Mariachi Plaza & Kiosk

 

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For many years, a doughnut shop at the corner of First and Boyle served as an informal gathering place for mariachi bands, which serenaded passersby before departing for their own engagements. Today in its place stands Mariachi Plaza, a small park with a bandstand and kiosk donated by the state of Jalisco, Mexico. The site, which was developed as part of the MTA's extension of the Metrorail Red Line to East Los Angeles, remains a popular focal point for mariachi.


The talented Mariachi musicians are available for hire 7 days a week on the corner of 1st St. and Boyle Av. These mariachi groups have dedicated themselves in keeping the beauty and tradition of Mexican Mariachi music thriving today.
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State of Jalisco, Mexico donates 17 wrought iron benches for
 Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights

In a dedication ceremony hosted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the State of Jalisco, México, donated 17 wrought iron benches for the Mariachi Plaza, located at the intersection of First and Boyle in Boyle Heights.

image of dedication ceremony hosted by MTA, State of Jalisco, Mexico.

Attending the kiosk dedication ceremony were, from left, Carlos Vargas, Jose Isaias Rodriguez Hernandes, Carla Barragan, LA City Councilman Nick Pacheco, Jalisco Secretary Abraham Gonzalez Uyeda, Mexican Consul Lara Marta, CEO Julian Burke, Monica Medina, Humberto Esparza Jimenez, Enrique Banuelos Solis and Diego Cardoso, MTA director, Regional Transportation Planning. PHOTO BY LUIS INZUNZA
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The 17 benches made by artisans representing several municipalities in Jalisco are a gift to the people of Los Angeles to complete the cultural landmark of the Mariachi Plaza kiosk donated by the State of Jalisco in 1998. The Federation of Clubs Jalisciences at Los Angeles donated one of the benches.

"With the gift of these 17 beautiful benches from the State of Jalisco our partnership continues to enrich this vibrant, urban setting next to the future site of the proposed East Los Angeles light rail station at First and Boyle", said Los Angeles City Councilman Nick Pacheco (14th District), who represents the community.

"These benches will celebrate, in perpetuity, the mariachis of Los Angeles who bring their music and vitality to the plaza every day of the year," he added.

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 Kiosk

The plaza location has been a long-standing post for mariachi bands and musicians, who play for hire the traditional Mexican music at musical engagements.

However, the plaza paled compared to traditional Mexican plazas without the kiosk. In 1992 the MTA became a stakeholder in the Boyle Heights community when the Metro Eastside extension was originated and funds were provided for the construction of the plaza. The State of Jalisco donated the cantera stone and provided the artisans to assemble the kiosk, which instantly became a landmark in the community and for all of Los Angeles

In 1998 the State of Jalisco shipped the kiosk to Los Angeles. Juan Pablo Salas, a renowned stone artisan from Guadalajara, and his crew came to Los Angeles and assembled the kiosk.

"We (the Government) will be close to our jaliscience community and we will develop an administration based on five points: opportunity for everyone; transparent and close government; integral human development; combat crime at the forefront; equitable development for all regional areas of Jalisco," said State of Jalisco, México, Governor Francisco Ramírez Acuña, in a prepared statement.

The ceremony, attended by Abraham González Uyeda, Secretary of Economic Development, on behalf of governor of Jalisco, Francisco Ramírez Acuña, featured mariachi music from Roosevelt High School and folkloric ballet by Bronson House Catholic Charities.

May 15, 2001
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MTA MEDIA RELATIONS
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Mariachi Plaza Kiosk

“It’s going to be a very beautiful place for the mariachis to meet.”  said Cindy Reifler, lead violinist of the all-female Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles.

Plaza Rises in Cradle of Mariachi Music

Sculptor Pablo Salas wanted to leave a piece of Mexico in Los Angeles.

That, he has accomplished–and more.

Salas’ legacy will be Mariachi Plaza, an eye-catching, 40-foot-tall domed structure built on a Boyle Heights corner that for decades has been a renowned gathering spot for mariachis.

The striking stone plaza–which will be dedicated Sunday on the Catholic feast of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music–is certain to become an instant city landmark.

The project, first discussed by city officials 15 years ago, brought together funding and cooperation from the city, the MTA and the Mexican state of Jalisco. But the key was Salas.

The grizzled, 60-year-old artist is one of the most gifted sculptors in Mexico and has worked on restoring centuries-old cathedrals and countless other projects. He was commissioned to build Mariachi Plaza by the state of Jalisco.

He said his goal at the intersection of 1st and Boyle streets was to transform a barren concrete corner into “the heart of the community,” much like the plazas in Mexico.

The artisan directed a crew in Mexico that unearthed 40 tons of cantera, a quarry stone that the pre-Columbian Toltecs used to erect some of their imposing pyramids.

Then, following his design, Salas sculpted the stone for the distinctive plaza.

We really wanted to give the mariachis a dignified place in the very cradle of mariachi music [in Los Angeles],” said Al Nodal, director of the city’s Cultural Affairs Department.

Adorning the top of the blue-tiled dome is a sculpture chiseled by Salas of St. Cecilia.

Salas, along with four fellow workers from Guadalajara and a 10-person local team, have labored since July to finish their work in time for the Sunday opening.

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The unassuming Salas is often confused for just another hired hand by those who are unaware that he is a famed sculptor.

Underneath Salas’ rough exterior lies a soulful musician. He and his Guadalajara co-workers make up a jarocho trio and perform for friends. Salas works the quarry stone with his chisel and hammer with the same ease that he plucks rhythms out of his jarana, a small Mexican guitar that is popular in the southern state of Veracruz.

Jalisco Gov. Alberto Cardenas Jimenez kept the promise of one of his predecessors in the early 1990s to donate the stone to the plaza as a gift to Los Angeles, said City Councilman Richard Alatorre, who added that construction of the structure is one of his dreams come true.

In January, the cantera was unearthed from Jalisco’s Santa Lucia Mountains. It took Salas three months to shape the Tuscan-style columns, as well as the dome and the stage.

Once the stones were cut, they were trucked from Jalisco to Los Angeles, said Alatorre spokeswoman Luisa Campano.

A joint venture by the MTA and the Cultural Affairs Department funded local construction.

The MTA’s Eastside subway extension had been projected to include a station at 1st and Boyle, where riders could have departed to view Mariachi Plaza and its strolling musicians, MTA spokesman Ricardo Felix said.

Once it became doubtful that the subway would be extended to Boyle Heights, “we got tired of waiting so we decided to go ahead,” Alatorre said.

The MTA put $420,000 into the project, using funds from its improved pedestrian environment program, Felix said. The City Council voted to match 20% of the transit agency’s funding with about $80,000.

Altogether, including the donated materials, “it’s a million-dollar project,” Alatorre said.

Most residents and business owners in the neighborhood have high hopes for the plaza, especially the more than 1,000 mariachis who live on the Eastside. The area is their well-known hangout, where clients go to hire them to play for weddings, birthday parties or quinceaneras (special celebrations for girls turning 15).

Most of the mariachis are enthusiastic about this Sunday’s grand opening, which will include ceremonies and entertainment from noon to 5 p.m. On Tuesday a priest will celebrate a midday open-air Mass at the plaza, to be followed by mariachi entertainment.

It is hoped that the plaza will help upgrade the neighborhood, which as been plagued with graffiti, vandalism and periodic nighttime crime.

It really lends an aura of respectability to the area. It’s not going to look like a run-down place anymore” said Cindy Reifler, lead violinist of the all-female Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. “It’s going to be a very beautiful place for the mariachis to meet.”

 

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