Is Satan Relocating To La Mision?

You probably haven’t missed it when driving by La Mision in either the free or toll road. How can you? It has a huge horned male creature sticking up in the middle of it, along with several ladies, gargoyles and other satanic statues dancing around.

It is, to say the least, the most interesting and eclectic house around town.

I’m at the gates of the house and I literally didn’t know what to expect; what will the house be like on the inside? What kind of person is the owner?

Once I enter the house and meet Tony Wells, the owner, my whole perception changed. At that point, I realized that my perception of him and the house was created by all the rumors I had heard from people, which were not actually based on reality.

The house on the inside is very well-lit and has beautiful, colored LED lighting all around, with soft Latin music playing on a house-wide Sonos speaker system.

At this point I’m a little confused: wasn’t this a Satanic House?

That is actually the first question I asked Tony and he replied, “Whatever you heard about this house is probably true!” and starts laughing.

I immediately ask about the horned creature that is the most visible sculpture at his house. He tells me its not Satan, but a mix of Pan from the Greek mythology and himself

He takes me to a guest room that has spectacular ocean views and has a fireplace that warms the room. Now, this is starting to actually feel cozy; in fact, this is the opposite of what I had originally thought. I share my feelings with Tony and he laughs, stating “this is where we do the human sacrifices, did I say that out loud?” and he laughs even harder.

After talking to Tony, I noticed that he has heard all the stories about his house, and likes to have fun with it, but I think he likes being controversial the most.

There is no obscure or negative vibe in the house, I even could say that the opposite is true. I toured the rest of the house and noticed the eclectic collection of items in every hall and room within it. I especially noticed the huge collection of chandeliers adorning the house, Tony told me that he invested more than $400K just in chandeliers, and that some are more than 100 years old.

This is definitely not your normal Baja beachfront house; it actually feels a lot like something in between a museum and a home. Every piece of art and item in the house has a story and Tony knows them all. When we get to the master bedroom, he tells me the bed in it was used by the late Elvis Presley and that he got it in an auction for about $450K.

In order to realize his dream, he hired local artists Javier Arellanes, Laura Mas and Javier Filadelfo to build his sculptures, paint them and give them the finishes touches respectively. They work almost every day on projects that “El patron,” as Javier calls Tony, gives them. Even though you won’t find a lot of space to put new things, “El patron” says that the house is still unfinished and still needs some work.

The house also features pieces of artwork from other local artists, every time Tony drives by a place and sees something he likes, he buys it and has it installed in the house. Javier tells me that it would be impossible for them to build every one of the statues in the house itself.

After hanging out with him for a while, engaging in interesting conversation, an idea comes to mind: if this guy is really the devil, we won’t have a chance! He is cool, has a great personality and is kind. There will be long lines to get into his church!

This is not Tony’s first rodeo; he already owns another interesting property in the States, the Alexandra Bordello apartment building in Venice Beach, but that’s in the US where there are lots of rules and regulations to follow, the kind of regulations that wouldn’t allow Tony to completely fulfill his dream project, which is why he decided to build this project in Baja, where he found land that would be the perfect canvas to build his dream home, completely as he imagined it, without limitations.

Of course, not everyone is a fan of his work: many have questioned his style, saying it looks more kitsch than gothic. Everyone has a different opinion about it; some love it while some hate it.

I tell him a story about a post I read on my social media from a Christian friend who said that this was “La Casa del Diablo” or the devil’s house and that he wasn’t even joking. He proceeded to tell me that “Christians are actually my main promoters; they are the ones that have made my house famous so fast. I’ve even had a few knocks at my door from people who say ‘I know what’s going on here!’ – you know – just to complete their sentences a few seconds later with – ‘can we see your house inside?’ – After they meet me and see the house inside, they depart with a whole different idea.”

The property has become a tourist attraction here. In about an hour that I was in there, I saw 10 cars stopping on the road to photograph the house; another 4 groups knocked on the door to see if they could get a glimpse inside the house. Tony says he would like his house to make Baja more interesting for tourists, giving them one more thing to see here in Baja, adding  to what we have to offer “It’s my gift to Mexico,” he says.

If you’re interested in getting to know the property, just knock, Tony says he gladly lets people into his house when they ask nicely, although he only does that when he’s there, and he doesn’t live there full-time, so it could be tricky to catch him. Drop by anyway, his staff is always there, and they can tell you if he is there to welcome you into his house.

Enrique Chiu Announced As Finalist In Global Arts Awards Dubai

Enrique Chiu, the Tijuana artist we featured on our last issue, has been named finalist in the second Global Art Awards recognizing excellence and innovation in art and design, and will be going forward to the grand final of the prestigious awards taking place at the FIVE Jumeirah Palm, Dubai, on November 21, 2018.

Enrique Chiu, whose work “Carnaval”in the painting category has been singled out for praise by the judges will be heading for Dubai in November in the hope of winning the award in its category.

He will also have the chance to be named The Best Global Artist of 2018, which is awarded to one outstanding overall winner, who will also win an exhibition in Abu Dhabi as well as the life-long title.

