Steve Jobs appears in Playas de Tijuana

Young artists paint murals of 21st century icons

TIJUANA.-The iconic Steve Jobs portrait has been recreated on a wall in Playas de Tijuana right next to the bullfighting ring. The mural is located a block away from the beach and can be viewed from the 7-eleven that's on the entrance to the boardwalk (633 Del Farallón Street). The artists got permission from Corona Internacional real estate, who own the wall of the apartment complex the painting is on.

The background is like a Facebook page and Julian Assange appears next to Jobs. In both ends of the mural there's a chat bubble that explains who the people on the mural are. The message on the right reads "Who are they? They are Steve Jobs, the creator of Apple and Julian Assange the creator of WikiLeaks. Orale, los voy a googlear." It states the obvious, but a lot of people in Mexico are not aware who Assange is. "Some people passing by have confused him with AMLO," Lucia tells me (AMLO = Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexican politician and activist). The text shows that the verb "to google" also exists in Spanish.

The artists are both 27 years of age, Simi "el Buho" Villamil and Lucia Rivera. "Buho" is owl in Spanish, nickname that he got for frequently sleeping in the classroom. Though with no former education on the arts or college degree, Buho has 13 years of experience painting murals in Tijuana and other cities. Lucia is an experienced singer and songwriter on her way to get her BA in music studies, she attended several art courses as well. This is her first mural, though she has done a lot of several other paintings through the years.

Together, they pretend to start a new form of mural art. Sick of other murals that only depict "monitos" or have a cartoon feel, their intention is to talk about current subjects and educate people of what is going on in the world. In the week of working on the mural, several different people have approached them to cover the story. "We never imagined this would get this much attention," commented Lucia, "we didn't even have the name for our movement, but we finally decided on calling it Movimiento Artistico Red Mental."

As I watch them work, an American passerby gives a 50 pesos bill to Buho, "this is for the paint bro, keep up the good work!-" the passerby exclaimed. I asked Lucia if this happened often - "A lot of people have come by for support, but that's the first time they give us money. On the weekend there were some people from LA down here. They liked what we were doing so they brought us coconuts and other food. It's crazy, we didn't think we were going to get this much attention."

Some details are missing on the mural and they plan to finish it this week and add a phrase by Assange translated into Spanish, "if wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth."

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