March 16, 2007

The Hidden Heart of David Avalos

By Mark R. Day

When artist David Avalos decided to exhibit his latest art show in North County, he asked USD professor Gail Perez for suggestions on what to call it. “How about ‘Bury My Heart in Escondido?’ said Perez. Avalos, a National City native, ran with the idea, eventually choosing the title, “Mi Corazon Escondido.”

Appropriately, the venue for the provocative exhibit, which runs throughout the month of March, is Escondido’s California Center for the Arts. One of the center pieces of the show is a wooden skeleton seated on a bench, flanked by a small coffin on one side and a heart on the other. Out of the heart, a cactus springs. The message is clear: this is the sorrowful heart of a border crosser who never made it to the other side.


“Mi Corazon Escondido” by David Avalos. This is the sorrowful heart of a border crosser who never made it to the other side.

According to Enrique Morones of Border Angeles, neither have 10,000 other immigrants who have died in the mountains and deserts of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands in the past five years.

Another section of the Avalos exhibit focuses on the current turmoil in the city of Escondido, whose ban against renting homes and apartments to Latino immigrants was recently overturned by the courts. The decision, which favored clients of the ACLU, cost city taxpayers around $200,000.

Undeterred by the verdict, City Council Member Sam Abed, himself an immigrant from Lebanon, urged the city to target Latinos on other violations such as parking cars on their lawns. But in their great haste to go after violators, code enforcement officials got carried away.

When Marco Garcia was cited for parking his Infiniti in his front yard, he had an excuse. He showed city officials an invoice from a Mobil station showing that the car was there at the time for a brake job—not on his lawn. Garcia won. The City of Escondido backed down.

David Avalos has memorialized the Mobil invoice in his art show, and he also shows an “invisible” Infiniti parked near the Garcia home.

So far, there has been no comment from Sam Abed.

Meanwhile, Escondido activist Danny Perez has organized a boycott against Abed’s service station on East Valley parkway. Perez said the protest has cut Abed’s revenue as much as 80 per cent in recent weeks in this largely Latino city. “We may not have political clout yet,” Perez told La Prensa San Diego. “But we have economic muscle, and we intend to use it!”

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