Grand Park will again honor the cultural tradition of Día de los Muertos —Day of the Dead—with a series of free, family friendly programs curated for the COVID era with a focus on personal well-being and collective healing throughout the 12-day celebration. The eighth annual Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos, a presentation by TMC Arts, The Music Center’s programming engine, takes place from October 24, 2020–November 4, 2020 with a mix of digital programs, including an online arts-based workshop, digital ofrendas (altars) and audio storytelling, along with socially distant public art installations in Grand Park and on The Music Center Plaza. Grand Park continues its long-standing artistic partnership with Self Help Graphics (SHG), which is curating 11 large-scale altar installations by artists and community partner organizations, including the annual Community Altar created by Maestra Ofelia Esparza; a 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellow, Esparza, and her family, are instrumental in preserving and conserving Día de los Muertos in Los Angeles.
Understanding the toll the pandemic has taken on individuals and communities throughout Los Angeles, Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos will also help raise the importance of coping skills and mental health awareness: Healing Sanctuaries and Soul Survivors are two photo exhibits that will be located on The Music Center Plaza containing messaging and suggested public resources, from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and WHY WE RISE.
While Grand Park and The Music Center Plaza are open to the public, all park- and plaza-goers who experience the art installations are strictly required to maintain social distancing, including not clustering in groups and wearing masks. Signage and markers throughout both locations will assist with reinforcing the critical need for park- and plaza-goers to comply with all prevailing Los Angeles County Department of Public Health requirements. In order to maintain minimal crowds and to help those who wish to engage with this vital ritual and tradition, ample images and video of the installations will be made available on Grand Park, The Music Center and Self Help Graphics social media channels. Alongside the online workshop, these public art installations will provide opportunities for the public to be inspired by and empowered to bring Día de los Muertos into their homes and other spaces safely where they can create their own art and ofrendas.
“Those who have passed always have special meaning in our hearts, but, this year, the loss and sorrow is collective for Angelenos and for our nation. Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos not only preserves the cultural traditions for those who observe it, but also offers ways for all to learn from and share in its ethos,” said Josephine Ramirez, executive vice president, TMC Arts. “While current public health actions such as social distancing can make people feel isolated, Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos reminds us we are not alone. We find solace and connection in the arts through ways that can bring us together with a shared mission to understand and appreciate each other.”
“Grand Park’s Día de los Muertos accentuates and honors life by reuniting the living and the dead through remembrance. This year, Grand Park’s combination of digital and public art programming takes on special meaning in addressing the stress, fear and anxiety many in our community are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 and the many inequities and injustices in our society, especially against communities of color, that the pandemic has laid bare this year,” offered Julia Diamond, director, Grand Park. “We are very proud to partner with the Department of Mental Health to raise awareness for personal well-being, and with Self Help Graphics and numerous local artists who bring the beautiful altars to life, using art as a source of collective healing.”
Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos Programs:
Grand Park’s Día de los Muertos Community Altars and Audio Tours
October 24, 2020–November 4, 2020
5:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
Locations: Grand Park (Grand Avenue to North Broadway)
Guests can experience, hear and learn about the traditions of Día de los Muertos and stroll through 11 altars located throughout Grand Park, curated by Self Help Graphics in collaboration with their Noche de Ofrenda series of programs, including the annual Community Altar created by Maestra Ofelia Esparza and her family. All personally and culturally relevant to Los Angeles, the 10 main large-scale altar installations represent the losses and causes of this past year. The altars are created by artists and community partners and focus on the youth from the East Los Angeles Women’s Center; workers and tenants from Community Power Collective; the rise in hate crimes against LGBTQ+ from Mi Estori: Artist Collective; and food justice from South Central Farm, among others. There will also be six kites “flying” in Grand Park’s Splash Pad representing migrant children who have died in ICE custody. Given COVID-19 public safety requirements, the public is asked not to gather or linger in large groups or leave their own ofrendas on or touch the Community Altar this year. The altars will feature a 360-degree viewing opportunity to maximize social distancing among guests.
To deepen appreciation and provide context of the public art installations, Grand Park will offer attendees to the option of listening to five-minute pre-recorded audio guides with insights by the artists to complement altar viewing. Park-goers can access the storytelling through Grand Park’s Mixcloud and YouTube channels.
5:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
Location: The Music Center Plaza
The Music Center Plaza will extend the park’s public art installation with a number of offerings. Specially made Mexican folk art of papel picado, made by artist Maricela Sosa, will welcome guests to the Plaza, where they will encounter digital ofrendas and public art installations intertwined with personal health and wellness messages. The Plaza’s two large LED screens will show photos of loved ones to be remembered, crowdsourced through community outreach, as digital altars. The public art installation will include two photo exhibits: Healing Sanctuaries, curated by Dancing Diaspora Collective, will document the healing practices and personal sanctuaries of Black and Brown people; and Soul Survivors, curated by Khalid Jefferson, will feature photographers Nailah Howze, Damien Carter, and Andrew Quesada whose work highlights perseverance in the Black community, empathy and collective healing. The exhibits will also serve as mental health awareness ofrendas, offering messages of hope and support coupled with suggested resources from the County’s Department of Mental Health about where and how to seek help for those who are experiencing increased stress and strong emotions during this pandemic. The displays, two 8-foot doubled-sided walls and two 6-foot four-sided cubes, will feature 360 degree viewing opportunities to enhance social distancing. The Music Center will also provide Mixcloud audio guides with details and background on the public art installations and digital ofrendas located on The Music Center Plaza.
