March 18, 2005

El Lugar del Nopal: Ten years of art, culture and good food in Tijuana

By Luis Alonso Pérez

Tijuana is a city with a flourishing artistic community that for many years was eager to share its work and interact with other artists. At the same time it developed a demanding public that searched for a place where they could enjoy a musical presentation, a poetry reading or a painting exhibition sipping on a good glass of wine.

That’s why ten years ago, an old house in a corner of downtown Tijuana, opened its doors with the hope of filling the gap between art lovers and creators. Its name is El Lugar del Nopal.

The idea of opening an independent cultural center came to life because of the love for art of it’s owners and founders Adelaida del Real and José Pastor, who decided to com-plement the cultural project with restaurant and bar services “Food and drinks are very important to enjoy a concert and have a pleasant evening, but the main thing has always been the cultural aspect” said Adelaida del Real.

Grupo de poetas Tres Tristes Tigras

For the founder of “El Nopal” a very important thing for visitors is feeling right at home, with the colorful decoration, the smell of home cooked food, the contact with nature in their garden and the pieces of art on their walls. But the most important thing is being certain that when they go to a presentation, they will find a good artist.

During the ten years of El Nopal many renowned artists have been on their stage like Lila Downs, Astrid Hadad, “El Negro” Ojeda, Rafael Mendoza, Caito, among others. It has also showcased talent from north of the border like Bill Caballero and experimental theatre groups from the University of San Diego, as well as local artists like Agustín Sánchez, Pedro Jiménez, Armando “El Gume” Vidal, Nona de Lichas, Edward Coward, just to name a few.

As part of their tenth anniversary celebrations, El Lugar del Nopal has celebrated with artistic “seasons” with the participation of the salsa group Trece de la Suerte; the French André Minivelle; the comedy-musical trio Radiopatías; as a part of the women’s month celebration they presented a lineup of female artists with the poetry group Tres Tristes Tigras, a performance by Ballet del Tercer Mundo, and the guitars and voice of Nidia Barajas and Marcela Cano; the guitar and saxophone jazz duo of Emiliano Marentes and Alain Derbez, among many other artists.

The celebrations will continue during the month of March, with the participation of La Tropa Nopalera, Agustín López Velarde, a tribute to Carlos Díaz “Caito”, the presentation of “Mujeres de Adobe”, Alejandro Filio, Alejandro García “Virulo”, Alfonso Maya, and others.

There are many plans for El Lugar del Nopal, among them, is continuing with a series of concerts called “El Nopal se da en la Calle” (the Nopal grows on the street), which consists in organizing musical presentations outside El Nopal, just like last Thursday March 10th, with a free concert by Emiliano Marentes and Alain Derbez in Uni-versidad Iberoamericana in Playas de Tijuana.

For Adelaida, the most gratifying part of her work has been the movement her project has developed for local artists. After ten years of constant work, emerging artists come up to her asking or a space, which has turned El Nopal into a breeding ground for new talents. “The most gratifying part has been developing audiences for artists and awakening the artistic sensibility in Tijuana’s population”.

If you wish to join the celebrations and need more information about events or driving instructions, visit their web page:

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