By Karem Rodriguez
SOMArts kicks off the Dia de Los Muertos celebrations with the opening of an exhibition of colorful altars merging with contemporary installations. To Love and Be Loved in Return, marks the 23rd year SOMArts offers a platform for a collective of artists to express their perspectives on remembering, honoring, and celebrating the dead.
The opening reception on October 7th was a gathering of art, music, and poetry. This year 17 artists were in charge of continuing the legacy of René Yañez, curator and founder of the Dia de Los Muertos at SOMArts. “This year has been a meditation on family,” said Rio Yañez, who together with Anaís Azul were the curators of the show that exemplifies how the love between the living and the dead continues to help us navigate the world.
This time, the exhibition was dedicated to Japanese American poet and educator Janice Mirikitani, who served as the San Francisco poet laureate from 2000 to 2022 and was an advocate for the city’s marginalized communities.
The art installation extends beyond the Mexican “ofrendas”, while some of the pieces include colors and cues seen in the traditional altars, others interpret more broadly the concept of an altar to honor the death of loved ones. One piece of an array of golden toy guns in the shape of angel wings, created by artist Alicia Cruz, presents a tribute to the souls in the tragic Uvalde, Texas school shooting. While another piece by sculptor Lorraine Bonner, presents the grieving of our dying planets through tiny caskets holding various items such as bullets, cellphones, and plastic objects
The opening reception ended with a musical performance by Diana Gameros and Renee Goust.
The exhibition will be open until November 4 at SOMArts from Thursdays to Sundays.