Border town, El Paso, Texas, discover an empty and quiet space, feel the underlying strength of the art culture of the American South.
Museum in El Paso, Texas. El Paso is a city on the border with Mexico. When I think of the city on the US side facing the border with Mexico, San Diego comes out. Though San Diego is far from the border, El Paso is close to the border with Mexico. It is within walking distance from downtown.
This El Paso Museum of Art is in downtown El Paso. Downtown in a big US city has a dangerous impression, but this place was well maintained and felt safe.
Admission to the two-story museum is free. When entered on the first floor, there is no reception counter. When I entered on Saturday morning, I was greeted by an elderly security guard who urged me to leave my luggage at Storage Room nearby. A very peaceful and rustic impression.
The hall is divided into several rooms. The first floor had special exhibitions, and the second floor had artworks from the museum’s collection. The space on the first floor is not so large, but the space on the second floor is large for a museum in a regional American city. Especially, the space at the back of the second floor. It is 50m x 20m and has a ceiling of approx 10m. It was a relaxing space. At the time of my visit, the artworks on black women were displayed.
In addition to the above-mentioned exhibition space, there were medieval paintings, especially religious paintings. There are also contemporary artworks with Mexican and Latin tones, as well as artworks with bright tones peculiar to the southern US.
A museum with few people is necessary condition for the museum to create an “extraordinary space”. In this view point, vast space at the back of the second floor mentioned above has no visitors including museum staff and meet this condition.
In the immediate vicinity of the museum, there is a square in the center of downtown called San Jacinto Square. At one corner of this square, across the road, there is an unusual cafe called “Coffee Box”. It is two-story café, which was a remodeled container. Its second floor space was comfortable. I recommned you to visit together with the El Paso Museum of Art.
In addition, since this place is a border town, please do not forget to walk down El Paso Street. It extends to south from the corner of San Jakitto Square. The shops lining both sides of the road offer colorful women’s clothing, jeans, household goods, and pawn shops and etc.
Lastly, this is a personal story. In the past, I had a hard time when I was refused to enter to US from Mexico. It happened when I crossed the border from El Paso to Mexico side and came back to the US side on a day trip. I remember interacting with the immigration officer. When I started walking to enter the US side again after I was rejected to enter to US at the office, an officer came out of the office and said, “What are you doing, go back to Mexico”. The US-Mexico border issue is a hot topic nowadays and therefore I would like you to visit this border area and experience the actual situation.
■ Name：El Paso Museum of Art
■ Address : One Arts Festival Plaza, El Paso, TX, USA
(described on Aug 18 2023)