A stroll along Segundo Barrio, aka the Second Ward, might give passers-by a glimpse of the art and culture that permeates the historic neighborhood, but locals can get a more intimate look into the area through a new exhibit.
“Segundo Barrio – Then and Now,” which opened last Friday, July 28, at Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, will be up until Aug. 21. Award-winning photographer Carlos Gutierrez’s exhibit wowed viewers with a variety of photographs of people living in the neighborhood.
“There’s so much more to explore in Segundo Barrio,” Gutierrez said. “That’s a beautiful thing – that only after a long time, you discover and you see it.”
For a year, Gutierrez would wander from his home in Sunset Heights to explore Segundo Barrio and take photographs. He also collected photos from residents with deep roots in the neighborhood. The community was very welcoming, he said.
“I met this boxer that lives in the apartments across from Sacred Heart Church,” Gutierrez said. “Although he was into all kinds of drugs and left home when he was 13, he later left the drugs and started training in boxing in a basement. He later won several Golden Gloves – I think, like, five times in a row or something like that.
“He then started training kids from the barrio. He saw himself in these kids – not going to school, things not well at home – so he started helping these kids through boxing. Now he is very close to Christ and doesn’t even drink.”
Gutierrez said that while Segundo Barrio continues to have a reputation for being a rough neighborhood, it couldn’t be further from the truth. At one point, he was invited into a resident’s home to enjoy a meal and take photos.
“I met a lady that has eight kids, and all her kids have graduated with honors and also have gotten a college degree,” Gutierrez said. “She wants to show me all the awards and to tell me her story. I can just imagine how many stories are out there in Segundo, and that is what makes me go back again and again.”
The neighborhood is changing because many of its residents have gotten older, Gutierrez said. Some developments have also changed the look of some areas. One example is the homes along Tays Street, which he says resemble houses in the East Side of El Paso.
“Those places look like what they call cookie cutter (homes),” he said.
While taking photos, Gutierrez wanted to show that the neighborhood is more than the usual images you’ll see on a Google search. He said his pictures show that a thriving and living community remains, but you will only see it if you walk down the neighborhood and get to know the people.
Email El Paso Inc. reporter Aaron Montes at email@example.com or call 915-534-4422, ext. 105. Twitter: aaronmontes91