Freeps in the News: Jim Bliesner, Barbara Zaragoza, Jeeni Criscenzo

bliesner plaque

By Anna Daniels

San Diego Free Press contributors are a diverse and talented group of individuals. It will be a busy weekend for three of them with the unveiling of Jim Bliesner‘s sculpture Cultural Fusion, Casa Familiar’s Abrazo Award for Barbara Zaragoza and An Evening of Provocative Poetry with Jeeni Criscenzo. These events follow upon last week’s screening of SDFP video- journalist Horacio Jones‘ short film “Wingin’ It” at the 48 Hour Film Project in San Diego.   [Read more…]

Anatomy Of A Lowrider: The Standards, The Art, The Technology

Switch Car Club 3

To join a car club or win awards at car shows, every lowrider needs to adhere to strict standards. Standard #1: the car must be impeccably clean.

Jose Arevalo, born and raised in National City, explains the standards while giving me a tour of his car.

Arevalo is a member of the Switch Car Club, established in National City in 1980. “How switch came together was, six of us guys played baseball together down in Las Palmas here locally. As we turned fourteen or fifteen years old we started getting cars. The club right there, the Latin Lowriders, were older guys, so we kinda looked up to them. They are the kind of group of people who showed us standards. Things that you do. How to act. How to be correct. During the early mid-1980s, Switch flourished and grew to be from 6 guys to 36 guys. From the early 80s to the late 80s we were one of the top clubs in San Diego.”   [Read more…]

Lowriders Return To Highland Avenue in National City

Lowriders On Highland, National City

And the National City Mayor is joining them

By Barbara Zaragoza / Southbay Compass

After many decades of clashes with the city council and police department in National City, lowriders again take Highland Avenue by storm, this time packing the parking lot of Foodland Mercado on Highland Avenue for Taco Tuesdays to show off their hoppers and show cars.

On Tuesday, July 28th even the National City Mayor, Ron Morrison, attended. He strolled past the vintage cars and posed for a picture with lowriders from several different car clubs.

Mayor Morrison said, “This is like an art fair because these cars are more like art than anything else.”   [Read more…]

Summer Chronicles #7: Ten Moments in Places that No Longer Exist in Downtown San Diego

open sign

The maps of our memories fray like fine gauze

By Jim Miller

We are where we are from. Place, our place or “home,” gives us a sense of rootedness and identity, but it is also transient, always moving and changing as we ride the river of time and space.

Some places are fundamentally grounded in a central idea of what “home” is, of what defines a locality—the people in such places hold fast, perhaps futilely, to some notion of what it means to be there.

Not us though, not here in San Diego where history and tradition outside of empty tourist spectacles are cast off like a snakeskin and our sense of place is transformed by the whims of boosters and marketing schemes, sometimes erasing whole communities in the service of civic marketing.   [Read more…]

Chicano Park in Barrio Logan

Prog San Diego - Copy

Editor’s note: Welcome to our newest column, Progressive San Diego! We received an email from Dave, a reader in Liverpool, UK, who’s visiting San Diego later this year. He had one simple question: What are some progressive places to visit?

That got us thinking. There’s nothing really available online that’s broad and comprehensive with regard to San Diego’s progressive history and locales — a directory of sorts. We want to change that.

And so twice a month we will feature a person, place or thing that has done something to contribute to our important cause and culture. Given our time and resource restraints, each feature will be short and sweet, or pulled from other sites with permission. Please feel free to add information in the comments. We would love this to be organic and ever evolving.

This installment: Chicano Park in Barrio Logan   [Read more…]

SDFP Cartoonist Junco Canché to Have First Solo Exhibit of Work


Artesano: The Political Cartoons of Junco Canché to be held Saturday in Barrio Logan

By Brent E. Beltrán

San Diego Free Press is always looking for contributors. Especially voices from outside the mainstream dominant culture. Some contribute one or two pieces. While others stick around for longer.

One such contributor brought fully into the Freep fold is Joaquin Junco, Jr. aka Junco Canché. Since May 19, 2014 he has contributed sixty editorial cartoons under the Junco’s Jabs moniker. His toons have taken jabs at a variety of local, national and international politicians, celebrities and evil-doers.

For the first time in his young life Junco will have a solo exhibition of his work. The exhibition takes place this Saturday, July 25 at Border X Brewing in Barrio Logan.   [Read more…]

Logan Library to Host Women of Color in Comics Panel


An interview with panel moderator and comic book writer/publisher Regine Sawyer

By Brent E. Beltrán

Comic-Con is here and, as usual, Barrio Logan has been left out of the official fun stuff. But we don’t fret around here. We do things for ourselves, like Chicano-Con and MARVEL vs DC.

