Brent E. Beltrán

Thumbnail image for Looking Back at the Week at SDFP and OB Rag: July 20-26

Looking Back at the Week at SDFP and OB Rag: July 20-26

by Brent E. Beltrán 07.27.2014 Books & Poetry

Compiled by Brent E. Beltrán

This week’s edition of Looking Back at the Week features articles by San Diego Free Press and OB Rag regulars and at-large contributors on Comic-Con, a proud day for activism, stinky SDPD, the Mayor’s climate indifference, GOP wanting to impeach, minimum wage, Obama and Cap America, Neighborhood House, for-profit colleges, who runs San Diego, bare facts, native solidarity, El Machete, OB planning and lots more.

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Thumbnail image for Spotlight on San Diego Artist/Animator Tony Washington

Spotlight on San Diego Artist/Animator Tony Washington

by Brent E. Beltrán 07.25.2014 Arts

He started in comics at eighteen and twenty years later continues his dream

By Brent E. Beltrán

There is a tremendous amount of homegrown San Diego talent that contributes in various ways to making popular culture and Comic-Con what it is. Going into Comic-Con I wanted to profile one such individual.

The person that came to mind is someone who has become part of my extended family, Anthony Washington. Tony was born in Detroit, Michigan but didn’t live there long. With his dad in the navy he moved around the country a lot and eventually settled into Imperial Beach. Though not born here Tony still considers himself a native San Diegan.

At 38 years old Anthony Washington gets to do what he loves: draw.

On Preview Night at Comic-Con I interviewed him about his background, his influences, how he got started, what projects he’s worked on, what he’s got coming up and what advice he’d give to wannabe comic book artists looking to get into the business.

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Thumbnail image for The Return of Comic-Con International: Revenge of the Press Release

The Return of Comic-Con International: Revenge of the Press Release

by Brent E. Beltrán 07.23.2014 Arts

SDFP Writer Inundated with Comic-Con Related Emails

By Brent E. Beltrán

Last year I covered Comic-Con for San Diego Free Press. I wrote five articles in a series I called Adventures in Comic-Conlandia: A Nerds-eye View. You can read them here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV & Part 5. This was my first attempt at writing about something I had loved since I started attending back in 1986. Though grueling I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will cover the event again this week. I plan on being not so ambitious this year.

Sometimes Comic-Con sneaks up on you. You don’t know it is here until trolley station signs are written in Klingon or you’re standing in line for a happy hour beverage next to a Stormtrooper.

For me that wasn’t the case this year. You see, I’ve been inundated with press releases for the past month and it’s picked up even more within the last week. I’ve been sent hundreds of emails from the various media, toy and comic book companies that want to get the word out about their latest film, action figure or storyline.

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Thumbnail image for Looking Back at the Week at SDFP and OB Rag: July 13-19

Looking Back at the Week at SDFP and OB Rag: July 13-19

by Brent E. Beltrán 07.20.2014 Activism

Compiled by Brent E. Beltrán

Starting today San Diego Free Press will publish a new column every Sunday morning called Looking Back at the Week. This new column will feature links to articles from the previous week from SDFP and OB Rag’s regular and at-large contributors including Doug Porter, Frank Gormlie, Jim Miller, Ernie McCray, John Lawrence, Anna Daniels, Junco Canché, Brent E. Beltrán, and others. In case you missed their articles during the week this will be your chance to catch up on what they’ve been writing about.

This week’s edition features articles on the minimum wage increase, the Federal Reserve, immigration, DeMaio flush with Koch and Tea money, SDFP and OB Rag receiving awards, the OB community plan, two Junco toons, Jews speaking out against Gaza offensive, The Orphan of Zhao, Neighborhood House, and more.

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Thumbnail image for San Diegans Rally on Behalf of Central American Refugee Children

San Diegans Rally on Behalf of Central American Refugee Children

by Brent E. Beltrán 07.10.2014 Activism

Acceptance and Love in the Face of Bigotry and Hate

By Brent E. Beltrán

On the evening of July ninth approximately 200 people from San Diego gathered for a rally and vigil at the Federal Building Downtown to show their solidarity with the refugee children of Central America.

