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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

California Museum honors artists for Día de Los Muertos

“Arte Activista Dia De Los Muertos” exhibit showcases 3B collective artists
Julianna Rodriguez
In the California Museum courtyard on Oct. 13 an ofrenda set up by the Maquilli Tonatiuh Aztec Dancers was posted on the stage. AT the end of their performance they passed out herbs and marigolds to guests. They asked guests to partake in their celebration by adding their offerings to their ofrendas at home.

In crowds of colorful clothing, marigold flowers and painted faces, attendees of the “Arte Activista Día De Los Muertos” exhibit celebrated the lives of past Mexican-American icons displayed at the California Museum in Sacramento on Friday.

Paying tribute to Hispanic culture and the celebration of Día de los Muertos, the museum puts on an annual “Día de los Muertos Fiesta” featuring live Aztec dancing, Ballet Folklorico and more.

The event lasted from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with performances and activities for guests to enjoy. The performers touched on the history of Día de los Muertos and highlighted the Hispanic culture featured in the main exhibit.

Development and Membership Coordinator, Sean Manwaring, spoke fondly of the artists and their art featured within the exhibit.

“The celebration is part of the event because it is fun,” Manwaring said. “We’re able to really celebrate the artists and the exhibit. It also brings more awareness to the exhibit itself.”

The exhibit features a handful of artists from Los Angeles who were specifically selected to display their pieces for guests to see.

“The artists that created this year’s exhibit are from the 3B Collective in Los Angeles,” Manwaring said. “You’re gonna see a lot of activism representing issues like decolonization and gentrification, by artists who represent Indigenous African American and Latino backgrounds.”

The 3B Collective stationed in Los Angeles is an art group made up of Alfredo Diaz Dominguez, Aaron Estrada, Iesha and Oscar Magallanes and Gustavo Martinez.

They attended the University of California, Los Angeles together and co-founded the 3B Collective back in 2016.,

One artwork on display was Magallanes’ ofrenda entitled “Jesse Valadez” after the famous Mexican-American lowrider. This piece included a bag of beef jerky and a silhouette of the famous Gypsy Rose, a Chevy Impala lowrider that Valadez famously drove.

This unique ofrenda speaks to the community’s loss of Valadez by using art and personal belongings to showcase his influence on lowrider culture in Los Angeles.

Carlita from the Maquilli Tonatiuh Aztec Dancers Friday Oct. 132023 performing rights of passage dance at the California Museum’s “Día de los Muertos Fiesta.” The dancers wear beautiful feathered headpieces and embrace their culture by the sounds and smells of incense they lit within their performance. (Julianna Rodriguez)

Apart from the art displayed inside, the museum’s annual celebration hosted outside in the courtyard showcased one-of-a-kind dancers and musicians.

Among them were the Maquilli Tonatiuh Aztec Dancers, Mariachi Bonitas de Dinorah Klingler and Ballet Folklórico de Sacramento.

Francine Lobatos Gould, a dancer for Maquilli Tonatiuh Aztec Dancers, has been an Aztec dancer for over 20 years and has been performing at the annual event for the last five years.

“It’s traditional Aztec dancing from our ancestors that has been passed down from generation to generation,” Lobatos Gould said. “It’s a way for us to keep our culture alive.”

The dancers wear feathered headpieces atop beautifully colored garments that give their performances a feeling of authenticity. With every move, they bring alive thousands of years of culture and tradition.

The ofrenda “Mi Diosa” made by restaurant Tequila Museo Mayahuel, features a large arrangement of offerings for Elvira Delgado on Friday Oct. 13 2023 at the Sacramento Museum. The restaurant creates an ofrenda every year in partnership with the California Museum. (Julianna Rodriguez )

As the night continued, guests were able to try out sugar skull workshops and food catered by the Tequila Museo Mayahuel restaurant located on K Street in Sacramento.

Tequila Museo Mayahuel owner Ernesto Delgado has been a vendor of the event for several years and each year his team displays their own beautiful and grand ofrenda. This year, the ofrenda was in honor of his late mother Elvira Delgado.

“We started this seven years ago and just every year it gets bigger and better,” Delgado said. “An altar is supposed to honor our ancestors, our parents and our grandparents.”

Delgado does just that in his “Mi Diosa” titled ofrenda located by the museum’s main entrance.

Surrounded by all of his mother’s favorite things, at the top of the ofrenda sits a black and white photo of his late mother with a statue of the Virgin Mary on a step below.

“Día de los Muertos is a true Mexican holiday because it’s about the culture, family and food,” Delgado said. “It’s a complete exhibition of Mexico and its culture.”

Delgado captures the essence of the holiday by displaying offerings he feels represent his mother such as guacamole, salsa, Coca-Cola and more. His piece is the largest on display.

“Jenni Rivera” ofrenda by Susan Aparicio on Friday Oct. 13 2023 at the California Museum’s “Arte Activista Día De Los Muertos” exhibit. A large picture of Jenni Rivera hung above the stained glass pedestal honoring the dead singer. (Julianna Rodriguez)

Susan Aparicio was among the Los Angeles-based artists who had her work featured on display in the “Arte Activista Día De Los Muertos” exhibit. Aparicio is known for fusing her love for 2000s pop culture and sci-fi to encapsulate her work.

One featured piece by Aparicio is the ofrenda for legendary Banda singer Jenni Rivera, who died in 2012 from a plane crash.

Made with a stained glass base composed of 14 candles, marigold flowers lined the floor and a large picture of Rivera hung in the center. The ofrenda pays tribute to the loss of a huge star and her impact on Mexican music.

At the entry of the exhibit is a community ofrenda where guests are encouraged to leave offerings, such as flowers and messages, for their loved ones.

“We always have it right in front of the exhibit,” Manwaring said. “This is where we invite anyone who wants to honor their kindred or beloved dead.”

To keep the fiesta interactive every year, a costume contest for all ages is held.

“I really hope that someone has one of those unbelievable costumes this year,” Manwaring said. “Even the children participate, so it’s a real fun family event.”

Guest’s costumes range from traditional Calavera Catrina costumes with sugar skull faces to typical Halloween character attire.

Maria Gudelia Contreras, a Sacramento State alumna, attended the event in a Calavera Catrina costume. She wore a long flowing black dress, her face painted in sugar skull makeup with an arrangement of flowers on her head.

Contreras said she’s been dressing as the Calavera Catrina for about five years in honor of her culture.

“An event like this is for embracing our culture, our language, our customs and our beliefs,” Contreras said.

Patrons of the California Museum can still enjoy the “Arte Activista Dia De Los Muertos” exhibit and embrace the Dia de los Muertos culture on O St. from Oct. 13 to the middle of Nov. for $8.20 for students and $10 for adults.

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About the Contributors
Katelyn Marano
Katelyn Marano, Copy Editor
(she/her) Katelyn Marano is a graduating senior with a major in journalism and a minor in English. She is currently in her second semester here at The State Hornet and is the copy editor for the spring 2024 semester. Katelyn enjoys reading and writing, and hope to take her degree into book publishing.
Julianna Rodriguez
Julianna Rodriguez, DEI Editor
(she/her) Julianna Rodriguez joined The State Hornet in fall 2023 as a DEI staffer and is now the editor for DEI. She is a senior public relations major, and hopes to become a publicist or work for a PR firm after graduating this spring.
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