In observance of the uniquely Mexican holiday DÌa de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Mattie Rhodes Center is hosting multiple events and festivities this fall. DÌa de los Muertos encourages the living to honor and commemorate the dead by elaborately decorating grave sites, preparing special foods, and constructing commemorative altars in their homes designed to entice the spirits of the deceased to come back for a visit.
An installation exhibit of 23 ofrendas (altars) created by artists and community members to celebrate the lives of deceased loved ones will open on Oct. 7 for First Fridays with an evening reception at the Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery in the Westside neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri. A second reception will be held for First Fridays on Nov. 4, and the exhibit will be on display through Nov. 12. The featured artist of the show, Hector Casanova (www.hectorcasanova.net), created a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork used as the event design on the DÌa de los Muertos posters.
The altars are one-of-a-kind creations decorated with flowers, religious amulets, candles, sugar sculptures, photographs, and belongings of the departed. The exhibit also features two-dimensional works by area artists inspired by this colorful Mexican cultural tradition.
“What has struck me as I’ve been a part of Day of the Dead over the years is how this celebration brings together so many different people from different walks of life, since death is universal. Everyone shares in the same grief, regardless of language or culture or other differences. This shared experience helps tie us together and helps us to remember and celebrate those we have lost,” explains President/CEO John Fierro.
The agency will also hold its daylong DÌa de los Muertos Street Festival on October 8th. The festival, which takes place on 17th Street between Belleview and Madison Streets, will feature live entertainment, carnival games, a moonwalk, costume parade, delicious food, handmade art and gifts, face painting, art activities for children, and a jalapeo eating contest. Kansas City’s longest running Day of the Dead festival will be hosted by emcees Manny Martinez and Viviana Medellin from Taste of Tejano KKFI and will showcase folkloric, capoeira, breakdancing, and other dance groups as well as local bands and a fashion show.
“This year’s DÌa de los Muertos exhibit and festival are going to be the best ever! We have some new things added to our list of events like a group car display consisting of altars in trunks put together by an all-woman car club, Stilettos on Pedals,” says Cultural Arts Director Jenny Mendez. “We are really excited about this addition to our festival along with our featured local band that will end the night for us: Making Movies. They are making a special stop here in Kansas City to perform in the middle of their multiple city tour. It’s going to be great; you don’t want to miss it!”
Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery will also offer a series of DÌa de los Muertos workshops on Saturdays, Oct. 15 and Nov. 12. Classes include Dead Printz, Mini Altars, and Collection of Calacas. There is also a special new ìHowl at the Moon Become Your Other Self workshop with artist and educator Dr. Richard Bay where participants make their own masks; the weekend of October 21-23, there is a session for adults on Friday evening and one on Saturday afternoon for children. Registrations and payments for workshop can be made by phone: (816) 221-2349.
The DÌa de los Muertos Art Exhibit will run Oct. 7 – Nov. 12 at the Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery (919 W. 17th Street; gallery hours: Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. -4 p.m.) with First Friday evening receptions on Oct. 7 and Nov. 4. The DÌa de los Muertos Street Festival will be held 1 ñ 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8 on 17th Street in front of the Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery.
Children, families, and all community members are invited to attend. Interested participants can register for the art workshops or schedule tour groups by calling (816) 221-2349. The festivities are funded by the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund, Missouri Arts Council, Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation, Francis Family Foundation, UMB, and others.
Founded in 1894, Mattie Rhodes Center bridges cultures and communities through arts, mental health and social services by providing culturally competent, bilingual services in a respectful and compassionate environment. The agency is a Midwest leader on Latino issues and cultural competency. For more information, please visit www.mattierhodes.org or call 816-471-2536.