This year’s Dia De Los Muertos celebration and fundraiser on November 4 will be a bit more personal for the staff of the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center.
The event, now in its 21st year, will feature food, music, tours of the facility and more as the Center commemorates the traditional Mexican holiday. But the centerpieces of the event are the altars set up in the main gallery, made to commemorate the memory of those who have passed away.
“The holiday commemorates the belief that for one evening those that have been deceased can come back and visit and have a meal with their families,” said Taylor Burbiaga, executive director of the center. “So the altars are built, and anyone that wants to participate will pick someone in their family who has passed on. Usually they kind of see it as a way either to grieve or celebrate the person who’s passed on.”
One of their own
One altar in particular will have meaning for the staff of the Sofia Quintero Center— the one honoring one of their own. David Cuatlacuatl, a member of the center’s staff, passed away this past summer following a car crash.
“We always try to feature an altar at the Center, but this year will obviously be at a much different level, because we’re remembering someone directly in our staff circle,” Burbiaga said.
Burbiaga, who has been involved with the Quintero Center since she was a child, recalls fondly being part of these celebrations for most of the last decade. This year, her first celebration as a staff member, allows her to see how the event continues to evolve.
“We want to keep it at the Center, but we are always growing in size. We try to change the way that we’re setting it up. So now we’re using our event center for our dinner, and we use our art gallery for the altars.”
A new appreciation
The center has also asked the city to close down the street, allowing a tent to be set up for space for an additional art demonstration. Toledo area Latin jazz guitarist Hector Mendoza will perform along with dance group Imagenes Mexicanas. But Burbiaga recognizes that one of the big draws of the event is the traditional Latino cuisine. “We’re always trying to figure out another way to step up from past years, as far as the meal goes,” she said.
The Dia De Los Muertos event is the biggest annual fundraiser for the Sofia Quintero Center, so there is significant need to make the event a success. But Burbiaga hopes that attendees will garner a new appreciation for the Mexican tradition and culture.
“A lot of times, we talk to people about the holiday, and if you don’t understand it, you can have a … negative connotation. And it’s supposed to be very colorful, very joyous and very happy.”
The Dia De Los Muertos celebration will begin at 6pm Saturday, November 4 at the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center at 1225 Broadway. Tickets are $50 per person or $90 per couple. For more information, visit sqacc.com.
In addition to the Sofia Quintero Center celebrations, other area institutions holding events to honor Dia De Los Muertos include:
The PUB at the Paula Brown Shop will be hosting a celebration of the holiday Thursday, November 2 beginning at 5pm. In addition to exhibiting pottery and other artistic pieces from Mexico, the event will feature tacos made by El Tipico, tequila tastings and dance performances by Imagenes Mexicanas.
On Monday, October 30, Toledo Bikes will be hosting a Dia De Los Muertos Ride beginning at 8:30pm. The slow-paced ride will take participants on a five-mile trek through downtown, along the river, eventually returning to Toledo Bikes. Participants are encouraged, but not required, to dress in costume.
In Bowling Green, Guajillo’s Cocina Mexicana will celebrate Dia De Los Muertos on Thursday, November 2. The festivities will include Calavera face painting for kids and a traditional altar for photos of attendees’ departed loved ones.
The Detroit Institute of Arts, in collaboration with the Mexican Consulate of Detroit, is currently hosting an exhibition of traditional altars. Area artists and residents have been invited to create the altars in memory of deceased friends and they will remain on display at the museum through November 12.
The 2017 “Run of the Dead” will take place Saturday, November 4 at the Patton Park Recreation Center in Detroit. Beginning at 9am, the 5K/10K race will see competitors run through two historic cemeteries during their route.
A traditional commemoration of Dia De Los Muertos will be held at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor at 7 pm Thursday, November 2. A traditional mass in Spanish and following Mexican traditions will be held, and attendees are asked to bring photos of their departed to place on the church’s altar.