To pay tribute to the “profoundly Mexican” work of artist Raúl Anguiano (1915-2006) and highlight the “rich cultural region” of San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, the La Jolla Riford Library will host an exhibition of Anguiano’s work this month.
A reception for “Anguiano’s Art: Tijuana’s Legacy” is set for 2 p.m. Sunday Feb. 11, but the exhibit is already hanging on the walls and open to public viewing when other events in the community room are not scheduled.
Library patron Vincent Blocker helped coordinate the exhibition. “The artist was significant and is known as being part of the ‘second generation’ of Mexican muralists,” he said. “The people on this side of the border don’t know anything about him, so having his work here is a true discovery. His art focuses on the people of Mexico and social issues.”
Branch manager Shaun Briley added: “It’s an opportunity to learn about our neighbors to the south. San Diego and Tijuana altogether is a rich cultural region. Part of the idea of this exhibit is to give people an opportunity to look at that region.”
The availability of Anguiano’s work for the show came from an art outreach project that started 10 years ago.
Blocker explained that around 2008, there was period of heightened violence between drug cartels in Mexico, and a “radical” effort was underway to offset the global image. The solution was an expo-style event to highlight the environmental, cultural and youth-oriented offerings of the region.
“The first year, it was a huge event with participants from across the world,” Blocker said. “It has developed and new things have come into it to brand Tijuana internationally and get Tijuanans to be happier and more knowledgeable about their own city.”
To elevate the artistic aspect, an organization called Tijuana Innovadora and its initiative Arte En La Industria (Art in Industry) was brought on to install artworks in factories and businesses, Blocker said.“These were to make the experience of going to work a little richer for the people.”
In the evolution of the art outreach, he added, “Arte En La Industria would do shows in libraries in Tijuana, and a few in County libraries on our side of the border.” Having donated his works to the City of Tijuana, Anguiano’s works were part of this effort.
Blocker entered the picture around 2013, when he worked for a university in Los Angeles that was looking to expand into Tijuana. “I played a role in building some of those bridges and I got to know a lot of leaders in different areas in Tijuana, in particular Tijuana Innovadora, and its board members Eduardo and Ana de Gurría. I got to know them really well. They are extremely involved in the cultural scene in Tijuana.
“Similarly, I got to know Shaun by being a library patron, and I see Eduardo and Ana quite a bit and heard about their work at other libraries. I thought we could make something happen, so I introduced them and we were able to make this exhibit a reality in La Jolla.”
In correspondence pertaining to the event, Mexican cultural attaché Adriana Bacelis Sotomayor writes: “Raúl Anguiano was a visual artist of recognized international status, whose style, profoundly Mexican, is at the same time universal. The exhibit includes works from the collection that the artist donated to the city of Tijuana. The vision of Anguiano, considered as the last icon of muralism, is inspired by the indigenous past and the encounter of cultures that made what Mexico is today. This exhibit also celebrates the close historical ties that unite San Diego and Tijuana, as well as the cultural richness of the Cali-Baja mega region.”
Note: This exhibit joins the lineup of the La Jolla Library Art Committee’s regularly scheduled plein-air exhibits and single-subject shows.
IF YOU GO: “Anguiano’s Art: Tijuana’s Legacy” is on display through the month of February. The opening reception is 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11 at the library, 7555 Draper Ave. (858) 552-1657. lajollalibrary.org/events