April 22, 2014
by Curt Pendergast
Traffic along a major thoroughfare in Nogales, Sonora slowed to a crawl on Saturday morning as nearly 30 painters spilled out into the street.
Passersby craned their necks to see the volunteer painters touch up a mural that recently found a new home on the Buenos Aires avenue after being rescued from the U.S.-Mexico landing mat border fence when it was dismantled in 2011.
“It’s rescuing history,” said Luis Diego Taddei, a member of Taller Yonke, or Junk Studio, who helped lead Saturday’s effort. “The images, together with the material, have an important story for the city and for the country.”
The mural was painted on the border fence in downtown Nogales in 2005 as a sign of solidarity with the residents of Ricardo Flores Magon, who painted the mural on the side of a community center in 1998.
The Mexican Army destroyed the mural the day after it was painted. The mural on the border fence lasted much longer, staying on the fence for about six years until a new barrier was built.
After the original mural in Chiapas was destroyed, the mural took on a life of its own and other replicas were created in San Francisco, Ciudad Juarez, and Barcelona, as well as in Argentina and Brazil.
In 2011, when news of the fence dismantling in Nogales spread, members of Taller Yonke worked with the Sierra Club, Border Patrol, and Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Tucson) to preserve the 34 panels containing the mural.
After three years in storage, the mural was bolted to the wall by the Buenos Aires thoroughfare about a mile south of the border.
Organizers chose the location so the mural would be seen by a large number of people, including people passing through Nogales on their to and from the United States. “We wanted it to be visible to all the people who pass through here,” Taddei said.
The artists made a call for help from the public in February and Saturday’s effort was the first step in a weeks-long process of reviving the mural.
Among those to answer the call was Marta Dicochea-Morackis, sister of Alberto Morackis, one of the artists who painted the mural in 2005.
Morackis, who died in December 2008 from pneumonia, two days shy of his 50th birthday, founded Taller Yonke with his creative partner Guadalupe Serrano. In addition to conducting workshops and teaching art, Morackis participated in several urban art projects in Nogales, Sonora, including murals and sculptures mounted on or next to the old landing-mat border fence.
“It’s lovely,” Dicochea-Morackis said of the mural. “We need more murals in this city. Especially the children, they should paint, do more art.”
Among the painters was her granddaughter Itzel Vizcarra, 10, a Nogales, Sonora resident who likes to paint butterflies.
Although she didn’t get the chance to paint butterflies on Saturday, she did get to work with green, her favorite color, as she touched up the grass in the mural that surrounded images of community gatherings and armed resistance.
While Taller Yonke led the effort on Saturday, the impetus for reviving the mural came from a group of young people in Nogales, Sonora called the Flores Magon Collective, according to Taddei.
For more information on the mural and Taller Yonke, visit the group’s Facebook page. To learn more about the original mural, visit elmuromagico.org.