This year’s annual Día de los Muertos commemoration at Self Help Graphics will be all-virtual, starting with traditional art workshops and an online exhibition next week, the Boyle Heights arts organization announced.

The month-long celebration will culminate on Sunday, Nov.1, with this year’s 47th annual Día de los Muertos celebration on SHG’s YouTube channel, with live performances curated by The Paramount. The Boyle Heights venue has yet to announce the artist lineup for the free event.

Self Help Graphics executive director Betty Ávila said the virtual programming forced by the coronavirus pandemic will allow the organization to continue the organization’s best-known celebration and adhere to mandated practices.

“Although we are feeling the weight of this year and are sorry we can’t host our in-person experiences, we are honored to share in this long-standing tradition in new and innovative ways, that will allow us to stay connected to the public and transmit our story and our artists’ work from Boyle Heights to the world,” Ávila said. 

‘Ofrendas’ Art Show

Opening Oct. 13, this year’s Ofrendas 2020 exhibition is curated by artist Sandy Rodríguez, who recreated a 2003 self-portrait by her mother –artist Guadalupe Rodriguez– for the show’s commemorative print and poster art. The virtual exhibition will include works by Barbara Carrasco, Yreina Cervantez, Sandra de la Loza and others and remain on view through Nov. 22.

As part of the show, altar masters Ofelia Esparza and Rosanna Esparza will transform a past altar created by the mother-daughter team into an augmented reality experience. According to a release, through the AR experience “people will be immersed into the virtual world and able to see select altar elements come to life.”

Virtual Workshops

One of the highlights of Self Help Graphics’ Día de los Muertos season are the free art workshops that will stream on its SHG’s YouTube channel weekly in October. 

These how-to art workshops, developed by SHG teaching artists, will be delivered as new virtual experiences; individuals and families will be able to do these hands-on projects together from the comfort and safety of their own home. No experience is necessary and a supply list will be provided to the public to purchase on their own, prior to the stream date of each workshop. 

Virtual workshops will include:

  • Tuesday, October 6 at 1:00 p.m – Paper Flowers with Dewey Tafoya
  • Tuesday, October 13 at 1:00 p.m – Papel Picado with Daniel Gonzalez
  • Tuesday, October 20 at 1:00 p.m. Shoebox Altar with Martha Carrillo
  • Saturday, October 24 at 1:00 p.m. –  Bike Ofrenda with Sandra de la Loza (as part of Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos Celebration)
  • Tuesday, October 27 – at 1:00 p.m Dia de los Muertos Face Painting with Gabby Claro 

Noche de Ofrenda in Partnership with Grand Park ‘s Downtown Día de los Muertos

Once again, Self Help Graphics & Art will collaborate with downtown LA’s Grand Park in a series of programs this year to honor Noche de Ofrenda (NDO) or Night of Altars (offerings).

 In lieu of a special one-night event, Noche de Ofrenda will span from October 24–November 4 as part of Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos with 11 large-scale altar installations produced by artists and community partners representing the losses and causes of this past year, papel picado at The Music Center Plaza steps, and digital ofrendas on The Music Center Plaza LED screens. 

While Grand Park and The Music Center Plaza are open to the public, all park and Plaza-goers are strictly required to maintain social distancing, including not to cluster in groups, and to wear masks –and there will be signage to remind visitors.

As a safer alternative, large images and video of the installations will be made available on the Self Help Graphics, Grand Park and The Music Center social media channels.  

As in year’s past, SHG’s contribution to Noche de Ofrenda will be a community altar created by Ofelia Esparza and her family.  This year the public will not be allowed to leave their own ofrendas on or touch the Community Altar, they are encouraged to submit photos of their loved ones through this form by Sunday, October 11, to be displayed on the community altar at Grand Park and digital ofrendas on The Music Center Plaza screens. 

Grand Park will also have a special Noche de Ofrenda segment during the Self Help Graphics’ virtual Día de los Muertos Celebration on November 1st. 

For more information, visit Self Help Graphics online or follow on Facebook @selfhelpgraphics and Instagram and Twitter @SHG1970. 

This post was updated on Oct. 9 to reflect new opening date of art show.


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Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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