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"La Flor y la Calavera: Altars and Offerings for the Days of the Dead"
2000-10-14 until 2000-11-26
Oakland Museum of Califoria
Oakland, CA, USA

La Flor y la Calavera: Altars and Offerings for the Days of the Dead features altars and artworks by Bay Area Chicano and Latino artists, community groups and students. The exhibition includes an altar honoring Fruitvale community activists Josie de la Cruz and Carmen Flores, a collection of photographs of Days of the Dead traditions throughout Mexico, and a free Sunday afternoon community celebration featuring music, ceremonies, craft activities and mercado.

This years exhibition examines the centrality of the concept of balance in pre-Columbian traditions as well as in our time. In the Breuner Gallery, the roots of the Días de los Muertos celebration are traced back to the early cultures of Mexico. The pre-Columbian belief in the unity of life and death as the means of maintaining harmony and balance in the cosmos and the impact of this belief on the traditions of Days of the Dead are presented. In the History Special Gallery artists reinterpret this ancient tradition, exploring the human need for balance in our lives, in our relationship with nature, and in the formation of our society‚s multicultural identity.

Guest curators of the exhibition are Eduardo Pineda and Bea Carrillo Hocker. Pineda is Assistant Director of Education at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A muralist with a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and an MA from San Francisco State University, Pineda has received commissions for murals from, among others, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department and Art Commission, Coca-Cola USA for the 1994 World Cup Soccer Competitions, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Hocker, formerly Associate Curator of Education at the Mexican Museum in San Francisco, is now a consultant specializing in Mexican art and culture. She has been the guest curator for five of OMCAs previous Días de los Muertos exhibitions.

The womens artist group Las Otras as well as California artists Ray Patlán, Patricia Rodriguez, Daniel Galvez, Jesus Angel Pérez, Dawn Martinez and Antonio Castro have been invited to create altars and artworks for the exhibition. In addition, this year‚s exhibition will include exhibits of Days of the Dead photographs and silk-screens as well as altars created by school groups, OMCA interns and representatives of the Fruitvale community.

Las Otras is a collective of emerging women artists from the Bay Area. The group creates individual and collective performances, installations and exhibits that explore popular culture, religious icons, the body and mythical feminine symbols. Muralist Ray Patlán has directed and painted murals in the U.S., Europe and Mexico and is represented in the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Patricia Rodriguez, an award-winning muralist, mixed-media sculptor and computer artist, was a co-founder of Mujeres Muralistas, the first Chicana women‚s mural group in San Francisco. Oakland muralist Daniel Galvez has created commissioned murals ranging from Homage to Malcolm X for Harlem‚s Audubon Ballroom to four transportable murals depicting sports and entertainment figures for the Oakland Coliseum, and was recently awarded a $150,000 commission for two murals for the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. honoring the department‚s 150th anniversary. Jesus Angel Pérez, a graduate of the National School of Art of the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and currently director and curator of Balazo/Mission Badlands Gallery in San Francisco, has exhibited internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions and mural projects, including solo exhibitions in California, Spain, Austria, Canada and Mexico. Dawn Martinez received a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and in 1998 an MFA from U.C. San Diego, and currently works as gallery manager and curator at Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose, California. San Jose painter Antonio Castro exhibits extensively throughout the Bay Area.

The exhibition will include photographs by Mary J. Andrade, author of a series of three books titled Through the Eyes of the Soul, Day of the Dead in Mexico. Andrade has made trips to different states in Mexico each year since 1987 to research and photograph Days of the Dead traditions throughout the country. Also on display will be original silk-screens from the collection of Margaret Santos representing contemporary Days of the Dead celebrations.

Josie de la Cruz and Carmen Flores, Fruitvale community activists in whose honor Sanborn Park was recently renamed, will be celebrated in a community altar called Steps of Life created by their relatives Gloria de la Cruz and Twinkie Flores Bradshaw.

First-time altar makers Maria Friely and Maritza Ortiz were part of the museums 1999 Latino History Project and continued to work as interns at the museum throughout the year. Maria Friely just graduated from Oakland High School and plans to attend Alameda Community College this fall and then study interior design in university. Maritza Ortiz, a senior at Oakland High School, plans to major in visual merchandising at California College of Arts and Crafts.

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