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Published: Friday, 10/29/2004

Realism reigns at Artists' Club show

BY ANN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A tradition that dates back to the ancient Aztecs gets new life in Toledo this weekend.

Mexico's "Dia de los Muertos" - Day of the Dead - is being promoted as a community-wide event involving a coalition of the Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Botanical Garden, Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, and art students from Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo.

"Our goal has been to educate our community about the beautiful celebration of our loved ones who have passed away in a positive and uplifting way," explained Margarita DeLeon, co-chairman of the planning committee.

New this year, she said, are the involvement of Toledo Botanical Garden, integration of the Day of the Dead tradition into art curriculum for BGSU and UT students and for children in after-school art classes sponsored by the museum at the Quintero Center, and a visit and exhibit by Mexican artist Francisco "Paco" Loza.

His intricate thread and yarn artwork, inspired by the Huichol Indians of the Sierra Madre Mountains of Nayarit and Jalisco in central Mexico, will be on view through Tuesday at the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo gallery at Parkwood Avenue and Monroe Street.

People who aren't familiar with Day of the Dead may think it's a somber, morbid tradition, DeLeon said. In reality, "It's a celebration of life."

Joe Balderas, executive director of the Quintero Center, said Dia de los Muertos is a combination of Aztec rituals that honored the dead, and Roman Catholic traditions brought to Mexico by Spanish conquerors. Central to the Nov. 1-2 tradition are altars that are made by families to honor their dead.

The altars include the person's favorite foods and beverages, flowers, photos, and personal items. "You're remembering the happy times, not the sad times," Balderas said.

Music, dancing, and feasting are part of the events, symbolizing the mocking of death, Balderas continued. "You're making death a joke; death has no power. That's why you see a lot of skeletons. A lot of times you see them laughing, dancing, playing the guitar. They're all doing things that are celebrating life."

Highlights of the weekend observance include a reception for Loza tonight at the Arts Commission gallery, activities tomorrow at the Toledo Museum of Art, the annual Dia de los Muertos fund-raiser tomorrow night at the Quintero Center, and a reception and exhibit of work Sunday afternoon in the conference center at Toledo Botanical Garden by Millard "Stoney" Stone, a nationally known photographer from Sylvania who has traveled extensively in Mexico.

One of two Day of the Dead altars that will be set up at Toledo Botanical Garden will honor the late George Crosby, whose horse farm was the nucleus of the public gardens on Elmer Drive. Board member Jim Larson said the altar will include a photo of Crosby that was found in the TBG archives as well as items related to his love of horses and riding.

Here's the lineup of Day of the Dead activities:

w●Tonight, 6 to 8, reception for Francisco "Paco" Loza and an exhibition of his thread and yarn artwork at the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo gallery, Parkwood Avenue and Monroe Street. Free and open to the public. Information: 419-254-2787.

w●Tomorrow, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., altar installations in Libbey Court at the Toledo Museum of Art by BGSU and UT art students and mini-altars by children from the Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center; hands-on arts and crafts activities from noon to 2 p.m.; El Corazon de Mexico dancers at 2 p.m.; Latino Youth Orchestra at 2:30 p.m. Also, an exhibit by LAVA (Latin Association for the Visual Arts) in the Community Gallery through Sunday and making of Day of the Dead decorations in the Family Center on Tuesday and Thursday. Free and open to the public. Information: 419-255-8000.

w●Tomorrow, 7 to 11 p.m., Dia de los Muertos Fund-raiser at the Quintero Center, 1225 Broadway. Admission is $25. Information: 419-241-1655.

w●Sunday and again on Nov. 7 and Nov. 14, 1 to 3 p.m., open house at the Quintero Center for altar viewing and refreshments. Free and open.

w●Sunday, 3 to 5 p.m., reception, altar installation, lecture, music, and exhibit of photos by Millard "Stoney" Stone in the conference center at Toledo Botanical Garden, 5403 Elmer Dr. Free and open. Information: 419-936-2986.

Contact Ann Weber at: aweber@theblade.com

or 419-724-6126.



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