Day of the Dead exhibit addresses gentrification in the Mission District

La lloronaThe new Day of the Dead exhibit at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts will focus on rapid gentrification and the displacement of local families and artists  taking place in the neighborhood.

The exhibit, La Llorona: Weeping for the Life and Death of the Mission District aims to give community members, artists, and students an avenue to express their love and grief for their community and the death of its cultural identity.

“I felt that people needed a public place where they could come and mourn for the death of their community, and we are using the celebration to celebrate life and death and to reclaim our culture,” said curator of the exhibit, Martina Ayala.

Forty-two altars will be prepared to recognize the lives of loved ones and the death of Latino culture within the Mission and around the United States.

“The system we live in, they give priority to money, so sadly, tradition and culture is pushed to the side, and what remains is empty shells to be filled by newcomers that don’t have much roots, but they have a lot of money,” said Carlos Baron, a longtime Mission performance arts coordinator and college professor at San Francisco State University.

Baron and his students have prepared an alter reflecting on the death of the Latino culture not only in the Mission but also in the past, which has led to the struggle between sustaining the authenticity of the Latino culture within the larger and more dominant culture.

“Although it is Day of the Dead we want to think about issues that people dealt with when they were alive,” said Baron.

Luis Vasquez Gomez, another local artist, is dedicating his alter, Mad Zillion, to the horrors of gentrification in the mission and how it is threatening the lives of many locals. Gomez’s interactive piece will allow attendees to write to the mayor or the Planning Commission about their thoughts on the recent changes in the area.

“It is important that we do what we have to do in the present time,” said Gomez.

The other alters are dedicated to loved ones, along with sculptures and other artistic pieces that depict the history of Aztec traditions.

The exhibit will be open to the public October 16-November 23. A reception will be held on Day of the Dead, Nov. 2, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is $5.

For more information visit or call 415-821-1155

(also published by El Tecolote Newspaper)


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