LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Los Angeles Public Library presents the exhibit Puro Muerto: Contemporary Imagery of Day of the Dead through March 4, 2007. Since Day of the Dead follows Halloween, the two experiences have become closely linked in the United States. However, their traditions are distinct. “In Mexico, Dia de Los Muertos mostly involves going to the cemetery to do altars or leave offerings (such as food, sweets or flowers); the art-making aspect is not as active,” said Artemio Rodríguez, one of several Los Angeles artists whose work is featured in the exhibit. “But here in the United States, since we Latinos are far from our homeland, we rely more on art to express the occasion.” Rodriguez mused on Day of the Dead’s growing popularity among Americans. “I think Day of the Dead makes us remember our dead, but at the same time, it also makes us more deeply aware of the fragility of life. And it does this in an artistic way that’s not morbid or based on fear. I think the lesson is to do the best that we can and to be good people because there’s a point where we all have to cross to the other side.”
The exhibit’s own roots can be traced to its companion book, “Puro Muerto,” which was released last November by L.A. publisher La Mano Press. The first printing sold out quickly, and the second edition has landed on retailer Barnes and Noble’s nationally featured book selections. Rodriguez, along with his graphic artist wife Silvia Capistrán, was one of the driving forces behind both the exhibit and the book. “With the exhibit, we wanted to recreate the book as a living experience where you get into X or Y space and you feel like you’re traveling through the book,” he said. The exhibit features works of Latino artists based primarily in Los Angeles. The majority of the pieces were created after 1994.
The exhibition is free and open during library hours: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sunday, 1 – 5 p.m. The book is available for purchase in the Library Store on the First Level.