The memory and power of Tony Esquivel’s Art

I had a long beautiful in depth conversation with Tony Esquivel’s son. Ton Esquivel passed away about five years ago, but his memory lives on through his work. Beacon Arts connected with Tony’s son to make this ofrenda. Tony talked to me about how his father made many of these paintings within the last fifteen years of his live. He made these paintings as a means of establishing his identity. For many years, his father struggled with who he was due to the oppression that the Catholicism can put upon people. This lead his offer to gravitate into the indigenous aspect of being Chicano. Here, he found peace. His is most prevalent with in his depictions. Tony’s son told me how they are slowly are revealing his fathers work to the public, and believe the sharing of his story would be the greatest thing. I also I enjoyed being able to see the amount of emotions in even the animals facial expressions in Tony’s work. His work is well informed, powerful, and must be showed and shared to the world. Tony is thoughts and powerful ideas live beyond his death and are now immortal through his work.

Paying Homage Through Music

At El Centro’s stage for DDLM, one of the MC’s, El Vez, is paying homage to his friend, Kim, a musician, performer, and somebody very dear to him who cannot be fully encapsulated in words. (Photo taken by John Petrovich, group 8).

As the celebration of Dia de Los Muertos continues at El Centro, we are paying homage through group song and performance. Above, we are paying homage to Kim, a musician from Los Angeles who left the world to early, and we are listening to transformations of her music by her dear friend.

At El Centro’s stage for DDLM, a performer from Bellingham is emulating and paying their respects to Selena. (Photo taken by John Petrovich, group 8).

Above, everybody comes together in song and laughter as Selena makes her way to and down the centre aisle in song dance. I personally cannot place the songs because of my lack of Spanish, though I do see couples dancing with their loved ones and others watching in awe at the power of this performance.

It is amazing to see so many people joined together. Whether eating mole, learning about the ofrendas made this year, or face-painting, we are all in celebration of our loved ones return. There is nobody with a frown on their face, a sharp contrast to the modes of grieving permitted in euro-centric society. Rather than “just dealing with it,” we are collectively remembering, mourning, and healing. I am truly thankful for this space.

Expressing traditions

As we walk through the hall of altars we see many different interpretations on what our community is honoring. I noticed the waves of people stopping specifically and taking time to look at this altar. As I stepped closer it looked like an exact replica of what we think an ofrenda/altar to look like. The bright colors & the photos of those being remembered with the pan de muerto all ties the traditions together & is opening space to bring the community together. Everyone was stopping & taking photos while parents were stepping down to their kids to help explain why an altar had specific colors & offerings. Those dressed in dia de los muertos fashion walked with their chins up & caught the attention if those admiring the work & community.

Engaging in celebrations

As the community came together to celebrate Dia De Los Muertos I walked through the Ofrenda halls, passed by the smell of mole, & outside into the mini market. You saw children mesmerized by those dressed in traditional fashions with their face makeup (pictured @ 5:07pm-chose not to be named) & you saw the long lines from the community looking for abuelita hot chocolate with a piece of pan de muerto (pictured @ 6:02pm). The passing out of pan de muerto was allowing for those who didnt quite understand why the pieces of dough were on the ofrendas to take a piece of the tradition. They could feel the sweet bread dipped in the warm cocoa fill their bodies to replicate how the ofrendas were fulfilling the voices of those being honored.  

GWSS 451 Group 9

– This photo was at the Dia De Los Muertos Celebration, in El Centro De La Raza’s Seattle, WA. Taken by Group 9 , UW students in GWSS 451 on November 1 2019. The capture represents People from different cultures sitting on one table and enjoying Mexican food tradition lunch altogether.

In the capture there are many people who have different cultural backgrounds and personal identities. They are all sharing one table, and they were all enjoying eating one type of food that represents Mexican food tradition. I personally never tried Mexican food before, when I tried it in the altar/ ofrenda event, I found out it is very similar to the Middle Eastern food which is wonderful. The people were having fun talking to one another and celebrating the Altar/ Ofrenda honoring the memory of the people who have passed away.

