In our second year in SunnyCo Studio Gallery, we honored loved ones who transitioned in 2022. We celebrated one of Mexico's most cherished traditions—Dia de Los Muertos—with altars, handmade books (Howard Munson & Magué Calanche), installations, living sculptures, masks, music, paintings, photography (Dennis Hearne), poetry, and videos. In particular, we honored the life of my niece Erin Norman Muñoz, whose life was tragically taken by a reckless car driver. The main altar consisted of a handmade crepe piñata dress that Erin had created and would have worn to this event. The third altar consisted of six hand-sewed totomoxtle (corn husks) aprons representing a month in the life of joyful motherhood as an homage to Erin.
Noches Bohemias (Bohemian Nights) 2021 was a three-night celebration of Dia de Los Muertos honoring the Beat Poets with special recognition to Diane Di Prima, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Hirschman, Janice Mirikitani, Michael McClure, and ruth weiss. We brought our North Beach community together with poetry and music in our SunnyCo Studio Gallery on 480 Francisco Street. Martina Ayala, now executive director at the Mission Cultural Center here in San Francisco, curated the traditional Nahuatl Altar that included the Alejandra Palos' sculpture in the center, with my Totomoxtle (corn husk installation) in the background. I designed and created the poet scrolls with the portrait drawings for the other two altars and organized and designed the graphics for the event. Dennis Hearne's photographs from one of Oaxaca's Dia de Los Muertos events covered one wall. Howard Munson's handmade book stood well below a brothel in calacas (skeletons).
In its 20th year, 2019, SOMArts' Día de Los Muertos exhibition is one of the most internationally diverse Day of the Dead celebrations in the United States, merging traditional altars with contemporary installations. This continues to be a multigenerational gathering of remembrance while asserting the role of art as a platform for collective action.
Curated by Rio Yañez and Carolina Quintanilla, this year's exhibition features unique altar structures to honor and manifest founding curator Rene Yañez's vision for his final Día de Los Muertos exhibition, titled City of Souls, a reference to his 2001 exhibition City of Miracles.
City of Souls is dedicated to Dr. Dawn Mabalon and the children who have passed away in ICE custody.
TOTOMOXTLE (corn husks), a Tamal-Arte Installation | 2018
A modular, versatile, and three-dimensional sculpture consisting of over 3,000 tamalitos with some LED lights, handmade cempasuchitl (marigold flowers), veladoras (candles), raffia, dowel sticks, and suspended from the ceiling. 3' x 3' x 10'