But there is also something else taking place in San Diego’s favorite barrio. On Sunday, July 12 from 12:30pm to 1:45pm there will be a panel discussion at the Logan Heights Library called Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender & The Comic Book Medium.

The panel is free to all and will be moderated by Lockett Down Productions Publications owner Regine Sawyer. There will also be some free giveaways to audience members from the panelists as well as free superhero comics for kids and parents donated by an anonymous friend of mine.   [Read more…]

Ignored by Comic-Con Barrio Logan Creates Its Own


By Brent E. Beltrán

Barrio Logan, located less than a mile from the convention center, has been mostly left out of Comic-Con over the years. Comic-Con International recently bought a building at 16th and National in Barrio Logan. Yet no official events are scheduled to take place here.

There’s not even a shuttle bus stop yet there will be Comic-Con buses running every twenty minutes down Cesar Chavez Parkway heading towards the freeway. And there will also be countless attendees using this community as a parking lot to escape the outrageous parking fees.

Yet no official activities take place here. No outreach has been done to incorporate a low income, mostly  Latino community impacted every year by Comic-Con. And that is unfortunate.   [Read more…]

Birds of Paradise Art Show at Te Mana Cafe

Mic Porte Bird of Paradise: Mic

For the remainder of June, local beach artist Micaela Porte is displaying her recent works – Birds of Paradise – at Te Mana Cafe in Ocean Beach, over at 4956 Voltaire Street.

The show has been running since the end of April. They’re open daily until 6 pm, closed Wednesdays.

Micaela told us that acrylic paint, some old canvases and bird of paradise heads from one of her neighbor’s yard inspired a binge of colorful paintings of bird of paradise flowers – which all harmonize with the aloha theme at the Te Mana garden cafe.   [Read more…]

7 billion Others : A Sea of Stories at the Museum of Photographic Arts

billion others

By Nat Krieger

One hundred years ago movies were a new technology and folks were getting excited. Humans had been making images since there were humans but for the first time ever pictures could move, and laugh, and cry. The possibilities seemed so deliriously infinite that in 1908 Brazilian essayist João do Rio was moved to declare that, “in the future, the man of our era will be classified as the homo cinematographicus.”

Breakthrough technologies are never only children and the telephone, motion picture’s slightly older sister, was also inspiring some pretty high hopes. Writing in 1891, AT&T’s John J. Carty doffed his chief engineer’s cap and slipped into a prophet’s robe: “Someday we will build up a world telephone system, making necessary to all peoples the use of a common language or common understanding of languages, which will join all the people of the earth into one brotherhood. There will be heard throughout the earth a great voice coming out of the ether which will proclaim, ‘Peace on earth, good will towards men.'”   [Read more…]

C.H.E. Cafe Makes SOHO “10 Most Endangered List” for 2015


By Monty Kroopkin

The Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) has announced its 10 Most Endangered List for local historic sites for 2015. The C.H.E. Café is on the list. The list was revealed at SOHO’s annual People In Preservation (PIP) dinner on May 21, 2015.

According to SOHO President Jaye MacAskill, it was explained during the PIP Awards dinner that “Ché Café is one of those beloved, old hangouts at UCSD that devoted students and alumni will always want to revisit. It may be the last remnant of 1960s counterculture on this campus, and a symbol of free speech served up with an earthy menu. Which is to say, Ché Café is beloved not at all by the university. SOHO supports students and others who argue that history, ‘even history rooted in revolutionary ideas and discourse’ deserves a place at the increasingly crowded UCSD table.”   [Read more…]

The 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the Art of Hope

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

April 24, 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The solemn observation marks the systematic slaughter of 1.5 million men, women, and children perpetrated under the camouflage of World War I by officials of the Ottoman Empire, which is present day Turkey. Many world leaders are going against the historical shroud of silence that has hung over these atrocities for a century.

On April 22, 2015, President Barack Obama announced he was not going to refer to the massacre as “genocide,” bowing to pressure from the present government of Turkey, one of America’s key allies in the so called “war on terror.” President Obama’s decision not to call genocide, “genocide,” throws another handful of dirt upon the United States’ self-proclaimed role as leader of the free world.   [Read more…]

Barrio Bits: Placas, Chicano Park Day and Barrio Art Crawl

Saturday is Chicano Park Day AND Barrio Art Crawl! I repeat. Saturday is Chicano Park Day AND Barrio Art Crawl!

