The best way to honor loved ones who have died is by keeping their memories alive. We're approaching that time of year when it's believed that the heavens open up and the spirits are allowed to come down to visit family and friends on earth. It does take some prompting, which is where personal altar-building comes into play. An ofrenda should be decorated with photographs, memorabilia and your loved one's favorite food and drink, though it can be built in the home, cemetery or in a public place.
Macario Ramirez of Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery has been teaching a personal altar building class each Saturday during the month of October. This Heights mainstay also is hosting a Día de los Muertos exhibit through November 11; visitors are welcome to stop by and add the names of their loved ones.
Ramirez has told us in the past that the Day of the Dead is actually a two-day event. “In our country children die early in birth, so that's why there's a heavy emphasis on honoring children on November 1 and adults on November 2."
Don't miss Casa Ramirez's big altar procession and reception on October 27 hosted by Danza Azteca Taxcayolotl. It's a fiesta to celebrate Día De Los Muertos and the reunion with the returning spirits. All are invited to participate, enjoy music by Jesus and Maria Lozano of BOSSA II, and nibble on traditional refreshments.
Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery
October 6, 13 and 20, 10 a.m., Día De Los Muertos class on personal altar building
October 16-November 11, Día De Los Muertos altar display of community and personal altars
October 27, 5 p.m., Día De Los Muertos procession and reception
241 West 19th , open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays, 713-880-2420, facebook.com/Casa-Ramirez-FOLKART-Gallery-76060185584.
For anybody who has been wondering where to find the amazing retablos that have been a longstanding annual tradition at Lawndale Art Center, we've got you covered. Lawndale, in collaboration with Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts, has moved the exhibit over to MECA's home turf in historic Old Sixth Ward.
"Retablos31" is curated by Theresa Escobedo and features 200 tins transformed by artists following this year's themes of promises kept or promises made, healing, or devotion to a loved one, saint or higher power. We're always amazed at the creativity that goes into these devotionals, often by established artists, and love how the event doubles as a fundraiser. Don't miss the big "Retablos31" Silent Auction and Closing Party on November 2 with its colorful Calavera Rendezvous (Gathering of the Skulls) celebration.
MECA also is hosting a month-long Day of the Dead Ofrendas/Altar Exhibition through mid-November, with a big opening reception this Friday and a blessing of the altars. More than 25 installation are on display, each "work of the heart" more unique and creative than the next.
For two days of music, dancing and culture, come out — rain or shine — for MECA's free Día De Los Muertos Festival on October 27-28. The dancers from Ballet Folklórico are set to perform, as is the chamber orchestra ROCO (October 28). In ROCO Connections: Musical & Literary Ofrenda, we'll hear new music by Mexican composer Alejandro Basulto and featuring bass-baritone Timothy Jones.
Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts
October 15-November 15, Day of the Dead Ofrendas/Altar Exhibition
October 19, 7 p.m., Opening reception for Day of the Dead Ofrendas/Altar Exhibition and blessing of the altars
October 27-28, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Día de los Muertos Festival: "Honoring Our Past, Celebrating Our Future"
October 28, 4 p.m., ROCO Connections: Musical & Literary Ofrenda (music)
November 2, 6-8 p.m., VIP Access to "Retablos31" Silent Auction and Calavera Rendezvous
November 2, 8-11 p.m., "Retablos31" Closing Reception, Silent Auction and 9th Annual Calavera Rendezvous
1900 Kane, open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 713-802-9370, meca-houston.org.
The National Museum of Funeral History honors the dead year-round with its permanent exhibit for Día De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead that includes full-scale models of a traditional Mexican home and graveyard, and ofrendas for celebrating All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2).
The museum also is hosting a four-day Día De Los Muertos celebration with children's activities, a chance to leave a message in the Book of the Dead, and screenings of Disney's 2017 film, Coco.
Don't leave without hitting up the museum's gift shop; they're featuring Day of the Dead hair clips, sugar skull stacked candles and colorful Day of the Dead candles.
National Museum of Funeral History
Year-round, Día De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead (permanent exhibit)
November 1-4, Día De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead Celebration
November 2, 1:30 p.m., Coco screening
November 3, 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., Coco screening
415 Barren Springs Drive, 281-876-3063, nmfh.org.
And, for the first time ever, Discovery Green is hosting Día de los Muertos presented by Arandas Bakery. Street artist Angel Quesada has created a three-tiered altar and guests are invited to place objects associated with their departed loved ones. This inaugural festival also includes hands-on art activities, artist demos and cultural performances: San Diego-based Mexican folk-rock quartet Jarabe Mexicano, J-Dance Company and Nueva Luna Ballet Folklorico.
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The event happens to mark the opening night of the third annual Art @ Discovery Green, an outdoor contemporary craft market that spills over onto Avenida Houston. This year's featured artist is GONZO247 (Mario E. Figueroa Jr.), the man behind The Graffiti and Street Art Museum of Texas.
There's plenty to see and do during the three-day art festival, including crafts (for all ages) presented by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. Make a mini art car or plaster and embellish a miniature skull in celebration of Day of the Dead.
November 2, 6-10 p.m., Día de los Muertos (festival)
November 2, 6-10 p.m., Art @ Discovery Green
November 3, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Art @ Discovery Green
November 4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Art @ Discovery Green