“These are the days of miracle and wonder,” to quote an old Paul Simon hit. Yes, in Mexico this description fits, since these are the days – October 30 through November 2 – known as Dias de Los Muertos (Days of the Dead), when the spirits of dead loved ones are invited back for a pleasant visit each year. Miracle and wonder indeed.
It’s the generally held belief here in Mexico that the only truly dead people are those who are utterly forgotten. To be remembered, to have one’s life celebrated after we’re gone, is to live on – at least in the memories of those who are still living. To this end, friends and family members construct colorful and artful ofrendas (offerings, in the form of altars) each year at this time in honor of their loved ones who have passed on.
This tradition has even been embraced by members of the expat community here in San Miguel de Allende, of whom I’m one. In previous years’ Dias de Los Muertos I’ve made an altar to my paternal grandfather, John Black, whose mother Helen was the subject of my historical novel Jamie’s Muse. (See my WOW post of a year ago today for that story and ofrenda photo: www.bonnieleeblack.com/blog/up-in-the-air/ .)
This year I made a small, understated (which she would prefer) ofrenda in honor of my mom, Lee Black, who would be pleased, I think, to see that I’m so happy here in San Miguel, living years longer than she did, and I’m finally following her decades-long urging to pursue watercolor painting more seriously.
There are fabulous, dazzling – magical and wonderful! — ofrendas everywhere you go here these days. They’re in private homes, of course, as well as in tiendas (shops), restaurants, public parks and gardens, and, naturally, in art galleries.
Last week, I took a photo of the ofrenda in my favorite little restaurant, El Encanto, on Relox (about which I wrote in a recent WOW post – www.bonnieleeblack.com/blog/la-cuchara/ ):
Yesterday I took a photo of this large ofrenda-in-progress at La Colección gallery on Calzada de la Aurora #28, near where I live:
And this afternoon (October 30), I visited the “Ofrendas y Art Walk” at San Miguel’s outstanding art and design center, Fabrica La Aurora (also on Calzada de la Aurora), where the “Dia de Muertos Ofrendas” exhibition will be on view through Tuesday, November 2.
Almost all of the many art galleries in Fabrica La Aurora – a converted early 20th-century textile factory – have created a magnificent ofrenda for the occasion.
Here are just a few of them:
As Paul Simon also says in that same song, “magical is art.” So if you’re in SMA, be sure to see these ofrendas (and many more) for yourself in the coming days of “miracle and wonder” here.
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For more about Fabrica La Aurora’s fascinating history, visit their website: