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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day of the Dead celebration to make more room for the living

By Ana Facio Contreras

The people who plan to attend next month's Dia De Los Muertos celebration organized by Self Help Graphics and Art won’t have to worry about having enough elbow room or finding a parking spot on the side streets. What they will have to worry about is making sure they head for the right location. For the first time in more than 10 years, the Dia de Los Muertos celebration will be held away from the Self Help Graphics building at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Gage Avenue in East Los Angeles. Instead, this year's Day of the Dead event will be held at the East Los Angeles Civic Center on 3rd Street near Mednik Avenue. The idea is create more room for the estimated 5,000 to 8,000 revelers who attend what organizers call the longest running Day of the Dead celebration in the county.
After Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina’s office offered the civic center and Belvedere Park for the Nov. 2 event, the non-profit Chicano arts center decided to change the venue, said Evonne Gallardo, Self Help Graphics and Art executive director.

“They sort of extended the offer, and it came at a really great time because we were thinking about all our space constraints and our desire to make it more comfortable for our attendees,” Gallardo said.

“I think what Self Help Graphics and Art is really about is that we’re not about being in a building; we’re about community. And so wherever we go, I think our community will go with us, and that includes our 36th Annual Day of the Dead event.”

Gallardo said the last time the event was held outside the arts center was in the 1990s at the Ford Amphitheater.

A procession starting at 4 p.m. at the Virgen de Guadalupe mural at Cesar E. Chavez and Mednick avenues near Belvedere Park will kick off the event, which will continue at the civic center from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The event’s featured artist and curator is Diane Gamboa, who came up with this year’s theme: “Deadly Stylish.” Based on the theme, Gamboa and fellow artist Victoria Delgadillo conceived the Camino de Calaca Couture fashion walk.

“It’s not a fashion show,” Gallardo said. “It’s just people who are fabulously dressed that night will be asked to walk across the stage and share their creative expression with everyone at the event.”

Everyone who attends is encouraged to dress in his or her finest Day of the Dead attire, she said.
Besides the Camino de Calaca Couture fashion walk, the event will also feature live music, vendors and activities for children and adults.

The Self Help Graphics building will still host a series of events - including art exhibits, free art workshops and the building of a community alter - in the weeks before and after the Day of the Dead.

“We’re taking the celebration to Belvedere Park, but so many of the programs that accompany our Day of the Dead activities are still happening here,” Gallardo said.

Photos and images from Self Help Graphics & Art

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