The rally, called Demonstration in SOLIDARITY with the National Action for the Children and a Vigil for Love, was part of a series of actions across the US showing support for the children.

The refugees came to the forefront of America’s consciousness after bigots decided to block the buses these children were riding in. The buses were transporting these unaccompanied minors to get processed at an immigration facility in Murrieta, Ca.

The blocking of the buses unleashed a moral crisis in Murrieta and across the country as angry, mostly white people, let loose their bigoted ways against children whose only crime was to escape the violence of their own countries, much of which was instigated by past US policies in the region.

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Thumbnail image for Latino Playwright Herbert Siguenza Talks Culture Clash, Perceptions and Legacy

Latino Playwright Herbert Siguenza Talks Culture Clash, Perceptions and Legacy

by Brent E. Beltrán 06.26.2014 Desde la Logan

The second of a two-part interview with the influential teatrista

By Brent E. Beltrán

I recently sat down with playwright and actor Herbert Siguenza for an interview about his work. This is Part II of the two-part interview.

In Part I we talked about his new play El Henry, a joint production between the La Jolla Playhouse and the San Diego Rep, and his next play Stealing Heaven about Yippie activist Abbie Hoffman.

In Part II we discuss the 30th anniversary of Culture Clash, him being a political writer, non-Chicano perceptions of his and Culture Clash’s work, his legacy as a teatrista and what he would say to aspiring Latina/o playwrights.

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Thumbnail image for Latino Playwright Herbert Siguenza Brings El Henry and Abbie Hoffman Into the 21st Century

Latino Playwright Herbert Siguenza Brings El Henry and Abbie Hoffman Into the 21st Century

by Brent E. Beltrán 06.25.2014 Desde la Logan

The first of a two-part interview with the influential Culture Clash teatrista

By Brent E. Beltrán

I’ve had the honor to work within the Chicano arts and culture community for over fifteen years as a publisher, curator, writer, organizer, volunteer and patron. I’ve met many wonderful and talented artists throughout this time.

One of them, Herbert Siguenza, gave me a call the other day and said he and his three year-old daughter Belen were across the street from my apartment to get a paleta from Tocumbo Ice Cream. He wanted to know if my son Dino and I were available to join them. Never wanting to miss out on a good conversation Dino and I decided to go meet up with them.

When we arrived Belen was splashing about in the Mercado del Barrio fountain and Dino quickly joined her. After the children got soaked we walked over to Tocumbo’s.

Since I had been meaning to interview Herbert regarding his new play El Henry I decided on the spot to interview him right outside the ice cream parlor. I opened my Voice Memos app on my iPhone and starting asking questions. This is the first of two parts. Minor editing was done to help the the piece flow.

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Thumbnail image for Barrio Logan Residents Spoil Mayor’s Pro-Pollution Presser

Barrio Logan Residents Spoil Mayor’s Pro-Pollution Presser

by Brent E. Beltrán 05.22.2014 Activism

Desde la Logan columnist amongst “hecklers”

By Brent E. Beltrán

Oops, we did it again.

A handful of Barrio Logan residents, including artist Hector Villegas, my wife Olympia, my son Sandino and myself, gave Mayor Faulconer, ex-Mayor and current corporate shill Jerry Sanders and shipyard mouthpiece Len Hering a piece of our minds and vocal chords at a press conference against Propositions B and C and the Barrio Logan Community Plan.

The press conference took place outside City Hall and was attended by the same suits that have been speaking out against the plan for months. Except this time they didn’t bus in shipyard workers.

Having received a tip, from someone close to the No on B and C campaign, an hour before the presser Hector and my family decided to take action. Olympia made a couple of handmade signs for her and Dino to hold. I brought dust masks to wear as a symbol of Barrio Logan pollution and Hector brought the respirator that he uses while painting.

We got there a few minutes before the press conference started and saw the suits lingering around. When the Mayor showed up we knew it was about to start and we were ready.

