By Raymond R. Beltran
You got to hand it to the Chicano community.
Protesting, picketing, bickering or boycotting … when one of our own is between a rock and a hard place, we'll come out of the woodwork to lend a hand to those who are approaching hard times.
Tis the reason, and actually the title, for an art auction extravaganza being held this Saturday, Artists Helping Their Own, a Silent Art Auction Fundraiser for Berenice Badillo.
'Bere', as her friends call her, is a hardworking Chicano Park muralista and youth counselor who had her hip replaced this February. Immediately after surgery, her body became an anchor to her ambitions and she found herself couch ridden and unable to work.
Rheumetoid arthritis is the cause, a disease she's been living with for three years that's been doing a number on her joints. She's been out of her game since and there's two weeks left until her benefits run dry, leaving her with a whopping amount of medication to pay for and more seriously, enduring it with a possibility of unemployment.
Today, with a new titanium hip, a walking cane and bonafide handycap sticker hanging from her car rearview mirror, she's the last person to lay down and play dead from here on out.
Her compañeras aren't having that either.
“Berenice has been a friend and a motivating force in my artistic life for over five years after an explosive meeting at a Latina artist talk at UCSD,” says artist Nuvia Crisol Guerra, who's donating three paintings, called 'Florecitas', to be auctioned at Saturday's fundraiser.
For Badillo, artists' responses have been a true sign of 'compañerismo' says Consuelo Manriquez de Beltrán, member of the Red CalacArts Collective, a group of activists and artists who are organizing the fundraiser. Seventy-five participants, four live acts, including Quinteto Caballero and Guaraca!, and appetizers and drinks provided by the organizers.
“I'm completely flabberghasted, totally humbled,” says Badillo, who is an art therapist for youth in North Park.
For the organizers, fundraising for each other actually sparked several years ago when publishers of Calaca Press raised money for Chicano Park Day's 30th Anniversary Celebration. They found they could do it, and more, they found they were good at it.
“We raised a lot of money and we also realized that … we could count on people's support, activists, family and friends,” says Manriquez de Beltrán, who is also the co-owner of Calaca Press.
A similar event held last year raised $10,000 for Tomasa 'Tommie' Camarillo, chairwoman of the Chicano Park Steering Committee who's eye surgery led to inflated medical bills.
“She has earned more for all that she's done for the park,” Manriquez de Beltrán says about Camarillo. “She is the backbone of Chicanisma.”
And that is who fundraising organizer's stumble across periodically, finding it a cultural and communal duty to act.
As a family therapist focusing on art and children, 'at-risk youth' is an understatement for Badillo. She serves the suicidal, the drug abusive, those embarking on prostitution, the abused of youth culture through teaching them the therapeutic methods of artistic expression.
As a community artist, she's been a member of the Border Art Workshop and an innovative Chicano Park muralist, painting during the 1994 retrofitting controversy when it was forbidden to add more murals to the neighborhood, an act of defiance that, she says, gained her the most notoriety during her artistic life.
Though she's painted in Peru, Japan, Cuba and Mexico, her roots run deep in local youth culture in having co-founded groups like Elemental and San Diego Streetscape that offered a culturally expressive venue for urban youth to deejay, rap, break dance or paint murals in a nurturing environment.
“We're just doing what all raza should do,” says Manriquez de Beltrán. “We got to help each other in this society we live in ... Berenice has always supported Calaca Press (in book illustrations) and she is a Calaquera, who we have the orgullo to have several of her art pieces at our home.”
The art auction fundraiser will take place at 24K Gallery (1616 National Ave) in Barrio Logan on Saturday, May 12, from noon to 4 p.m. $10 donation at the door. Artists include Berenice Badillo herself, Mario Chacon, Perry Vasquez, Mario Torero, Irene Castruita, Carmen Kalo, Laura Vazquez Rodriguez and a strong community of others.
“We all benefit in an exponential way when we are all working together in the community,” Nuvia Guerra says. “I think that being a real community means for all of us to meet and help one of our members out … and the response to her fundraiser proves that thought.”
For more info, contact the lead organizer, Brent Beltrán, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 619-434-9036.
Set in the 1950s, La Otra Conquista tell’s Mexico’s oldest story of the Aztec Emperor’s son to preserve his people’s religious and cultural identity in the wake of invasion of his land by Spanish conquerors and clergymen. Told in a new way, it is bold and courageous, written and directed by Salvador Carrasco, produced by Alvaro Domingo. Screens Wednesday, May 16, at AMC Palm Promenade 24 (770 Dennery Road) at 7:30 p.m.
Media Arts Center San Diego and the History Channel en Español will host a screening of Act of Honor. This sixty minute documentary remembers the life of local hero Sgt. Rafael Peralta, a 25 year old U.S. Marine Corps officer who died while fighting in the Iraq War. Screening Thursday, May 17, at San Diego Hall of Champions (2131 Pan American Plaza) at 6 p.m. To RSVP, email email@example.com.
UCSD presents Gabriel Preciado to lecture on La Comunidad Linguística de Tijuana on Thursday, May 17, at 4 p.m. Preciado studied literaure and linguistics at the Universidad de Guadalajara and is currently teaching at UABC’s School of Humanities. She is done extensive work on border youth culture and has published articles on conversational metadiscursive. Free on campus (9500 Gilman Dr) at the Certeau Room 155. For info, call Max Parra at 858-534-4618.
Writers from Tijuana’s La Linea Collective, an interdisciplinary artists group, will be featured on the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Poem Lines on Phone Lines through March 2007. Featuring Abril Castro, Jennifer Donovan, Jen Hofer, Kara Lynch, Lorena mancilla and Margarita Valencia Triana. Let this experimental literature be invited into your home and be part of an extended museum experience by calling 858-454-9541, ext 9.
Club StuwII every Saturday at the Hot Monkey Love Café (6875 El Cajon Blvd), where teens come to have club-style fun with live DJ’s and dancing. Cover discount before 9 p.m. For more info, call Alma at 619-469-4113.
Victor Villaseñor, author of the nationally acclaimed bestseller Rain of Gold, will give a talk and sign his books at Carlsbad City Library (1775 Dove Ln) on Thursday, May 24, at 7 p.m. The talk will take place in the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium. Free for the public. For more information, call 760-602-2012.