Meet the artists changing Tijuana’s Pasaje Rodriguez

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After years of drug violence, Tijuana’s corridors were seedy places, home to drug addicts, and stinking with urine and rotting ceilings.

But after the violence subsided, things started to change. Businesses found a new clientele – not the rowdy American tourists, but locals looking for local culture.

A grassroots effort brought artists and shop-owners together to bring new life to Tijuana’s main drag, Avenida Revolución. Murals were painted, boutiques and book stores were opened.

Local business owners managed to convince the owners of one Pasaje Rodriquez to lower the rents and allow artists to set up shop. One of the ideas was to bring art and culture to the streets.

Reporter Sam Quinones has been reporting on the changing Tijuana and photographed some of the artists of Pasaje Rodriquez.


(More from Sam Quinones.)

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Andres Mendez, a merchant leader along Avenida Revolucion, took a risk that art might resuscitate the strip. He helped convinced landlords of Pasaje Rodriguez to rent to artists, who in turn revived the moribund corridor.
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Stuart Cardwell and Mael Vizcarra stand in front of the space that will a few days later open as Voodoo Stu and Black Magic Mael’s Gumbo Shack and Juke Joint. (Photo: Sam Quinones)
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Manuel Varrona painted a mural depicting numerous of Tijuana’s artists, several now dead, near the entrance to Pasaje Rodriguez.
Gloria Muriel is one of the artists who painted murals on the steel curtains over spaces in Pasaje Rodriguez.
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Rene Castillo turned a crumbling former jewelry store into El Grafografo, a bookstore and coffee shop.
Oscar Ortega, currently finishing a painting of Caesar's Restaurant (where the Caesar Salad was invented) in its heyday, is a long-time visual artist in Tijuana. he works in paint, but also sculpture, among other media.
Oscar Ortega, currently finishing a painting of Caesar’s Restaurant (where the Caesar Salad was invented) in its heyday, is a long-time visual artist in Tijuana. he works in paint, but also sculpture, among other media.