The 20th annual D√≠a de los Muertos show opens this Friday, in conjunction with Gallery Night, at the Walker's Point Center for the Arts, 839 S. 5th St., from 5 to 9 p.m. The exhibit will remain up until Saturday, Nov. 17.
The show features more than a dozen unique ofrendas (altars) in addition to sculpture and 2-D work related to D√≠a de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which are built by Milwaukee artists and community members to honor deceased loved ones.
D√≠a de los Muertos recognizes death as a celebration of life and reminds people to reflect on what they value through the commemoration of loved ones.
Traditionally, the ofrendas are built for All Saints Day, Nov. 1-2. The belief is that the spirits of passed loved ones are most likely to visit during this time. To entice them back to the material world, the ofrendas are decorated with their favorite foods and drinks, along with pictures, mementos, marigolds / flowers, skulls and skull figures.
Jose Alfredo Chavez, originally from the state of Michoacan in Mexico, has been involved with the show since it began, and has been the curator for the past three years. Chavez is a self-taught painter, sculptor, print maker, photographer and videographer. He also holds a masters degree in business.
"Back in Mexico we always celebrated D√≠a de los Muertos and I wanted to pass this on to my daughters. The purpose of the ofrendas is to honor the memory of those loved ones that went ahead of us," he says.
Chavez is also teaching a sugar skull decorating demonstration on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 1 to 2 p.m. at WPCA.
This year's ofrenda builders include Jeanette Arellano, Melanie Ariens, Kate Bradley, Georgina Campbell, Celeste Contreras, Xela Garcia, Claudia Guzman, Diego Heredia, Ava Hernandez, JoAnn Jensen, Tami Langowski, Dara Larson, Lona Long, Janice Mahlberg, Pam Miller, Jill Moore, Claire Ruzicka, Mary Smith, Llysa Spencer, Sue Vliet, Leanna Wooten and myself, along with my partner, Royal Brevv√§xling.
This is the first time I've created a public ofrenda. I have built them in my home for many years, but decided this year to do it on a larger scale in order to honor deceased Milwaukeeans along with a few loved-but-defunct Brew City places.
Everything on the Milwaukee ofrenda is connected to Milwaukee. There are framed photos of 30 Milwaukeeans along with soy candles hand-poured by Brandy Glass-Lucchesi into clean El Rey salsa jars, Great Lakes Distillery's Kinnickinnic whiskey, Miller bottle vases with marigolds and Milwaukee fabric created by the talented Allison Beilke.
Among the 30 honored Milwaukeeans include former OnMilwaukee.com media columnist Tim Cuprisin, former mayor Frank Zeidler, former civil rights' activist James Groppi, former artist Mary Nohl, former art model/year-round sunbather Dick Bacon and many more.
Beloved Milwaukee places like the Sydney Hih building and the Oriental Pharmacy are also honored on the Milwaukee ofrenda.
"In Mexico this is mainly a religious celebration, but here in the United States it is meant to be inclusive due to the fact that we are such a diverse society. It does no matter what your religion is or even if you are an atheist," says Chavez.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Molly Snyder
Published April 25, 2017
According to a sign on the door, G-Daddy's BBC, 2022 E. North Ave., is closed.
Published April 24, 2017
After recording with And DiFranco in New Orleans, Milwaukee's Peter Mulvey is ready to release his 17th album on Saturday, April 29 in The Back Room at Colectivo Coffee.
Published April 21, 2017
After 10 years in business, the Oakcrest Tavern in Shorewood is closed.
Published April 20, 2017
If and when marijuana is legalized in Wisconsin, what does this mean for Wisconsin - specifically the beloved beer industry?
Published April 19, 2017
Abby Walker loved wearing high heels, but did not dig the foot pain that went with it. So, she invented an insole that she says allows women to wear high heels four times longer than usual. Her company is called Vivian Lou Insolia.
Published April 14, 2017
Let's get New Age-y and math-y for a minute and find out the numerology of "414" on 414 Day!
Published April 14, 2017
In 1937, Alfred Woelbing began making Carmex by hand, pouring the lip balm into the familiar yellow-capped jars in his Milwaukee kitchen. Today the company is based in Franklin and owned by Woelbing's grandson who says, despite rumors, the product is not addictive.
Published April 14, 2017
Milwaukee needed a new toast for the city that was even more Milwaukee. After weeks of voting, you selected "414, Let's Have One More!" and Mayor Tom Barrett joined us to unveil it on Friday, April 14, which, of course, is "Milwaukee Day."
Published April 13, 2017
To celebrate 150 years of family brewing tradition, the Leinenkugels are throwing a party - and you're invited.
Published April 12, 2017
Make the perfect grilled cheese for National Grilled Cheese Day - and every day!