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It’s Summer time and with the influx of tourists they often ask where they can go to experience the local flavor of San Antonio. I always send them to Market Square the heart of San Antonio’s Mexican culture and gateway to the Westside.

1985 was a special year for me. I had just been hired by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center as their “official” photographer on retainer. My first assignment given to me by Juan Tejeda was to cover the centers annual Tejano Conjunto Festival, then in its third year. Juan had gathered classic Conjunto players from across the region to perform at several venues across the city – the festival would eventually coalesce at Rosedale Park.

On this particular afternoon, the action was at Market square, or as the locals call it El Mercado. It was Friday the second day of the festival and the first time in awhile since I’d been there. I had nearly forgotten the “real people” aspect of this tourist section of SA. That is, until I caught this gentleman in my frame with a Conjunto Festival banner waving prominently in the background. I’m always on the lookout for contrasts when covering an event, particularly contrasts of feeling. In the frolicking midst of merry-making, this gentleman has approached his romantic target with full machismo energy.

This image is titled “La Movida” to honor the gentleman’s intent. The photograph and event also express the excitement of gathering within the community, partying with the neighborhood, making the scene. As a cultural photographer, images come back; they are exhibited online, in galleries, museums and group shows. Hundreds of people see the images. One day in 2005, I received an interesting phone call.

Many years after the festival, “La Movida” caught the eye of someone reviewing my website. He called to give me an almost hidden back-story. It seems that the gentleman in the photo was the caller’s grandfather. As it turns out, the abuelo had become estranged from the family, and no one had seen or heard from him in years. Coincidentally, the old man’s surname was Rendon. The family member was hoping more information might be forthcoming from me, since that is also my last name, and that somehow we were related to the gentleman in the incidental random Conjunto picture.

A studio that has archived more than 40 years of San Antonio images has a lot of interesting ghosts in its atmospheres, with thousands of stories to tell.

La Movida

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