?íVivan Los Muertos!

The Autry pays homage to the dearly departed at this lively Day of the Dead festival, October 30

By Yadhira De Leon
Published on LatinoLA: October 5, 2010

?íVivan Los Muertos!

The Autry invites the public to celebrate the Day of the Dead--an ancient Aztec ritual to both remember the dead and to mock death itself. This unique Day of the Day observance and celebration welcomes every one to find out more about this extraordinary festival, while enjoying traditional food, family activities, vibrant music and dance, elaborate altar displays, and an interactive community altar. Plus, artist Luis Villanueva will showcase his whimsical catrinas among the altars.

The event begins with three influential figures in the local Los Angeles Latino community. Fr. Greg Boyle of Homeboys Industry will bless the altars and sign his book Tattoos on the Heart. Cartoonista Lalo Alcaraz, creator of the popular La Cucaracha comic strip, will sign his merchandise in the Autry Store. And inside the Siqueiros in Los Angeles: Censorship Defied exhibition, curator and exhibition originator Luis C. Garza will lead a gallery talk.

A sacred Aztec blessing of the event by Danza Azteca Xocoyote will open the festivities followed by an extravagant Day of the Dead performance by Nueva Antequera Ballet Folklorico de Oaxaca, presented by Lore Productions. With their elaborate traditional costumes and skull-painted faces, Nueva Antequera dancers and their accompanying live Oaxacan orchestra bring to life the beauty of the celebration.

A spectacular community altar, generously decorated by multimedia, award-winning artist Marcus Pollitz of Fiesta Floats and Raul Cortes of Nueva Antequera, in partnership with Lore Productions, will grace the outdoor plaza where visitors will have a chance to see an image of their dearly departed digitally displayed. The public is invited to submit an electronic image via e-mail to Julia Bensfield at jbensfild@theautry.org prior to the event for inclusion. Photocopies of pictures may also be brought by the public for placement on the community altar.

Inside the museum, artist and event advisor Luis Villanueva will display his marvelous catrinas--four-foot female skeletal sculptures made of recycled and reused materials. His spectacular works feature contemporary and traditional figures from the rocker chick to the folkloric dancer, each set atop elaborate Day of the Dead altars constructed and decorated by Villanueva and members of the Oaxacan Nueva Antequera community. The Mexican state of Oaxaca is known for its thriving Day of the Dead celebrations, and the altaristas, or altar-makers, lend their expertise to this year's event.

"On this day of personal reflection and celebratory remembrance, I view my catrinas as personal offerings for our beloved souls, with whom we will be joyfully communing as the two worlds of the ancient and the modern meet," said Villanueva.

The Autry Store will feature an array of Latino art by such artists as George Yepes, Hector Silva, Consuelo Campos, Susana Hernandez, Cynthia Moorhouse, Alex Alferov, Antonio Pelayo, and Lalo Garcia. Hands-on marigold-making activities, face-painting, and sugar skull decorating will be available for all. Traditional Day of the Dead food like tamales, champurrado, and pan de muerto (bread of the dead) will complete the holiday immersion experience.

As the sun sets on the festivities, Danza Azteca Xocoyote will begin a traditional pulsating procession of sound and movement from the outdoor plaza inside the museum and into Heritage Court, where they will bless the altars and display by Villanueva and the Oaxacan community. Following their lead, visitors will be able to join in the procession that leads back outdoors and to the grand finale performance by the famed East L.A. band Quetzal. Their unique blend of culturally influenced sounds will fill the plaza as a storyteller weaves a tale of a young woman's quest to connect with her departed grandmother. Poetry and a full concert by the band dressed as skeletons will provide the perfect end to the first annual ?íVivan Los Muertos! festival.

The ?íVivan Los Muertos! festival is made possible by the generous support of Lore Productions, Villanueva Art, the Oaxacan Nueva Antequra community, and Fiesta Floats.

?íVivan Los Muertos!
Saturday, October 30, 2:00ÔÇô9:00 p.m.
Free with museum admission.

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