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The Magic of Mariachi /
La Magia del Mariachi

The Magic of Mariachi Exhibit

In our exhibit, The Magic of Mariachi / La Magia del Mariachi, we place paintings of mariachi musicians side by side with poems inspired by these works of art. Together, these beautiful paintings and lyrical poems, written in English and Spanish and translated into Chinese, invite you into a colorful world of pageantry and musical tradition.

This exhibit consists of 24 framed 24×30 pastel portraits of mariachi musicians and folkloric dancers and 24 poems in English and Spanish about each of the portraits. The poems are mounted on elegant, light weight text panels and match the framed paintings in size.

You may also want to schedule a Reading and/or Workshop (see Workshops) to accompany the exhibit.

To schedule a Traveling Exhibit contact us at .

We are looking for a permanent home for this exhibit where it will be used as an educational and cultural resource. Please let us know if you are interested or would like to recommend a museum, library, bank, or other institution that would permanently house this work.

To request a PDF file of the entire artwork in this exhibit please contact us at .

Sample text panel and framed portrait from The Magic of Mariachi

Artists’ Statement

Artists’ Statement

Reefka’s paintings and drawings, done in pastel, watercolor and charcoal, were inspired over the course of many years by her close association with both student and professional mariachi musicians. Steven’s poems, written about the paintings, to the paintings, and in the voice of the subjects of these paintings, reflect his deep knowledge of the classical tradition of Ekphrasis, poets who respond to silent works of art. The poems in The Magic of Mariachi / La Magia del Mariachi, are written in a wide variety of poetic forms: the sestina, the villanelle, the prose poem, dramatic monologues, and shorter forms like the haiku as well as free verse.

We hope this collection will both inspire and delight you just as the mariachi musical performances we attended delighted us and inspired the creation of our work. We would like this exhibit to encourage cross-cultural understanding, multilingual learning, and creativity as well as deepen the ties that bind all of us together.

Music knows no borders! Viva el mariachi!

Las pinturas y los dibujos de Reefka, hechos con crayones pastel, acuarela y carbón, se inspiraron a lo largo de muchos años por su estrecha relación con estudiantes y músicos profesionales de mariachi. Los poemas de Steven, escritos acerca de las pinturas, para las pinturas y en la voz de los sujetos de éstas, reflejan su profundo conocimiento de la tradición clásica de la écfrasis, de los poetas que responden a las silenciosas obras de arte. Los poemas de La Magia del Mariachi están escritos en una amplia variedad de formas poéticas: la sextina, la villanella, el poema en prosa, los monólogos dramáticos y formas más cortas, como el haiku y el verso libre.

Esperamos que esta muestra te inspire y deleite, de la misma forma que las presentaciones musicales del mariachi a las que asistimos nos deleitaron e inspiraron a crear nuestra obra. Nos gustaría que esta exposición aliente la comprensión intercultural, el aprendizaje bilingüe y la creatividad, y que también profundice los lazos que nos unen a todos.

La música no conoce fronteras ¡Viva el mariachi!

The Magic of Mariachi Book

The Magic of Mariachi Book

The Magic of Mariachi / La Magia del Mariachi is a fascinating book that combines two disciplines – art and poetry – creating a treasure of lyrical poetry and strikingly beautiful paintings of mariachi musicians. The twenty four poems, written in English and skillfully translated into Spanish, were created in response to each of the twenty-four works of art in the book. The artwork in the book is the result of the artist’s direct encounter with mariachi musicians in their rehearsals and performance settings. The paintings and drawings are done in pastel, watercolor, and charcoal in a variety of styles and approaches. The Magic of Mariachi / La Magia del Mariachi is a cross-cultural text that will encourage reading, bilingual learning, and creative expression through poetry and art.

Critical Praise for The Magic of Mariachi

The Magic is here! We swoon, dance and enter the true and authentic universe of the mariachi in this prismatic poetry and painting volume. With the Schneiders, we travel the roads of the mariachera. Behind us, the “conquest,” the caste system of Indio, Criollo and Mestizo that still influence the music and culture of the Mexicana and Latino today. In front of us, the performance and the stage, the stories of the women and men as they ignite their instruments into a spell-binding romance of jarabe, son, huapango and bolero. There are villages from Jalisco to Texas and New Mexico. We sense their churches, cantinas and La Virgen de Guadalupe that accompanies all along the trail North — across border wires and Revolution. I am moved beyond description — how women determine their lives with song, guitarrón and violin. And the landscapes of the mariachis told in their voice. The paintings are luminous, passion-fired, and bring us into a majestic example of beauty, art, love and life-struggle. This is a book of a living and expanding cultural movement. Poetry, painting and people play together — in life, for all of our lives. Bravissimo! I am in awe — bilingual mariachi magic indeed.

Juan Felipe Herrera
Poet Laureate of the United States

The Magic of the Mariachi, La Magia del Mariachi, builds cultural, linguistic and artistic bridges. It celebrates the romantic past of this art form, holds up a mirror to the present day border issues, and looks optimistically towards the future. This important addition to American letters illustrates the beauty and the complexity of mariachi music and its contribution to our national identity. With such stunning portraits and beautiful poetry, it’s impossible not to fall in love with both the light and the shadow of the music and the people expertly captured in this collection.

Katherine Hoerth
Tupelo Quarterly

Preview of The Magic of Mariachi

Lost in La Música

He has sunk so deeply into the music
The air around him has turned indigo.
He has mastered the ratios
The proportions of the notes,
The melody stored deep within his memory.

He transports his listeners,
Lifts us above the heaviness of this world,
Our neurons firing across synapses of time and space,
Across the starry, summer, solstice sky
Above the Sangre de Cristo range.

The heat rises from the sagebrush desert as night falls,
When the musical beats and rests of his playing
Replace the noisy, roaring, revving of this world.
We sink deeper and deeper into the vastness of space,
Perdidos en la múscia.

Perdidos en la música

Se ha hundido tan profundamente en la música.
El aire a su alrededor se ha vuelto índigo.
Ha dominado las relaciones,
Las proporciones de las notas,
La melodía almacenada profundo en su memoria.

Transporta a sus oyentes,
Nos eleva por encima de la dureza de este mundo,
Nuestras neuronas se detonan a través de la sinapsis del tiempo y del espacio,
Al otro lado de la noche estrellada, del verano, del solsticio del cielo
Y más allá del grado de la Sangre de Cristo.

El calor sube desde la desierta artemisa cuando la noche cae,
Cuando los ritmos musicales y las pausas de su ejecución
Reemplazan lo ruidoso, el estruendo, lo acelerado de este mundo.
Nos hundimos más y más profundamente en la inmensidad del espacio,
Perdidos en la música.

The Sound of Romance

She holds her guitar with great poise and grace
   In this night of the full moon,
When the ballads she plays create a place
   Where men in the jardín swoon.

Her lips like crimson cherries to be kissed
   By the secret one she loves,
The notes that she plays for their midnight tryst
   Only a poet may write of.

El sonido de romance

Sostiene su guitarra con gran seguridad y gracia
   En esta noche de luna llena,
Cuando las baladas que toca crean un lugar
   Donde los hombres en el jardín desvanecen.

Sus labios como rojas cerezas para ser besados
   Por el secreto que ama,
Las notas que toca por su cita a la medianoche
   Sólo un poeta puede escribirlo.