By Gilbert Garcia
San Anto founder Manny Castillo, who passed away last week, is often credited with uplifting the West Side with his organization's mural program. What is less obvious is how music intersected with community activism in his life. In a 2004 Current interview, Castillo told me that punk aesthetics played a major role in his approach to San Anto. When I talked last week to Castillo's longtime friend, artist/musician Juan Miguel Ramos, he spoke eloquently about how Castillo put punk principles into practice:
"When I was in [the band] Glorium, we were really into this DIY ethic − have your own ideas and do your own thing, on your own terms. But he lived it. He was a living example of it. With San Anto, he basically created a job for himself. That was his vision and he made it happen, on his own terms. That was just the epitome of that whole idea.
"By that example, it influenced me to look at what I was doing. My art work was always about the community, people I knew in the city, and representing that in a way that somehow was truthful. Even when it came to the music, Sexto Sol was about being a band from San Antonio. And that had something to do with his influence."