Santa Paula Times

‘Dia De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead’ marked with lively Nov. 1-2 celebrations!

October 26, 2007
Santa Paula News

There’s Halloween and then there’s Dia De Los Muertos, The Day of the Dead, which will be celebrated with a series of cultural events that show that death is only the beginning and that happiness is not limited to mortals.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThere’s Halloween and then there’s Dia De Los Muertos, The Day of the Dead, which will be celebrated with a series of cultural events that show that death is only the beginning and that happiness is not limited to mortals.The Santa Paula California Oil Museum (SPCOM), Santa Paula Family Resource Center (SPFRC) and Danza Ateca Tonantzin are celebrating Day of the Dead over a two-day period, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, according to SPCOM Administrator Jeanne Orcutt.The celebration will include the Nov. 1 Dia De Los Muertos reception at the museum, from 4 to 7 p.m.“It’s going to be a fun evening,” and just the start of planned future Day of the Dead activities, Orcutt noted.The free event is an “educational exhibit to give the public a greater understanding” of the history of Dia De Los Muertos. Artists include Art Rivas, Sonia Cabral, Fernando Moran, Carmen Guerrero, Michael Torres and Xavier Montes. Some children’s pieces from the Boys and Girls Club of Port Hueneme will be displayed along with altars assembled by Guerrero, Luzmaria Espinosa and Michael Giles. The celebration will also feature music, a dance presentation by Danza Azteca Tonantzin, and ballet folklorico and mariachi from Inlak’Ech de Oxnard. Orcutt said her own knowledge of the subject surfaced due to her late mother, whose birthday was Nov. 2.“She passed about 15 years ago,” and when the family visited her gravesite they observed others decorated for Dia De Los Muertos.“Sonia, one of our exhibitors, became intrigued with it because she was born on the Day of the Dead,” and wants to show that “it is not a morbid holiday, but a celebration of life in death.”Orcutt said she has learned that “it’s not all about skeletons dancing around and scaring us…it’s about rebirth and life and positive, positive things. All the people I have come into contact with this are wonderful teachers about Day of the Dead.”Moran’s father Ignacio is a cartoonist “in the style of Posada” who in the 19th and 20th centuries used Day of the Dead cartoons to belittle the unpopular ruling class that was eventually deposed.
Moran is offering an “exciting array” of art including drawings and Mexican folk art cutouts - papel picado - of Day of the Dead figures.Torres is a SPUHS teacher: “He’s also a very interesting artist and Giles’ altar” focuses on the earth, “a really lovely altar, very different.”Paintings by Rivas and Montes, both “notable Day of the Dead artists” are also featured with Montes creating an altar with Guerrero, who also has a photograph in the exhibit.Danza Azteca Tonantzin Director Luzmaria Espinosa noted that the celebration is a “very collaborative event and we are so glad to be doing this in Santa Paula again.”Espinosa and Javier Gomez of Centro Cultural Inlak’Ech de Oxnard began Dia De Los Muertos activities in the early 1980’s in Santa Paula and Ventura County. The theatrical group “Teatro Cuauhtli” will present a special performance at the museum with musical accompaniment by Montes, a noted musician. On Friday, Nov. 2 the SPFRC in collaboration with Danza Azteca Tonantzín, Grupo Nahui Ollin and Centro Cultural Inlak’Ech de Oxnard will be hosting a community celebration at Ebell Park starting at 4:30 p.m.Live music, danza, face painting and other festive activities will delight children and adults alike, and at 5:30 p.m. Danza Azteca Tonantzín will lead a procession down Main Street to the SPFRC (942 E. Main St.) where the celebration will continue with ballet folklórico, mariachi, a Día de los Muertos skit, food and the unveiling of the community altar. The second of two free workshops will be held Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Center from 1-4p.m. and will include making sugar skulls, masks, animal calacas, papel picado and the community altar…for more information call the SPFRC at 525-6616.SPCOM is located at 1001 E. Main St.Although there is free admission for the museum’s Day of the Dead Celebration regular admission is $4 adults, $3 seniors and $1 youth and free for museum members.Regular museum hours are Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.The “Dia De Los Muertos:  Day of the Dead” will run through Nov. 11.Call 933-0076 for more information or visit the museum website at