San Antonio.- The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza is a week-long festival that celebrates the elegance and culture of mariachi, its lifestyle and music. Still going strong in its 18th year, a plethora of events such as competitions, jam sessions, and concerts has gained the festival much attention from musicians around the nation.
With the help of Centro Cultural Aztlan, a new feature was introduced six years ago: A mariachi themed art exhibit. With the additional event, the Extravaganza rose even more in prestige and is one of the main promoters to the genre of mariachi art. The output was tremendous. Many accredited artists from all over San Antonio and the nation have contributed work in the exhibit.
“I think it’s a theme artists get excited about. It’s a representation of an art form. It’s very much part of our culture. It is a positive outlook,” said Malene Gonzalez-Cid, executive director of the Centro Cultural Aztlan.
Enter Colorado native Emanuel Martinez; internationally acclaimed Chicano civil rights artist. Featured in over 230 newspaper articles and 30 books, Martinez is known for his “Emanuel Project”, where he goes to juvenile facilities all over the country to help engage academics and success. Martinez put into words his perspective in mariachi through something never before seen at the art exhibit: bronze mariachi statues.
Cynthia Munoz, producer of the Extravaganza speaks very fondly of Martinez.
“He’s amazing, this man. He’s multitalented, He’s a muralist, and he’s a sculptor, a painter.” Mr. Martinez has shared some time with La Prensa to give his insight of the Mariachi-art exhibit and what it means to him. “I heard about the Mariachi Extravaganza from Cynthia Munoz. She commissioned me, and I was glad to do it. It’s my second year doing it. I’m impressed with the event, and I’m glad I could contribute,” he said.
“About 10 years ago I was asked to create a statue in honor of Mariachi Estrella. There was a big concert held in honor of those members of the group who died in that earthquake. It was a huge concert. Groups from all over the world came to play. That’s where I saw Mariachi Vargas for the first time.” Martinez said when asked about Mariachi Vargas. Mariachi holds a very special place in this artist’s heart.
“I’ve always liked mariachi music. Got it from my dad! When I was a kid, I would sit with my dad and listen to all those classics, you know? Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Antonio Aguilar. I grew up on this stuff. It gives me a real sense of pride. This music is very uplifting. It’s very close to my heart. And do you want to know something? Deep down, I’ve always fantasized about being a mariachi!” Martinez laughed.
To see Emanuel’s art pieces, among many others visit the Extravaganza-Art exhibit. It’s free and open to the public, Tuesday, November 27, 2012, at Centro Cultural Aztlan, 1800 Fredericksburg Road. For more info regarding the exhibition, call (210) 432-1896 or visit www.mariachimusic.com. For more on Emanuel Martinez, visit his website at www.emanuelmartinez.com.
Amanda Lozano is an intern at La Prensa de San Antonio. She may be reached at email@example.com.