Mexico: Go deep inside Tijuana’s art and food scene on this museum tour



By Carolina A. Miranda para Los Angeles Times

It's no secret that the Mexican border area around Tijuana is in the midst of a cultural renaissance -- and one museum makes it easy to take it all in.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego for more than three years has organized regular day-trips to areas around the border -- all with a focus on art, architecture and history (with a little food thrown in for good measure).

The next one starts 10 a.m. Friday. Tours are $135 per person for non-members and include transportation from San Diego and lunch.

Tijuana's emerging independent art spaces along with artisan workshops and private galleries were documented by the Los Angeles Times in the Tijuana Generation Art series last fall.

Landing in Tijuana
The tour begins in Tijuana, where the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) took us through the city, stopping for a visit at a local art space. Seen here: the monument to Cuahtemoc, the last Aztec emperor of Mexico.


Meeting the gallerists
TJ in China directors Daniel Ruanova and Mely Barragán discuss their artist-run space with a San Diego tour group. The pair worked in China for a time, but returned to Tijuana because the cultural scene was flourishing.


To the Valle de Guadalupe
From Tijuana, we took the stunning two-hour ride south along the coast, before landing in the Guadalupe Valley. The area is home to vineyards and olive groves and small, boutique wineries.


A pleasant lunch break
Lunch was at Javier Plascencia and Pedro Peñuela's welcoming country restaurant, Finca Altozano, where we enjoyed a family-style meal that included melt-in-your mouth short ribs, grilled mushrooms, fresh pasta and corn pudding.


In an artist's studio
The afternoon was spent in the studio of artists Einar and Jamex de la Torre, a brother duo from Guadalajara who are known for their wild blown-glass and assemblage pieces. Seen here: some of the small thrift store curios that often find their way into their work.


Art by the De la Torre brothers
The De la Torre brothers travel all over the world to produce installations such as this wall hanging, but maintain their principal studio in the Guadalupe Valley.


Encuentro Guadalupe
The final stop on our tour was the Encuentro Guadalupe hotel, designed by Tijuana architect Jorge Gracia of Graciastudio.


Views of the cabins
The hotel consists of a series of cabins, wrapped in steel, dotting the mountaintop — and offering staggering views of the Guadalupe Valley. The architect is known for working with materials at hand (such as stell, which was provided to him by the client).


Parting views
As part of the tour of Encuentro Guadalupe, we met with the architect, who spoke about the importance of preserving the natural landscape of the mountain while providing amenities. These were our last, wondrous views before heading back to the U.S.


The city is home to an important regional art center that regularly hosts traveling exhibitions, as well as a zona gastronómica (gastronomic zone), which features eateries from some of the area's most celebrated chefs, such as Javier Plascencia of Misión 19 in Tijuana and Bracero in San Diego.

Friday's museum tour will include a visit to "El Cubo," the new galleries at the Centro Cultural Tijuana, to get a personally guided tour of the art collection of Alonso Elías and Patty Fontes. It will also include a visit to the alternative art space, La Caja Galería and a visit to the studio of photographer Ingrid Hernández.

Lunch will be at Verde y Crema, the new Baja Med hot spot by Jair Tellez.

Last summer, I joined the museum for a similar day-long excursion to various cultural outposts in Tijuana and beyond (see the embedded photo essay).

This included a stop at an artist-run gallery on Avenida Revolución, a visit to the Valle de Guadalupe studio of artists Einar and Jamex de la Torre, and a conversation with architect Jorge Gracia, of graciastudio, about sustainability in design.

In between all of the culture, we enjoyed a farm-fresh family-style lunch at the celebrated Finca Altozano. All around, a terrific way to taste all that Tijuana has to offer in just a single day.

Info: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, (858) 454-3541


This article was originally published on Feb 18, 2016 in - To read the article click here.

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