Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

Painting of Selena offends family

Copyright 1995 Houston Chronicle


The father of Selena said Monday he objected to a painting of the slain Tejano singer by a controversial Houston artist because it was "trashy."

The painting, by artist Donell Hill, depicts Selena among skulls and a singing skeleton holding a microphone.

At first titled Selena's Silent Song, the painting's name has been changed to The Silent Song because of the family's objections, Hill said.

"My intention was not to upset the family," she said.

Hill is to display the painting in a San Antonio gallery exhibit called The Gift of Death. The Nov. 2 opening of the exhibit at Recuerdos de mi Madre gallery coincides with Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a Hispanic tradition that commemorates loved ones who have died, she said.

"The hand of God holds Selena's face, the skulls and the white roses," Hill said, explaining her drawing.

"Maybe her family doesn't celebrate Day of the Dead, but there will be thousands of fans lighting candles in her memory," she said.

Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla, described the painting as "trashy kind of art."

"My wife was very disturbed when she saw this skeleton with a microphone. My wife has gone through enough already," he said of an exhibit invitation and copy of the painting that Hill sent the family.

Although threats of a lawsuit were discussed, a compromise was reached Monday. While the original artwork can be exhibited and sold at its going price of $8,500, no reproductions of the painting will be sold.

Quintanilla said, "She (Hill) can draw this, it's her liberty. And if she wants to, she can exhibit it. That's her prerogative. But once she starts selling copies, that infringes on Selena's estate."

He added, "Anything with Selena's name, image or likeness, my family owns that."

But the artist argues that Selena was a public figure and should be shared.

"I will not be censored," she said. "I wish Mr. Quintanilla would have as much compassion for the fans as the fans have for the family."

However, Quintanilla retorted, "What fans want to see Selena as a skeleton? We want to remember Selena as she was, as a beautiful young girl."

Hill was involved in another controversy last year. The Catholic Church requested that her art exhibit titled Spirituality, Sensuality, Sexuality be pulled from a gallery sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and the art gallery director, a nun, resigned.

The art show, which depicted sexual themes as well as the plight of people with AIDS, was closed three days after its opening and moved to another San Antonio gallery. Among the Catholics upset by the painting was Archbishop Patrick Flores, who called the artwork "pornographic."