Burns + Virgil from Nate

This just in: memorial altar at Burns + Virgil, at the border of the East Hollywood and Silverlake, sent from Nate Rulf. The memorial is most likely honoring Leonardo Gabriel Ramirez, a 17 year old Latino kid shot on May 23rd, six days ago, for unknown reasons. Along with flowers and candles, the altar has a wooden crucifix, blue  bandanas, Modelo cans, and a lone hundred-length cigarette. The sign has green wire shaped to spell "Roller", and what is legible to me says "I love you homie / Rest in paradise / Roller x [name]".

In Memory of Danny Mora, Santa Monica + Normandie

Driving home along Santa Monica Blvd, I saw this memorial altar to Danny Mora near the corner of Santa Monica and Normandie. This is right near an apartment I used to live in, and it was refreshing to walk a little bit in the old neighborhood. 

Dia de Los Muertos: Hollywood Forever 2013

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. 


Nature's Harvest Market

Nature's Harvest is a little market next door to Cirque School LA at Wilton + Hollywood Blvd. Above their cooler is a little city of tiny handmade storefronts. At the southernmost tip of the town's main drag is an altar/large nicho with La Virgen de Guadalupe. 

Altar (?)

Defunct pay phone altar (?) in Hollywood. 

Dia de Los Muertos 2010

Almost a month later, I am posting photos from the spectacular Dia de los Muertos festival at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  Altars galore, but also Aztec dancing, face paint, paper mache skeletons, sugar skulls, food, flowers, bones.

Thailand Plaza

Today I visited the Thailand Plaza at 5311 Hollywood Boulevard, which I discovered through the Folk Art Everywhere initiative of the Craft and Folk Art Museum.  I asked the young woman in the restaurant upstairs if she could tell me about the altar.  Not knowing the name of the deity represented, she took me downstairs and outside, bowed her head with prayer-hands to the altar, and then asked the parking attendant.  He informed us that the statue is the Hindi deity Brahma.  The woman asked if I’d like to make a wish, and explained that I could tell the Brahma anything, but should include my name and address when asking for help with a problem.  She gave me ten sticks of incense, showed me how to bow in prayer three times at the back of the altar, and told me to place my incense in the front when finished.