Glitz and Glamor Come to Rosarito

Does this story sound familiar? You’re tired of your job, even if you love it, and you decide it’s time to retire. You move (to make sure you won’t go back to work after a few months) to paradise. It’s beautiful, you love it, but you’re bored. So you decide to return to the job you love, but now in a new location. After all, there is only so much beach volleyball and tennis one can play.

This is what Nannette Barbera experienced, and “DIVAS…the Show” was born. Every third weekend of the month until November, a new variety show will be performed in the beautiful plaza of the Mata Ashta Restaurant located in San Antonio Del Mar, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 and 9:00 pm. The patio will be elegantly transformed each month with a new theme, décor, and mood. Future shows will include magic, comedy, burlesque, Motown, variety and more.

Performing on the domed stage the premier weekend is Ninette Terhart (direct from Las Vegas) and local talents, Theresa Mala and Tina Marie. Host Rick Rumbaugh will be on hand to entertain with his own brand of humor, but the main theme of these (and future) glitzy-yet-classy shows is to honor and empower women. And although there are two shows per night, each will have unique costumes (designed by Nannette), tunes, and performances, with each evening culminating in a slam-bang finale, and then dancing to a variety of music until midnight with a local DJ. And there is a special guest appearance, to be announced! This month, Baja Lori Chapin will be on hand to offer tequila tastings.

Nannette is no stranger to staging live entertainment. After 17 years with  Caesar’s Entertainment as Entertainment and Special Events Coordinator, she produced and choreographed  such stellar shows as “Dance Mania,” iCandy” and “Solid Gold Soul,”  as well as the television shows Star Search, Leno and Howie Mandel, among others, and now she’s brought her expertise and abundant energy to Rosarito. Her partner Buford King, who co-produces her shows, accompanied Nannette to Rosarito. When they discovered Mata Ashta after moving to San Antonio Del Mar, Nanette became the Special Events Operator for the property, and does much of its marketing.

Tickets are $20 in advance (PayPal.me/SteveSpradley or at Mata Ashta) and $25 at the door, which includes the show and your first drink. And this is a family-friendly show, so the kids get in for $10. But hey, if you come for the first show you can stay for the second on the same ticket. But that’s not the only great deal. If you mention the Gringo Gazette when purchasing your ticket, you get $5 off. And if you purchase your ticket at Mata Ashta any day before the show date you’re interested in, the Steve’s Special will include a raffle ticket entering you into a drawing for a $50 Mata Ashta gift certificate, to be held every Monday following the shows. Winners will be notified and their names posted on Mata Ashta’s Facebook page. Steve is the owner of Mata Ashta and head of promotions, so I guess he can offer any special he wants to.

There will be a different show each month until November, then after a brief hiatus, during which Nannette will be creating new shows and costumes, the show will return to Mata Ashta next spring.  And Ms. Barbera is always looking for new talent to add to her shows. In addition to looking world-wide for new acts to include into future shows, she is looking for local talent. So if you are a performer of any kind (musician, singer, juggler, comedian, magician…the list goes on and on), please contact her via email at nbarbera2@yahoo.com with a description and video of or link to a video. For more information, email stevemataashta@gmail.com, or phone 1-702-809-1482 or 1-714-606-2646.

Cabaret Casting Call

Ever wondered what it would be like to appear onstage with a really happening band? Sweet Sixx is in need of new entertainers to join them for their Baja Burlesque Show, a sexy variety show. There are several venues and dates; May 18th, June 22nd, and July 27th. Singers, dancers, comedians (c’mon, your friends think you’re funny), burlesque, magicians, jugglers, actors, drag performers, musicians, and more are needed! There will be several shows the first of which is May 18th, so you’d better get a move on. Dust off that trombone, polish those tap shoes, find that magic bunny that got loose in your house two years ago.

For more information, please email sweetsixxduo@gmail.com,  or call 686-230-9933. You may also leave a message at their Facebook site.

Tuesdays With Morrie

How much time do you spend dealing with money? You have to earn it, report it, pay taxes on it, spend or save it, make plans for it, donate it, teach your kids about it, have enough of it to retire, and ultimately spend a huge part of your life dealing with it. Is it worth it?

That is the core question that Morrie Schwartz, a retired sociology professor, discusses with his former student and current friend, Mitch Albom. After graduation, he began working as a sports reporter  for a newspaper and became very successful. Unfortunately, he became so obsessed with his professional career that he nearly destroyed his marriage. His wife felt neglected because of his obsession with his work.

Morrie, according to Mitch Albom’s famous book and the play of the same name, is interviewed by Ted Koppel for the TV show Nightline. Mitch happens to catch it. Plus he is at a turning point. His co-workers at the Detroit Free Press are on strike and consequently he is out of a job. That gives him time to reflect about what Morrie explained to Koppel, namely that most people spend too much time on things that don’t make them happy. He learned that focusing on who you love and nurturing that love is much more important than  the pursuit of money. As they say, “money cannot buy happiness.”

Mitch calls Morrie and arranges to meet with him every Tuesday, which he does for the next 14 weeks. Morrie, who has quickly advancing ALS, lasts that long but finally succumbs to the debilitating disease. Through it all Morrie remains upbeat and insists that ALS gives him time to reflect on his impending death. He has time to contact all those he loves. He can even fairly well predict the progression of his disease and the time he has left to reach out and communicate with all those people in his life who have meant so much to him.

For the Rosarito Theatre Guild’s production of Tuesdays With Morrie, we welcome two veteran actors, Jim Johnson and Colton Dennis, who play Morrie and Mitch respectively.  Jim is currently the Director of the Gallo Center Repertory Company.. The Center for the Performing Arts has, a 1,200 seat theatre which has attracted national shows, including “Cats”, “Evita” and “Shrek: The Musical”.

Colton Dennis is a very experienced actor, who, as a young man in his 30’s, is perfect for his role as Mitch. He is  an actor, director and co-artistic director of Patterson Repertory Theatre. He has performed with numerous other companies in the Central Valley.

Jim and Colton have performed several times together,  and their collaboration has resulted in a really stimulating one-act performance.

Performances are May 9th and 10th at 7 pm,  with matinees  at 2 pm on May 11th and 12th. For information call 664-631-3320 or visit www.rosaritotheatre.org. Tickets can be purchased through PayPal.

Rosarito Pottery Studio Celebrates Local Kids

The local pottery studio “DeColores Mexico” which offers experiences, classes and workshops for creating beautiful, usable art, is providing one lucky kid each month (April, May, and June) a free birthday party for up to 10 people.

In order to achieve this, Gloria Robinson, co-owner of DeColores is asking the community to nominate a family who would not be able to afford a birthday party.

Please send your nominations in a letter with a recommendation of why they deserve this special birthday party! You can email your submissions to info@decolores-mexico.com

DeColores is celebrating its first year this coming June and the birthday party giveaway is one of the ways they are celebrating.

Children and adults can all have fun while enjoying the variety of activities they have to offer, like bilingual story time and paint, kids night out (where parents can enjoy the evening without their children, art classes, doing dishes with Isela (guided painting), wine and design night (our favorite!) and kids art camps during school breaks.

The studio is owned by three women who each have a different background and bring something unique to the table. Isela Rosales is the house artist, who develops class curriculums, teaches classes and designs art projects for children and community programs. Julia Mahon handles the business side of the studio, and Gloria Robinson coordinates marketing, public relations, and community outreach.

DeColores is located on KM 40 of the free road to Rosarito, in the Santini strip mall. Find out more about them on their facebook page or visit www.decolores-mexico.com

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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