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Thumbnail image for Street Tacos and Craft Beer Come to Barrio Logan

Street Tacos and Craft Beer Come to Barrio Logan

by Brent E. Beltrán 05.11.2014 Culture

San Diego Taco Company and Border X Brewing Join Forces to Help the Barrio Renaissance

By Brent E. Beltrán

Barrio Logan, San Diego’s hub for Chicano art, culture and activism, is now a destination spot for taco connoisseurs and craft beer aficionados. La Logan has always had culinary and beer tradition with places like the ever busy Las Cuatro Milpas and the long closed down Aztec Brewery. So beer and tacos isn’t a new phenomenon to this working class barrio.

What is new is the decision of catering business San Diego Taco Company and Otay Mesa beer makers Border X Brewing to combine efforts and open a joint tasting room and taqueria on the corner of Logan Ave and Sampson St. in the historic section of Barrio Logan.

The combination of beer and tacos has been a part Mexican food culture ever since Germans brought their brewing techniques to Mexico. And Ernie Pio Becerra of San Diego Taco Company and David Favela of Border X Brewing are carrying on that tradition by serving fresh, handmade tacos and unique craft brews tailored to the tastes of mexicanos and those that appreciate our delicious flavors.

“It’s a great combination of not only the food but the beer and the art all in one place,” says artist and frequent patron Max Bojorquez.

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Thumbnail image for Cyclists Take Over Barrio Logan for a Day

Cyclists Take Over Barrio Logan for a Day

by Brent E. Beltrán 05.04.2014 Desde la Logan

Photos from the 18th Annual Barrio Logan Grand Prix

By Brent E. Beltrán

On Saturday May 3 hundreds of cycling enthusiasts from throughout the region and beyond descended on San Diego’s most historic Mexican community for the 18th annual Barrio Logan Grand Prix.

This event, organized by the San Diego Bicycle Club to benefit the Logan Heights Family Health Center, has become one of the largest cycling events in southern California.

The Barrio Logan Grand Prix coincides each year with the Logan Heights Family Health Center Health Fair that offers free health screenings, free children’s vaccinations, free pregnancy testing, food, entertainment and prizes for those in attendance.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Maritime Industry Calls the Cops on Peaceful Protestors

San Diego’s Maritime Industry Calls the Cops on Peaceful Protestors

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.25.2014 Activism

Five Barrio Logan residents and supporters stand their ground

By Brent E. Beltrán

I wasn’t planning on writing a column today but since maritime industry called the cops on my two year old son, his grandma, two others and myself, I changed my mind.

On Thursday morning I got up early. The day before, I found out that maritime industry was going to hold a press conference at 10:30am at R.E. Staite Engineering near the shipyards. This was only about 6 blocks or so away from my Barrio Logan apartment.

I’ve been itching to do a protest against maritime industry and their opposition to the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update. With them holding their presser within walking distance I knew I had to do something.

With the press conference taking place on a weekday morning, and less than a day’s notice to quietly get the word out (catching them off guard would be key), I knew there would not be a large turnout. Nonetheless, I had to do something, even if it was just my son Dino and myself.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “Vato Loco de la Maravilla” by Manuel J. Vélez

Poem of the Day: “Vato Loco de la Maravilla” by Manuel J. Vélez

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.24.2014 Books & Poetry

By Brent E. Beltrán

In 1997 I co-founded the Chicano literary publishing company Calaca Press. In 1998 Calaca Press published it’s first book, a collection of poetry called Bus Stops and Other Poems by Manuel J. Vélez. Inside this sixty-four page tome, which included amazing artwork by Chicano Park muralist Victor Ochoa, was a poem called “Vato Loco de la Maravilla.” The poem, using caló (a code-switching hybrid language of Chicanos using English and Spanish in the same sentence and sometimes within the same word), highlights life inside the barrio and how stereotypes of barrio youth can be used to justify negative perceptions by “the judge, the news, and us.” Since the book came out the author has become a tenured Associate Professor of Chicana/Chicano Studies at Mesa College. Bus Stops and Other Poems may no longer be in print but the poem “Vato Loco de la Maravilla” remains with us in video form.

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Thumbnail image for New Chicano Park Muralists Are Honored to Paint in the Park

New Chicano Park Muralists Are Honored to Paint in the Park

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.16.2014 Arts

44th annual Chicano Park Day Celebration this Saturday

By Brent E. Beltrán

The Chicano Park Steering Committee and thousands of their friends will be celebrating the 44th anniversary of the takeover of Chicano Park this Saturday in San Diego’s Barrio Logan. The theme of the celebration is “La Tierra Es De Quien La Trabaja: The Land Belongs To Those Who Work It.” 

Last year I wrote:

“On April 22, 1970 a rag tag group of artists, activists, and community members joined forces and took over the land underneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan. At the time, construction was about to begin on the building of a California Highway Patrol substation. For many years, residents of Barrio Logan had been promised a park. Seeing the pending creation of a CHP substation was the straw that broke this barrio’s back.”

Every year the community of Barrio Logan, as well as Chicanas and Chicanos from all over, and our friends and allies, all come together to celebrate the takeover of the area underneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.

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Thumbnail image for Barrio Logan Commemorates Mexican Revolutionary Leader and Defends Right to a Clean and Healthy Neighborhood

Barrio Logan Commemorates Mexican Revolutionary Leader and Defends Right to a Clean and Healthy Neighborhood

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.13.2014 Activism

Hundreds rally and march in opposition to maritime industry pollution

By Brent E. Beltrán

The Mexican community of San Diego and their supporters came together on Saturday in Barrio Logan’s Chicano Park to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the assassination of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata and to rally and march in opposition to maritime industry’s continued poisoning of this proud and defiant neighborhood.

The 10th annual Zapata March was organized by Mexican and Chicano activist groups Unión del Barrio, M.E.Ch.A. and Colectivo Zapatista with support from other radical organizations. The action was organized under the theme of “The Solution to Pollution is Revolution.”

Organizers “felt it was important to draw attention to the racist attempt by powerful ship building companies to overturn the Barrio Logan Community Plan and keep polluting our neighborhoods as they have done for decades.”

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Thumbnail image for Barrio Logan: Arts and Culture

Barrio Logan: Arts and Culture

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.13.2014 Arts

Film by Media Arts Center’s Teen Producers Project
Intro by Brent E. Beltrán

With the ballot battle looming over the future of Barrio Logan, due to Maritime Industry’s refusal to accept the Barrio Logan Community Plan update, I feel it is necessary to give voters of the city of San Diego a little history of Barrio Logan and highlight the issues residents face. In June, eligible San Diego voters will go to the polls to vote on whether to approve the community plan or reject it.

Over the next few weeks I will post a video on Sundays that highlights the community of Barrio Logan and the beauty within San Diego’s most historic barrio.

This week’s video, Barrio Logan: Arts and Culture, is about how arts and culture are an integral part of Barrio Logan’s identity.

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Thumbnail image for Video: Barrio Logan College Institute

Video: Barrio Logan College Institute

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.06.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

Film by Barrio Logan College Institute
Intro by Brent E. Beltrán

With the ballot battle looming over the future of Barrio Logan, due to Maritime Industry’s refusal to accept the Barrio Logan Community Plan update, I feel it is necessary to give voters of the city of San Diego a little history of Barrio Logan and highlight the issues residents face. In June, eligible San Diego voters will go to the polls to vote on whether to approve the community plan or reject it.

Over the next few weeks I will post a video on Sundays that highlights the community of Barrio Logan and the beauty within San Diego’s most historic barrio.

This week’s video is on the Barrio Logan College Institute, an  important, educational non-profit organization that helps barrio kids, most the first in their family, go to college.

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Thumbnail image for El Padre del Barrio: Father Brown

El Padre del Barrio: Father Brown

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.30.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

Film by Media Arts Center’s Teen Producers Project.
Intro by Brent E. Beltrán

With the ballot battle looming over the future of Barrio Logan, due to Maritime Industry’s refusal to accept the Barrio Logan Community Plan update, I feel it is necessary to give voters of the city of San Diego a little history of Barrio Logan and highlight the issues residents face. In June, eligible San Diego voters will go to the polls to vote on whether to approve the community plan or reject it.

Over the next few weeks I will post a video on Sundays that highlights the community of Barrio Logan and the beauty within San Diego’s most historic barrio.

This week’s video is El Padre del Barrio, a short documentary on Father Brown and his dedication to Barrio Logan and its residents.

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Thumbnail image for Love Transcends Borders and Legal Status

Love Transcends Borders and Legal Status

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.26.2014 Desde la Logan

Shameful immigration policies separate loved ones

By Brent E. Beltrán

Love doesn’t recognize borders. It doesn’t know if the person you love has papers or if they have done time for youthful indiscretions. None of that matters to love because love transcends all. My cousin Alma, who grew up on 29th St. near K St. in Grant Hill, knows about this kind of love. She and her children live it every day.

My cousin fell in love with, and eventually married, her husband Juan. Him not having legal status to live in the US didn’t bother her whatsoever. She was in love and her heart didn’t care if the man she wanted to be with was allowed to be in this country legally or not.

Alma met Juan in Tijuana in 1997. They must’ve hit it off pretty good because within a few months she was pregnant with their first child. At the time Juan used a temporary crossing card that he had had since he was eleven years old to cross the border. But when he used it he was breaking the law because he had been previously deported after being convicted of burglary.

Juan used to be in a gang. He lived the typical, poor, working class barrio lifestyle and all of the negatives that comes with that. Joining a gang helped him cope. Readers can judge all they want but if you don’t live this reality you will never understand the pressures of joining a gang and the hardships of living in the barrio.

After being convicted he served about two years between 1995-1997. Upon release he was deported. The same year he was released he met my cousin and his life changed. Love has a way of changing people. And for Juan it was for the better. When he found out they were pregnant he knew he could never be the person that he was.

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Thumbnail image for Chicano Park Documentary by Redbird Films

Chicano Park Documentary by Redbird Films

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.23.2014 Arts

Video by Redbird Films
Intro by Brent E. Beltrán

With the ballot battle looming over the future of Barrio Logan, due to Maritime Industry’s refusal to accept the Barrio Logan Community Plan update, I feel it is necessary to give voters of the city of San Diego a little history of Barrio Logan and highlight the issues residents face. In June, eligible San Diego voters will go to the polls to vote on wether to approve the community plan or reject it.

Over the next few weeks I will post a video on Sundays that highlights the community of Barrio Logan and the beauty within San Diego’s most historic barrio.

This week’s video is the classic Chicano Park documentary produced in 1989 by Redbird Films. The film, narrated by veteran actor Tony Plana, depicts the founding and history of this world famous historical site.

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Thumbnail image for Mesa College Chicana/o Studies to Dedicate Gracia Molina de Pick Glass Gallery

Mesa College Chicana/o Studies to Dedicate Gracia Molina de Pick Glass Gallery

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.16.2014 Desde la Logan

Third Annual Feminist Lecture Series to Follow

By Brent E. Beltrán

On Thursday, March 20 the Mesa College Chicana/o Studies Department will unveil and dedicate the Gracia Molina de Pick Glass Gallery and present their third annual Gracia Molina de Pick Feminist Lecture Series. The glass gallery and lecture series are named after the co-founder of Mesa’s Chicana/o Studies Department.

In 2013 Mrs. Molina de Pick donated $80,000 to Mesa to create the Gracia Molina de Pick Endowment Fund in support of advancing the campus’ Chicana/o Studies Department. Since then the department has created the lecture series in her honor and will now dedicate the glass gallery in the G-Building Rotunda in her name.

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Thumbnail image for Overcoming Environmental Discrimination in San Diego’s Barrio Logan

Overcoming Environmental Discrimination in San Diego’s Barrio Logan

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.16.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

Video by Journey to Planet Earth
Intro by Brent E. Beltrán

With the battle looming over the future of Barrio Logan, due to Maritime Industry’s refusal to accept the Barrio Logan Community Plan update, I feel it is necessary to give voters of the city of San Diego a little history of Barrio Logan and highlight the issues residents face. In June, eligible San Diego voters will go to the polls to vote on wether to approve the community plan or reject it.

