Where to celebrate Day of the Dead 2017 in Austin

John Ruiz waits for the start of the Dia De Los Muertos parade at the Viva La Vida Festival in downtown Austin in 2016.  JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

When Mayor Steve Adler announces a citywide Día de los Muertos celebration later this month, it’ll signal a momentous step forward for many community leaders who for years have been working toward boosting the visibility of Austin Day of the Dead events.

Austin Día de los Muertos, a two-week extravaganza from Oct. 21-Nov. 4, will highlight existing annual events with new ones under one marketing campaign.

“We’re excited about bringing awareness of Latino culture to a wider audience,” says Lesly Reynaga, executive director of Austin Day of the Dead. Reynaga says Adler will serve as the honorary chair of an Austin Día de los Muertos committee that’ll explore ways to continue building momentum for the festivities.

Some of Austin’s beloved Day of the Dead events, honoring the dearly departed, include the Mexic-Arte Museum’s Viva la Vida Festival and Parade, which is the city’s largest and longest-running Day of the Dead festival. Its grand procession begins at noon on Oct. 28 and ends at the festival on East Fourth Street. Festival-goers can expect hands-on art activities, artist demos, traditional Mexican food, local artist and retail booths, live music, and a low-rider exhibit. In honor of the 110th anniversary of Frida Kahlo, this year’s festival will be dedicated to the Mexican artist.

RELATED: Check out more cultural art happenings

Ellen Duvall dressed as Janis Joplin at the Dia De Los Muertos parade at the Viva La Vida Festival in 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Fans of the holiday should also check out the annual Día de los Muertos festival at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center on Oct. 21, which will feature live music and entertainment as well as family art activities. Leading up to the festival, the cultural center will host sugar skull workshops on Oct. 7, 14, and 21.

New to Austin this year will be the Mariachi USA festival on Nov. 4 at the Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of the Americas featuring elite mariachi groups such as the Grammy-nominated Mariachi Los Arrieros and the all-female group Mariachi Las Alteñas. The show will feature Día de los Muertos music and fans will be treated to a stage that’ll be transformed into a giant Day of the Dead altar. Doors open at 3 p.m.

The Easterseals Central Texas will hold its fifth annual Día De Los Muertos Festival at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater on Nov. 4. This year’s lineup includes local funk masters Grupo Fantasma as well as party instigators Bombasta, all-sister band Tiarra Girls, James Keith and the Moondogs and DJ King Louie of Peligrosa. The festival will help the nonprofit launch its inaugural Disability Awareness Day.

Tickets, which cost $30, can be purchased at austindiadelosmuertos.com. Proceeds from the festival will benefit the Easterseals Central Texas, which focuses on supporting children and adults with disabilities as well as their families and caregivers.

Find out about the various citywide celebrations from concerts to fireworks displays at austindayofthedead.com.

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‘Barrio Daze’ comedy show wraps up this weekend

Artistic Director Adrian Villegas will present one-man comedy “Barrio Daze.”

As anti-immigrant rhetoric rises across the country, playwright and performer Adrian Villegas imagines a world where hope sweeps through the barrio.

Villegas — who brought us the poignant yet hilarious Latino Comedy Project show “Gentrif*cked,” spotlighting the effects of gentrification on Latino neighborhoods — reprised his one-man show “Barrio Daze,” which wraps up this weekend. Don’t miss your chance to catch this last performance Sept. 14-16 at The Institution Theater in South Austin.

Using cultural humor and sharp social commentary as his tools of choice, Villegas brings to life nine characters ranging from a quick-tempered Tex-Mex bus driver to a Chicano U.S. Senate hopeful. “Barrio Daze” takes audiences on a tour through one day in the barrio during a turbulent national election. The lives of all of these characters collide on an important Election Day.

LISTEN: Interview with Adrian Villegas on Austin 360’s “I Love You So Much” Podcast

Villegas’ gift for creating humanizing portraits of U.S. Latino life with wit and thought-provoking instincts make “Barrio Daze” an important performance to check out as issues of race and immigration continue to dominate national and local headlines.

Tickets, which are $11, are available online at barriodaze.eventbrite.com.

Austin filmmakers explore immigration, motherhood in “An Uncertain Future” screening Friday

What’s it like to be a mother-to-be and an unauthorized immigrant? In “An Uncertain Future,” a new short film by Austinites Chelsea Hernandez and Iliana Sosa, the filmmakers follow the pregnancy of two Central Texas women – one who is an unauthorized immigrant and one whose husband is unauthorized – through President Trump’s election and inauguration. Both women in the film prepare for an uncertain future as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conduct raids in Austin and anti-immigrant sentiment rises across the country.

