Two homages to very different art forms

November 1, 2007

I have a two-fer today — well for tomorrow night, to be more precise.  The first is the Dia de los Muertos celebration on Cherokee Street, and I want to give you a little background on why I’m choosing it so you don’t think I’m introducing the kids to something macabre. It’s a Mexican holiday honoring deceased relatives and their memories, so yes, it is about death, but it’s also about lives well lived. The kids’ Abuelita (my mom), although of German descent, is a longtime Spanish teacher whose friendships with Mexicans led her to experience this very family-centric custom. I grew up knowing about sugar skulls with names on them and seeing posters of the elaborate altars to the ancestors, but I also saw simple ones of old photographs and red-and-yellow marigolds (a floral symbol of pain and grief).  Abuelita still sends skull candy each year, so although we don’t get into the holiday as much as she did, the kids do know what it is.

That’s why I’m taking them over to Cherokee Street (between Indiana and Minnesota) tomorrow from 5 to 7 p.m.   Authentic altars will be set up, and a passport card encourages visitors to really explore the area. And since you’ll be there over the supper hour, EAT!  Our favorite is La Vallesana, both the little food “shack” and the ice cream shop across the street, but there are many other good eateries too.

The other event is at Mad Art Gallery ( in Soulard from 7 to 11 p.m. It’s a show in honor of paint-by-numbers kits.  Very cheesy and very clever — even if you never painted a velvet Jesus like I did, you still know how ubiquitous those were back when we were kids.  The gallery is making some big outlines to be filled by visitors of all ages and supplying everything except the smocks.   I’m not sure what “all ages” means at an art gallery (as opposed to, say, The Pageant, where it means under-21 allowed), and when I called to find out I didn’t get through to a person.  But it definitely sounds kid-friendly, especially for older kids.


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