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Selena: Como la Flor

MAY 15—JULY 31, 1997
SELENA: como la flor

Slain Tejano superstar Selena is the focus of a new exhibit mounted by the Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State University-San Marcos

The exhibit showcases items donated to the Writers Collection by Texas Monthly Senior Editor Joe Nick Patoski. Patoski's biography of Selena, titled Selena: como la flor is widely regarded as the most insightful portrayal of the beloved pop star.

The Patoski archive includes early drafts of the book, extensive research into Selena's life, interviews with dozens of musicians and others who knew Selena, correspondence, hundreds of Selena-related clippings and other publications, documents from the Yolanda Saldivar trial, and an extensive record of Patoski's relationship with his publisher.

The result is a collection of materials that sheds much light on the radiant life and spirit of Selena.

Joe Nick Patoski has long been regarded as a leading chronicler of the Texas music scene. He is the co-author of the acclaimed Stevie Ray Vaughan biography, Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire. When Patoski decided to write Selena's biography, he first asked her father, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., for permission to write an authorized account. Quintanilla refused, and denied Patoski access to his family and employees.

When Selena: como la flor was published, Quintanilla issued a statement condemning Patoski's book. Quintanilla's angry denunciation, ironically, helped spur sales. In the end, the commercial success of Selena: como la flor benefitted both Patoski and the Quintanilla family-Patoski donated 25% of his income to the Selena foundation.

To gain insight into Selena's life, Patoski used two basic techniques. The first was to interview a wide range of people who knew Selena, including childhood friends, teachers, neighbors, musicians, Tejano music insiders, record company executives, and others who worked with her.

Patoski's second approach was to conduct exhaustive research into everything that affected Selena - from tracking down the building permit for Selena's father's restaurant (where she debuted as a nine year old in 1980) to visiting the shooting range where Yolanda Saldivar purchased her gun. Patoski's detailed research built the foundation on which his biography stands.

The exhibit also features original artwork from the Yolanda Saldivar trial by San Antonio Express News artist John Camejo.

The Selena materials are part of what is quickly becoming an important collection of Mexican American music at the Southwestern Writers Collection. The foundation is the Adrian Treviño Music Archive, a collection of some 12,000 songs recorded from the 1920s to the present. Joe Nick Patoski, in addition to donating his Selena materials, has passed along many other items relating to the world of Tejano music. The Southwestern Writers Collection has actively pursued the acquisition of books, ephemera, videos, and sound recordings that document the vitality and significance of this important aspect of Texas culture.

The Selena exhibit was curated by Special Collections assistant Steve Davis, with help from student worker Olga Garza.