Over the next few weeks I will post a video on Sundays that highlights the community of Barrio Logan and the beauty within San Diego’s most historic barrio.

This week’s video, Future Conditional: Overcoming Environmental Discrimination in San Diego’s Barrio Logan, is narrated by actor Matt Damon and documents the challenges Barrio Logan residents face when trying to overcome environmental discrimination in their community.

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Thumbnail image for I Didn’t Beware the Ides of March (and I’m Grateful)

I Didn’t Beware the Ides of March (and I’m Grateful)

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.15.2014 Desde la Logan

Desde la Logan columnist reflects back on an incident 25 years ago.

By Brent E. Beltrán

Twenty-five years ago today my existence changed forever. My physical self was torn asunder whereas my socially conscience self was just beginning on the journey that I am still on. That fateful day in 1989, the ides of March that the Soothsayer warned Julius Caesar about, was the start of my new life. A life that eventually lead me to Barrio Logan and the San Diego Free Press.

In 1989 I was an eighteen year old recent graduate of Clairemont High School. At the time I was attending my second semester at Mesa College and had been working at Vons (now Keil’s) at the Clairemont Village shopping center since I turned sixteen.

I was a typical aimless youth of the era. I worked and went to school but had no real sense of what I wanted to do with my life (who really does at 18?). I was a good worker and I assumed that I would eventually work my way up the ranks of Vons.

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Thumbnail image for Staying in the Barrio – Affordable Housing in Barrio Logan

Staying in the Barrio – Affordable Housing in Barrio Logan

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.09.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

Video by Media Arts Center San Diego’s Teen Producer’s Project
Intro by Brent E. Beltrán

With the battle looming over the future of Barrio Logan, due to Maritime Industry’s refusal to accept the Barrio Logan Community Plan update, I feel it is necessary to give voters of the city of San Diego a little history of Barrio Logan and highlight the issues residents face. In June, eligible San Diego voters will go to the polls to vote on wether to approve the community plan or reject it.

Over the next few weeks I will post a video on Sundays that highlights the community of Barrio Logan and the beauty within San Diego’s most historic barrio.

This week’s video, Staying in the Barrio – Affordable Housing in Barrio Logan, documents the challenges of attaining affordable housing in Barrio Logan as downtown slowly creeps closer. Comm22, the affordable housing complex discussed in this video, is in full building mode and will soon bring quality apartments, low income apartments to the Greater Logan area.

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Thumbnail image for With Our Words We Celebrate the Voz Alta Project Gallery

With Our Words We Celebrate the Voz Alta Project Gallery

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.02.2014 Arts

Art space that helped start the Barrio Logan Arts District closes

By Brent E. Beltrán

This past Thursday night the Voz Alta Project Gallery in Barrio Logan closed its doors as a physical space. Though curator Carlos Beltrán (no relation to the author) will keep Voz Alta going through collaborations with other spaces the physical space that was Voz Alta is no more.

Due to a variety of reasons Carlos chose to close the space that helped start the revitalization of the arts in Barrio Logan. If Chicano Park is the grandfather of Chicano art and culture in San Diego then Voz Alta is the child that became the big daddy to most of the recent spaces that have opened up over the last four years. Places like The Roots Factory, The Spot, Stronghold, Chicano Art Gallery, La Bodega and The Nest all owe their existence to Voz Alta and those that made Voz Alta possible.

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Thumbnail image for To Reach My Goals – Education in Barrio Logan

To Reach My Goals – Education in Barrio Logan

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.02.2014 Desde la Logan

Video by Media Arts Center San Diego’s Teen Producer’s Project
Intro by Brent E. Beltrán

With the battle looming over the future of Barrio Logan, due to Maritime Industry’s refusal to accept the Barrio Logan Community Plan update, I feel it is necessary to give voters of the city of San Diego a little history of Barrio Logan and highlight the issues residents face. In June, eligible San Diego voters will go to the polls to vote on wether to approve the community plan or reject it.

This week’s video, To Reach My Goals – Education in Barrio Logan, documents the challenges barrio youth have in school and highlights the Barrio Logan College Institute and their work to get neighborhood kids into college.

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