Mesa Art Students Team Up with World Renowned Painter at Artivismo Loko Exhibition

Jacob Wdowiak, Staff Writer

The art gallery at San Diego Mesa College is currently hosting a Mario Torero exhibition directed and coordinated by Alessandra Moctezuma and Jenny Armer from Feb. 27 to March 21 located on the first floor of the new and improved Fine Arts building.

This exhibition coordinators worked long and hard to highlight Torero’s vast spectrum of artwork. It features some of his pieces all the way from the 1970s to 2019. Many of the paintings include themes such as wisdom, tradition, respect, and political activism. One of his more political pieces is titled “Bernie vs. Trump 2020,” which depicts politician Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump having a boxing match with the words “humanism and socialism vs capitalism and fascism” over the heads of the two caricatures. The gallery also features two banners depicting some sort of indigenous characters surrounded by traditional Aztec patterns.

Torero is currently utilizing the exhibit’s platform to collaborate with a new generation of Mesa College by collectively working with 11 students to develop a brand new temporary mural which will be unveiled during the exhibition’s reception. Armer explained how Torero “has been super invested in his collaborative project with the Mesa art students.” Previously, Torero had actually taught at San Diego Mesa College and painted a mural titled “Making Dreams a Reality,” back in 1993. A replica of this mural still stands today in the Student Services building at Mesa College.

Torero is known throughout the art community as an internationally renowned muralist. Originally born in Lima, Peru, Torero and his family ended up immigrating to San Diego and has since been a staple within the Chicano community throughout Southern California. In his teenage years, Torero focused on perfecting his graffiti and street art. Years later, he channeled his artistic ability by combining his original style and politically active mindset to unveil his beautiful murals across the city of San Diego. His murals reflect the 1970s civil rights movement which took place in his hometown. Armer explained how “Torero is extremely tied to his roots and uses that to promote equality.”

Torero has also worked on projects for other institutions such as the University of California San Diego and San Diego State University. The artist has traveled to France, Japan, Spain, and Mexico, as well as many other countries in order to expand his fan base and share his art with the world.  

The majority of his portfolio consists of political art and cultural empowerment pieces. Torero later implemented the term “artivism” to describe the relationship between his artwork and activism. The painter even taught classes explaining the concept of “artivism” in Barrio Logan, which is home to multiple murals painted by Torero himself. His artwork has consistently brought awareness to the history of systematic oppression, the pros and cons of American capitalism, and the effect we’ve had on our environment.

Torero appears to have no inclination of slowing down any time soon. These paintings have a lot of history and underlying meaning that local and native San Diegans are able to relate to, making the Mesa College Art Gallery definitely worth checking out.

Jacob Wdowiak
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