Join me Friday for a screening of “An Uncertain Future” at Atmosphere Cowork (2400 E. Cesar Chavez #208). After the film, I’ll moderate a panel discussion on the “Trump Administration’s Impact on the Latinx Community,” where the women featured in the film Ruth Guzman and Cristina Tzintzún will participate as well as: Martha Cotera, a Chicana feminist, historian and activist, Texas State University Assistant Professor of Philosophy Lori Gallegos and UT Austin Associate Professor of American Studies and Latino/a Studies Nicole Guidotti-Hernández.

CULTURA EN AUSTIN BLOG: Check out more Latino cultural art news  

“An Uncertain Future,” is part of a new Field of Vision and Firelight Media initiative called #Our100Days to produce and distribute 10 short films across the country that dive into issues ranging from immigration to LGBTQ rights.

Jolt Texas and Latinx Spaces are hosting the event, which begins with a happy hour at 6 p.m. and followed by music featuring violinist and singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez. The film screens at 7:30 p.m. with the panel discussion starting at 7:45 p.m. RSVP here.

Latino Comedy Project tackles gentrification through humor

When the Latino Comedy Project, a multimedia sketch troupe, returned with new material at the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival in Austin last fall, the one-night-only event quickly sold out.

In the midst of anti-immigrant rhetoric and rapidly changing local neighborhoods, Austin had missed the hilarious political satire and parodies that made LCP popular since its launch in the late 1990s.

Now, the comedy gods have answered our prayers. LCP will bring back its latest show “Gentrif*cked” for two nights on June 9-10 at the Spiderhouse Ballroom. The show, which includes a mix of live sketches, music and original videos, examines the “causes and consequences of gentrification in Austin and neighborhoods across America,” according to the troupe.

RELATED: Find more Latino cultural art news on the Cultura en Austin blog

When it comes to presenting real-world issues via humor, LCP Artistic Director Adrian Villegas has said, “Comedy is a way to cut through the superficial differences.” Special guests include Austin’s only bilingual improv troupe Migas, as well as stand-up comedy by “Funniest Person in Austin” finalist Vanessa Gonzalez.

Each night features an 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. show. Tickets are $15 and available online at latinocomedyproject.com.

‘East Austin Stories’ films highlight neighborhood facing gentrification

“Vecinos Unidos” is among the short films the documentary class East Austin Stories will be screening. Contributed by Angel Ortiz

More than a decade ago, I walked into the parish hall of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on a first date with my now husband. We weren’t heading to Mass, but to a screening of short films made by a UT documentary class called East Austin Stories.

The short films touched on the lives of a neighborhood that would look drastically different in 2017. When independent filmmaker and professor Andrew Garrison launched the class in 2000, his students began bringing unique East Austin tales to light while documenting the changes in the area’s identity.

East Austin Stories will now screen for possibly the last time. Garrison, who started the class with the help of East Austinites Miguel Guajardo, Juan Valadez as well as John Williams, says he’s considering creating a new class next spring.

“There are still great stories in East Austin, but there are also other ideas I am interested in working on with classes,” he said.

RELATED: Check out more Latino cultural art coverage

Austinites can enjoy the latest student documentaries May 11 during two free screenings where the student filmmakers and the film subjects will be in attendance. Swing by Our Lady of Guadalupe Church’s parish hall across the street from the Texas State Cemetery at 7 p.m., then catch the second screening at 9 p.m. at Kenny Dorham’s Backyard on East 11th Street, next to the Victory Grill.

This year’s four documentaries explore themes that range from displacement to the American Dream. In “900 Thompson Street,” alumni from Anderson High School fight to preserve the history of their school by shining a light on its impact on East Austin’s African-American community.

The restaurant Veracruz All Natural may serve some of the city’s best tacos, but in “Reyna de Veracruz,” Austinites learn about how the risk of deportation didn’t stop its owner from pursuing her dream of becoming a business owner.

And what happened to the families of 5020 Manor Road, who were evicted abruptly and displaced out of their homes? “Vecinos Unidos” (Neighbors United) recounts their journey. In the short documentary, “[CON]TEMPORARY,” an actor explores the meaning of personal success.

