Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Memories of two Dia de Los Muertos events Pt 1

I participated in two separate Day of the Dead events this past weekend. Here are some photos and thoughts on Saturday's event.

On Saturday I was in El Monte for THE NUVEIN DIA DE LOS MUERTOS. This was actually the 3rd year for that event, and it was organized by the non-profit arts advocacy group Nuvein Foundation (I'm on the Board of Directors). Our main focus is to celebrate the cultural event Dia de Los Muertos, the Mexican tradition of honoring loved ones who have passed away. We provided a full day of entertainment by local artists, such as folkloric dancers, mariachis and other musicians.

While the staff of the Foundation is busy managing the stage and staffing the Nuvein booth, I spend the day as an exhibitor in my own booth. And in fact I used the event as the launch for my brand-new comic book DEAD DINOSAURIO:

(The black pumpkin done up with an El Muerto face was created by one of my long-time comic book students, Matt Salazar) 

As this was our 3rd year, it's always nice seeing familiar faces. There was a young girl who came back to my table this year and she picked up DEAD DINOSAURIO. Her mom reminded me that last year she bought her daughter a copy of WEAPON TEX-MEX VS EL MUERTO! I told the little girl that it was very cool she was enjoying my books and that there was more to life than MY LITTLE PONY. She frowned when I mentioned that! Her mom laughed and said the her daughter didn't go in for that PONY stuff!

Here's are some paper mache masks by one of the other vendors:

And a traditional alter, made in commemoration for local educator Bobby Salcedo, who was murdered in 2010:

Last year, the founder of Nuvein, Enrique Diaz, passed away unexpectedly. Despite the tremendous personal loss to many of us, we've been able to continue his legacy of providing enriching cultural and artistic events to the local communities. I personally am committed to continuing working with the Foundation, and thank everyone who participates in these events.

While I spent most of the day at my booth, I took time to do a walk-through of most of the vendors. One booth that I had to visit was this one:

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These hand-made finger puppets were made in Peru, by the mother of the lady who was running this booth. I had to purchase the Pink Panther for myself!

Probably the biggest highlight for me that day was a visit by my friend Timo Curtiss. Timo and I actually met in Kindergarten and went through all 6 years of Elementary School together. We saw less of one another during our Middle and High School years, and pretty much went our separate paths for the following decades. It's only been recently, running into one another in the neighborhood, or via Facebook, that we've been able to reconnect. 

I invited Timo to spend the day with me at the Los Comex booth, the first time we've spent some quality time time since about 1978! He had some of his paintings in the art show we had running at the festival. We spent the day catching up on some 41 years of shared history and updating one another on our lives. Timo and I used to watch a lot of Lucha Libre as kids, and my Dad even took us to a couple of wrestling matches, at the famed Olympic Auditorium. We also talked about the trucks from Helms Bakery and a Mexican snow cone maker who would drive through our neighborhoods selling donuts and candy and Wacky Package trading cards! Man, some of my best memories are growing up as carefree kids reading comics, watching wrestling, playing and going to school together with great friends like Timo. 

Dia de Los Muertos is about remembering our loved ones who've passed on. But it's also about celebrating life today, and the friends and family who are still with us.

In Pt. 2, I'll share with you how I spent Sunday at MUERTOMANIA 2, a Dia de Los Muertos/Lucha Libre event!

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