Saturday, November 3, 2007
the day of the dead
I didn't react well to the Day of the Dead procession this year. Getting there was a chore on the crowded, cross-town bus that moved slowly due to road closures and I was startled by the crowd size. I got off early and walked several block through a jostling mob to meet up with Marina, recently back from a year teaching in Japan, at the Bryant and 24th St. intersection where a crowd seethed with drummers, skeleton face paint, white candles, bicycles and spinning pinwheels. The event had grown larger than ever and, despite it's Latin roots and Mission District location, was very much a Caucasian affair. The Burning Man community was out in force and the crowd movement as we began the parade through the Mission, was characterized by bumps, elbows and flat tires as well as stilt walkers, streamer-waving dancers and small hand-towed floats laden with gongs. Mural painted Balmy Alley, scene of many memorable Dias de Los Muertes past was closed off. The smell of beer, incense and pot filled the air. I'd brought a hand shaker, joining into different drum patterns as we went, while catching up a bit with Marina. I even ran into a few other people I knew amid the throng. Nonetheless, I failed to fall into an easy step with the stop and go pace of the procession, perhaps due to the long day of early morning yoga, work, meetings, appointments and public transportation traveling. It wasn't until we reached Garfield Park where altars, ribbon festooned trees, stone spirals and offerings were laid out in memory of lost loved ones, and the crowd quieted a bit, that I felt the intent of the day....
So my readers like the artwork, which makes me laugh because my mom, an avid reader who sang off key and probably would have written if she were alive today, always said "I wish you'd just be a visual artist." It felt a bit like a back-handed compliment when she said it, but I am at my calmest when drawing--writing helps me figure stuff out, singing is emotive, while the drawing tends to be celebratory and reserved for those I know and love. A couple of months a go I painted a slew of dahlias for birthday cards. This is one of the remainders: