad, it’s bad, it’s bad.’ But this kind of cool art can be something that can make you more of a person, so why not show them?” Lorenzana says.
The group quickly became important in the predominately Latino neighborhood that borders Downtown, notes longtime activist and Roots Factory advisor Stephanie De La Torre. “All of sudden,” she says, “there are a lot of art galleries in Barrio Logan, and this kind of keeps this true to what the meaning of the community is; they all have close ties with this community from Chicano Park.”
There are also partnerships with other cultural groups, artists, DJs and musicians, like percussionist Victor Tapia of San Diego’s B- Side Players. Then there’s the positive response from Barrio Logan’s longtime activists and the Chicano Park Steering Committee.
“They worked with Chicano Park, helping with Chicano Park Day,” De La Torre notes. “They got a lot of support and exposure to the elders in the community—the elders even bring their kids and their grandkids.”
As for the future, the group has some lofty aspirations. Brown envisions other schools or perhaps chapters across the country. Meanwhile, Green is content for now.
“We’re not making money off this,” he says.
“Really, what we gain from this is our neighborhood just changing—the arts being respected, kids growing up wanting to be artists instead of gangsters. And that’s enough.”
Article by Lorena Nava Ruggero:
So it becomes clear to me, that we are here NOW. We who grew up in South Bay are well aware that northern Mexico is very close, “San Ysidro is home to the world’s busiest land border crossing, where U.S. Interstate 5 crosses into Mexico at Tijuana. In the 2005 U.S. fiscal year, more than 17 million vehicles and 50 million people entered the United States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.” http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jul/11/number-of-border-crossings-stabilizes/
We are a diverse beautiful culture filled with an array of strength and talent, there is no reason that a border should separate our ideas, beliefs, concepts or love.