Last night was the annual Dia de los Muertos celebration at Hollywood Forever. The theme this year was "The Magical World of The Alebrijes." Alebrijes are fantastical animals and their respective representations. These creatures originated with Pedro Linares in the 1930s, who dreamed them while ill and then created his visions with cardboard and paper mache, and are now considered a traditional folk art of Oaxaca.
I wasn't able to spend as much time wandering through the altars as previous years, and I missed veteran artist and altarista Jennifer Gutierrez Morgan, whose altars combine elements of traditional domestic altars and contemporary art. Nonetheless, the cemetery was bustling with life and death (as always) and there was an incredible range of altars. My highlights are here for looking, including:
- Saran wrap mannequins in beautiful masks from BLING Out Your Dead.
- Altar 31 Para Los Ninos featuring skull bean mosaics.
- A "cabinet of curiosities" style altar monument, with a back niche with a typewriter and note reading "Dear Dad, We miss you..."
- An interactive altar where participants throw a small bag of beans onto large Loteria cards, and then write a message on the (huge) corresponding panel. My first toss the beans landed between El Mundo (The World) and La Garza (The Heron), and my second toss landed on El Mundo, so I left a note on El Mundo.
- A Storyteller walk-in altar with printed "greetings" inspired by the altarmaker's grandmother, such as "God Bless You Mija," and, "Mija you look so skinny! Come eat something!" The altarmaker assembled a small group of people and explained that inside her "grandmother's house" was a bookshelf modeled after a traditional Native American storyteller. The bookshelf will be donated to a local school for students to gather around, store their books, and listen to stories.
- An altar to injured or killed cyclists, represented by a human-figure sculpture made of white bicycles.