As border tightens, some U.S.-Mexico neighbors reach across the fence
By Tim Gaynor | Reuters – Sat, May 25, 2013
NACO, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexican activist Maria Elena Borquez takes up a paintbrush and daubs a bright splotch of color on the rusted steel fence separating the small Mexican town of Naco from a neighboring town in the United States.
"The wall projects hostility," she said, paint pot in hand and surrounded by youngsters from both the United States and Mexico. "The idea is to transform it with art, friendship, colors and life ... into something that unites us," said Borquez, who is director of the local museum.
As the United States pushes for tighter security along the Mexico border as part of efforts to overhaul immigration laws, Borquez is among scores of residents on either side of the border in this corner of southeast Arizona taking the unusual step of working to strengthen neighborly ties.
Tiny, Bohemian Bisbee Battles Arizona Over Civil Unions
By Radley Balko | The Huffington Post - Updated May 10, 2013
BISBEE, Ariz. -- During a session of afternoon cocktails around the patio table in the brightly painted backyard of notorious stand-up comedian Doug Stanhope, Melissa Reaves begins to strum an acoustic guitar. She fiddles a bit, settles into a bluesy groove, then starts to sing. In a throaty wail, she belts out lyrics that, it turns out, she’s making up on the spot. It’s a bit of party trick, writing songs as she’s performing them. And so she sings about this reporter, in town to write about her; about her partner, Jennifer Garland, who is sitting next to her; and about the gay marriage debate that’s broken out in this quirky little town of 5,500 people about 10 miles from the Mexican border.
Reaves and Garland have been together for 13 years. They moved to Bisbee from Asheville, N.C., in 2011 after hearing the band Calexico rave about the place. (The band’s song “Bisbee Blue” is about a variety of turquoise named for the town, a byproduct of the area's copper mines.)
Artists brighten up U.S.-Mexico border fence
By Cindy Carcamo, Los Angeles Times
BISBEE, Ariz. — They can't tear it down, so they decided to do the next best thing. They painted it.
For nearly a year, a contingent of artists from southeastern Arizona has joined forces with Mexican children to paint portions of the 650 miles of border fence separating the United States and Mexico.
Some see the border wall as an obstruction, a political symbol of the chasm between two nations. Others view it as the first line in protection for the nation. These artists, who call themselves the Border Bedazzlers, view the barrier that snakes across the Sonoran Desert as a blank canvas.
So far, a collection of artists, children, a minister and musician turned 30 panels of rusted metal border wall into murals featuring rainbows, hearts and brilliant landscapes alongside declarations of friendship and peace.
Arizona artists ‘bedazzle’ border wall in binational art project
December 26, 2012
LatinaLista — They call themselves the Border Bedazzlers and they have one mission — transform the ugly metal panels of the US-Mexico border wall into colorful art.
Spearheaded by Bisbee, Arizona artists Gretchen Baer and Carolyn Toronto, the duo work their talents in Naco, Sonora, Mexico, a town just on the other side of the Arizona-Mexico border. The two women chose to paint the wall from the south side of the border because they knew they would be hassled by too much red tape and bureaucracy from US law enforcement and federal authorities.
The result has been a 30-panel vibrant mural of different shapes and figures that magically spring to life in the Mexican desert. The colorful display is welcomed by the local Naco community, not just for the smiles it generates but because it is a binational art project. A project where the children of Naco have taken an active role in picking up paintbrushes and tapping their imaginations to create their visions of beauty on something considered an eyesore and a symbol of American mistreatment of Mexicans.
SamPoe Gallery features Gretchen Baer
HERALD/REVIEW Thu, 05/17/2012 - 5:23pm
Located at 24 Main Street in downtown Bisbee, SamPoe Gallery offers a unique view of the Bisbee art scene.
Join them at SamPoe Gallery on Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. for the opening reception of Paintress Gretchen Baer, best known for her colorful oil paintings, wacky art cars, and flamboyantly-themed art, political and musical events — she wears many crowns in Bisbee and beyond.
Bisbee motorists turn cars into colorful canvases
By Jonathon Shacat, Sierra Vista Herald
BISBEE, Ariz. — Take an ordinary vehicle, use a creative touch to paint it and decorate it with hundreds or perhaps thousands of items and what do you get? An art car.
The first art car in Bisbee was created in the early 1990s by Kate Pearson. Gretchen Baer made the second one. Numerous others were made by them and other people over the years.
"The thing that's key about them is that not only do they do this in Bisbee, but then they take those art cars and their other art that they do — because they do paintings as well — and they take them all across the county. They have been to many, many art car events nationwide. So, it's pretty cool," said Harrod Blank.
He is constructing an art car museum in Douglas. It currently features about 20 art cars, but the goal is to have 40. Right now, people can visit it by appointment only, but it will be open to the general public in a few years.
Does Hillary’s biggest fan live in Bisbee?
by Dana Cole on Nov. 05, 2007
SIERRA VISTA – When it comes to Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters, Gretchen Baer tops the list.
As founder of the Hillary Clinton Army, the Bisbee artist has been actively recruitingtroops for Clinton’s campaign. Baer has been throwing parties in her El-Change-O! Bisbee art studio in Clinton’s honor, the latest a 60th birthday party held Oct. 26.
“When we started this, the goal was to put the ‘party’ back into the Democratic Party,” Baer said. “Our concept from the very beginning was to run a Hillary campaign and have a lot of fun doing it.”
For years now – even before Bill Clinton was president – Baer has been a huge Clinton fan. When the former first lady announced her candidacy, Baer came up with the idea of starting the Hillary Clinton Army, a campaign that not only generated support in Bisbee, but also caught on in other areas.
