Siempre es Hoy: Celebrating the Vibrant Mexican Music Scene

A compelling and vibrant art show is currently on display at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Ana. The show, entitled “Siempre es Hoy,” runs until November 24, with a special closing reception from 6-11 pm. You must RSVP for the closing festivities (by emailing solartradio@gmail.com), and I highly recommend it based on how fun, lively and interesting the opening reception was.

“Siempre es Hoy” vividly documents the Mexican music scene through a diverse group of intimate photographs of musicians and concert audiences. The title of this exhibit, which translates to “Forever is Today,” was taken from an album title by Argentinian musician Gustavo Cerati. The title perfectly captures the immediacy felt within these photographs of those fleeting, centering, vulnerable, and unifying human moments, which can be felt in the middle of a song- whether you’re a concert goer or the performer on stage. I have never before been to an art show that made me feel the same excitement I feel about both going to concerts or performing in them. These photographs uncannily capture those moments when time stops and all that matters is a whole crowd and band singing a song that touches their hearts.  In those moments, music melts superficial cultural barriers away, and forever truly feels like now. Soaking in this exhibit will remind you why music matters.

I had the privilege of speaking with the curator of this exhibit Sali Heraldez, who is the creative director of Sol Art Radio. Heraldez discussed the musical inspiration and passion behind this show and its potential touring future.

Interview:

Can you tell me a bit about the initial inspiration behind this show?

The idea and inspiration to produce and curate a show like “Siempre es Hoy” came from being in the Rock in Spanish/Latin Alternative music scene for many years. We used to have a gallery space called SolArt Gallery Café for many years and so we figured that we have the experience curating shows and the access to gallery space at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Arts. But overall the music itself inspires me.

Also the show is named after an album by Gustavo Cerati, the Argentine front man for the famous Soda Stereo band in the 90’s. Gustavo Cerati has been in a coma since 2010 and we thought giving the show this name would represent the feeling we have towards these artists and promoters of our cultural experiences. I think a lot of people were affected by the news and continue to feel a deep connection with Gustavo Cerati as he recovers. I see people post on our “Siempre es Hoy” page that say “wake up Cerati” and “Cerati is great!” We really wish him to be well.

Is this the first show of this kind that you have curated?

Yes, it’s the first show of its kind. I figured it would take a lot of sorting through images and putting something like this together, but I partnered with La Banda Elastica, a Rock/Latin Alternative Magazine who are the pioneers of the Latin Rock scene in the U.S. The photographer for La Banda Elastica, Maria Madrigal, has been documenting the Latin rock music scene for 20 years scene. We put our resources together and put together the initial format for the show, which we hope will be received in other cities.

I have heard there is a possibility that this show might tour. Where the show might be going?

Well, we are looking into taking the show to the LAMC (Latin American Music Conference) which takes place in New York as well as taking it to the SXSW Music festival in Austin, Texas next year. The show was very well received here in Santa Ana and we are sure people will enjoy it in other places, especially in music centered venues.

How did you choose the photographers that you featured in this exhibit?

The photographers were invited to present, mostly friends and colleagues in the industry that Maria Madrigal and Emilio Morales of la Banda Elastica were in touch with.  Part of our SolArt Radio Project involves touring with Mexican Latin Alternative bands and so our graphic designer/videographer, Carla Zarate Suarez has a few images in the show.

I am very interested in how much music can mean to a culture. It can be like a glue that holds together a culture or a counterculture. I am from Ireland and I have seen first hand how different it is to play a show in Ireland versus the US, with regards to how receptive the audience is. How is the music scene different in Mexico from here in Southern California?

Definitely glue. At the opening reception I saw people/fans and ex-band members of huge bands in the scene from 15-20 years ago show up with their families and have a sort of reunion at the space. It’s like we all lived in a moment and are visiting a shrine of sorts dedicated to our musical gurus (laughs). But in all seriousness, the quantity of people in concerts in Mexico impressive! I have been to music festivals where everyone is in this sort of elevated moment singing- in tune- to every single song presented by every single artist, new and old. Here in California, I think people respond the same, though in less quantity, because a lot of us are fans who listen to the Latin Alternative/Rock genre, (and) are also equally fans of The Smiths, Siouxie and the Banshees, Bob Dylan, and the Beatles, etc. We have this wave of feeling in two languages. It’s a great feeling and definitely gives us a scene of community and communion like nothing else.

The other interesting aspect of the Latin/Rock scene is that most of the bands that we listen to first start in Mexico City. So, you have bands from Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Spain and the U.S. starting off in their home towns but sort of “graduating” to Mexico City. If the fans in Mexico City accept them then they will be embraced here in the US musical community. Mexico City is a sort of Mecca for musicians-it’s truly wonderful.

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