Since I was tiny I have loved Halloween. It was the one holiday every year everyone in my family would put aside differences and get along. We had a van and everyone, my dad, my mom, my grandma, my brother, and i would jump in and we would roll around Shiner grabbing all the candy we could. There were certain stops we would hit every year, my aunts and uncles and grandpa and the Willifords. The Willifords gave out coins with their candy. And grandpa would always have a big bag of candy with a dollar inside set aside for us. One for me, one for my brother. My dad would dress as a hobo every year. He had a pair of overalls that everyone would sign. We had candy and beer in the van and dad would hand out candy and beer as we went around to the different places to people he knew. It was a fun time and I personally loved it. Things always felt different at this time of year. The way the air felt and smelled would change. You could feel the seasonal shift coming and it always felt like there was magic in the air. I could never explain it but sometimes its better not to explain it. Sometimes it’s better just to follow what you feel and go with it.
The older I’ve gotten I still have fond memories of this holiday and it is still my favorite one. Since moving out on my own and getting my own home and building my own family (a family of cats, but it’s still my family none the less) my husband and I like to decorate every year for Halloween. We hand out candy. And although we do put out extra decorations, we choose to leave up the majority of our decor year round. I’ve also come to understand the importance of the holiday other than just the tricks and treats. It also is home to the pagan holiday Samhain and the day following it is all saints day, followed by dia de los muertos. All three holidays have similar meanings. Reverence for the dead and ancestors. I married into a hispanic family and to my husband, dia de los muertos is a very important and sacred day. For many hispanics, this holiday is very important. I feel very odd writing this since I grew up in a very German town and have mostly German and Bohemian roots, but this holiday has become an important part of my life as well.
The holiday itself is a beautiful one. Full of bright and beautiful flowers, beautiful folk art, colorful skulls, good food, family, and remembrance. When we found out that there would be an art gallery showcasing community altars, and in particular, an altar created by some very dear friends, Tim and I knew immediately we would be going.
We haven’t always been on the best terms with the upper eschalon of the art community in this town. Not that they are bad terrible people, I have just always felt that real art comes from the streets, not from posh homes and wealth. It should be for everyone to enjoy not just the 1%. Art should elicit a response and it’s not always pretty. In my experience art that comes from wealth is usually fake and void of meaning. I’ve also never wanted to fit in with those type of people and it’s much easier to avoid the situation altogether rather than be in a place or situation with people who don’t want you there anyway. I’ll never be a cool kid. I’m okay with that.
The original Dia de Los muertos festival in this town was put on by our friends, Beth and Avlo. They started in small little rooms and eventually moved it out to the square in the center of town. After experiencing a really hard loss, they decided to let it go and one of the art museums took it over and turned it into a “elite” event. This year however, the museum let it go as well and it went back into the hands of a group who wanted to bring it back to the people.
Thursday November 1 was the opening of the gallery. The venue was small and there were a lot of people but the art was gorgeous. There were two altars that really stood out to me but all of them were nice. My bosses wife and his daughter both had an altar set up. But my favorite by far was Beth and Avlos. I was so happy to see them and to hear the stories they told about every picture and piece on their altar. It was real and it was raw and everything in it was 100% from the heart. The gallery is closed now, but I am grateful that the group putting it together this year chose to bring it back to the community where it belongs.