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Baja Graffiti: A Virtual Museum Showcasing Baja’s Street Artists

by Carla White

“I like to think of it more like a virtual museum. No driving necessary to appreciate the great artwork around, not easily accessed by foot.”  So says Nancy Ellick-Tabeling, a photographer and virtual curator of Baja Graffiti, a Facebook site that provides a showcase for some of Baja’s top street art and the artists who create it.

 

Baja Graffiti: A Virtual Museum Showcasing Baja's Street Artists

The Baja Graffiti site evolved organically, while Ellick-Tabeling was exploring themes in contemporary Mexican culture to photograph.  As she poked below the surface of the neighborhoods and communities in towns like Tijuana and Ensenada, the recurring elements of graffiti in all of its styles and messages grabbed her attention. Searching for “IT” became a treasure hunt and soon she began to identify and document the different artists and styles of street art — as she puts it, “the legal and illegal, primitive, sophisticated, soulful and soul-less.”

The images piled up quickly. What to do with them? Publish a book? For the photographer, the cost and labor didn’t make sense. “Who reads coffee table books anymore?” she asked herself.  The answer to her dilemma came with the idea of Baja Graffiti  and five months ago, the site was launched on Facebook.   In short order, it gained support from street art aficionados all over the world and is quickly acquiring new visitors.

“A keen appreciation of street art, especially graffiti, is an acquired taste. But it is surprisingly easy to acquire if you are open to exploring a new art form,” says Ellick-Tabling.  “Before turning up your nose, remember that Impressionism too, was fiercely despised when first introduced.”

She believes that the street art in Baja is particularly powerful in its contrasts — sometimes depicting the grittiness of the urban landscape, sometimes overlaying the images with the softness of the rural landscape.  Perhaps, then, the fact that Baja Graffiti can present the images in a ‘gallery’ form — albeit virtual — gives viewers a broader platform from which to make their critical judgements.  It is different seeing art in an organized setting that offers the chance to objectively view it versus walking along and seeing a painting on a cement wall.  Maybe it makes the ubiquitous question, “Is it the voice of the people? Or is it vandalism?”  a little bit easier to answer.

 

'Yes!' by Nancy Ellick-Tabeling, Baja Graffiti, hangs in Ollie's Pizza in Rosarito

“What makes this page so much fun is the opportunity to be an art critic and to interact with the artists. Regardless of age, race and backgrounds anyone can connect and communicate over a piece of art. Picasso, Matisse and Gauguin  would have loved Facebook!” poses Ellick-Tabeling.  Possibly, they would have contributed some of their own work to Baja Grafitti.

Visit Baja Graffiti…and then perhaps you’ll want to visit Baja and see street art up close!  Where to stay

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about localrestaurants,hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

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About Carla White

Carla White is a freelance writer, public relations/marketing consultant and event organizer based in Ensenada, Baja, California. Carla and her husband Jim moved to Baja in 2003 from the Los Angeles area believing that, thanks to the internet and satellite communications, they could continue working from home while enjoying a richer, more affordable lifestyle. So far, they’ve been right. Connect with Carla Google+

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