In the summer of 2011, I was commissioned by Pima County Public Library’s “Nuestra Raices” to paint the backdrop of their stage at the 2012 Tucson Festival of Books.
After a few meetings, it was decided that I would paint four panels that would total six feet in height and sixteen feet in width. The theme of the panels was to focus on the Hispanic culture, and include, music, books, and tradition.
So I painted the four panels shown above. Panel one is about how Mayans used art to communicate and share information, such as history, time, farming, and rituals. Panel two is about the ritual of farming the land and how those rituals are passed down through generations. “Maiz” is the main crop showcased on the panel, because it also represents abundance. Panel three is about how stories of everyday life are prevalent in Mariachi music. Mariachi’s are present at many of the cultural milestones in life such as baptisms, birthdays, weddings, and funerals. The mariachi are very close to my heart, because my grandfather, his father and brothers were one of the first mariachi groups to play on the streets of Olvera in downtown Los Angeles in the 1930s.
Lastly, Panel four is about the reflection of dance as part of the culture. the bright colors of the papel picado that runs across the panel tells the story of culture through the depiction of the sun, flower, and landscapes. On the bottom right of the panel I painted a hummingbird that represents friends lost but not forgotten.
On the morning of the Tucson Festival of Books, I was asked to unveil the panels and speak about what they represent to the large crowd who had arrived to see author Luis Urrea. What a wonderful opportunity for me to not only speak to such a large crowd, but to also speak to Mr. Urrea! After my brief unveiling, he took the stage and it was such a pleasure to hear him talk about his stories.
I enjoyed the rest of my day looking around at the Festival of Books. Lunch was wonderful because one of my favorite local restaurants was present; Tucson Tamale Company!! After an eventful day, I went home to rest and pack for my travels to Los Angeles the next day. (Look out soon for a full report of my art project that took place during this trip) When I arrived at my gate the next morning at the airport I was pleasantly surprised to have run into Mr. Luis Urrea!! What a wonderful crossing of paths.