October 12-November 4th, 2001

The "El dia de los Muertos" Altar Exhibit at CITYART GALLERY was modeled after the popular and culturally diverse Day of the Dead Altar Exhibition at the Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco. The exhibit featured below opened on October 12th and included nine local artists presenting 6 x 7 foot altar installations. Basing their creations on traditional El dia de los Muertos altars, participating artists offered interpretative altars which focused on the theme of death in our culture and home lives.

While November 2nd ---All Souls Day, otherwise known as Day of The Dead---is an official Catholic holiday honoring the faithful departed, this death celebration got it's start long before the Catholic faith. Traditionally attributed to St. Odilo, the fifth catholic abbot of Cluny, the holiday actually dates pack to the Pre-Hispanic Aztecs. However, even this detail remains shrouded in complexity and varied interpretations.

Yet, it is generally agreed upon that the Aztecs believed the departed soul would pass through nine levels before reaching its final destination known as Mictlan, the place of the dead. Yet unlike most modern cultures, the Aztecs held that death was a doorway into the next life and that the destiny of future lives depended upon the type of death rather than the type of life lead by each individual. The Spanish Conquest of 1521 brought about the fusion of Catholic attitudes and indigenous beliefs, yet even today, the traditions and customs associated with The Day of the Dead are an amalgamation of past and present.

The traditional Day of the Dead Altar is certainly one of them. Generally displayed in the home, this seasonal altar is decorated with ritually placed offerings, or "ofrendas", including special foods, flowers, candles, incense mementos, photos, and other remembrances of the dead.

The nine altar artists were Amanda Stinson, Blake More, Carol Williams, Christian "Cybirk" Birk, Eileen Borgeson, Jeff Allen, Goija Post, Justin Miller, Madeline Kibbe, Janet Sanchez, and Tosh. Robert Hantzsche created a self-guided audio CD, and the gallery hosted a number of classroom tours for south coast schools.


by Debra Keipp


ALTAR TWO---Going Fishing
by Amanda Stinson


by Justin Miller


ALTAR FOUR---Death Transition
by Cybirk


ALTAR FIVE---Tribute To Marge
by Eileen Borgeson & Jeff Allen


ALTAR SIX---Grandma
by Madeline Kibbe


ALTAR SEVEN---Dobbie Gillis
by Goija Post

ALTAR EIGHT---Shrine to Roadkill
by Blake More & Carol Williams


ALTAR NINE---Ab Ovo Morbido
BY Tosh, Sara, Hyster Mike, & Zsuzs


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