Austin honors César Chávez legacy

Valentino Mauricio/For American-Statesman
Valentino Mauricio/For American-Statesman

While labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez advocated for farm worker rights, he also arrived in Austin in 1971 to lend his support to the local upholsterers union, which launched a strike against the Economy Furniture Co. and gained national attention. The workers sought better pay and benefits as well as the right to bargain collectively. And when Chávez spoke at a local march and rally, thousands came to listen.

March 31 marks César Chávez’s birthday, and across the country he’ll be honored with everything from marches to film screenings.

In Austin, community members are invited to gather on March 26 for the annual “Sí­ Se Puede” March at Terrazas Library, 1105 E. Cesar Chavez St. Participants will assemble at 10 a.m. and march from the library to the Mariposa Centro Cultural at 4926 E. Cesar Chavez St., where there will be music, speakers and entertainment.

At the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center there will be a special screening and discussion of KLRU-TV’s documentary “Austin Revealed: Chicano Civil Rights” on March 31. Doors for the screening open at 6:30 p.m. and the film starts at 7 p.m. An RSVP on klru.org is required for the free event, where co-producers Joe Rocha and Eve Tarlo will be present.

The MACC will continue César Chávez celebrations with a screening of the documentary “Cesar Chavez: The Fight in the Fields” at 9 p.m. on March 31. For more details visit austintexas.gov/esbmacc.

SXSW presents first Cuban music showcase

Telmary Diaz
Telmary Diaz is among the featured artists at the Sounds from Cuba showcase.

For the first time in South by Southwest’s 30-year history, the festival will dedicate an entire showcase to Cuban music on March 18 at Speakeasy (412 Congress Ave.).

Over the years Cuban artists like songstress Danay Suárez have been featured at SXSW, but these performances mark the first Sounds from Cuba showcase with “an entire night dedicated to bands that currently reside and don’t plan to leave Cuba,” according to SXAméricas organizer Alicia Zertuche.

The showcase, which is presented by Roads & Kingdoms magazine and Cuban artist center Fábrica de Arte Cubano, features performers such as Afro-Latin jazz quintet Yissy & Bandancha and Telmary Díaz, a soulful rapper, singer and poet who is backed by a seven-piece band. Other artists include the young, rising R&B artist Daymé Arocena, who The Guardian described as having “all the makings of being the next major Cuban star.”

Rounding out the showcase are veteran performers X-Alfonso y La Flota and Kelvis Ochoa who will also speak at a SXSW music panel focused on the future of Cuban music as the country’s doors are beginning to open up.

Sounds from Cuba at SXSW Music 2016

8:30 p.m. Telmary
9:35 p.m. Yissy & Bandancha
10:40 p.m. Daymé Arocena
11:45 p.m. X-Alfonso Y La Flota
12:50 a.m. Kelvis Ochoa

‘Entre Guadalupe y Malinche’ anthology marks first-ever collection of Tejana literature, art

bookcover

By Anjanette Gautier, ¡Ahora Sí! 

There is a street corner in the city of Laredo, known as the doorway to the United States and Mexico, where two streets converge like the history of the Tejana writers. It was upon the sight of this corner sign, Malinche and Guadalupe, that the writers and editors of the first ever Tejana literature anthology, Inés Hernández-Ávila and Norma Elia Cantú, decided upon the name for their book. On Friday the 26th and Saturday the 27th, the editors, along with other of the participating writers, will present their book “Entre Guadalupe y Malinche” and hold a literature symposium at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican-American Cultural Center.

The symbolic meaning of these two iconic figures, for which the streets are named after, synthesizes the identity of the chicana woman. It is here, where the “root of the tejana reality is found, deep within the history and the contemporary reality,” explains Cantu, professor of Latina/Latino Studies and English at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

La Malinche, the native woman who betrayed her people by aiding Hernán Cortez, the conqueror, is the symbol for the creation of a mixed race. She also represents the oppression and colonization, of women, culture and history.  Guadalupe, the virgin who appeared to the indigenous people, carries with her all what is divine. She embodies passion, love, and commitment to the less fortunate.

Both women serve as inspiration to analyze the role that history, culture, language, and political events have had in the work of the more than 50 Tejana writers and eight visual artists that take part in this anthology.

