It was an art opening at Visual Art Supply, the “Slug and Tug,” an invasion of Normal Heights by TJ and Mexicali artists and musicians, all of whom arrived at the behest of Chad Deal: bon vivant, Reader contributor, and native son of the wilds of East County. Yeah, that’s right, Mr. Crasher gets his party put under the microscope for a change. Inquiring minds want to know, Mr. Deal, can you throw a party half so well as you crash one?
A keg of PBR and all the gummy bears I can stuff into my greedy mouth is a strong start.
“We were supposed to have a girl dressed up and handing the bears out as appetizers,” Mr. Deal told me. But I guess the air grew too frosty for her liking and the gummies languished in a grocery bag, free for the taking.
Bands are good for parties, too. His cross-border lifestyle puts Chad in touch with cool acts. First, there was Batwings, a kind of hardcore-punk outfit with nerdy overtones. Smart, high-intensity music with the rightful anger of the 1980s draped over it like a worn flannel shirt patched with millennial irreverence. Contemporary urban Mexico in a nutshell: the boom and bust power striation of mid ’80s America facing the everyday reality of iPhones and Instagrams.
Then, PL DVNA (aka “Piel Divina,” aka “Divine Skin”), dragging trippy, instrumental space rock out of the Moog-saturated past and into the present day with dreamy, catchy loops for days. Madame Ur y Sus Hombres, another band that hit the stage, could be called Tijuana indie jazz. The husky voice and Art Deco’d Nefertiti look of Madame Ur herself are timelessly Jazz Age and cutting edge at the same time.
Well played, Chad, well played.
This music and art scene is what Deal is all about with his Snail Trail video productions, where he looks at the street-art culture that’s happening right now, every day on the border.
“The idea is that we get picked up for a TV show sometime,” Deal said. “Like Anthony Bourdain, but for art.” Today, Tijuana. Tomorrow, who knows? He could wind up filming Afghan puppeteers if things go as planned.
For now, Deal put it thusly: “The goal of the Slug & Tug was to introduce artists and musicians that we met in our adventures through Mexicali and Tijuana to a new audience and provide a space for transborder connections. Street art is the only unifying name for this. The artists present were just a few of many who are bringing their own style to the streets. DSEK from Mexicali, for example, does these grotesque characters inspired by childhood cartoons and his background in graffiti. Likewise, Panca’s hilarious, lumpy narwhal creatures can be found throughout Tijuana.”
There’s amazing diversity among the artists who foment artistic upheaval at the other end of the linea. Syncretism is the order of the day, and everything that’s ever been done is up for reevaluation in 2013. Taggers-cum-artists such as DSEK and Moistrix pull stylistic cues from every where and when, but the products are emergent, fresh, and symbolic of what’s going down every day in Mexico’s artistic underworld. Slug & Tug brought a little of that to San Diego. Deal said that these artistic visions on the streets of Tijuana go hand-in-hand with the city’s current and ongoing reimagination of itself; art and music at the border is in flux, growing and changing daily on the streets. It’s a mad, mad world out there. It deserves a party.
Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation.