Monday, November 9, 2009

The Day of the Dead

This post is a week late. My excuse is that we’ve all been under the weather to a greater or lesser degree in our house and actually it was a little more than a week ago that I began to feel punk. Better late than never, my mother always says so here goes.

On the 1st of November the children, grandbabies and I attended the Tacoma Art Museum’s “Day of the Dead” exhibit. Left to my own devices I probably would have stayed home and might have been the better for it, but my oldest son Joshua had a painting that was part of one of the altars in the exhibit and it being a sunny Sunday after Halloween I felt that as a mother and someone who truly feels the nearness of the dead at this time of year I met Josh and his family at their home in Tacoma and we drove to the park and ride where we rode the little train to the museum. It would have been easier to park at the museum, but five-year-old granddaughter Linda wanted to ride the train and since it was free we decided to indulge her. Frank & Ana brought five-year-old Gabriel in their own car and parked at the museum. Although they had to pay for parking, the entrance was free that day so it made up for the parking.

In the lobby of the Tacoma Art Museum was a bright sand painting welcoming us and the dead who were being honored. The Day of the Dead is a largely Hispanic practice, but after attending the exhibition daughter-in-law Ana and I have decided that it will become our family practice as well.

Upstairs were the altars. Some were created by individual artists, some by groups including school classes. As we walked around looking at the imaginative things on the altars, most decorated with marigolds, the traditional flow for the Day of the Dead. Each altar was as individual as the person for whom it was created. The artist who had created the one that Josh’s painting of a skull was incorporated into had placed many, many corks on it as well as an empty beer bottle. We concluded that her grandfather was fond of drink, but his picture in uniform from WWII was respectfully displayed in the middle. There was no judgment.

Besides the display of altars there were activities. Granddaughter Linda first wanted to get her face painted while the rest of us waited in line to decorate sugar skulls. Children and adults alike enjoyed creating colorful sugar skulls to take home. Another room was given over to the making of tissue paper flowers which the children enjoyed.

Downstairs in a small performance room dancers and bands performed. Being a small room there was not room for all those who would have liked to see the performances. The babies sat on adult shoulders and got to see some of it, but when the press of the crowd became too much we all wandered off to look at other museum exhibits.

The day was a great success. My high school art teacher son got ideas for next year and his Clover Park students and Ana and I came away with ideas for an altar in our home next year. To have the opportunity to go to the museum for free and to experience the Day of the Dead exhibition was wonderful. I highly recommend that more people take advantage of the gift Tacoma Art Museum give to citizens by making this event (and others) free.

Two tired museum goers ride the train back to the park and ride.


Grandma L said...

That must have been so much fun.
That one guy forgot to put his britches on.

Stephanie Frieze said...

:-) Unfortunately that was the only picture of dancers that I got and I didn't realize how little clothing he had on until I got home and put the pictures on the computer. My one disappointment of the day was not getting to see the performances. The weather was so nice it would have been good if they'd performed outside the museum where there would have beem more room for people to see.