El Vez came to visit Beacon Hill !

I just followed a crowd of people being lead of dia de los muertos folklorico dancers. I followed these dancers to the unknown. I slowly realized i was being lead into a performance room. I heard the tune of the iconic, political rallying song “It’s immigration time” by El Vez. El Vez is an iconic Mexican/ Chicano Elvis impersonator. That alters various classic rock ballads into songs describing the chicano experience. He was wearing a beautiful green, white and red mariachi suit with the Mexican eagle printed on his back. The people in the crowd consisted of various colors, ethnicity and cultures. This event was a magnificent experience celebrating what it means to be chicanx resisting the migra with diverse open minded family and friends.

GWSS 451 Group 9

-This photo was at the Dia De Los Muertos Celebration, in El Centro De La Raza’s Seattle, WA. Taken by Group 9 , UW students in GWSS 451 on November 1 2019. The capture represents SIEU 6 service that protect workers rights.

At the Dia De Los Muertos Celebration event, this altar is representing an honor for the SEIU 6, which is labor Union in Seattle that being founded by group to protect the rights of the employees. SEIU 6 present over 7,500 workers in Washington State. SEIU 6 is diverse service membership that present immigrants workforce as well.

Silent Death, Group 1

Today, Dia de Los Muertos is being celebrated at El Centro de La Raza in Beacon Hill. This celebration started at five in the afternoon. At this celebration multiple people set up their altars, each one with a different meaning, everyone representing a deceased someone who meant something special to them. The altars as seen in the picture above were to celebrate death in a happy way and make everything colorful and beautiful to remember our loved ones. At this celebration we also had food, many people from all around joined us to commemorate our loved ones and this beautiful tradition in Mexican culture.
Our altar represented the deaths of those who were trans/queer women and immigrants. Our altar represented the silencing of the significance of the death of these people and their importance on this day. Many people stopped by and asked about our altar and were impressed with our topics. In a way, we made justice for the death of these people because we were remembering on this day and honoring these specific people. It was very beautiful watching how people would acknowledge the death of those who have deceased in a beautiful way. This experience granted us a deeper understanding of the Mexican culture and its traditions, this event was amazing how it portrayed and represented a small part of how beautiful this culture is.

Day of the Dead Celebration

This event was a really great experience for me. Having grown up in Hawaii, I was very fortunate to be able to experience a great fusion of cultures, from Hawaiian culture to Japanese culture. However, there wasn’t a huge population of Latinx people, so I knew very little of the culture. The biggest factor as to why I decided to take the Latina Cultural Production class, was to learn more. This has led to me to attend the Dia De Los Muertos event. This was the first time I experienced a Day of the Dead celebration. Whether it was my groupmates speaking their own language to the people stopping by our altar or the kids celebrating this day with their family, I witnessed the strong Latinx culture surronding Dia De Los Muertos and I am very appreciative of this opportunity to be a part of this event.

The picture above is of our altar which commemorates the children who passed while in custody of immigration.

We are group 5.

Dia De Los Muertos

At the Dio De Los Muertos event, at the bottom floor of El Centro, we had the opportunity to experience part of the culture through its food. There were an array of foods ranging from mole, arroz, frijoles, and a selection of desserts, from arroz con leche, to champurrado, pan dulce, and handfuls of candy. After this, there was a musical procession bringing the event participants from El Centro to the centillion building, followed by folkloric dancing performances. No doubt, this event highlighted the beauty of Latin art, narration of silent stories, and traditions like sugar skull costumes, live music, and the celebration of unity within Latinos remembering loved ones, forgotten ones, and ones who continue la lucha. We couldn’t have had a better experience in El Centro de la Raza.

The picture above is a picture of the band leading people to the procession!

We are group 5.