The Steve Jobs portrait by Albert M. Watson has been recreated on a wall in Playas de Tijuana right next to the bullfighting ring. The mural is located a block away from the beach and can be viewed from the 7-Eleven that's at the entrance to the boardwalk (633 Del Farallón Street). The artists got permission from Corona Internacional real estate, which own the wall of the apartment complex the painting is on.
The background is like a Facebook page and Julian Assange appears next to Jobs. At both ends of the mural, a chat bubble explains who the people are. The message on the right reads, “Who are they? They are Steve Jobs, the creator of Apple and Julian Assange, the creator of WikiLeaks. Orale, los voy a googlear.” It states the obvious, but a lot of people in Mexico are not aware of who Assange is.
“Some people passing by have confused him with AMLO,” artist Lucia Rivera tells me, AMLO being the acronym nickname of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a Mexican politician and activist. (Note that the text includes the Spanish verb “to Google.")
The artists — Rivera and Simi “el Buho” Villamil — are both 27 years of age. “Buho” means “owl” in Spanish, a nickname that he got for frequently sleeping in the classroom. Though he has no formal education in the arts or a college degree, he has 13 years of experience painting murals in Tijuana and other cities.
Rivera is an experienced singer and songwriter working on a B.A. in music studies. She’s taken several art courses as well. This is her first mural.
The duo has a goal to start a new form of mural art. They say they are tired of murals that only depict monitos, or have a cartoon feel; their intention is to talk about current subjects and educate people of what is going on in the world.
During the recent week of working on the mural, several people approached them to cover the story.
“We never imagined this would get this much attention,” commented Rivera. “We didn't even have the name for our movement, but we finally decided on calling it Movimiento Artistico Red Mental.”
As I watched them work, an American passerby gave a 50-peso bill to Buho. “This is for the paint, bro. Keep up the good work!” the passerby exclaimed. I asked Rivera if this happened often.
“A lot of people have come by for support, but that's the first time they gave us money. On the weekend there were some people from LA.. down here. They liked what we were doing, so they brought us coconuts and other food. It's crazy. We didn't think we were going to get this much attention.”
Some details still need to be added to the mural. They plan to finish it this week, adding a phrase by Assange translated into Spanish: “If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.”