For the first time in the history of the universe two of the greatest things (of the many) that Barrio Logan offers is happening on the same day. From 10am until 5pm you can enjoy the sights and sounds that is the annual Chicano Park Day celebration then from 5pm until 9pm you can crawl the streets of La Logan in search of artistic enjoyment at the various art venues within this creative community.

Chicano Park was founded on April 22, 1970 as a land takeover by community members after they found out that a California Highway Patrol substation was going to be built on the site instead of a park. In 2013, due to the beautiful murals that grace the pillars of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, Chicano Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Dancers and Dancing

Emma Lopez, Nachita Hernandez–and Rita Hayworth!

By Maria E. Garcia

Dancing lessons and dancing have been a focus at Neighborhood House since the early days. As stated in previous articles the dancers often performed at fund raisers held at the Marston House. The most memorable show from the early years was when they performed at the reception held for Jane Addams, founder of Hull House and a noted social worker. In those days they also performed in Balboa Park and at the Presido. Dance productions gave the entertainers from Logan Heights the opportunity to visit other parts of the city as well as for the members of the majority community to see the talent of the dancers from Neighborhood House.   [Read more…]

Celebrations of César E. Chávez Span Six Weeks Around San Diego

“The legacy of the United Farm Workers union in its first decade provides us with key lessons for the present and future. It reminds us that grass-roots power organized and deployed by ‘disposable’ workers, fearlessness in the face of corporate exploitation, and the political uses of music, theater, and ritual can change history. In 2015, in a society based on greed and personal ambition, we ignore these lessons at own peril.” –Jorge Mariscal, Professor, UC San Diego

While Monday, March 31st is the official César E. Chávez day, activities celebrating his legacy as a labor and civil rights leader will continue into May. The day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of his life and work. The ongoing activities are about continuing that legacy.

Thanks to the UCSD Blink, produced by the faculty and staff of that fine institution, for providing us with a list of activities over the next six weeks honoring the life and achievements of César E. Chávez.   [Read more…]

Zurbarán and Sorolla: Welcomed Guests At the San Diego Museum of Art

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

“St. Francis in Prayer in a Grotto” by Francisco de Zurbarán and “By the Seashore, Valencia” by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida are the ‘newbies’ welcomed to the San Diego Museum of Art. The inclusion of these two influential artists’ works continues to build on the strength of the museum’s renowned permanent collection of Spanish art.

Earlier this month there was the unveiling of “By the Seashore, Valencia.” Several personalities for the arts community were present for the important event which falls perfectly into the celebration of the Balboa Park Centennial as well as the museum’s 100th birthday.   [Read more…]

San Ysidro’s The Front Art Gallery Announces First Prize Winners

By Barbara Zaragoza

The judges made their final decisions on Monday, February 23rd for the 8th annual Dia De La Mujer hosted by The Front Art Gallery in San Ysidro. The theme was Cleansing: Spiritual-Emotional-Magical and thirty-five emerging and established artists competed for first place and two honorable mentions in each category. Three additional visiting artists participated, including the Mayor of Chula Vista’s mother.

Three judges spent an afternoon carefully considering the works:

  • Angelica Villagrana, President of the San Diego Museum of Art Artist’s Guild,
  • Mary Beebe, Director of the Stuart Collection of Outdoor Sculpture at UCSD, and
  • Kevin Linde, Livespan Learning Coordinator at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

  [Read more…]

Show’s Not Over at Che Cafe at UCSD – Its Fate Likely Rests on Students

By Andrea Carter

The struggle continues to keep the historic CHE Café facility open on the University of California San Diego (UCSD) campus. This battle over a rare public, all-ages arts, food, and music venue should concern us all as it represents the canary in the coal mine for additional onslaughts of this nature to follow.

Undergraduate and graduate student government councils, respectively the Associated Students (AS) and the Graduate Student Association (GSA) are set to soon issue reports and recommendations to the University as to the CHE Café, its facility and the other cooperatives at UCSD concerning the lease issues, upgrades and dispute resolution. Recently, the councils moved in favor of adopting a joint resolution rather than two independent ones. In the coming weeks then the councils will be synthesizing their input and accepting more from students on these issues as well as from the CHE and other cooperatives.   [Read more…]

Stories from Young Minds Taking the Stage

By Ernie McCray

The Playwrights Project has been producing plays written by dramatists, under age 19, for 30 years.

