BARRIO PANTHER LITERATURA MAGAZINE takes a seat at the table!
Barrio Panther is a literary magazine for readers and non-readers alike. Its creators are dedicated to producing literature that "feels good to hold, is visually stunning and is a tool to create worlds." The magazine's Editor in Chief, Carlos "El Chuck" Espinoza, takes a moment to share his thoughts on what makes a community valuable, vibrant and sustainable. Carlos will be presenting on behalf of Barrio Panther at our upcoming Frijol Feasts! Enjoy this preview! The Caldo Collective: Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and your practice...How do you work best and what is important to you? Carlos Espinoza: The publisher, Alex “Rocka” Alvarez, has been a staple of the El Paso community art scene, playing drums and percussion for Fuga, Mexicans at Night and the S.o.V. In addition he has worked for Fever magazine, and the Rio Grande Rift, before publishing Barrio Panther Literatura Magazine. He currently resides in Dallas, TX. Carlos “El Chuck” Espinoza is the editor in chief at Barrio Panther. He has worked as Artistic Director of Border Senses, and was a contributing writer and editor to the Rio Grande Rift. His writing has appeared in Pilgrimage, Spry, BorderSenses, the Rift, Chrysalis and Listos. He contributed to the editing of Andres Montoya’s posthumous collection of poetry and the ForWord chapbook. He currently teaches literature and composition at EPCC. Barrio Panther Literatura Magazine is made up of rock ‘n rollers, graffiti artists and writers. We strive to create a literary magazine for readers and non-readers alike. We create literature that feels good to hold, is visually stunning and is a tool to create worlds. Most often we collaborate with four to six writers in order to give the reader time with each of the writer’s ideas and universes. In addition we work several photographers and artist to make the magazine a visually enticing as the imagery of the writing. CC: Where do art and community meet? How can that point of contact help to shape a community? CE: Community and art meet in the shared spaces of our daily lives and in our imaginations. They meet at the Placita, at the Armijo Public Library, and at the International Museum. They meet on the murals and placasos throughout the city. You can find art inked on people and you can find art on the hearts and minds of their children. Public or shared community spaces are in direct proportion to a community’s involvement and interest in the individuals creating that community. This includes painters, writers, musicians, performing artists, farmers and artisans. Every library, museum, gallery, trail, farmers market, book store, and artisan shop is an opportunity for art to inspire community. When these spaces are lacking our community suffers. However, literature provides a perfect avenue for which people can engage worlds in which our imagination and inspiration become a shared space. CC: What do you think El Paso needs? What do artists need in El Paso? CE: El Paso needs money. According to CBS’s Bruce Kennedy, “El Paso is the 8th poorest city in America.” The irony is that the US Mexico border does over a billion dollars in trade per day. Despite the fact that El Paso/Juarez is one the largest borders and facilitators for that trade it seems that our community has been cut off from access to that money. Simply, artists need access to resources and money can buy that access. CC: What support would you like to see in place for artists working in El Paso? CE: The city has to accept itself and heal from the trauma of the recent drug and media wars. We have to remember who we are in history and stop accepting the influx of corporate mediocrity, especially when we have innovative artists that are creating reflections of our specific experience as a Frontera community. CC: What's the dream? If our community could have it all, what would "all" of it include? Where/how/when do artists fit into your dreams for our community? CE: Ideally we would have sidewalks, walk ways, bike paths and trails that lead to parks, libraries, museums, gardens, and splash pads. These designated community spaces would include a stage so the community can organize readings, musical performances, theatrical performances and hold public discourse. Along the trails would be book exchanges, leave a book take a book. Unfortunately art does not create communities. However art inspires communities to evolve, art teaches empathy. Communities create artist and not the other way around. We need to give each community in El Paso the chance to congregate. Some communities, including in central El Paso, don’t even have complete sidewalks. I am constantly seeing women having to push strollers into the street and people in wheel chairs are denied access to the sidewalks.