The symposium offers an opportunity for other writers and the public in general to come and celebrate this book, explore as a community the topics presented, and delve in the art of writing, said Ire’ne Lara Silva, organizer of the event. Lara Silva, a poet and published writer, with five years of experience organizing the Flor de Nopal literary workshops, is also featured in the book along with other local chicana figures like Susana Almanza, and our own Statesman contributor and poet Liliana Valenzuela.

Other very well known authors in the book are Gloria Anzaldúa, Emma Pérez, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Carmen Tafolla, and Pat Mora, and artists such as Carmen Lomas Garza, Kathy Vargas, Santa Barraza, and more.

“There are many writers coming from all over the state and even from Norway to attend this symposium,” said Lara Silva. There will be a reading with the authors on Friday at 7 p.m., and on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. and until 6 p.m. there will be writing workshops, poetry readings, and the opportunity to have a dialogue with the writers, she explained. All the events are free and open to the public.

Many feel intimidated by the terms feminism or chicana identity, however, Cantu explains that “the equality that feminism calls for affects all, including men. Similarly, the topic of tejana may be culturally focused on Mexican Texans but it speaks to all of us, and not just those in Texas!” The work presented by this anthology, and by the authors who will attend the symposium cover a more universal topic, “it speaks about how to survive everyday hardships and how to imagine new futures as individual and as a society,” said Lara Silva.

This is an opportunity “to appreciate the diversity and talent that exists in our community,” said Cantú. “It took us almost twenty years to finish this book,” but the effort has taught her that “you can’t deny or abandon the work that matters, as Gloria Anzaldúa said ‘Do work that matters.” Bringing together all this talent and giving Austinites and Texans the opportunity to explore the life experiences of tejana writers at the ESB-MACC this weekend, is an experience that matters.

(To check out the Spanish version of this blog, click here.)

IF YOU GO…

WHAT: Entre Guadalupe y Malinche book presentation and symposium (in English)

WHEN: Friday 26, 7 p.m. and Saturday 27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE: Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St.

INFORMATION: austintexas.gov/esbmacc

SXSW announces free, Latin music showcase

Intocable
Intocable headlines all-Latino showcase at SXSW.

South by Southwest has announced an all-Latino showcase on March 19 at the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake (formerly the Auditorium Shores stage). The free show, which is part of SXAméricas, will feature artists Intocable, Grupo Fantasma, Systema Solar, División Minúscula, and 3BallMTY. More artists will be announced later.

Tejano/Norteño fusion band, Intocable, will get another chance to headline the showcase after last year’s Auditorium Shores show was cancelled because of standing water, leaving fans who came from near and far disappointed since the band could not reschedule.

In 2013, the group headlined the Pachanga Latino Music Festival and band vocalist Ricky Muñoz told the Statesman’s Spanish-language weekly ¡Ahora Sí! back then that, “We have Tejano roots, and we have a norteño influence, that is for sure. But I don’t know what you should really call us, other than good music.” The award-winning music veterans have been playing for more than 20 years.

Grupo Fantasma, who celebrated their 15th anniversary last fall, will bring their genre-mashing music for what’s sure to be a dance party. New to SXSW this year will be the Colombian collective, Systema Solar, who are popular in the Latin alternative scene for their blend of Colombian Afro-Caribbean music with contemporary rhythms.

Monterrey-based SXSW alums División Minúscula and 3BallMTY return to the festival. Both were discovered by the legendary DJ Toy Selectah of Control Machete fame, who also a part-time Austinite. With División Minúscula’s punk rock sound and 3BallMTY’s energetic electronic tribal music, this showcase will feature a wide range of diverse Latin sounds.

The showcase, which start at 2 p.m., is open to the public with free Guest Pass wristbands. It’s also open to people with SXSW Music and Platinum badges. For more information, visit the SXSW Outdoor Stage webpage.

Mexican American Experience Festival announces line-up

AJ Castillo will headline a show at the Mexican American Experience Festival.
A.J. Castillo will headline a show at the Mexican American Experience Festival. Photo by Julia Robinson

While the crowds descend on downtown during South by Southwest, there’s a festival where you can enjoy Tejano and Latin rhythms for free while taking in the city’s awe-inspiring lakeside views and festive atmosphere.

