Rachel-Anne Palacio, one of several artists featured in the exhibit “Living Memories/Recuerdos Vivos,” discusses her work with Wendy Foldes, right, at Aqus Café. The exhibit is one of several Day of the Dead art displays around town. Terry Hankins

Day of the Dead Exhibition at Aqus Cafe

By Yovanna Bieberich
Published: Saturday, Oct 13, 2007

A time of remembrance, El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an ancient Latin American tradition that in recent years has become a Petaluma tradition. And that tradition continues in Petaluma with two weeks of Day of the Dead festivities and altar displays around town Oct. 14 through Nov. 3.
Considered the antithesis of American cultural perspectives regarding life and death, Day of the Dead is a time to remember loved ones who have passed from life to death. “This festival offers us a healthy way to grieve, an opportunity every year to feel close to those we have loved and to celebrate their lives,” said Day of the Dead event co-chair Marjorie Helm.”

Now in its seventh year, Petaluma’s Day of the Dead festivities have expanded as more venues and businesses are participating in hosting exhibits, events and altars. “The number of venues for altars and art has more than doubled since last year and we have a considerable increase in the number of events, exhibitions and support from Petaluma businesses and people,” said Helm.

New this year are altars in honor of dead pets at Our Best Friends and the Central Animal Hospital. Sunrise Assisted Living will have an altar in memory of deceased residents, and Casa Grande High School is setting up an altar honoring students who have died in car accidents in recent years.
Rex Hardware will host its first altar this year along with Vine & Barrel, Starstruck Boutique and the Petaluma Plaza shopping center.

“We are very excited this celebration is extending beyond the Latino community,” said Abraham Solar, co-chair of Petaluma’s Day of the Dead celebration committee. “Dia de los Muertos can be very healing for our whole community because it is about connecting the best part of life — celebration — with death.”

Also new this year is the introduction of podcasts to be posted on the Petaluma Arts Council’s Web site where visitors can download and listen to the stories behind the altars on display around town. “It’s a really fun way for people to find out a bit about all the altars,” said Helen Pitt, spokesperson for the Day of the Dead celebration. “It’s a really nice and different feature this year.”

A pre-event to Day of the Dead activities this year is the fine arts exhibit “Living Memories/Recuerdos Vivos” on display at Aqus Café through Nov. 3. The show features the work of Petaluma artists Peter Perez, Sue Cappella and Daryl Gresham along with Bay Area artists David Tafolla, Sal Garcia, Sally Ann Rodriguez, Rachel-Anne Palacio, Ernesto Olmos and Jaime Crespo.

The Day of the Dead celebration officially begins on Oct. 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Petaluma Museum with traditional Mexican music, dancing. tamales and traditional Oaxacan treats. A community altar will be created at the Petaluma Museum by the Petaluma Arts Council. The public is invited to bring pictures or remembrances of loved ones who have died to place on the altar.
For more information and schedule of Day of the Dead events, visit www.petaluma artscouncil.org.
(Contact Yovanna Bieberich at yovanna.bieberich@argus courier.com)