Radio Interview with Mark Paulda on State of the Arts
Marina Monsivias of State of The Arts radio program on KTEP interviews Mark Paulda about his new photography book, “Sí El Paso.” KTEP is an NPR station.
Marina :: “Sí El Paso is a 10th anniversary edition of Mark’s first book, “Celebrating El Paso.” This new book shows how El Paso has changed over the last 10 years and runs a little over 200 pages. It contains El Paso in stories and accounts of the city from a personal viewpoint and shows over 200 photographs of the city and is completely bilingual the book also includes our sister city Ciudad Juárez.
Here to tell us about his latest book is photographer Mark Paulda. Welcome to State of the Arts.
Mark :: Thanks for having me.
Marina :: I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since your other book.
Mark :: It seems like a few months ago. Time just flies by.
Marina :: Right? It’s scary and chronicling everything I mean you’ve definitely seen how things have changed.
Mark :: Yes, exactly. Especially in the downtown area with revitalization and the renovation of some of our treasured buildings. Trost buildings – all very exciting to see that and see them come back to life so it’s been fun looking back at the images that I captured 10 years ago versus what some of the buildings look like today like the Mill’s Building, what’s happening with the Plaza. I could go on and on.
Marina :: I can’t even remember what the Mill’s looked like.
Mark :: It was brown and drab it.
Marina :: It was just like non-existent. It was just there.
Mark :: It was. It was. It really got restored back to its original state and brought it back to life.
Marina :: So did you know when you did the first book that you would do the second book.
Mark :: I didn’t know that there would be another book at all and you know I thought there’s no book on El Paso and so that’s why I did that first book. And it surprised all of us. It surprised me, surprised my publisher it went on to be the fastest selling book for the publishers and of course became a bestseller so that opened the door to the second book and now we’re here at number three and that’s very exciting. I’m very honored to be able to do that. And this book really is a gift back to El Paso. El Paso really has given so much to me and supported me and a lot of the things that I do not only in the city but around the world. I wouldn’t be the person I am without El Paso in my life.
Marina :: It’s cool like that right?
Mark :: It is. We’re different here you know. This book really is the answer, you know, when I travel around people ask me where are you from? I always get that question and when I say El Paso they have this dumbfounded look on their face and and it’s why why El Paso and this is the answer. Here’s our city out here really at the edge of a lot of things. People sort of forget us, even our Great State of Texas forgets us. But the stories that are in the book – I went all across the city and got a variety of people to share their experiences with El Paso and what El Paso means to them and as you read through them it’s very clear why El Paso and they’re very endearing. Some of the stories and the accounts that I was given by the various people, they’re very genuine and sincere and people really do love the city whether they live in the city still or they have moved away. We have stories from both.
Marina :: So how did you find those folks? Did you said okay you know I’d like tocapture the story I’d like to share the story?
Mark :: Some were deliberate people that I knew had a long-term relationship with El Paso and and would have experienced both cities, Juarez and El Paso. When we were younger we would cross the border and go to nightclubs or whatever and you went even if you weren’t of age.
Marina :: There’s something about drink and drown…
Mark :: Exactly and there are some people who it goes back into the 50s and 60s and theyhave stories or stories or some people who had lived in Juarez and they would take the bus and he dropped off downtown near the Newberry building but as I was going out getting photographs like Ballet Folklórico – they’re wonderful people of once I was there and I was photographing them they had stories and they wanted to share them and so I found people that way as well just by chance. So what I wanted was a good representation and I’m a West Sider now and you know I just didn’t want it at a West Side perspective I wanted East the Northeast and we got Juarez stories as well. We got their accounts
Marina :: It’s super important because I think folks that aren’t from here say like oh it’s a small city whatever and if you live here you know Westsiders don’t necessary go to the East side and Eastsiders don’t necessarily go to the Westside. They are these very different parts.
Mark :: They’re unique. So it really was important to get all perspectives. And the stories to me the photographs are nice you know I’m biased I took them but it’s the stories that really touch the heart in this book.
Marina :: Why did you decide to go bilingual?
Mark :: Well our city’s bilingual and it took a bit to convince the publishers to do that. They kept telling me works like that don’t sell. And I said well, this is El Paso, this is how we communicate every day. Our signs are that way we speak that way sometimes we speak Spanglish and actually some of the stories and the quotes in the book are Spanglish and it represents who we are as a city. Really this is what we live with every day.