Art Presence October 2014 Exhibits and news

Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in Dia de los Muertos Exhibit, Events | 0 comments

Tonia-Davis_painted-PM-skullDía de los Muertos October Art Exhibit

Art Presence Art Center’s Creative Challenge to create artwork for our October Día de los Muertos show received a splendid response! Twenty-seven artists were accepted, with colorful Day of the Dead artworks in every medium.

Día de los Muertos opens October 3, with a special reception on October 4 from 12–4pm. Join us for a festive Saturday afternoon of art, wine, hors d’oeuvres, face painting by Jen Greenfield of Jenny Penny Painted Faces, tissue paper flower making! Fiber artist Liza Hamilton will demonstrate how to make woolen skulls and we will have live music by Martin Ball.

On the same day, our neighbors at Jacksonville Chiropractic Clinic are co-sponsoring the First Annual Jacksonville Health Fair, with Art Presence hosting the Fair’s speakers in our classroom. Speakers include seven local medical doctors, yoga instructors, chiropractors and more, speaking from 10am – 3pm on topics ranging from 21st century healing, mind & body wellness and nutrition strategies and finding time for fitness to memory loss and facing life and death on their own terms. Learn more about the Health Fair speakers here.

Outside, on the grounds of Jacksonville’s historic courthouse, you will find vendor booths presenting a wide range of health care products and services. Spend the day at Art Presence and learn healthy wisdom to avoid being celebrated during Día de los Muertos before your time!

Día de los Muertos Background

For those not familiar with Día de los Muertos, here are a few pieces of trivia about the holiday and its history we picked up from Wikipedia.

Scholars trace the Latin American celebration’s origins to ancient indigenous traditions and an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, aka “The Lady of the Dead.” The fiesta incorporates marigolds, pan de muertos (bread of the dead), sugar skulls, cardboard skeletons, tissue paper decorations, fruit and nuts, incense, humorous poems (calaveras) and altars honoring the departed. From October 31–November 2 celebrants honor deceased ancestors and friends by visiting cemeteries, cleaning and decorating graves. The exact day and duration of the holiday varies according to the country in which it is celebrated.

It is fascinating that the central, most popular and most recognizable element of Día de los Muertos celebrations is based in artistic social protest. La Calavera Catrina (The Elegant Skull), a parody of a Mexican upper-class woman, was introduced around 1910 in a now-famous zinc etching by  Mexican printmaker, cartoon illustrator and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada. Posada’s image of a finely dressed female with a skeleton face, originally called La Calavera Garbancera, became associated with the Day of the Dead, and Catrina figures are now a prominent part of modern observances around the world. Catrina was popularized in 1948 with a social commentary mural by Diego Rivera in Alameda, Mexico.

Posada_Calavera-CatrinaPosada’s Calavera was a work of artistic political satire inspired by the polarizing reign of dictator Porfirio Díaz, whose accomplishments in modernizing and bringing financial stability to Mexico pale against his government’s repression, corruption, extravagance and obsession with all things European. (The image depicts a female skeleton dressed only in a hat befitting the upper class outfit of a European of her time. Her chapeau en attende is related to French and European styles of the early 20th century.) Concentration of fantastic wealth in the hands of the privileged few brewed discontent in the hearts of the suffering many, leading to the 1910 rebellion that toppled Diaz in 1911 and became the Mexican Revolution. She symbolizes the contrasts between the upper and lower classes, for times were cruel. The social classes were extremely segmented and the highest class was the most fortunate, enjoying many privileges; in contrast, the lower classes were nearly invisible. To explain and rescue the folklore of worshiping the dead, while showing this off to high society, José Guadalupe Posada made caricatures of Death, one of these drawings being the famous calavera with an elegant hat.  She is offered as a satirical portrait of those Mexican natives who, Posada felt, were aspiring to adopt European aristocratic traditions in the pre-revolutionary era. The original leaflet describes a person who was ashamed of his Indian origins and dressed imitating the French style while wearing lots of makeup to make his skin look whiter.

Diego-Rivera_Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central_Mexican-muralPainted between 1946 and 1947, Rivera’s mural, Dream of a Sunday afternoon along Central Alameda, depicts a culmination of 400 years of Mexico’s major figures, including Rivera himself (portrayed as a young boy), Posada, and his wife Frida Kahlo, with Calavera Catrina as its central figure. Rivera took his inspiration from Posada’s etching, giving Catrina a body and extending her elegant outfit. The central focus of the mural is the bourgeois complacency and values shortly before the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Elegantly dressed upper-class figures promenade under the figure of the long ruling dictator Porfirio Díaz. An indigenous family is forced back by police batons, and to the right flames and violence loom. Curator David de la Torre from the La Plaza de Cultura y Artes explains that because Catrina was portrayed as an elegant, well-dressed, and therefore wealthy woman, she symbolized the idea that “Death brings this neutralizing force; everyone is equal in the end,” and celebrated the Mexican willingness to laugh at death itself. Originally created at the request of architect Carlos Obregón Santacilia, and displayed in the Versailles restaurant at the Hotel Prado, Rivera’s mural measures 51 feet long and 15 feet high. It survived the 1985 earthquake which destroyed the hotel, and was later moved across the street to the Museo Mural Diego Rivera, built after the earthquake to house Rivera’s mural.

Remember to visit our offsite exhibits!

  • Bill Stanton’s exhibit of impasto oil paintings continues at Pioneer Village.
  • On September 15, Dirk Siedlecki filled the display case at the entrance to the Jacksonville Library with photos and artifacts related to Jacksonville’s cemetery and pioneer history, including “Silent City on the Hill” by Bill Miller, the first book written and published about Jacksonville’s cemetery.
  • Sue Bennett’s show of paintings in the Jacksonville Library’s Naversen Room continues.We invite you to use our classroom for your class, workshop or meeting! For more information and to schedule a date, please contact Anne at 541-941-7057 or email her via the contact form.

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