Orange Mexican marigold flowers, also know as flor de cempasuchil, decorated the South El Molino Avenue sidewalk, along with colorful sugar skulls, calaca masks and vividly vibrant paintings inspired by the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos.
The 21st annual Dia De Los Muertos event was hosted by the Zona Rosa Caffe, and has been a tradition ever since it opened its doors in 1993.
“The idea behind it was really to showcase art and culture, especially Latin culture to Pasadena,” Zona Rosa Caffe owner Michael Moreno said. “But also the event that I’m very familiar with is Day Of The Dead and all of the events that are part of that, so for me and for the cafe was to really showcase that with artists and food and music and so here we are 21 years later.”
Attendees enjoyed an evening filled with Latin art, culture, delicious food and drinks.
There was calaca face painting for children, wine tasting at Monopole Wine, live music performance by Gonzo and Friends and visual projections by Julian Felix from Culture Remixed.
“It’s celebrated in different ways in different places from very somber to very festive and a little bit of both depending on where you are as well,” Felix said. “Here of course we try to showcase … the newer elements. You know, the more Chicano versions of that as well.”
Upstairs, there was a beautiful and colorful altar put together by artist Cathy Ashworthy of CATbox art studio. The walls were decorated with more flores de cempasuchil and they displayed several of Ashworthy’s vibrant paintings.
The interactive community altar was created for all to remember those who have passed away, including animals.
Sitting next to it there was a sign inviting everyone to grab a pen and a stick, write down the name of a loved one, a friend, or a pet and place the stick in the sand to honor them during Dia De Los Muertos.
Among the artists showcasing their work was Jose Ramirez. His work portrays the contemporary Latino life and he has participated in the event since 1999.
Dia De Los Muertos has become a more popular holiday and more people are joining in the celebration. However, it is important to remember its true meaning.
“It’s important to remember the tradition of it and why it was done . . . to pay respect to our people who have passed and also to celebrate that life is a cycle,” said Ramirez.
PCC’s Graphadena club also formed part of the event. Students had the opportunity to showcase and sell their posters.
Professor Kris Pilon, who is in charge of the screen-printing part of the Graphic Communications Department, said the club has participated in the event for five years. Students do all the posters and they are in charge of putting together their booth as well as managing all of their sales. The profits are used for supplies as well as club field trips.
“Students really have fun doing this project and not all of our students are, you know, Hispanic. They are not all Mexican, because this is really kind of a Mexican holiday,” Pilon said. “They are Korean kids and Chinese kids and, you know, white kids and everybody. But they all get into it in kind of their own way and so it’s really fun that they understand that it’s about honoring the dead and they think about ways to honor dead people they know.”