All documentaries will be available online after the screenings on https://rtf.utexas.edu/eas.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with squeezebox sounds at Stubb’s

 

Gilberto “Chore” Perez Jr y Su Conjunto will perform at the Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival at Stubb’s.

After a two-year hiatus, the Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival is back featuring squeezebox-driven Texas music that’s filled with powerful narrative lyrics.

The two-day festival, which kicks off May 5 and continues on May 7, marks the first time in recent memory that conjunto music is featured at the Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater. The move could help bring conjunto music to a wider audience while giving the free family-friendly fest room to grow.

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“It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re breaking barriers by presenting this music at this venue,” Rancho Alegre Radio Executive Director Baldomero “Frank” Cuellar said in a news release. “It’s also the first time conjunto music has been presented on this scale in downtown Austin, and we’re looking forward to bringing our music and our culture to Stubb’s and sharing it with everyone who loves accordions, dancing and great Texas music.”

RELATED: Best of Latino cultural art events in May

In 2012, Rancho Alegre Radio launched the fest at the Austin Moose Lodge in East Austin; it has featured a mix of veteran and emerging conjunto artists. This year’s festival features more than two dozen performers including Los Texas Wranglers, National Medal of Arts recipient Santiago Jimenez, Jr., Grammy award winners Los Texmaniacs, and legends such as Chano Cadena y Su Conjunto and Nick Villarreal.

Doors open at 4 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. For the full festival lineup and updates, visit ranchoalegreradio.org/festival/lineup.

Wittliff Collections to open Sandra Cisneros archive April 29-30

Sandra Cisneros, the author of House on Mango Street, and the recent recipient of the National Medal of Arts from President Obama and the PEN Literary award poses at the Alkek Library on the campus of Texas State University. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

From her personal diaries to the portable Canon typewriter she used to create her work, noted author Sandra Cisneros’ archives are a literary treasure trove mapping out the career of one of America’s leading writers.

In 2015, Texas State University acquired Cisneros’ archive for $800,000. Last fall, Cisneros gave students and faculty a sneak peek at the 250 boxes documenting her life’s work.

Now, the Sandra Cisneros archive at The Wittliff Collections will finally open with a free, scholarly symposium April 29-30 celebrating the works and career of the Chicana author who is often credited with helping boost Latino literature.

“The House on Mango Street,” by Sandra Cisneros

The symposium, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library, will feature speakers such as Texas poet laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero, Tey Marianna Nunn from the National Hispanic Cultural Center and Norma Alarcón from the University of California-Berkeley.

On April 30, The Wittliff Collections will present a reading by Cisneros as well as a conversation between her and author John Phillip Santos.

Cisneros’ 1984 novel “The House on Mango Street” has sold more than six million copies worldwide and continues to influence new generations of Latinos.

Evolution of graffiti art captured in Nathan ‘Sloke’ Nordstrom exhibit

Nathan “Sloke One” Nordstrom with his work at the Sam Coronado Gallery at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. The show, titled “Another Side” ran through March 25. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Austin native and veteran graffiti artist Nathan “Sloke” Nordstrom just wrapped up a solo show of graffiti-inspired abstract art last month, but he’s already back with another exhibit featuring new work at the Austin Community College Rio Grande Campus Kramer Gallery. “In the Public Eye: New Work by Nathan ‘Sloke’ Nordstrom,” which shows the progression of graffiti and how it’s changed over the years, runs through May 14.

Nordstrom, whose art has taken him around the world painting murals and participating in art shows, says the exhibit shows the power of the art form. The installation exemplifies the various graffiti styles from bubble letters to an intricate form of graffiti called wildstyle. The exhibit was curated by ACC Instructor and Art Historian Erin Keever.

Related: Aerosol artist strengthens spray can art, teaches new generation of artists

On April 19, the former ACC student-turned-internationally-recognized artist will also participate in a panel discussion at 6 p.m. at ACC’s Rio Grande Campus Auditorium (Room 201, Building 1000) following a free screening of the 1983 film “Style Wars,” a documentary about the early days of hip-hop and graffiti. Nordstrom will be joined by fellow graffiti artists Mez and Wake.

