Most Americans associate Halloween with witches, ghosts and goblins. But in Mexican culture, the important image is the skeleton. That’s because Mexicans honor deceased loved ones with their own holiday on Nov. 2, El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). Being a diverse city, many people celebrate this holiday in Las Vegas. Here’s a survey of the rich local art that’s being made in respect of the dead:
Bright Palette. “In my work I try to show how much life death leaves behind,” artist Olga Mendoza says. “The colors are vibrant, the subjects are fun. It’s meant to be a representation of those lives lived to the fullest even when cut short.” Her acrylic-on-canvas paintings will be on display 4-10 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Day of the Dead Festival at Springs Preserve (333 S. Valley View Blvd., 822-7700). Theresa Lucero paints Day of the Dead themes on canvas. Her art will be displayed at the Marjorie Barrick Museum at UNLV (4505 S. Maryland Parkway, 895-3381), through Nov. 5 at Winchester Cultural Center (3130 S. McLeod Dr., 455-7340) and on her website, Orecularts.com. Lucero says Day of the Dead art should include “Hot, bright colors, rustic, sometimes rudimentary depictions or textures, overt religious imagery, morose humor, etc.”
Sculpting La Catrina. One traditional art form is sculpting, and Kathy Worley uses polymer clay to make sculptures of La Catrina (the typical Muertos skeleton). She incorporates varied elegant colors and meticulous details in her sculptures. Her work can be found downtown at First Friday on Nov. 5.
Artistic Altars. Ofrendas, or “altars to the dead,” are a large part of Dia de los Muertos. Dorian Gomez will be displaying an ofrenda at Winchester, and will be participating in the altar contest. While you’re at Winchester, check out Bobbie Ann Howell’s graphite pencil drawings. Her drawings are based on compositions, including skeletal forms expressing a sketchy, solid drawing.
Tattoos. Day of the Dead tattoos have become very popular in the past five years, according to local tattoo artist Phil Luck of Studio 21 Tattoo (6020 W. Flamingo Road, Unit B-2, 248-8762, Studio21tattoo.com). His tattoos incorporate floral designs and filigree with different Day of the Dead skulls, and he also makes watercolor and acrylic paintings. His work is part of Cornerstone Art Gallery’s (201 E. Colorado St., 238-5894) October Day of the Dead show. The show incorporates Muertos art from local artists and tattoo studios, including Studio 21 and Red Handed Tattoo Gallery (8665 W. Flamingo Road, 541-8080). Make sure to check out the art of Chance Gomez and Bob Simmons of Red Handed Tattoo Gallery and Eddie Crotsley and Ray Jimenez of Bad Apple Tattoos (5640 W. Charleston Blvd., 259-5580).