29th Annual Día de los Muertos Exhibition and CalaGala
September 15 - November 6, 2016


  El Día de los Muertos is celebrated in homes, cemeteries, and public gathering spaces throughout México and the Southwest. The indigenous holiday is premised on the belief that the souls of the dead return on November 2 to reunite with their living relatives.  It’s also an example of the complex heritage of the Mexican people: it weaves together elements of Aztec, Mayan and Spanish ritual with Catholicism.

An artistic prompt was set forth in the conceptualization of this exhibition to investigate ways in which murals can often present complex themes/narratives, or recognize individuals/incidents in such a way that the art accessible to any person in the community. 

We paired the “Day of the Dead” theme with the spirit of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera whose mastery of grandiose visual tools contributed to some demystification of
art for the non-elites in México.  Rivera applied his artistic talents to telling the stories of "The People."

So what happens when you infuse an ofrenda (or altar) with a mural?

When assembling artwork and seeking out artist, we put forth an intention to not feature works that simply incorporated familiar  iconography 

now synonymous with El Día de los Muertos via popular culture. 

This exhibition provides our cultural center the opportunity annually to honor the sanctity of the holiday while educating visitors.  

Artists from throughout California submitted works inspired by traditional and modern
imagery on canvas, paper, and wood panels.  Large-scale altar-installations are featured in our main gallery each of which incorporate murals into their design.  One unique painting on wood panel extends seamlesslessly onto the wall upon which it is mounted...turning the artwork into a mural.  

The Fresno Art Museum Partnership Gallery is populated with traditional ofrendas designed by members of the Valley community. 
These altaristas meticulously constructed the structures that would ultimately honor their family members -- some incorporating centuries-old guidelines into the design and creation.

The exhibition’s highlight will be a mural painted onto the historic Fresno Bee building
(across the street from Arte Américas) designed by Chilean-born and internationally
renowned artist Francisco Letelier. The mural will stand as a monument to the poets and writers of the San Joaquin Valley.  The exhibition and  project are made possible through funding from the McClatchy Fresno Art Endowment and the California Arts Council.