Most Mexican families create altars to honor deceased loved ones on Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Erick and Sophia Dreyden created an extra one in honor of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Erick and Sophia Dreyden created an extra one in honor of Frida Kahlo and
“I love their Mexican artwork,” says Erick Dreyden, a precocious 8-year-old who aspires to be an artist and an archaeologist.
Their altar, which features photos of the artists, a bottle of Tequila Blanco (Kahlo loved to drink tequila and smoke cigars) and traditional candy, will be on display Saturday and Sunday during the Dia de los Muertos Celebration at Mesa Arts Center. It’s also entered in the Altar de Muertos contest.
With help from their parents and grandmother (and the Internet), the children put together the three-tiered altar and composed a poem to the deceased artists.
“They all got to pick the pictures,” says the children’s mother, Martha Dreyden. “They even decorated the calaveras (skulls).”
Day of the Dead is primarily a Mexican holiday whose roots are pre-Columbian. Indigenous residents of what is now Mexico performed rituals celebrating the dead and children. After the Spanish conquest, missionaries moved the holiday to coincide with All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day — Nov. 1 and 2, respectively.
Families create altars in their homes to honor the dead, and these altars are meant to draw the departed back to the world of the living if only for a day. Personal altars usually consist of a photograph of the person along with the things he or she loved — perhaps a piece of candy, a bottle of beer or a CD.
The Mesa family’s personal altar is built in honor of grandparents, an uncle and other family members who have recently passed away.
“We are not only citizens of Mesa, we are citizens of the world,” says Martha Dreyden. “We always think it’s important to know other people’s traditions and to respect them. This is a way to present people with a little bit of our culture.”
• The Dia de los Muertos Celebration will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St. Features altar contest and viewing, arts and crafts workshops, mercado, artists workshops and live musical
performances. Free. (480) 644-6500 or www.mesaartscenter.com.
• El Dia de los Muertos: A Celebration of Life Festival noon to 8 p.m. Saturday in Dr. A.J. Chandler Park in downtown Chandler. Hand-built altars, entertainment, arts and crafts and performances by the Great Arizona Puppet Theater, Barrio Latino and Mardi Dance Company. Stop by Vision Gallery, 80 S. San Marcos Place, to see the Dia de Los Muertos exhibit featuring altars by local artists. Free. (480) 917-6859 or www.visiongallery.org.
• Try your hand at creating papel picado, colorful tissue paper cutouts, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Arizona Museum of Natural History, 53 N. Macdonald, Mesa. Free with price of admission: $8 adults, $4 children age 3-12, $7 seniors, $6 students. (480) 644-2230 or www.cityofmesa.org/swmuseum.
• Altars inspired by low-riders are on display during “Lowriders: Eighth annual Dia de los Muertos Festival Exhibit” open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday through Jan. 11 at the Arizona State University Museum of Anthropology, in the Anthropology Building at the corner of Cady and Tyler malls on the Tempe campus. Free. (480) 965-6224 or www.asu.edu/clas/shesc/asuma.
• See altars created by 11 artists 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday through Nov. 9 at Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. Meet the artists 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. today during a reception in the library’s Central Gallery. Admission: Free. (602) 262-4636. www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org.