Houston Artists Pay Tribute to Selena

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"We remember our daughter every single day. We don't need a special day to remember her." Those were the words spoken by Abraham Quintanilla in an interview with the Associated Press concerning the 20th anniversary of the death of his daughter, slain Tejano queen and entertainer Selena Quintanilla. As someone who has lost a parent, I can certainly understand his sentiments.

But to many, Selena is more that just someone they think about on March 31 or April 16 (the days of her death and birth, respectively). I visited the "Remembering Selena Group Art Show" at the East End Studio Gallery to experience how her music and style has inspired community artists in the Houston area.

As I walked into the gallery last Friday night, the place was already almost at capacity with families and couples and artists all gathered to peruse the arte. It was really amazing to see the different interpretations and mediums chosen by the artists for their Selena tribute. But it wasn't the clothes or the lipstick or the colors that caught my attention. It was her eyes. All around the room, her eyes were staring back at me as I gazed the framed paintings. It was her. She was there.

As "Baila Esta Cumbia" or "Como La Flor" played in the background, I saw parents explaining who Selena was to their kids, and how much she meant to them. I saw couples holding hands and embracing each other. Maybe they remembered how they danced to "I Could Fall In Love" on their first date, or the late nights of Selena karaoke and dancing. The artists were not just displaying their wares for the profit, but rather offering up something personal and meaningful, just as Selena was more that just a musician or entertainer. She inspired.

"Tejano music, and Selena in particular, plays a large part in the healing process for myself and many others in the community" says artist and educator Diane Benavides Rios. She continues to explain how her art piece entitled "Take It All Back" is an example of how words can be powerful, much like the lyrics of Selena's songs. The poem is an exercise in exposing the thought process of writing, and uses techniques such as an inverted timeframe and dialogue to spark the imagination. Literally "back words." Her poem is below:

My past does not always comprehend my present.
Within my fogged reflection, her reflection was the future me.
Gone now in,
but not in spirit.
Her life goes back into her body,
she breathes out,
"today fight the in die won't I."
The bullet projected back into the gun,
the rush is pushed.
"me to this do you could how?"
Her smile illuminated.
She walked off the stage waving to the audience.
"gracias, muchisimas!"
Canto como un angel.
Bajo Sexto.
"bom, bom, bidi, bidi."
"perder se yo, hoy marcho me."
The crowd went wild.
She picked up the microphone.
Walked back into her dressing room.
"Selena, minutes two."
Lipstick on.
Looks in the mirror,
with South Texas in her eyes.
She did it for La Raza.
She did it for the future me.

The creativity found in the work of Rios and the other artists is deep and personal. And if it Selena is the vessel that helps share that creativity with the world, then keep the "bidi, bidi, bom, bom" going. Forever.

Story continues on the next page.

When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens towards the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @MarcoFromHouston.


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