Dubbed “The Oscars for the Visual Arts”, The Global Art Awards celebrate the exceptional achievements of artists from across the globe. There are 16 visual arts categories, ranging from photography, street art, illustration and painting to awards recognizing individual artists, including Best Newcomer; Best Sculpture Artist Award; Best Innovative Artist Award as well as the highly illustrious Best Emirati Artist Award.

Regarding reaching the finals of the Global Art Awards, Enrique Chiu said: “I am very excited to be a finalist with my artwork Carnaval. This is an international art prize, very important for the artistic society of the world. I am the only Mexican in my category and I will proudly represent my country, my city and in honor of our brothers in our borders.”

“It’s a great honour to be named a finalist in the Global Art Awards and I am delighted to be able to join such a fantastic, roll-call of artistic talent heading for the awards in Dubai. These awards really do single out the best, most exciting artists working today, to celebrate their achievements, and I am honored to be among them.”

Joëlle Dinnage, Founder and Director of the Global Art Awards said, “We created the awards a year ago to establish an inspirational international art competition on a global scale. Artists who were successful last time have gone on to gain recognition and commissions, travel and attend exhibitions and receive a real boost to their careers.

“This year, standards have been exceptionally high and the competition has been fierce across all categories. Congratulations to all the finalists. We look forward to seeing them in Dubai.”

The awards ceremony takes place on the evening of Thursday 21st November 2018 at the 16th floor Penthouse FIVE Jumeirah Palm against the backdrop of the astonishing Dubai skyline.

If you have an extra $525 USD and you want to attend the event, you can get tickets here. Better have a couple thousand for the flight to the Emirates too or it’s going to be a long swim there.

More information about the awards is on http://www.theglobalartawards.com. Facebook: @theglobalartawards Instagram: @theglobalartawards Twitter: @globalartawards

Full details about the artist and their work are available here: http://www.enriquechiu.mx Facebook: @enriquechiu.arte Instagram: @enriquechiuarte Twitter: @enriquechiu

More Than Another Brick in the Wall

Only an invisible line separates the United States from Mexico, and the two countries have lived harmoniously for decades. Recently, the mayor of San Diego declared that the southernmost counties of that city, together with all of northern Baja, are codependent upon each other economically, socially and creatively; he dubbed the region “CaliMex.”

One individual who personifies that union in the most joyous fashion is Enrique Chiu, a resident of Tijuana, originally from Guadalajara; he’s the artist whose work decorates that otherwise hideous tin wall that is supposed to separate our two cultures.

Enrique recently had his work on display at one of Ensenada’s premiere cultural and civic centers, the notoriously famous Riviera. An admirer of his work gave me his contact information, which I pursued with vigorous anticipation.

Enrique painting on the border wall in Playas de Tijuana. Photo by: Noemi Ramirez
Enrique painting on the border wall in Playas de Tijuana.
Photo by: Noemi Ramirez

The man is an artist whose work is so positive and energetic that neither one of the governments dividing our two nations has ever tried to suppress him in any way. His work is nonpartisan, and celebrates the gift of life with colors bright and joyful, with messages that unify disparate cultures and express with uplifting energy the passion and cohesion that unite human beings in a manner that supersedes the spoken language.

Enrique told me that he became interested in art at a very early age. He grew up in Guadalajara, a city rich in culture, a metropolis blessed by museums, a rich history and              an optimistic attitude toward the future.

He traveled to the United States, where he continued to study art, music  and history. Always, during his travels, he expressed his impressions in paintings that caught the spirit of individualism while opening the door to human dignity and respect. His love for life is so contagious that his followers are numbered in the hundreds, if not thousands; his work attracts and energizes children as well as adults. His images are expressions of joie de vivre, “the joy of life,” and to see his work is to feel the happiness and hopefulness of humanity at its best.

From Long Beach, California, to Guadalajara, Mexico, Enrique has opened workshops for children, and encourages everyone, regardless of age, to express him or herself with vigorous and joyous respect and gratitude for the life we have been granted on this magnificent planet.

Enrique Chiu
Enrique Chiu

I was teasing him about his Mexican first name and his Chinese surname, and he responded with the good nature that one would expect from an artist whose life is his work, and whose work brings joy and unity to the human family: he said “I am an artist, altruistic, social and committed to things that can make changes in society.”

He went on further to tell me that he is a Mexican with Chinese and Spanish grandparents. How fortunate are we to have such a unique individual living among us; how beautiful and unifying is his art.

Next time you travel north to the United States, remember that although political differences will always challenge us, art will always unite us. Beauty, passion and joy are gifts that human beings treasure and revere.

Those treasures that we share will allow us to forgive our differences.

When you see Enrique’s art on any one of the panels he has decorated, remember that the man is expressing himself in a manner of peaceful coexistence and a presence of mind that encourages the future of our species in the simplest, purest and most innocent manner; that simplicity and innocence has driven artists throughout human history to create works in whose shadows we shall forever stand in awe.

Enrique Chiu’s love of humanity flows from within his heart to the panels on which he designs his art. Those panels are reminders that although our differences may be many, our similarities are our common bond.

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