Carlos Hernandez's Latest Tribute to Dead Rock Royalty

"I love the idea of bringing the dead and living together in a very unique way. The music of some of my favorite musicians who have passed away has been an awesome inspiration to me--and what better way to celebrate their existence."--Carlos Hernandez

The Aztecs believed that life was a dream and only in death did one become fully aware. Death was not the end of life; it was a new beginning. The first Spanish explorers to arrive in present-day Mexico described raucous celebrations involving human skulls, seen by the natives as symbols of the never-ending cycle of birth and death. The terrified Spaniards sought to eliminate such "barbaric" practices by introducing the native peoples to the Catholic Church--and the smallpox virus that would be their downfall. Remarkably, the ancient Aztec rituals survived to evolve into what is now known as Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

The skulls equated with modern day Dia De Los Muertos festivities are vibrant creations of sugar and paper. Local artist Carlos Hernandez recalls a childhood fascination with the colorful folk-art, paper mache calaveras and catrinas associated with the November occasion. Hernandez, the original drummer of the Flamin' Hellcats, began having annual Dia De Los Muertos parties in his backyard after moving to Houston from Lubbock in 1992. However, he didn't paint his first deceased rocker until 2001. The skeletal rendition of Joey Ramone was the catalyst for his popular "Day of the Dead Rock Stars" series, the 4th installment of which will debut this Saturday at Cactus Music.

This year's "Day of the Dead Rock Stars" has a slightly different feel than years past. Hernandez chalks this up to his current obsession with screen printing. After numerous requests from musicians and venues and the mentorship of local rock poster guru "Uncle Charlie" Hardwick, the artist began exploring the medium this year. The rich, colorful poster art, created for Live Nation, the Continental Club and local art exhibits, often includes a signature skull in homage to the work that put Hernandez on the map. In turn, the new 2010 "Day of the Dead Rock Stars" pieces were created over vibrant screen-printed backgrounds. Hernandez recently converted his garage into a printing workshop and says, "These days I want to screen print everything I can get my hands on."

The "Day of the Dead Rock Stars 2010: Don't Fear The Reaper" art and print show is this Saturday, October 23, 2010 from 7-10pm at Cactus Music, part of the music hub's 3rd anniversary soiree. The free event will feature live music from Los Skarnales and adult beverages compliments of St. Arnold Brewing Company. Carlos Hernandez concert posters and Day of the Dead Rock Stars prints are available for purchase on Etsy. The exhibit will be on display in the Record Ranch at Cactus Music through the end of the year.

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