Dia De Los Muertos at Santa Barbara Museum of Art

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art hosted Dia De Los Muertos in a big way again on October 22. There were altars and exhibits scattered throughout the Museum. There were craft projects in front and inside. And it ended with a well-attended parade down State Street to the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB), which co-hosted the event.

Here are my photos and here are my videos.

Vera Long is a teacher at Anacapa School who specializes in “Experiential Education”. She kindly posed for me with her students’ art along with one of her art pieces (the tall painting).

Here was one of many altar exhibits placed around the museum. Some were dedicated to family members, some were dedicated to public figures like Cesar Chavez, Salvador Dali, Celia Cruz and Gabriel García Márquez.

I like how this exhibit was right in the middle of one of the main galleries.

Here was an entire wall of art by young creative people.

Participants of all ages used a wide range of supplies to create art, both inside the Museum and outside.

Participants were also invited to write memorial notes and drawings for family or friends who had passed. I made this little note in memory of my dear friend Nancy who was my music teacher and unicycling and hiking companion for many years. And placed it in the offering pouch provided.

Melinda Palacio is Poet Laureate for the City of Santa Barbara. She kindly posed with her altar, guitar and an array of her poetry books.

She read two of her poems, “Broken Hallelujah” and “How Fire Is A Story Waiting”. The latter is the title poem of one of her books.

She said she taught herself how to play guitar and how to compose music for her poetry! She went on to sing her song version of “How Fire Is A Story Waiting”.

At 3:45PM performers gathered on State Street in front of the Museum in advance of the parade. I was surprised how many people were already sitting along the route, anticipating the parade. Some in Dia De Los Muertos costumes and makeup. Most said that they just happened to be walking by on State Street and saw the festivities.

Here was the ritual performance before the parade, which involved honoring each of the four compass directions.

And then the procession began to move down State Street. Here is my video at street level as I walked backwards! Sorry for some of the jitter as I tried not to trip!

I then ran down State Street and positioned myself in one of the planters in the middle of the road. Then ran down to the next one. This made for some excellent views from a higher perspective.

I asked this woman Cindy Guendulain if she knew anything about the artists. Amazingly, she knew a lot! Her cousin Carlos Jarquin is from Oaxaca and he did much of the artistry and organizing. He also was inside one of the giant puppets. She put me in touch with him and he was very helpful with providing more information.

Carlos gave me these wonderful photos.

That is him posing next to the puppet he wore: The woman in the pink skirt.

And these lovely ladies with baskets were his wife and three daughters:

His wife’s name is Soledad Saraí Morga and she is from his home town of Ejutla de Crespo in Oaxaca. Carlos credits her with originally creating the puppets and teaching him the art. He said that she also makes the characteristic “catrinas” or sugar skull faces that are used in Dia De Los Muertos performances.

I was delighted to meet up with Poet Laureate Melinda Palacio one more time at the end of the parade.


Written by sbrobert

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