Wednesday, November 23, 2011

TXF Board travels to the Rio Grande Valley

by Nancy Bless
Our board chairman, Moira Porter and board member Susan Morehead joined Cristina Balli and me on an action packed, weekend trip to the tip of Texas. We took some back roads from Austin, sampling BBQ (Luling), bread pudding (Beeville) and cabrito (McAllen) along the way-- with church spires and court house cupolas pointing our way to historic town squares. Somewhere around Falfurrias the heat, wind, palm trees and cactus let you know you are entering Tejas.

Mark with his work
Saturday began in downtown Brownsville at Galeria 409, housed in a 158 year old building right across the street from the border wall and a US/Mexico crossing point. The wall, at least in this section, is like a wrought iron fence, albeit 20 feet tall. Galeria 409's owner, the artist Mark Clark, produced an "Art Against the Wall" exhibit--at the wall--that featured a 30 foot bamboo and reed ladder studded with thorns, and piñatas in the forms of life sized border patrol agents, one of whom is looking through a pair of (piñata) binoculars. 
Bottom to top: Susan Morehead, Moira Porter, Mark Clark

Mark hosted a lunch at the gallery for us to meet with University of Texas Brownsville History Professor Manuel Medrano and businesswoman and cultural activist Bitty Truan to talk about Texas Folklife and our mutual interests in preservation and promotion of traditional expressions in the Valley. There was lots to discuss as each has tremendous passion for regional culture and history. Dr. Medrano will be working closely with us on "A Place at the Table," contributing essays on the Taquerias of Southmost and on the area's struggling fishing and shrimping industry.

And of course--the best of all is getting to meet artists and see some great art! Mark Clark's own work was a revelation: intense, contemporary interpretations of Mayan mythology filtered through a somewhat wry and loaded (as in thinking about many things) imagination. Bitty, whose late husband George Truan was an artist, has a beautiful home on a Resaca filled with Mexican and Mexican American art. We wish you could have seen it all!

More posts on our Valley coming soon; stay tuned!

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