USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR


Rafael López poses with his mariachi stamps in a classroom at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. The set was launched in August.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR

USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR

Rafael López poses with his mariachi stamps in a classroom at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. The set was launched in August.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR

When the Postal Service asked Rafael López to design a commemorative stamp depicting Latin American culture in the United States, he knew exactly what to show: a mariachi band.

And he knew that one tampon wouldn’t be enough.

“The contribution of mariachi music is huge. We can’t just recognize it with one timbre. We have to create at least a series of five,” the Mexican-American artist told NPR at the launch this month. at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum.

“So I went back to the director and said, what if we actually had five different musicians? You can’t fit five in one little step. I don’t think that’s enough honor, you know, for mariachi music.”

It’s the first time a mariachi band features on US stamps, according to the Postal Museum. And for some in the Latino community, it’s recognition of how their heritage and culture are part of the fabric of America. López himself divides his time between San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and San Diego, California.

USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR

López stops by the museum marquee on a guided tour before the launch event.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR

USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR

López stops by the museum marquee on a guided tour before the launch event.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR

He used his upbringing in Mexico City as inspiration for the stamps, particularly the band members and the vibrant colors that fill the stamps, which had an initial printing of 18 million.

López said he wanted to emphasize the characteristics of the characters depicted on the stamps, leaving an indescribable background with the pastel-colored houses of Mexican antiquity.

“The background is very simple. It looks like some kind of Mexican town,” he said. “But if you see it really close, it’s like the color shapes. And I wanted to focus on the actual expression of the singers.”

The traits that López focused on were more passionate expressions made by these musicians at the height of their harmony. The faces of the band members compete for space on the stamps with their uniforms and instruments.

“Those are nice uniforms, those Charro outfits,” López said.

USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR

López signs a series of stamps at the museum.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR

USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR

López signs a series of stamps at the museum.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR

The centerpiece is the leader of the band, a violinist holding her instrument in her left hand and her sombrero in her right as she sings her operatic ballads. López set this up by design.

“I love it when a mariachi singer is there. I also wanted it to be center stage, and I just also wanted to have some variety, you know, that you can tell that not only is she very gifted with the violin, but she can also put it down and put on a great song.”

The creation process was not quick

It took two years of development before the set was launched. Each stamp is priced at 60 cents and will perpetuate a cultural legacy forever.

The depictions of the band members are taken from an extensive list of approved models, images and artwork provided by the Postal Service.

But when one of the designs became unavailable, López used his nephew’s face to create the musician holding the vihuela – a stringed instrument that looks like a guitar.

“I said, have your brother take pictures of different angles of your face and you pretend to play the violin,” López said. “And after about 30 or 40 photos, I picked the best one.”

USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR

López shows off a series of his mariachi stamps.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR

USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR

López shows off a series of his mariachi stamps.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR

Mariachi comes to life at the museum

López wasn’t the only performer at the launch event.

Cañas y su Mariachi de Oro filled the halls of the museum with music, entertaining visitors and volunteers. The five-piece band, based in Northern Virginia, played favorite tunes like Cielito Lindo and El Mariachi Loco Quiere Bailarbut the crowd of mostly families were wowed when the Pajaritos in Bailar slowly shifted to an interpretation of baby shark.

USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR

Members of Cañas y su Mariachi de Oro prepare to perform for the crowd at the museum.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR

USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR

Members of Cañas y su Mariachi de Oro prepare to perform for the crowd at the museum.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR

‘El Mariachi Loco Quiere Bailar’

‘Pajaritos a Bailar’ and ‘Baby Shark’

José Cañas, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, told NPR he was happy to see a band like his on US stamps.

“Es un honor para nosotros,” he said. It is an honor for us.

López said the beats and beats of the music — playing in an institution in American history — are key to a great mariachi sound that anyone can enjoy, whether they understand Spanish or not.

“Before you know it, everyone is celebrating life and patting each other on the back. So there’s this universal quality to mariachi music that you can’t help but feel.”

USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR

López reads books containing his illustrations to a group of children.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR

USPS launches its first mariachi stamp : NPR

López reads books containing his illustrations to a group of children.

Gabriel J. Sanchez/NPR


Entertainment

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button