By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt
If you’ve heard about the new culinary, art and music scene that’s sprung up in Tijuana but haven’t felt like battling the border-crossing traffic to see it for yourself, here’s a chance, locally.
The Institute of the Americas, an independent nonprofit based on the UC San Diego campus that has been encouraging investment and information- sharing between the United States and Latin America for the past 30 years, is hosting a grand event Saturday, Aug. 24, which will give folks on this side of the border a taste of the other side’s art, music, dance, wine and cuisine.
Called “Flavors of the Americas: Tijuana, Baja & Beyond,” the event is a collaboration with IMAC (Tijuana’s Institute of Arts and Culture), which is dedicated to positioning the city as a cultural center. Last August, the two institutes partnered to present “The Roots of Art,” a touring exhibit of artworks from across Latin America. This year, they decided to focus on the many facets of the new Tijuana, and turn the event into more of a happening.
“We want to create an experience, where one thing flows into another, so guests can have a feel for the kind of rebirth that’s now going on just across the border,” said Institute of the Americas Development Director Sherry White.
The evening will begin at 6 p.m. at the Institute’s outdoor plaza, with brief introductory remarks by Tijuana notables.
Then guests will move into the gallery, where paintings and photographs by a dozen Baja artists will be on display. These pieces, and others, will be available for purchase, with a percentage of the sales going to the Institute as a donation.
Starting at 7 p.m., there will be tastings of “Mexi-terranean” tidbits from Romesco, one of the popular Plascencia group of restaurants that includes the original, now fully remodeled, Caesar’s.
There will also be a half-dozen wines from Guadalupe Valley and some Baja brews, accompanied by impromptu dance performances (think flash-mob, minus the mob). Dancers will include Aire Flamenco, with the dynamic Norma Michel and her guitarist, Hiram Gutierrez, and a tango duo, Miguel Angel Reynaga and Sandra Martinez.
The highlight of the evening will be the 8 p.m. appearance of Madame Ur and Her Men, a nuevo cabaret/ indie jazz group that is surely like nothing you’ve seen or heard lately. Fronted by Azzul Monraz, a mild-mannered Tijuana art teacher and mom by day who transforms herself into a soulful and glamorous roots-and-art-rock-influenced diva onstage, the band — which wowed the crowds at their Del Mar Fair concert in June — brings a flavor all their own to La Jolla from south of the border.
If you go
■ What: Flavors of the Americas: Tijuana, Baja & Beyond
■ When: 6-9 p.m. Aug. 24
■ Where: Institute of the Americas, 10111 North Torrey Pines Road, UC San Diego campus
■ Tickets: $20. Advance reservations recommended at iamericas.org
■ Contact: Sherry White (858) 453-5560 ext. 114 or firstname.lastname@example.org