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Day of Dead exhibit returns

Opening reception planned for Oct. 6

The Columbia Art Gallery presents its second "Day of the Dead" or "Dia de los Muertos" art exhibit, featuring traditional art forms associated with the Aztec-inspired holiday originating in Mexico.

Day of the Dead is a joyous Mexican celebration, full of fun and colorful art, which rejoices in the lives of loved ones who have died. The main idea is that the souls of the departed are able to return to earth for a short time if they are welcomed with joy.

Columbia Arts invites the public to the artists' reception, on Friday, Oct. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. The opening features special performances by the "Hood River Mexican Folk Dance Group." Traditional ethnic foods will be served.

The show runs through the month of October.

Art created for Dia de los Muertos celebrations typically combine both religious and sectarian forms of art. The results are interesting to say the least, and are usually an eclectic mix of items that range from whimsical and funny, to religious and sacred.

Heather Marlow, one of the coordinators for the show, said that people should expect to see a number of fanciful items such as skulls and dancing skeletons, as well as spiritual items such as pictures of saints and cemetery statues. She said, "Mostly, expect to be intrigued with the range of art forms you'll see."

Artists include Cristina Acosta, Peter McGrain, Kim Hause, and Randy Rasmussen, among others, who will display a variety of mediums including traditional oil painting, glass, photography and jewelry.

In addition to the art show, the Day of the Dead celebration will include an activity in the art of decorating sugar skulls, the establishment of two public altars, and an arts and cultural program in participating schools.

Sugar skulls, known as "calaveras," and sometimes called "alfenique," are a traditional folk art done to commemorate the holiday. Children are invited to participate in the sugar skull decorating activity that will take place on Oct. 6.

Altars are another important element of the holiday, and are used to showcase the art and memorabilia of those loved, who are no longer with us. Public altars will be available for your contribution at the Hood River Public Library and in the lobby of the Columbia Center for the Arts during the month of October.

In addition, Columbia Gorge Arts in Education (CGAIE) is coordinating with the art show, a project where students in participating schools will learn about the Day of the Dead through a visual arts and cultural project. That project will culminate in an exhibition of selected works at the Columbia Center for the Arts.

Related to the event, separately, Maryhill Museum will have a Day of the Dead celebration on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 29.


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