Breaking: Lisette Guerra’s personalized piñatas

Even with the vaccines, boosters, and all the precautions we’ve learned to practice, live music continues to struggle during the COVID period. As venues try to maintain their musical calendars, especially smaller ones that host local acts, a boost is needed, something that reminds us of the festive nature of live music.

Enter Lisette Guerra. A native of Houston who grew up in the southeastern communities of Houston and Pasadena, Guerra is an artist whose work is followed by local live performances. She creates custom piñatas and lately her work has been well received in some shows in Houston.

“I was making them for my children’s birthdays, then I needed an income, so I had to sell piñatas outside of my house,” said Guerra, who also practices other mediums, such as painting and sketching.

She said her side gig was spurred on by her boyfriend, Ricky Dee, frontman of veteran Houston rock trio Ganesha. The group is part of a stacked lineup scheduled for Saturday January 15 at the Satellite Bar. The all-age show will also feature Austin psychiatrist Naga Brujo and Houston Lagrimas, The Poserz and Bozos, who ordered a piñata from Ronald Reagan for the night.

“People Rick knew started asking for piñatas and then it turned out that someone was like, ‘Can you do one for a show that celebrates a birthday?’ And everyone thought it was cool. But it didn’t really start until Piñata Protest contacted me, ”Guerra said.

Appropriately enough, the San Antonio Tex-Mex punk act with huge following helped boost Guerra’s art profile when they performed Trip Six HTX in November 2021.

Click to enlarge

Guerra, right, with Houston rapper Ishgenius

Photo by Ben White, courtesy of Lisette Guerra

“They held out their hand to me. They did a show with the Casualties and I made a piñata for them, ”Guerra said, and added that band frontman Àlvaro Del Norte“ asked me to fill it up, so we did the usual stuff. what we do, candy, sure, but then toiletries, adult stuff, you know? Everyone loved it and it was great. And the next week I had so many people come up and ask me if you could make a piñata for my show? “

“It just became a thing. People are looking forward to it now and it is just great. It kind of changed the dynamics of things, ”she said. “It’s really great to see all these grown people, their inner child is just excited and scrambling on the floor for all of these treats.”

Guerra said she made a luchador mask sporting a mohawk and the colors of the Mexican flag for the Piñata protest show. She said she kept it a secret until the night of the show to spark excitement in the group.

“They ended up releasing it in the middle of their set and they played the traditional song ‘Dale, Dale’ piñata and called me on stage,” she said. “I was up there and they threw it in the crowd and everyone just tore it up.”

Guerra said she kept her work “personal and intimate” for her children’s birthdays. Working together allows her to expand and do new things with an art that she first encountered a long time ago.

“When I was a kid, I spent every summer and winter in Mexico. On the side, next to my abuelita’s house, was a piñata store where my mom worked for her money when we were there in Mexico. She was going to help in the piñata store and I would go with her and I would sit on the floor and see all these piñatas hanging over me. It was my everyday thing, just to sit and watch my mom make these piñatas. It’s something that I grew up watching, it was a big part of my culture and my upbringing.

Click to enlarge Guerra on stage with Piñata Protest - PHOTO BY H. SALINAS, COURTESY OF LISETTE GUERRA

Guerra on stage with Piñata Protest

Photo by H. Salinas, courtesy of Lisette Guerra

“I make them, I guess you’d say, standard old school Mexican style. The glue I hold everything together is the same as they do in Mexico, just flour, water, and newspaper.

Guerra said piñatas range from $ 20 to around $ 50. She recognizes that materials are cheap, so buyers pay for her time and expertise, just as one might pay for a sculpture or a painting. Anyone interested in his work can send him a message via his Instagram page, @ lisespieces138. She said buyers have the option to fill them out or that she will do so for a fee.

“So I give people the opportunity. I think what really held him back was the Piñata Protest show. After seeing the piñata open and there were lighters, there was rolling paper, it wasn’t just candy, there were condoms, there were feminine hygiene products.

She said that in May 2020, just as the lockdown took effect, House of J put on a house show for the craziest. Guerra filled a piñata that night with hand sanitizer, gloves and masks.

“People were still jostling each other and stuffing them in their pockets and purses because those are useful things,” she said. “After the one from Piñata Protest, people said to themselves: ‘You fill it. I’ll pay you extra to fill it up, you know what you’re doing, you put the right things in there.

Much like a piñata needs to be filled, Guerra said their creation filled a void for her, in a way.

Click to enlarge Fans empty the piñata in the middle of Trip Six HTX.  - PHOTO BY BEN WHITE, COURTESY OF LISETTE GUERRA

Fans empty the piñata in the middle of Trip Six HTX.

Photo by Ben White, courtesy of Lisette Guerra

“People need a little helping hand,” she admitted. “It’s especially good for me because when I was a kid in the Southeast (Houston), in a one-income Latino household, there was never really any money, I never had any money. birthday party and I never had my own piñata. We went to other birthday parties and I saw other kids banging their piñatas. So it’s kind of a proxy thing for me to see everyone break those piñatas and have fun. It makes me feel good because this is what I was missing, and I don’t need it now because I can see other people have this joy. And it makes me feel good and I don’t feel like I missed it anymore because I can share that feeling with other people now and bring that smile to people’s faces.

Guerra is a member of the Facebook and Pinterest pages for piñata artists. She said she made Thomas the Tank Engine and other characters, but if anyone is looking for Elmo or Blue’s Clues in papier mache, she will direct them to others who are building them for a living. This allows her not to infringe on the livelihoods of others since she has a day job. And that frees up her time to focus on specialist jobs like the Viking ship she was asked to create for a client last February.

Guerra said the buyer’s friend is deceased. He and his friends wanted to pay homage to him with a Viking memorial.

“He ended up handing me the ashes of his late friend and said, ‘Can you find a way to incorporate his ashes into this Viking ship because we want to burn it at sunset, like a Viking memorial? ? So, I mean, I did it, ”she said. “I mixed his ashes with the flour and he was the glue that held this whole Viking ship piñata together.

Click to enlarge Guerra's Viking ship piñata has helped some people mourn the loss of a loved one last year.  - PHOTO BY LISETTE GUERRA

Guerra’s Viking ship piñata has helped some people mourn the loss of a loved one last year.

Photo by Lisette Guerra

“I ended up meeting the mother of the deceased that night and when I told her the story, as soon as I said he was the glue that held everything together, she just started to sob She said, ‘I love that you said that because between our family, me and her sister, he was the glue that held us all together.’ With these piñatas there is also a very sentimental and personal element.

We can see that this is the whole point of art, whatever the medium. Whether it’s music, a mural or a piñata, it’s about creating a deep bond with those who appreciate it. Guerra said she saw this connection at shows. She dubbed this kind of event – perhaps a pun intended – a “piñata party”, and it was the smash hit that helped local shows gain a foothold in the Omicron era. .

“It really brightens the mood, I feel like it really does, to have some kind of extra comfort. I think that might be the right term. It’s just another comfort added to it because there is this period of uncertainty and people don’t know where they are at or what’s going to happen with the next show, ”concluded Guerra. “It’s almost like an icebreaker. Okay, well, there’s a piñata here, everyone can relax a bit and open that piñata and have a good time and kinda forget what’s going on. At least for a few moments, let’s all be kids and hunt for candy and forget about it. Even if it’s only for a few minutes.

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