Now in its 17th year, the annual Day of the Dead exhibition at SOMArts Cultural Center offers one of the most internationally diverse Día de los Muertos celebrations in the United States. Merging traditional Mexican altars with contemporary art installations, the exhibition presents a superabundant array of perspectives remembering, honoring, and celebrating the dead. Inspired by cherished relationships, current events, and personal and collective histories, more than 25 altars by over 50 participating Día de los Muertos artists build a dense environment of creativity that creates space for meaningful reflection and community engagement.
The exhibition closing event, Saturday, November 5, 6–9pm, $7–10 sliding scale admission, is the last opportunity to view and interact with the altars. The evening features a Día de los Muertos inspired artist market and live performances by legendary San Francisco artist Guillermo Gomez-Peña and queer femme unicorn poet Maya Chinchilla, and live music by Dr. Loco & The Rocking Jalapeño Band. Advance tickets are strongly encouraged.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña is a performance artist, writer, activist, radical pedagogue and artistic director of the performance troupe La Pocha Nostra. Born in Mexico City, he moved to the US in 1978. His performance work and 11 books have contributed to the debates on cultural & gender diversity, border culture and US-Mexico relations. His art work has been presented at over nine hundred venues across the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Russia, South Africa and Australia. A MacArthur Fellow, Bessie and American Book Award winner, he is a regular contributor for newspapers and magazines in the US, Mexico, and Europe and a contributing editor to The Drama Review (NYU-MIT). Gómez-Peña is a Senior Fellow in the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, a Patron for the London-based Live Art Development Agency and in 2012 he was named Samuel Hoi Fellow by USA Artists.
Performing alongside Gómez-Peña, Balitronica is a performance artist, cyborg poet, and queer sex radical raised on the Tijuana/San Diego border. She studied Literature at San Diego State University under the guidance of Harold Jaffe, Edith Frampton, and Sydney Brown. She then relocated to Paris to study American Expat Literature and lived in a 17th century convent with Dominican nuns. Currently living in San Francisco, she recently earned her MFA in Poetry and Queer Theory at Mills College. Since 2013 she has been collaborating with Guillermo Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra and has developed photo-performance projects with Manuel Vason, Herani Hache, RJ Muna, and Marcos Raya. She is currently working on a book titled, “A Brief Conversation With My Psychotherapist” and touring with Gomez-Pena/La Pocha Nostra.
The award-winning Dr. Loco’s Rockin’ Jalapeño Band has been celebrating the rich mix of Mexican American borderlands musical traditions since 1989, when founded by Texas-born/San Francisco-based saxophonist/vocalist/accordionist Jose B. Cuellar, who holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from UCLA, and recently retired as San Francisco State University Professor Emeritus of Latino/a Studies. Over the decades, the internationally-renown Dr. Loco’s Rockin’ Jalapeño Band has featured some of the best musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area on four critically-acclaimed CDs: CON/SAFOS (1991), MOVIMIENTO MUSIC (1992), PURO PARTY (1995), BARRIO RITMOS&BLUES (1998); a feature film soundtrack: ALAMBRISTA: THE. DIRECTOR’S CUT (2004); and more than a thousand live performances at the best campus, community and commercial venues across the country. The current 2016 Dr. Loco’s RJB lineup highlights the unique veteran talents of Whetland, Wyoming-born, San Jose-based guitarist and vocalist Tomas Montoya, San Antonio, Texas-born, Reedley-based bassist Manuel Polanco, Modesto-born, South San Francisco-based drummer John Ulloa, and Bakersfield-born, San Francisco-based accordionist, trumpetist and vocalist Miguel Govea.
A Promise Not to Forget: Día de los Muertos 2016 Exhibition
Friday, October 7–Saturday, November 5, 2016
Gallery Hours: Tuesday–Friday 12–7pm, Saturday 11am–5pm and Sunday 11am–3pm
Free admission during gallery hours
Friday, October 7, 6–9pm
$12–15 sliding scale admission
Exhibition unveiling features a Día de los Muertos inspired artist market and music by Manicato.
Friday, October 21, 7–9:30pm
$10, no one turned away for lack of funds
Experience the exhibition by creating artwork of your own in this interactive drawing circle facilitated by curator René Yañez.
Image credit: Jadelynn Stahl, photo by Rio Yañez. Makeup by Martinez