ACC Rio Grande Campus Kramer Gallery is featuring a new exhibit by Nathan Nordstrom. Contributed photo

Related: Exhibit shows ‘Another Side’ of Austin graffiti artist

Over the years, Nordstrom has become a mentor for a new generation of emerging artists and his commission work includes clients such as Nike and Google. Admission to the gallery is free and gallery hours are Monday -Thursday 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

 

Where to celebrate Selena’s birthday in Austin

Queen of Tejano music and pop culture icon Selena Quintanilla Pérez would have turned 46 this weekend. In Austin, the celebrations in her honor began earlier this month with everything from an interactive screening of the “Selena” film at Fusebox Festival to the annual TuezGayz Selena tribute party at Barbarella.

But Austinites can still celebrate with more festivities from trivia night to dance contests leading up to her April 16 birthday. Last month marked the 22nd anniversary of Selena’s death and her legacy is still growing strong. Selena received numerous posthumous awards recently including a Madame Tussauds wax figure,  a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a spot on the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.

RELATED: SELENA INFLUENCED STYLE, BEAUTY

Selena performs at Hemisfair Plaza in San Antonio, TX, April 24, 1994. Photo by Sung Park / The Austin American-Statesman

Last fall, MAC Cosmetics launched a limited-edition “Selena” makeup collection that drew scores of fans to MAC retail stores across the country. Here’s a look at some Austin events where you can keep her memory alive.

Selena Movie Parties at Alamo Drafthouse

April 13: Alamo Drafthouse Village Only a few tickets left for the 7:30 p.m. show, so hurry up and buy online if you want to watch the film here.

April 15: Alamo Drafthouse Ritz at 11:45 a.m.

April 16: Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline at 12:35 p.m. and 7:35 p.m.; Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar at 1:15 p.m.; Slaughter Lane at 12:15 p.m. and 6:40 p.m.

April 20: Alamo Drafthouse Ritz at 10 p.m.

MORE LATINO CULTURAL ARTS: CULTURA EN AUSTIN

Other Selena celebrations: 

April 15: Selena Tribute at Sahara Lounge with Son de Rey

April 16: SelenaFest! at The Highball (1120 S Lamar Blvd.) will celebrate the Queen of Tejano music with performances from Austin-based Selena tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda and Su Madre plus cumbia dance lessons, and a Selena lookalike and dance contest.

April 17: Selena Trivia at Dog & Duck Pub (2400 Webberville Road) It’s free to play at this event hosted by Get it Gals, but teams shouldn’t exceed six people.


A mural dedicated to Selena, the late Tejano star and cultural icon, is located along the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail in South Austin. (Tamir Kalifa for American-Statesman)

DID YOU KNOW?

  • It takes about 1,500 rhinestones for Stephanie Bergara, lead singer of Selena tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda, to complete a Selena-style bustier.
  • In 2012, Selena’s husband, Chris Perez, released his book, “To Selena, With Love.”
  • The Selena museum in Corpus Christi was built in 1998 by the Quintanilla family.
  • Selena appeared in the Mexican soap opera “Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.”

After El Gallo closure, Little Mexico picks up Manuel “Cowboy” Donley

Manuel ‘Cowboy’ Donley performs with his daughter, Sylvia Donley, at El Gallo on Tuesday, January 24, 2017. The Tejano music legend had been a fixture at the South Austin restaurant for years.  DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Over the years, fans of Tejano music legend Manuel “Cowboy” Donley, 89, knew that if they wanted to find him, they could drop by South Austin’s El Gallo restaurant on Tuesday evenings to hear the classic boleros and songs of yesteryear like “Solamente Una Vez.” He’d been playing on and off at El Gallo for more than 40 years until the restaurant closed in January. Aside from missing El Gallo’s popular dishes, loyal customers wondered where Manuel “Cowboy” Donley would perform next.

RELATED: Customers mourn loss of El Gallo Restaurant 

Manuel ‘Cowboy’ Donley performs with his daughter, Sylvia Donley. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Now music lovers can find him and his daughter and musical partner, Sylvia Donley, performing at Little Mexico Restaurant (2304 S. First St.) from 7-9 p.m. every Thursday.

Manuel “Cowboy” Donley, a National Endowment for the Arts’ lifetime achievement recipient, packed the house at El Gallo on his last performance there so much that the kitchen ran out of food shortly after 7:30 p.m. Throughout his career he helped popularize orquesta music, which blends Latin rhythms with popular American musical genres such as rock and jazz. He blazed a trail in the Mexican-American music community and has inspired many other musicians along the way.

RELATED: Manuel “Cowboy” Donley receives national honor

Although the Donleys were sad about no longer performing at El Gallo, Sylvia Donley says that Little Mexico has a “warm family feel” that reminds her of all the performances throughout the years at El Gallo.