Head to the courtyard of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center on March 16-17, where music kicks off at 6 p.m. with the Mexican American Experience festival. David Farias, who was the former leader of Tejano supergroup, La Tropa F, headlines on Wednesday night. Other featured artists that evening include Austin Music Award Winners A-T Boyz, Yayo Castillo y Rumores and Tejano Highway 281.

On Thursday, Tejano music star A.J. Castillo wraps up the festival. Performances earlier that evening will include Tejano Idol contest winner Monica Saldivar, singer-songwriter and accordion player Lucky Joe and rising star Angel Gonzalez y Vimana. Festival-goers can park at Martin Middle School and catch a free shuttle to the show.

For more information, click here.

Austin Latino New Play Festival offers diverse points-of-view

Krysta Gonzales is among the featured playwrights in the Austin New Play Festival.
Krysta Gonzales is among the featured playwrights in the Austin Latino New Play Festival.

You can help shape Latino plays at the Austin Latino New Play Festival, where audience members and playwrights come together to discuss new productions.

The popular festival, which is presented by Teatro Vivo in collaboration with ScriptWorks, offers three days of live staged readings from Feb. 25-27 at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.

All of the productions spotlight the Latino experience and identity in engaging ways, from dealing with loss to coming of age stories. This year the festival brings two theater pieces for youth.

 

UT student Andrew Valdez' work will be part of the staged readings.
UT student Andrew Valdez’ work will be part of the staged readings.
Detroit-based theater artist Emilio Rodriguez will participate in this year's festival featuring new Latino plays.
Detroit-based theater artist Emilio Rodriguez will participate in this year’s festival featuring new Latino plays.

Featured playwrights include Detroit-based theater artist Emilio Rodriguez; scholar and artist Roxanne Schroeder-Arce (who also wrote the popular bilingual musical “Mariachi Girl”); actor, dancer and performance artist Krysta Gonzales; and University of Texas undergraduate student Andrew Valdez. After each reading, the playwrights will participate in talkback sessions with the audience.

General admission tickets are donation-based. Reserved seats range from $15-$40. Visit teatrovivo.org for more information.

Roxanne Schroeder-Arce, who also wrote the popular bilingual musical “Mariachi Girl," will present new work at ALNP festival.
Roxanne Schroeder-Arce, who also wrote the popular bilingual musical “Mariachi Girl,” will present new work at ALNP festival.

Reading Roundup: Six books about Latino culture

books

More than ever American readers are seeking books that reflect the communities around them. The national We Need Diverse Books movement, which children’s book authors launched in 2014, has grown to include a demand for multicultural books of all genres. It’s sparked conversations in the literary world about everything from inclusion of diverse characters in books to a lack of diversity in publishing.

Last fall, the Texas Book Festival’s executive director Lois Kim told the Statesman the festival’s goal was to improve diversity. Earlier this month, Matt de la Peña became the first Latino author to win the prestigious John Newbery Medal for literature for his children’s book, “Last Stop on Market Street,” which features African American main characters.

As American readers keep pushing for diversity in literature, Austin360’s Cultura en Austin blog will begin regularly highlighting works by Latino authors and Latino themes.

This roundup, which isn’t a comprehensive list, is based on galleys received in the last couple of months.

“Outside the Margins” Literary Commentaries by Robert Bonazzi

Wings Press, ($18.95), released Oct. 2015
The best of San Antonio Express-News poetry columnist Robert Bonazzi’s work are woven together in “Outside the Margins.” Over the years, his essays and criticisms have been praised by literary giants including Nobel Prize Winner in Literature Octavio Paz. “Thanks to Robert Bonazzi for writing so enthusiastically about the poetry of Latin America, especially for his insightful essay on (Peruvian poet) César Vallejo,” Paz wrote. In this book, Bonazzi focuses on poets and writers from Texas, the Southwest, Mexico and Latin America.
“A Fighting Chance” by Claudia Meléndez Salinas

Piñata Books, Arte Público Press, ($10.95), released Oct. 2015

Cover design by John-Michael Perkins
Cover design by John-Michael Perkins

In her debut novel for young adults, award-winning multimedia journalist Claudia Meléndez Salinas brings us the story of 17-year-old Miguel Ángel. He dreams of becoming a boxing champion one day – it’s the only way his mother and five siblings will be able to leave his gang-ridden neighborhood. But his life gets complicated when he’s faced with temptations that threaten his future.