Bike Ofrenda Workshop presented in partnership with Self Help Graphics (online)
October 24, 2020
Online: YouTube (@GrandParkLosAngeles)
In a DIY virtual arts-based workshop, Los Angeles-based artist Sandra de la Loza will guide viewers to convert their bike into a mobile ofrenda in the spirit of Día de los Muertos so they can ride around town and honor their ancestors. The free, easy and family-friendly workshop will stream on Grand Park’s YouTube channel on Saturday, October 24, 2020, at 1:00 p.m., and provide individuals and families the opportunity to do a hands-on project together from the comfort and safety of home. Viewers are invited to be creative with materials they have at home to make paper calacas (skulls), decorate their wheels with handmade spokes and create altars for handlebars or a cargo rack; the workshop’s suggested supply list will be available at grandparkla.org.
Self Help Graphics 47th Annual Día de los Muertos Virtual Celebration, Featuring Noche de Ofrenda
November 1, 2020 4:00 p.m.
Online: YouTube (Self Help Graphics / @SHGTV) For the first time, the traditional Noche de Ofrenda ceremony honoring the dead will be a virtual program of reflection and remembrance. The online showcase, produced by Self Help Graphics (SHG) with live performances curated by The Paramount, will stream on Self Help Graphic’s YouTube channel. As part of SHG’s virtual program, Grand Park’s segment will include testimonials about Noche de Ofrenda at Grand Park from Ofelia Esparza and Rosanna Esparza; SHG’s Board President Endy Bernal; Director of Grand Park Julia Diamond; and poet Gloria Sanchez, among other speakers; the segment was filmed on location in the park, following all Los Angeles County health protocols applicable to film production.
For more information about Grand Park Downtown Día de los Muertos, visit grandparkla.org and musiccenter.org. Follow Grand Park on Facebook (GrandParkLosAngeles), as well as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@GrandPark_LA). *Artists and performances are subject to change.
About Grand Park
A vibrant outdoor gathering place, Grand Park is a beautiful public park for the entire community in Los Angeles County. With expansive green space for gatherings large and small, Grand Park celebrates the county’s cultural vitality and is host to community events, cultural experiences, holiday celebrations, and many other activities that engage and attract visitors from all communities. The 12-acre Grand Park stretches from The Music Center on the west to City Hall on the east and is easily accessible by Metro via the Red/Purple line to the Civic Center/Grand Park station. The park was named one of American Planning Association’s 10 “Great Public Spaces” in the U.S. for 2013. Working closely with the county, The Music Center is responsible for all operations and programming for the park. For more information, visit grandparkla.org. Follow Grand Park on Instagram (@grandpark_la) as well as Twitter, Twitch, YouTube (@grandparkLosAngeles), and Facebook.
About The Music Center
The Music Center convenes artists, communities and ideas with the goal of deepening the cultural lives of every resident in Los Angeles County. The non-profit performing arts organization has two divisions: TMC Arts and TMC Ops. TMC Arts, The Music Center’s programming engine, provides year-round programming inside The Music Center’s four theatres, on The Music Center Plaza, outside at Grand Park—a 12-acre adjacent green space—in schools and other locations all over Los Angeles County and on a digital platform called The Music Center Offstage. TMC Arts presents world-class dance with Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, free and low-cost public concerts and events, as well as K–12 arts education programs along with workshops, performances, interactive experiences and special events on The Music Center Offstage. TMC Ops manages the theatres, the Plaza and Grand Park on behalf of the County of Los Angeles. The Music Center is also home to four renowned resident companies—Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Master Chorale, LA Opera and LA Phil. For more information, visit musiccenter.org. Follow The Music Center on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @MusicCenterLA.
About Self Help Graphics & Art
Since its incorporation in 1973, Self Help Graphics & Art has produced more than 2,000 serigraph editions, including 62 atelier projects and exhibitions all over the world. The organization remains dedicated to the production, interpretation, and distribution of prints and other art media by Chicana/o and Latinx artists; and its multidisciplinary, intergenerational programs promote artistic excellence and empower community by providing access to working space, tools, training and beyond. Now, nearly a half century later, SHG continues to foster emerging Chicana/o and Latinx artists through its world class printmaking practice and supports the role of artists as leaders, both within its organization and the community. For more information, visit www.selfhelpgraphics.com. Follow SHG on Facebook @selfhelpgraphics and Instagram and Twitter @SHG1970.