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Photo of the day: THE HIDDEN ART TREASURES OF TIJUANA, MEXICO – (Part of my new ‘Tijuana Tuesday’ series). Most tourists know Tijuana, Mexico for it’s allure of inexpensive souvenirs, leather goods, bountiful food & drink, the colorful streets and the bargain ready store keepers. Most tourists arrive after the stores officially open at 10 am, which, since it’s Mexico…means 10:30, 10:45, 11:00 in the land of ‘mañana’. Other tourists choose to arrive at sundown just for a night of drinking and partying. But what happens if you arrive early in the morning instead?
Last week on my visit to Tijuana, I decided to visit the main shopping thoroughfare Revolution Avenue (or Avenida Revolución) early, taking advantage of my body clock being three hours ahead on New York time to photograph the colorful buildings. Believe me, they don’t ‘do mornings’ – I was practically the only one on the main street. But, being so early reveals a hidden treasure most tourists don’t get to see – the wonderful murals painted on the steel gates of the closed store fronts! Just as New York’s Harlem 125th Street has painted murals of African history and heritage done by 85 year old artist Franco the Great only to be seen before the stores open at 10am and lift and hide the gates.
The same wonderful hidden treasures are revealed here in Tijuana in the early morning hours too. The art styles on the steel gates range from pop culture references, traditional Mexican folk lore to street graffiti. As I wondered down the sunny avenue in wonderment at all the wonderful colors, old architecture and design, I didn’t even realize I was photographing a recurring theme of the steel gates so I didn’t get to photograph them all, but these are some that just fascinated me. There is such beauty in the rustic old buildings, you never really see their old age, rust or need of care. The imaginative designs, the vintage signs, the brightly colored walls, the charming old cast iron gates and the swaying palm trees create a colorful illusion of charming perfection. How wonderful to see no chain stores and glaring modern electronic billboards, instead just “art”, however you interpret “art” to be – it is all around you. Then as 10:30-ish rolls around, you start to hear the clankering of the metal gates, one by one, being lifted up as the stores keepers prepare their shops for the day, only to reveal more colorful treasures inside!
“Tijuana makes me happy.”