Carole King Is On The Prowl For Hillary Clinton Voters In New York City
Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post
SOMEWHERE IN THE WEST VILLAGE, NEW YORK — Walking through the streets of the West Village to rally support for Hillary Clinton, Carole King, the famed singer-songwriter, is confronted with a problem: not everyone believes that she is, in fact, Carole King.
This can be frustrating at times, but it is hardly unexpected. Door-knocking is the grunt work of a presidential campaign — the task of the college-aged plebs who have the time, passion and stamina to do it. No one reasonably expects a four-time Grammy Award winner to be the one pushing your buzzer, asking for a few moments of your time to talk political shop.
Bisbee-based artist Gretchen Baer may just be one of the brightest Hillary Clinton fans in the country but even she’s eclipsed by her car.
"I have a 1989 Toyota Corolla that is completely covered in portraits of Hillary," she said. " All kinds of jewels and gems and toys that I’ve collected over the years. And so it’s just a sparkly piece that makes people smile."
Her car’s name?
Bisbee Artist's Bedazzled 'Hillcar' Rolls into New York for Primary
Story by Vanessa Barchfield
Hillary Clinton Swings at Bernie Sanders on Guns, Abortion in New York
Charlotte Alter @charlottealter
The artist in the Hillary-themed pantsuit is also the woman who decorated her car in honor of Hillary. “She’s a woman who gets things done in the world and isn’t afraid to stand out and make changes,” says Gretchen Baer. “And she does look like a ’70s TV mom. I love that about her.”
Martha’s Vineyard artist puts pedal to the metal for Hillary
By Mark Shanahan GLOBE STAFF JUNE 09, 2016
Gretchen Baer is impossible to miss at Hillary Clinton campaign rallies.
She’s the only one wearing a white pantsuit adorned with hand-stenciled images of the candidate’s smiling face. The artist who grew up on Martha’s Vineyard is also the only one who drives a car — a 1989 Toyota Corolla — whose hood is plastered with a whimsical portrait of the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
Arizona Dreaming: A Foreign Correspondent Wakes Up in the Wild Wild West.
Gretchen Baer, an artist who helps young Mexicans paint the border wall, brought us to a bustling lounge in Bisbee, a former copper mining town that’s now a hub of artists and hippies, where a band was playing. Ms. Baer’s transport is the “Hillcar” — a 1989 Toyota Corolla emblazoned with images of her political idol, Hillary Clinton.
By DECLAN WALSHOCT. 24, 2016
These 15 women from around the U.S. pledged their support for Hillary Clinton
Gretchen Baer | Painter | Bisbee, Arizona | Photograph by Chris Hinkle In 2008, Gretchen Baer, a painter based in a mountain town in southwest Arizona, spent two months and thousands of dollars repurposing her 1989 Toyota Corolla into the “Hillcar,” which she drove around the country to gin up excitement ahead of rallies for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. For one North Carolina campaign stop, Baer ordered 50 rubber Hillary masks for fellow diehards—the first of many cities her troupe would barnstorm, outfitted in red pantsuits. (“Gretchen, I see you’re getting a lot of press,” Clinton told her after one rally.) Like her heroine, the 51-year-old Baer, who still drives the Hillcar day to day, hasn’t made it official yet, but she’s “definitely considering” taking the car national again in 2016.
Extremely Ready for Hillary
The singular world of Clinton diehards.
By KATELYN FOSSETT
Extremely Ready for Hillary
Meet the Border Bedazzlers
On a warm Tuesday, nearly a dozen neighborhood kids gather at the border fence in Naco, Sonora.
Holding red and blue Dixie cups filled with paint, the siblings, cousins and friends splash new art onto the rough, 15-foot tall steel panels built with remnants of landing strips left over from the Vietnam War. The youngest ones smear pink, green and black paint into long stripes, while a couple of older girls add meticulous detail to their designs.
By Kendal Blust For the Arizona Daily Star
Children say goodbye to mural they painted on border fence
By Charlene Santiago
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017
NACO,SONORA – Children who painted a mural on a section of the border fence in Mexico gathered to take a final look at their artwork before the structure is torn down to make way for a new border barrier.
Today's #ChailleChallenge: Follow the Bouncing Greg Chaille.
Border wall painted by Mexican kids will be replaced, but the artist who started it will get to keep a piece.
First things first, says the American artist teaching Mexican kids to paint: This is not about saving the children or rescuing Mexico. It’s just about decorating a big, ugly wall.
To be fair, the wall’s bleak aesthetics are perhaps not the fault of the architect, who only had giant concrete blocks or sheets of corrugated metal to work with, and didn’t have much leeway in its design. Looks are beside the point when building a barrier separating Mexico and the United States.
But a few years ago artist Gretchen Baer decided to turn these blocks and sheets into massive canvasses, where she painted dozens of panels with fanciful images: a smiling sun, cactus, a stained-glass window pattern, a red cartoon heart inscribed with the words “Te Amo” — “I love you.”
By Nigel Duara
Standing in the Bisbee, Arizona, studio of artist Gretchen Baer, her friend Greg Chaille checks off items on a mental list of things that need to be done before a live May 20 "swapcast" by his boss, comic Doug Stanhope, and his fellow standup and podcaster Bert Kreischer.
Baer, who made national headlines with her Border Bedazzlers project that had youth seven miles away in Naco, Mexico, decorating the Mexican side of the U.S. border fence, has on this day a new flat barrier to paint. It's the backdrop for the stage at the Royale in Old Bisbee, where more than 150 fans will be watching the equally impaired Stanhope and Kreischer shoot the shit. Chaille checked in on Baer because she was recreating the back wall of The Funhouse, the bar/podcast studio within Stanhope's residential compound in Bisbee's Warren neighborhood.
By Matt Coker
June 15, 2017