“Paisanos” Panel Discussion: Border Art and Cultural Opportunities in San Diego & Tijuana

“Paisanos” Panel Discussion: Border Art and Cultural Opportunities in San Diego & Tijuana

San Diego and Tijuana are geographically and historically sister cities, but in many ways today, they can seem worlds apart. Art and culture continue to bridge the physical boundary between the countries, fostering ongoing connections between creators and patrons in both regions. “Paisanos”, a project coordinated by the Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura de Tijuana, is dedicated to developing a formal discussion surrounding migration and movement, and has brought together a collection of two-dimensional artworks whose narratives are inspired by their creator’s proximity to the border and life between two countries.

The Paisanos panel discussion at Sparks Gallery will seek to strengthen the artistic and cultural link of the region through dialog surrounding these topics. Panel speakers Carlos de la Mora, John Halaka, Francisco Morales and Bernardo Martinez will reveal opportunities sought after by artists, share their experience as binational cultural managers, and discuss the nature of migration from their individual viewpoints.

The panel discussion will take place on Friday, February 17th from 5-7 pm at Sparks Gallery. This event is free and open to the public.


Carlos de la Mora -CEO World Design Capital San Diego-Tijuana 2024

Carlos has worked in architecture, design, and planning since 1993. He studied Architecture and Urban Design at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and obtained a Graduate Degree from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles in 1999. Carlos represented Baja California Wines in New York City, where he lived until 2005. He returned to San Diego and until 2008 directed business development efforts for Nolte Associates in Tijuana, Mexico. He acted as board member for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) San Diego/Tijuana Executive Committee and as founding co-chair of their Cross-Border Committee. He served as advisor for Fundación Metrópoli, an international investigation institution based in Madrid, Spain.

In 2009, Carlos joined the Design and Planning team at AECOM, where he held the position of Mexico Director for five years. For two years he acted as Vice-President of Mexico’s National Chamber of Consulting Firms, CNEC. In 2018, Carlos was invited to lead the Land Development practice for CBRE in Mexico.He’s a former management committee member as well as Executive Director for ULI Mexico. Since 2021, Carlos is a board member at INSITE, an initiative committed to the production of artworks in the public sphere through collaborations among artists, cultural agents, institutions, and communities.

John Halaka- Professor and Artist

John Halaka is a Professor of Visual Arts at the University of San Diego, where he has taught since 1991. He received his MFA in the Visual Arts from the University of Houston in 1983, and his B.A. in Fine Arts from the City University of New York Baccalaureate Program, with Brooklyn College as home school. John Halaka is an activist artist whose creative work serves as a vehicle for meditations on experiences of instability that have been shaped by personal, cultural and political circumstances. His pictorial investigations of indigenous survival, creative resistance and cultural persistence in the face of settler-colonial repression, are guided by his identity as an artist of Palestinian descent. He explains “One of the objectives of my creative practice is to help place the personal and collective realities of political displacement experienced by Palestinians, in the international discourse on human rights, forced migration and the right of return of all indigenous communities. When looking at my art or watching my documentaries, I envision that as viewers reflect on and learn from the personal narratives of a few Palestinians living in exile or under occupation, they will gain greater insights into our moral responsibilities to all refugees and occupied populations.”

John is currently developing a large series of drawings, titled “Landscapes of Resistance”, on maps of the United States and Palestine. The drawings honor histories of cultural survival and creative resistance against colonial repression by Native Americans, African Americans, Palestinians and migrant workers.

Francisco Morales -Artist and Director of the Front Arte & Cultura San Isidro

Francisco Eme is originally from Mexico City and currently lives and works in San Diego, CA. Francisco is a composer, producer and multimedia artist. He mainly works with sound, but various disciplines are integrated into his practice. His work has been presented in museums, galleries, and concert halls in Mexico, the United States, Europe, and South America. He has released albums as a soloist, in collaborations and musical projects in various genres, mainly electroacoustic, experimental, electronic pop music. Francisco is the current Gallery Director at The FRONT Arte & Cultura, a binational art gallery in the San Diego – Tijuana border region, where he curates art exhibitions, workshops, concerts and performances. These activities focus both the transnational artistic life of the region as well as the international art scene at large: “My work is driven by a deep observation of the culture I live in, social interactions, and everyday situations. I strive to start a conversation with the audience about relevant issues of our time. Art, society, technology and science merge in my practice.”

Bernardo Martínez- Deputy Director of Promotion and Cultural Development, Municipal Institute of Art and Culture of Tijuana

Bernardo Martínez holds a BA in Marketing with a strong background in public relations and cultural affairs. He has worked with all 3 levels of the Mexican Government, and has been a public policy advisor for electoral projects in various states of country.