Reinventing yourself is a long process. One slip of the tongue can undo months of careful life editing. The most dangerous area for slips of the tongue for new gang members is the World of Art. Philistines at heart, the transistion to a life of living in an Artist’s Colony can be rough. While Gang members understand the role artists play in driving up house prices they really have difficulty understanding what they do. They know they have to Fill their Walls but the old “I know what I like” approach to art won’t work in an Artist’s Colony.  Many residents confuse artists with the homeless and often approach them with small donations.  Some believe that the lady below has been hired by the city to create artistic feelings in the city.

Living in an Artist’s Colony is difficult.  They know they live in a great city but can’t articulate why.  Richard Florida in defining what makes a great city such as Tucson AZ or a not so great city such as Fresno CA describes the driving force behind them – the Creative Class

Creative-minded people enjoy a mix of influences. They want to hear different kinds of music and try different kinds of food. They want to meet and socialize with people unlike themselves, trade views and spar over issues.

They favor active, participatory recreation over passive, institutionalized forms. They prefer indigenous street-level culture—a teeming blend of cafes, sidewalk musicians, and small galleries and bistros, where it is hard to draw the line between performers and spectators. They crave stimulation, not escape. They want to pack their time full of dense, high-quality, multidimensional experiences. Seldom has one of my subjects expressed a desire to get away from it all. They want to get into it all, and do it with eyes wide open.

That statement terrifies new Gang Members. They come from a land without spice and controversy. They come from a land of Nice and Easy. And now they are require to try different food and eat on the street without air conditioning. They are required to have a point of view but have no news media to tell them what it is. It is so hard when you first arrive in San Miguel.

So the Gangs have a program called GFA – Getting Fully Arted offered evenings at the Biblioteca and other sites in the city to explain the mystical area of Art. Each gang member is given a sponsor  to lead them through the stages of Getting Fully Arted.

Becoming a Bohemian

You can’t be Fully Arted unless you become a Bohemian. For some who were Hippies in the 1960’s this is not that difficult but people from Texas need lots of training.

A Bohemian is a person with artistic or literary interests who disregards conventional standards of behavior (American Heritage). But you could also say it’s a matter of ‘you know one when you see one.’

You start your transistion to Bohemian with clothing. You are what you wear. A rug over the shoulder says Bohemian while a backpack suggests poverty or high school. Carrying a bag with Friedo Kahlo’s picture says Bohemian while carrying a Louis Vuitton bag suggests Bourgeois. Combat Cocktail Sandals says Bohemian while wearing running shoes suggests the Wrong Side of the Tracks. Gang dress codes simplify this immensely.

Once you look Bohemian then you can start to climb your way up the Art Ladder.  Learning to climb the Art Ladder comes from completing two Courses in Getting Fully Arted – Watching Art and Making Art.  There are many rungs on the the Art Ladder.  Watching Art has six levels.

  1. Art Gallery Openings – Watching Art
  2. Watching Music
  3. Watching Films
  4. Watching Plays
  5. Watching Dance
  6. Watching Authors (Readings and Poetry)

The first and easiest level the Art Gallery Opening.

Art Opening
Christian Calvillo
Sat, June 21, 6–8pm
Galería Izamal
Mesones 80

Gang members put on their new Bohemian clothes and with their sponsor enter the Gallery. They are allowed only to say “Ummm” or “Interesting” or “Good use of Color”. They are only allowed five minutes at their first opening. At their second opening they can purchase something small. Gangs must attend one art opening a month and have Gallery Opening Cards that must be completed each month to prove their devotion to watching Art. When they have four stamps they can move on to the next level.

Level Two is Watching Music.

What’s goin’ on
Jazz Concert
The Cross Border Trio
Thu, July 10
El Viejo Topo Café-Teatro
Stirling Dickinson 28

This one is a piece of cake as all you have to do listen. Every gang member must start at Bella Italia and hear Doc Severinsen. It is a right of passage in San Miguel to hear Doc who lives in San Miguel. Once you have heard him and the guys who play with him then you can recommend this show to everyone. You have become an tour guide and an expert on music in San Miguel.  Each concert is recorded on the Music Appreciation Card and after four concerts you can move on.


Opera and classical music are to be avoided at all cost.  This type of music required special training beyond the ability of most philistines in San Miguel. 

The Third Level is watching Film.

F for Fake (1976)
Thursday, June 26 at 3pm Friday, June 27 at 2pm
Documentary, English, 88 minutes




Director: Orson Welles Cast: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar, Joseph Cotton, Francois Reichenbach, Andres Vincente Gomez

In this free-form documentary from the one and only Orson Welles, the famed storyteller zigzags through a sardonic, fanciful tale of how art manages to amaze and fool us, often simultaneously. With faux determination, Welles examines the charismatic artist Elmyr de Hory, who makes pretty good money creating bogus Picassos and Matisses. Also fascinating is Welles’s own deception and a peek into the life of the very private man



They are never called movies but film and you watch them at a cinema. Villa Jacaranda is a great place to watch films because you can drink and after a few drinks you couldn’t care less what Jules et Jim are saying. The only problem is not to stay too long after the film or you might have to discuss what you haven’t watched

Level Four is watching plays.

Watching plays is a lot harder than watching movies because of the dreaded intermission where you can get caught off guard when someone asks “So how do you like it so far.” For most people in San Miguel that answer is “Great”. As a rule of thumb all art in San Miguel is great. There is no such thing as bad art. However there a few people who will use this question to test you. These are the critics who are in reality Artistes. An Artiste is dangerous because they believe they have evolved from being a Gang Member to a fully actualized individual with opinions that matter. They like nothing better than to test new Gang members to find badly contructed lives.

An Artiste however, might simply be a Tourist who knows good art from bad art. These people are gold and actually may give opinions that you can later claim as your own. A tourist is easy to spot as they aren’t dressed like Bohemians.

Level Five Watching Dance

“The Audition”
Performing arts students from El Sindicato
Tue, June 24, 7:30pm
Teatro Ángela Peralta
Mesones 82

When gang members move to this level, the world gets dangerous. To most gang members, dancers are just people running about on the stage wearing scarves. To pay money for it seems a crime.  So to avoid riots in the theatre, new gang members are instructed to only go to Musicals where there is singing and dancing and songs they know.

Level Six is Watching Authors

Codex Mendoza: The Daily Life of the Aztecs
Wed, July 9, 3pm
Teatro Santa Ana
Biblioteca Pública
Insurgentes 25
50 pesos

This is a great activity for people who don’t like to read.  Someone will read to you for a fee. But it is a rather complex activity because it requires making some choices.  Genre is new word at this level.  You are told to find a genre you like.  Some members confuse gender and genre.  Once you have a Genre then you only attend readings and listen. You are not allowed to speak or write.