Gallery5 celebrates Dia de los Muertos

Gallery 5 partners with Richmond’s Hispanic business and arts community and the city’s downtown arts scene to create an almost month-long celebration of Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican tradition honoring loved ones who have passed. (Giveaway included!)

Gallery5 is bringing in Halloween with an international flair… Dia de los Muertos style. Amanda Robinson and the rest of the crew at Gallery5 are partnering with Richmond’s Hispanic business and arts community and the city’s downtown arts scene to put together an almost month-long celebration of the tradition.

Dia de los Muertos translates to “Day of the Dead.” The holiday has origins in an Aztec ritual that celebrated death as a continuation of life. The Aztecs viewed life as a dream and death as the only way to awake to reality. The Spaniards tried to eradicate the tradition in their attempt to enforce Catholicism; Dia de los Muertos is the ritual’s modern manifestation. Today, people celebrate their deceased relatives by giving ofrendas (offerings) to family altars, donning wooden skull masks called calacas, and visiting cemeteries where their loved ones are buried.

Gallery5’s festivities open with a Pre-Halloween Dinner Party on Saturday, October 30th, followed by a November 5th First Friday’s opening reception for the exhibition of “Momento Mori.” The showing gives local artists a chance to share their interpretations of death and the ephemeral. On November 10th patrons can learn the history behind the Mexican holiday at “Viva La Muerte: The Cult of Saint Death and the Days of the Dead in Mexico,” the latest installment in Gallery5’s lecture series. The celebration ends with a free food and craft festival on November 13th. But if you are ever in the mood for a little post-Halloween eeriness, the “Momento Mori” exhibition will be up until December 17th.

Robinson describes the festivities as a cultural “mix of people that are creating their own interpretations of death and Dia de los Muertos, as well as people who are representing the Hispanic community.” Gallery5 partnered with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to achieve its goal of giving minorities greater representation in the downtown arts scene. The two groups worked to bring Hispanic organizations normally clustered right outside of Richmond or in the West End into the city to “celebrate the traditions of Dia de los Muertos through the eyes of the people that know it the best,” says Robinson.

American and Hispanic interpretations of the holiday mix through the traditional folk art of internationally acclaimed papel picado artist Catalina Delgado featured in her solo exhibition, “La Danse Mababre,” which will run alongside “Momento Mori.” Traditional Mexican art is given a place alongside modern interpretations from local artists.

Gallery5 is featuring visual and performing arts as well. Local acting and dance troupes such as the Voix de Ville Follies, The Latin Ballet of Virginia, Flamenco Del Sur, and members of University of Richmond theater department will be taking part, along with local bands like Tequila Mockingbird and Lobo Marino. Patrons will also have a chance to create traditional Dia de los Muertos crafts and contribute to a community altar memorializing past Richmonders.  For a full description of what is sure to be a packed celebration, stop by Gallery5’s website.

We’ve got three pairs of tickets to Gallery 5’s Pre-Halloween Dinner Party up for grabs. Enter to win here. The contest closes at 2pm on Wednesday. We’ll notify the winners via email, so keep an eye out.

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Leah Small

Leah served as our editorial intern during the Fall of 2009. She is a VCU student who thoroughly loves Richmond, its niche culture, and all there is to see and do.

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