It all begins with the California Young Playwrights Contest, a statewide competition.

This year there were 581 entrants, way more than usual, and the stories of eight extremely talented writers made it to the stage – at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre at the Old Globe, no less.

Four of the plays earned full production and four are performed as staged readings – and I mean “staged,” because the Playwrights Project has no bounds when it comes to creative performances.   [Read more…]

Echo Sparks: How Country Music is Supposed to Sound

By Layla Marino

The term “junkyard country” was coined by an artist called Ponyboy in 2013. It seems that re-naming country is necessary nowadays, as it’s been co-opted by the mainstream media to include pabulum such as Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley and, of course, the ubiquitous princess of snooze-pop, Taylor Swift.

Even fans of the already overly evolved country of the 90s such as Billy Ray Cyrus or Garth Brooks would agree that country’s current state of affairs has very little to do with cowboys, spittoons and Americana.

Having grown up in a largely country-hating household, I was not exposed to much of it as a child, and I can distinctly remember my dad saying most of it sounded like “two cats fighting in a burlap sack.” However, some of the old country music isn’t completely unfortunate.   [Read more…]

‘Steal Heaven’ Is a Must See

By Ernie McCray

This New Year, 2015, was already moving along nicely for me, but it shifted into high gear the other night when Maria and I went to see the San Diego RepertoryTheatre’s “Steal Heaven,” a play written by one of my favorite theater artists, Herbert Siguenza. This multitalented actor, playwright, director and producer is a founding member of Culture Clash, a performance group known for its rich satirical look at the world and its politics – from a Chicano perspective. I’ve loved everything they’ve ever done.   [Read more…]

The Lighting of the Barrio Logan Gateway Sign

By Horacio Jones

December 13, 2014 was a historic day for the up and coming neighborhood of Barrio Logan. It was the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the Barrio Logan gateway sign. It is a distinctive addition to the existing signs in the Gaslamp, University Heights, Hillcrest, North Park and The Boulevard.

I was able to get insight into the creative process behind the sign and its symbolism through interviews with lead artist Armando Nuñez and architect Vicky Estrada. It was a fun-filled day for the community with Aztec dancing, Mariachi Music, original music from Cumbia Machin and local vendors selling food and art.   [Read more…]

Video-Essay: Barrio Logan Art Show for the 43 Missing Mexican Students

By Horacio Jones

On September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ school were kidnapped on their way to protest against the wife of the Mayor of Iguala during a political event in her honor. Both the Mayor, Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de Los Angeles Pineda have been accused of ordering the local police to abduct the students and turn them over to members of a local drug cartel called “Guerreros Unidos.” Allegedly the students were then tortured and burned alive. To date only the remains of 1 student have been identified.

I recently went to an art gallery in Barrio Logan where local artists put together an exhibition themed around the plight of the 43 students. I found it to be a unique opportunity to hear the artists’ opinions on the disappearance of the students and allow them to voice their solidarity with the people of Mexico.   [Read more…]

5th Annual Love Thy Neighbor Toy Drive Takes Place This Weekend

 By Brent E. Beltrán

This weekend the 5th annual Love Thy Neighbor Clothing & Toy Drive takes place at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park. For the past five years Ruben Torres and some of his close friends have organized this event to bring a little joy during the Christmas season to youths in San Diego and Tijuana.

South Bay native Ruben Torres continues to give back to the community he loves. He says, “God gives us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with. I’m honored to see the community come together to give and to be a blessing to the needy.”

Toys will be collected for the children of the YWCA as well as families of The Training Center in Spring Valley.

This year’s main event takes place on Sunday, December 14 from 12-8pm and is hosted by radio DJ Beto Perez of 95.7 KISS FM and features an art show curated by Ruben Torres and Wendy Wolf.   [Read more…]

Neil Shigley’s Portraits: The Importance of Capturing the Light on the Face

The character and nobility in the daily struggles of homeless San Diegans

By Taylor Scalise, Filmmaker and Neil Shigley, Artist 

Neil Shigley has been involved in printmaking for many years, first beginning while in art school at San Diego State University and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

He is also a painter, sculptor, illustrator and currently teaches art at San Diego State University.  But printmaking is a medium that continues to capture his imagination and passion.  His subjects are homeless people living on the streets near his studio in San Diego.

Their daily struggle to survive has given them the character and nobility that could not be earned in another way.   [Read more…]