By KIT B. FASSLER
Alma Davila didn’t start appreciating art until she attended Pima Community College.
“When I was in elementary school, I didn’t have interest in art,” she said. “If I drew people, I just drew sticks.”
No one in her family was interested in art either, Davila said. They all loved math instead.
Nevertheless, Davila recently entered a poster contest sponsored by La Frontera International Mariachi Conference, and won first place.
A fellow PCC digital arts student, Marcela Pino, won second place.
Davila’s artwork will be reproduced and sold during the 2015 mariachi conference, which will be held April 8-11 at the Casino del Sol Resort.
Proceeds will provide financial support to young musicians who can’t afford to attend workshops.
Pino’s poster will be printed on T-shirts and book covers to help conference participants buy music books and other supplies.
Davila found it truly unbelievable that she won first place in the contest, along with a $500 prize.
“After I sent my entry, I kind of forgot about it,” she said. “Then one morning, someone called and told me that I won.”
Chloe Dior, a member of La Frontera’s board of directors, is excited that PCC students participated.
“We are happy that these young people channel their energy into something beautiful like art,” Dior said. “We applaud them for their hard work.”
Davila was always a hard-working student and did well while attending Roberts Elementary School and Tucson High Magnet School.
In high school, she started getting interested in architecture.
“In my third year, most of my classmates were already applying to different universities,” she said. “But I thought of attending Pima Community College instead.”
Davila graduated from Pima with an associate degree in liberal arts and decided to continue working for a second degree in digital arts.
“I still dream of an architecture degree and hope that I’ll get there,” she said.
The second-place winner, Pino, has been exposed to art since she was born. Her grandmother loves oil painting.
“My grandmother is amazing,” Pino said. “She is a great influence in my life.”
Pino didn’t hesitate to enter her artwork when she learned about the contest.
She was especially intrigued because contestants were asked to create art with mariachi flavor in memory of Natividad “Nati” Cano, who died in 2014.
Cano directed the Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano for 40 years.
The Los Angeles-based ensemble gained international recognition, and was one of four musical ensembles that collaborated with Linda Rondstadt on her 1987 “Canciones de Mi Padre” album.
Pino danced folklorico for many years, traveling across the U.S. with Tucson’s Ballet Folklorico Tapatio. The troupe also performed at the yearly mariachi conference.
She received a $100 prize for winning second place.
Pino uses a unique style to create her artwork.
“I like working with cut paper,” she said. “It’s tedious. It takes time, but I enjoy doing it.”
Pino learned from her Pima instructors that it’s all right to be different.
She is beginning to gain confidence and to explore additional ways to use paper in her creations.
Instructor Dennis Landry, the digital arts department chair, is proud of his students. He also commended all of the art instructors who’ve molded student talents.
“It’s the sum total of the hard work of all art instructors,” Landry said. “The students learned how to express themselves in unique ways through art.”
Both Davila and Pino gave kudos to La Frontera Tucson International Mariachi Conference for holding the festival in Tucson.
The four-day music festival and student workshop conference showcases the best in mariachi and ballet folklorico.
The TIMC, now in its 33rd year, promotes the traditions to a growing audience of both Latino and non-Latino fans.
Conference proceeds benefit children’s services at La Frontera, a community-based nonprofit behavioral health center.