New Book: A Tribute

In 2000, my grandfather died after a brief but intense struggle with Alzheimer’s. Through odd circumstances I discovered he had written a surprising collection of songs. Written in the later years of his life accompanied by his guitar, he cataloged his work with the intent to share it before his mind wandered off.

The Songs Of My Grandfather, Edited by Lilibeth Andre

The Songs Of My Grandfather, Edited by Lilibeth André

The book, The Songs Of My Grandfather, brings these songs together as poetry to pay tribute to the man of his time that he was. The songs are presented in Spanish with an accompanying translation to English.

From the Forward:

I am not musically educated but I love music. My grandfather left these songs typed, numbered and cataloged. He left a list of songs he recorded on tape. I also found some untitled songs and other writings. I gave the untitled songs a name inspired in his words.

Songs 2 through 5 are missing. The titles are listed in his catalog but I did not find these songs. I list them to honor his work. The first piece in this book is a “calavera” written by my mother, my grandfather’s daughter. Calaveras are rhymes that poke fun at death and reflect the character of the loved one no longer in this world. I felt it was a fitting piece to introduce the man and his work.

I would consider my grandfather’s songs to be ballads, romantic pieces in the vein of folk songs recording life from his era. Some of the songs seem quite contemporary. Many of the songs depict life as he knew it in a world of tradition, honor, and more conservative values than today.
This book is a compilation of my grandfather’s songs as poetry. I present them here with my grandmother’s blessing and the expectation to finally read the completed work. My grandfather spoke Spanish and I have translated each song into English to aide those who do not read Spanish.

This is the work of Isauro Mendoza Nava (1912-2000), my beloved grandfather, my “Tito Chencho”.

The book is now available online and will soon be released electronically.

Lessons From Ephemeral Art

Being a professional artist is an exercise in letting go. Letting go of your imagination, letting go of your creativity, and letting go of your creation.

2014 Alpine Artwalk Street Art, Mexican Girl (detail), Lilibeth Andre

2014 Alpine Artwalk Chalk Art, Mexican Girl (detail), Lilibeth Andre with Feather Radha and Skye Valenzuela.

These are fundamental learnings for life itself. Why is that? As we enter the toddler years we learn possession and possessiveness. In some cases we fail to acquire the confidence to grow beyond that, for various reasons.

Being a professional artist includes the art of letting go. How does letting go apply to life? We live opportunities for letting go everyday, they may come early in the form of sharing, letting go of relationships or issues that are not beneficial to us and our well-being, letting go of our children as they grow and require their own space to make their own decisions and learn from them. But why let go?

2014 Alpine Artwalk Street Art, SPR Engine, Lilibeth Andre, with Alexander Costea.

2014 Alpine Artwalk Chalk Art, SPR Engine, Lilibeth Andre, with Alexander Costea, and Mariah Rose.

Possession and control are ways we use to give us the security we haven’t yet developed. We use these attitudes to fill the emptiness of our insecurity. Struggling with possession and control is an unfulfilling prophecy through which we can never have enough to give us the security we lack.

Generosity, trust, giving and sharing are the antidotes to this emptiness. When we make these attitudes our own we can expand our contribution, our self unto the external world that surrounds us. We can share our knowledge and experience, we can give others and ourselves the freedom to go our own way, and we can trust that what we teach our children will give them the tools to make their best decisions and find their own life path.

2014 Alpine Artwalk Chalk Art, Prickly Pear (detail), Lilibeth Andre with Feather Radha and Sky Valenzuela.

2014 Alpine Artwalk Chalk Art, Prickly Pear (detail), Lilibeth Andre with Feather Radha and Sky Valenzuela.

It is not easy. It takes much practice. Nothing could be a greater exercise of this life lesson as the creation of ephemeral art. What is ephemeral art?

The creation of art itself includes an act of letting go. Transferring that idea through our creative language into a materialized expression is the first step. Then there is the act of sharing the materialized expression. This creation is like a child and there can be difficulty in letting it go. Ephemeral art is not only an exercise in producing a materialized expression but it is created with the intentionality that it will not be permanent, it’s existence will be short lived.

Examples can be an ice sculpture, in my case, a pastel mural on pavement, or even a beautiful serving of a tasty dish.

2014 Alpine Artwalk Chalk Art, Mural view, Lilibeth Andre with Alexander Costea, Rachel Maxwell, Skye Valenzuela and Feather Radha.

2014 Alpine Artwalk Chalk Art, Collaborative mural view, Lilibeth Andre with Alexander Costea, Rachel Maxwell, Skye Valenzuela and Feather Radha. (Not shown are Mariah Rose, and Juliana Johnson)

While creating my last street painting in Alpine, Texas with the aid of local artists that included Alexander Costea, Mariah Rose*, Juliana Johnson, Rachel Maxwell, and the very talented and professional Feather Radha, we were also joined by Skye Valenzuela, Brandt Mannchen and three creative youngsters who experienced pastel color on pavement. We were at the 2015 Artwalk.

The question almost everyone had who came to Brown Dog Gardens to see our work was, in brief, How will you make it permanent?

The mural was a 10 foot by 20 foot area depicting a romantic vision of Alpine with its beautiful Twin Sisters peaks, an 1888 Southern Pacific Railroad engine and a beautiful Mexican Calendar girl to incorporate the strong cultural presence in its history, all in the beautiful pre-sunset colors of the West Texas landscape.

