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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

Archive of past events: 2004 through 2014

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Local Eyes presents:
Day of the Dead / Día de los Muertos

Sunday, November 1, 2009
4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Gualala Arts Center
Día de los Muertos

Day of the Dead Day of the Dead will be celebrated at Gualala Arts Center on Sunday, November 1 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Complementing the celebration will be an exhibit of shrines and the exciting return of the Los Caporales de Santa Rosa Mariachi troup performing with the Coast Folkloric Dancers. Authentic Mexican food and drinks will be available for purchase.

While Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a tradition unique to Mexico, it is becoming a very popular holiday in the United States. Javier Chavez, bilingual bicultural family advocate for Action Network, comments, "There is an appeal here which just crosses right over the culture line. People who are Latino, who speak no Spanish, really relate to the experience. I think this is because it's an integration of life and death - it's about family togetherness, and honoring who we are. This eases the grief of losing someone we care for, and it takes away the fear."

Day of the Dead America's traditional Halloween is a fun holiday which most people enjoy, but the spirit (pardon the pun) of the holiday no longer rests on deeply held religious beliefs. It has evolved mostly into wearing elaborate costumes and for kids, collecting a large bag of candy.

Wikipedia elaborates on the history, "The ancient Celts believed that on October 31, now known as Halloween, the boundary between the living and the deceased dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, into which the bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to copy the evil spirits or placate them."

Day of the Dead The Catholic Church introduced All Soul's Day and the belief that souls were released from Purgatory and allowed to walk the earth so the tradition began of making offerings to these feared souls.

The Mexican expression of these ideas seems to have selected the best of all these traditions. The elaborately iced sugar Calaveras (skulls) bring out the kid in each of us while the traditional altars reveal a reverence for those who have died. As you walk among the hand crafted altars on display, the "artists" will gladly introduce you to who is being honored. Often there will be their favorite food, something to remind them of their favorite past times, many photographs of their life and occasionally favorite hats or boots. You will walk away feeling you know a little about that person and how much they are remembered and still loved by family and friends.

Many well-known local artists use their skills to adapt their favorite media into something shrine-like, often with a touch of humor, but always respectful. The shrines were so successful in 2008 that this year the exhibit will expand into the Burnett Gallery and Jacob Foyer plus on the beautifully landscaped grounds. The opening for this exhibit will be Saturday, October 10 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The exhibit will be up through Sunday, November 8.

Enjoy the shrines, feast on the home-made tamales, but what you will remember is the mariachi troop singing from the heart, people dancing everywhere and the swirling skirts of the folkloric dancers. All generations of the local Mexican community clap for their favorite Mexican state dance while all generations share the warmth of the local community.

Day of the Dead Day of the Dead

We would like to thank these volunteers for their time and effort for the
Day of the Dead Celebration this year:

  • Angela Marquez, owner of the clothing store, Variedades, in Gualala, was general coordinator and helped in food preparation.
  • Rosa Meza helped make tamales.
  • Yolanda Sanchez will be the DJ and was in charge of decorations.
  • Lupita Razo is the Folklorico instructor.

Day of the Dead Celebration
sponsored by:
California Arts Council

Westamerica Bank logo

California Department of Justice
California Department of Justice

The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email

Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.