“Cuando México se (re) apropria de Texas: Ensayos or When Mexico Recaptures Texas: Essays” by Carmen Boullosa

Arte Público Press, ($17.95), released Sept. 2015
Greed, barbarism and feminism. They’re all themes that internationally renowned Mexican novelist and essayist Carmen Boullosa explores in her latest book, which examines the issues that unite and separate Americans and Mexicans from the 19th century to the present. Her collection of 29 thought-provoking essays include subjects such as Occupy Wall Street and the lack of recognition for the work by female artists. The book includes both Boullosa’s Spanish version and the English translation by Nicolás Kanellos.

 

“Texas Mexicans and Postwar Civil Rights” by Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez

University of Texas Press, ($24.95), released in July 2015
As founder and director of the Austin-based Voces Oral History Project (formerly the U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project) Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez has helped bring the stories of Latinos throughout the decades to the forefront. Her latest book highlights three little-known advancements in Mexican American civil rights including the launching of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

 

“Their Lives, Their Wills: Women in the Borderlands, 1750-1846” by Amy M. Porter

Texas Tech University Press, ($39.95), released in July 2015
What was life like for women in the borderlands during the 1700 and 1800s? Author Amy M. Porter, an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University-San Antonio took an interesting approach to answering that question by examining the wills of women in the Spanish and Mexican colonial communities of places such as Santa Fe, El Paso and San Antonio. These wills and testaments revealed details about everything from religion and family to economics and culture.

 

“War Against All Puerto Ricans” by Nelson A. Denis

Nation Books, ($28.99), released in April 2015

Courtesy of Nation Books
Courtesy of Nation Books

Author Nelson A. Denis tells the intriguing story of the Puerto Rican independence revolt of 1950, when the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico launched an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the U.S. Denis dug into de-classified FBI files, congressional testimonies, oral histories and more to bring this little-known history to light.

Los Lobos to perform at Bass Concert Hall

Los-Lobos-3_no-credit

What are you? I’ve been asked that question on both sides of the border. The Mexican American experience, with all its cultural complexities, isn’t always easy to understand.

Through music, though, multiple Grammy winners Los Lobos have let listeners into their own Mexican American experience. Now, the veteran musicians want to pay homage and educate audiences about influential Mexican Americans throughout history in a special performance at 8 p.m. Feb. 11 at Bass Concert Hall.

The can’t-miss show promises to be a moving performance bringing together music, imagery and dance. Joining the living legends on the stage for the “Fiesta Mexico-Americana” show are special guests Ballet Folklorico Mexicano.

The California-based Ballet Folklorico Mexicano, which was founded in 1967, will present everything from traditional to contemporary choreography. For more than 20 years, the dance group has served as a cultural ambassador for the Mexican consulate in San Francisco.

Tickets for the performance, which will celebrate Mexican American heritage, range from $10-$48. Visit texasperformingarts.org for more information.

Tish Hinojosa speaks out about fair pay for musicians

Singer-songwriter Tish Hinojosa is a veteran musician based in Austin. Photo by KELLY WEST / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Singer-songwriter Tish Hinojosa is a veteran musician based in Austin. Photo by KELLY WEST / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

When the Austin Music Census, which surveyed Austinites who work in the music industry, was released last summer, issues like affordability rose to the forefront. It sparked discussions among city officials, musicians, venue owners and music fans about how to keep the music scene vibrant in a city that’s branded itself the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

In an editorial piece for the Austin American-Statesman, veteran singer-songwriter Tish Hinojosa wrote about the importance of fair pay for musicians and her experiences performing in Austin over the years.

Hinojosa, who was recently featured in an Austin360 holiday music video series, moved to Europe in 2005. She returned to a different Austin in 2013, and has been rebuilding her noted career.

In her recent opinion piece, Hinojosa writes that change in Austin is inevitable but that, “The changes I see reflect a city that loves what the title ‘Live Music Capital Of The World” has brought Austin, but also one that is turning a blind eye to problems facing musicians who need decent pay…” Read Hinojosa’s editorial in its entirety here.