Day of the Dead Dia de los Muertos

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With the blink of an eye, the Tomé Art Gallery will be full of colorful sugar skulls, remembrance altars and skeletons.

And the gallery is doing so to honor family and friends who have gone on to the next life.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: The Tomé Art Gallery is hosting their fifth annual Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos Show until Sunday, Nov. 4. These skeleton embedded pendants are a few of the items for sale during the event.

The fifth annual Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos Show extends to Sunday, Nov. 4, at the gallery, 2930 N.M. 47 in Tomé.

“It’s a time when people — not just Spanish people — celebrate the life of the person who died,” said event coordinator and artist Pati Woodward.

Artwork, vibrating with Day of the Dead images, will be on display throughout the gallery, including fused glass skellies by Deb and Greg Schwirtz, mixed media dolls and figurines from Nancy Gage, jewelry by Woodard, paintings from Terry Duncan, paintings and mixed media from Quanta Hinson and sculptures from Regina Corritiore.

A meet-the-artists reception, was held Sunday to kick off the ghoulish exhibit. The day was lined with back-to-back events for children and adults, such as a costume contest and creating handmade goodies, all while enjoying finger foods that do indeed resemble fingers, complete with almonds as nails and skeleton-like bones.

To jump into the Day of the Dead spirit, participants made Shrinky Dinks jewelry, where they draw on small, round plastic disks shrunken in a toaster oven and used as pendants or bracelets.

“Every year we have to add more tables, because there are more adults who do it and the children are standing around asking, ‘Are you done yet?’” Woodard said.

Children also joined in the celebration by having their face painted with skeletons or other designs or by purchasing a Day of the Dead T-shirt from the 2012 South Valley Dia de los Muertos Marigold Parade in Albuquerque on Sunday, Nov. 4.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: The Day of Dead Show will display pieces from 20 local artists with media, such as silk, fiber, fused glass, pottery and jewelry. One such item is this “Voodoo Disco Diamond Doll” by Toni Edwards.

For those wearing Halloween costumes, they competed in a costume contest with four categories, including most original costume, best character representation costume, scariest costume and best overall costume.

“Each year the costumes get better and better,” Woodard said.

The Day of the Dead, also known as Dia de los Muertos, is a Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1. It is celebrated in connection with All Saints Day and All Souls Day the following day, on Nov. 2.

It is believed that on this day, the dead have an easier time visiting the living, who are encouraged to hear comments about them directed to them.

During this holiday, family and friends gather to pray and remember those they’ve known who have died. They build private altars, decorated with photographs, keepsakes, sugar skulls, marigold flowers, the departed’s favorite foods and beverages as well as other ofrendas, or offerings.

These types of altars are placed throughout the gallery during the exhibit in remembrance of loved ones.

Woodard will place an altar at the gallery’s entrance for her mother. Her mother’s altar, for example, is decorated with oatmeal and cans of 7 Up, some of Woodard’s mom’s favorite foods, the measuring cup Woodard’s mom ate from, the spoon her mom used to eat with, a box of small round Band-Aids her mom used to cover her skin cancer, the hose nozzle that Woodard’s mom used to water a large cement driveway and her mom’s perfume bottle.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: A skeleton decorated brooch is on display during the Tome Art Gallery’s fifth annual Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos Show.

“You set up items that remind you to be happy about their life instead of mourning their death,” Woodard said. “You celebrate their life and get a closer feeling to them.”

Dia de los Muertos also serves as a holiday to unite family and bring family and friends closer together, Woodard said.

When Woodard first began organizing a Day of the Dead exhibit, she was nervous that artists and attendees wouldn’t understand the true meaning behind the event.

“But when I suggested the event, it was very well received,” she said. “I thought people would object, but they participated in it full heartedly and every year it’s gotten better and bigger.”

The Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos Show, which began in 2007 with 10 artists, has grown to include 20 Valencia County artists exhibiting art on media, such as silk, fiber, fused glass, pottery and jewelry, with more than 100 attendees, Woodard said. Each event during the show has expanded to fit the growing number of participants.

But the show doesn’t only bring in passersby, but artists as well.

“People come in from Santa Fe, Albuquerque and from all around the state,” Woodard said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The Day of the Dead Show is one of the gallery’s largest revenue generating events. The more funds raised the better shows and displays the gallery can afford to put on for the public, Woodard said.

For more information on the fifth annual Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos Show, contact Pati Woodard at 610-9023, or call the Tomé Art Gallery at 565-0556.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.