Hearing the concept of ephemeral art, people’s next question was, How long will the painting last? The answer was that it was dependent on the elements like the wind and the next rain.

And lo and behold, even the artists were tested when reaching the final strokes of the mural clouds began to form in the dry desert. All artists converged on the remaining unfilled area to complete the mural and beat the rain.

As drops began to fall strokes became more rapid, beautiful people scurried to get a tarp and tents, and I had to tear everyone away when the sky opened up into a generous and needed rain in a still drought-stricken area.

“We can’t salvage it now,” I told them. It belonged to the rain.

2015 Alpine Artwalk Chalk Art, As the rain came down, Lilibeth Andre,

2015 Alpine Artwalk Chalk Art, As the rain came down, Lilibeth Andre,

Everyone stood undercover and watched as the pastel work turned into a watercolor stream that puddled in various directions swirling color beyond our taped boundary.

I have to admit, this is not my first ephemeral piece so I had an emotional advantage on everyone. I can tell  you that it was not easy to grasp the concept that all that hard work on hands and knees in the cool air and hot sun to pour artistic talent into chalk on pavement that would not be there to testify to the effort of two and a half days work was not hard to grasp but to see it diluted in a quick and unexpected downpour before our eyes was tough.

So I smiled and relished on the pleasure of creating this art piece in the company of beautiful artist, surround by beautiful people in a beautiful environment. That I keep with me always.

 

* We heard Mariah had a fender bender on her bike the night before we finished and was unable to join us due to a broken nose. We wish her a painless and swift recovery.

 

About The Lady Of The Turquoise Pendant

Tamal breakfast

Snow capped Popocatepetl

It was in the early 90’s that I wrote my version of the Aztec legend of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, the two volcanoes found in central Mexico. I did it to share part of my culture with my children. It was a story I grew up with. My version was a short story. I found that each version was a little different so I felt comfortable telling my own as I learned it over the years. The main format was that of a tragedy a la Romeo and Juliet but in an Aztec version.

While tinkering with the first version of the story I procrastinated getting it done until one day. My husband invited me to a tasty taco joint in Stafford, Texas and lo and behold, pinned to the wall was an illustration of a glorious Aztec warrior with a beautiful sleeping maiden in his arms. The caption had the legend written in about 8 lines. I took that as a sign that I should finish my story.

The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant

The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant, by Lilibeth André

In 1999, I decided to turn the story into a novel and work on the manuscript began.  I finished it in 2002 and sent it out to a few publishing houses that I thought might be interested in the subject matter but I began to collect rejection letters. It was not something they were looking for at the time.

Time went on and every time Popocatepetl, a semi-dormant volcano, spewed steam and ash I took it as a sign that I needed to do something with the book. I began to have a strong feeling that I needed to share the book with more kids, not just my own. I felt that by sharing this story built on the background of research I conducted about the Aztec culture to believably place my story in a space and time, I could help Hispanic and Latino kids better understand where they came from and be proud of their rich culture.

Lilibeth André, King Topiltzin, Oil, 24x18

Lilibeth André, King Topiltzin, Oil, 24×18

So my mission became to use the book as a tool to generate curiosity about a native American culture we don’t read about in school. We may learn about the pyramids in Egypt but we don’t learn about what was one of the strongest cultures in the Americas.

My kids are grown now. I published The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant with my own illustrations and use it to help me share with Hispanics and non-Hispanics about the love I have for my culture and the things we have learned from the Aztecs. And maybe, the book can be a spark to generate curiosity to learn more about the Aztec contribution to the world through urbanism, agriculture, engineering, astronomy, calendars, culinary richness and so much more.

More about The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant:

Book Award

eBook Launch

Latina Book Club Interview

 

 

New Poem – Train To Alpine

Last month, I took my first train ride to Alpine, Texas. I was traveling to teach a workshop on street painting. My students were high school teens who were very talented and willing to give art a try. This November 21 & 22, I will be participating in the 2014 Alpine Artwalk and on a new train ride to Alpine.

The respite from my day-to-day activities created an opportunity to let my creative mind wander and I came up with a new poem to celebrate the occasion.

Train To Alpine
© By Lilibeth André

I sit by the window.
The night brings nothing but the sound of the train,
With the bounce and the swaying,
Comforting me through the night.

Darkness breaks to purples and blues.
A dot of pink spreads and rides the horizon.
It is morning.

The trees and vines of the bayou,
Left behind.
The chaparral before me,
A reminder,
Of clean desert days.
Rock mountains showing,
Green patches,
A gift of the rains.

The sun begins to set
Coloring the sand,
Coral peaches,
Golden tones that warm the mountains,
The ocotillos and the yucca in late bloom.

Again I see the pastures in the early fog,
The light of purple pinks softened
Sage colored grass,
Red earth and gold.
The Seguin River embraced by green foliage,
Reflecting soft pastels of the morning.

The rumble of the wheels on the tracks,
Takes me home.
The Bayou City awaits,
Patiently,
Active, pulsing,
Sure to swallow me once more.

 

I hope you like the poem!

 

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    © Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this text, images or content without express and written permission Lilibeth André is strictly prohibited. For permission to license, exhibit or purchase any of the artwork, email info@lilibethandre.com. Links to this site may be made with full and clear accreditation to Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André.