Entertainment

Artists and Gourmets in Tijuana: What's Not to Like?

Art Tours Celebrate Happy Marriage of Gourmet Food and Fine Arts in Downtown Tijuana

Friday night, and the Centro was hoppin' in downtown Tijuana. A long line was forming on the sidewalk in front of Black Box, concertgoers eagerly waiting for the Chilean indie rock band Lucybell. Down the street, friends enjoying cocktails gathered at small tables at the new chic Cantina 67 by Bambi.

Alfa Galeria de Arte on 7th Street between Madero and Negrete
Alfa Galeria de Arte on 7th Street between Madero and Negrete

[p]And in spots here and there along the famed Avenida Revolución, art galleries and boutiques opened their doors to welcome the twenty of us who were here on a tour with cultural promoters Genaro Valladolid and Illya Haro.

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The popularity of Tijuana's arts district has been all over the news in recent years--The New York Times, The Washington Post, KCET Los Angeles have raved about the new Tijuana.

But that doesn't mean the locals know where the art is, says Valladolid.

And so he started to give tours. The idea is to help local people from Tijuana and San Diego find their way around the Centro and begin to collect local art, explains Valladolid.

Many people would love to buy and collect art, Valladolid notes, but they don't necessarily know where the good galleries are, how to evaluate art and find what you like, or how to tell what might be a good investment.

Host Illya Haro introduces the concept of the Tijuana Art-Culinary Tour
Host Illya Haro introduces the concept of the Tijuana Art-Culinary Tour

[p]And so, with a little guidance from cultural promoters like Illya Haro who know the artists personally, local Tijuanenses can find their way around the world of local art.

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"The Kitchen" Photography Studio and Live-Work Space of Josue Castro
"The Kitchen" Photography Studio and Live-Work Space of Josue Castro

[p]Our tour started in "The Kitchen," photographer Josue Castro's photography studio and live-work space celebrating his one year anniversary in the new Constitución y 7ma building.

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Social time and a chat with Castro were paired with artisanal beer from Cervecería Mamut. Chef Moises Arredondo of the local restaurant Punto Siete was on hand to serve delicious Japanese fusion appetizers.

Next stop was Alfa Gallery of Art, located on 7th between Madero and Negrete where gallery owner Viviam Mireles offered us a flight of local red and white wines from the Valle of Guadalupe, and artist Luis Alderete was on hand to talk about his landscape paintings currently on exhibit.

Daniel Ruanova and Mely Barragan of TJ in China Project Room
Daniel Ruanova and Mely Barragan of TJ in China Project Room

[p]We wandered back to Avenida Revolución where Mely Barragan and Daniel Ruanova welcomed us to their gallery TJ in China.

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The couple lived in China for two years where they developed contacts and started a cultural exchange. The Tijuana gallery draws artists together from across cultural and geographical boundaries to share ideas and engage in collaborative projects.

Local restaurant Puerco y Pintas (Pork and Pints) shared their delightful and delicious concept appetizers with the crowd--everything that they cook in their restaurant includes a pork ingredient. We enjoyed a delicious salad with chicharron, and tostadas with spicy red chile salsa and pork ceviche.

Local artisanal brewery Cerveza Funes shared a delicious creamy Stout, and we settled into the night, fat and happy.

In this spot between the famous "La Sexta" (6th Street) and 7th Street, a host of new boutiques and art spaces has been popping up in the past year. We visited Doratto and Bona Cafe and Design, featuring coffee and local handcrafted clothing and accessories.

Our final stop for the night was Plaza Revolución, one of many new pasaje spaces that has opened up in the past five years in Tijuana. Located near the corner of 3rd and Revolución.

Arreola siblings Melisa, Monica and Ivan welcomed us to their gallery 206 Contemporary Art, and Samantha Luna gave us a tour of the new exhibit in Blástula Gallery.

Exquisite desserts from Sabor y Arte Cafe
Exquisite desserts from Sabor y Arte Cafe

Here we enjoyed more delicious food and drink. Artisanal beer from Azteca Beer, and appetizers from La Justina Gastro-Pub and from Sabor y Arte Cafe, including to die for dates stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with creamy dark chocolate.

Come join Genaro Valladolid and Illya Haro on their next tour. Guaranteed to please both your aesthetic and culinary tastes.

For more information on upcoming tours, contact Illya and Genaro at Agents of Contemporary Art info@agentesartecontemporaneo.com

*Click to see our gallery of photos from the event

jill.holslin@sandiegored.com

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