Four celebrated, locally-based artists present work in conjunction with Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Día de los Muertos, a historic Mexican festival held on November 1st and 2nd of each year, honors the deceased through gifts and hand-crafted altars. A national holiday in Mexico, Día de los Muertos occurs in conjunction with the Catholic holidays All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl.
Local artist, curator, and director of the Division 9 Gallery, Cosmé Cordova, has been coordinating annual exhibitions in connection with Día de los Muertos in Riverside for the past eight years. Cosmé Cordova, Jesús Cruz, Jr., and Dirk Shultz bring forth work rooted in the rich heritage of this sacred and historic festival.
One of the first artists involved in Riverside’s annual exhibition, Dirk Schultz first became involved with Día de los Muertos when he participated in 2004 by creating papier maché masks for the festival. No less important was Dirk’s motivating his students to make their own masks, which were also exhibited. Schultz has been participating in the Día de los Muertos exhibition in Riverside every year since 2003.
Jesús Cruz, Jr.
Born and raised in Fontana, Jesús Cruz, Jr. has been an educator for some 34 years. Cruz, Jr. actively incorporates art in his daily lessons and found his passion for drawing through his efforts to expose his students to art. Cruz Jr.’s linocut prints are bold and easily identifiable with their high-contrast balck and white color scheme and mesmerizingly rhythmic use of pattern.
Aside from being recognized by the City for his artistic excellence and community service, Cordova is known for his development of partnerships with other arts and community organizations. Included in the list of his inspired signature events are the Riverside Arts Walk on First Thursdays and the annual the Day of the Dead exhibition (now in its eighth year in Riverside). Cordova brings to the forefront both established and emerging local artists, as well as art students from local educational institutions.