Wednesday November 1, 2017
Host/producer Maria Vasquez Boyd talks with Dr. Uzziel H. Pecina, Jenny Mendez Director Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery, Sarah Hyde Schmeideler Francis Family Foundation Educator with the Nelson Atkins Museum, filmaker Jon Brick & CinemaKC.
To most Americans, Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is the “Mexican Halloween.” While this isn’t the case, the vast majority of folks don’t know the actual origins and meanings of the holiday. The spiritual ritual dates back 3,000 years, and it has outlasted more than 500 years of colonization.
During the old days, Dia de los Muertos was practiced during the ninth month of he Aztec solar calendar, and it went on for a full month. However, in an attempt to convert the natives to Catholicism, the Spanish colonizers moved the celebration to November 1 and 2 (All Saints Day), which is when we celebrate it currently. While the rituals involved in the celebrations have retained some Catholic elements, the indigenous roots of the celebration are extremely prevalent.
” … Skulls were used to symbolize death and rebirth. The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations believed come back during the monthlong ritual.” —AZ Central
While most people see death as an ending, we view death as a continuation of life. Instead of simply mourning loved ones, we celebrate the lives that they had. On November 1 — Dia de los Inocentes — we celebrate the babies and children that have passed. On the next day, we celebrate the adults.
During rituals, we go to the gravesites of our loved ones and eat a meal with them, often times a meal they enjoyed. We also build altars.
Altars usually include photos of the deceased and marigold flowers, which symbolize death. We leave offerings like pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) and water to give our loved ones nourishment and strength on their journey. Clay calaveras sit on altars. They include beautiful flowers and designs to show that death shouldn’t be feared or shown in a morbid light.
Altars also hold candles, which are used to guide souls to our altars, along with burning incense, resin or herbs like copal oro and sage. They can also have statues of deities like Virgen de Guadalupe or Santa Muerte, the personification of death, who was modeled after the Aztec goddess of the underworld, Mictecacuhuatl.
“The souls that visit [the] altars do not actually eat or drink what is on the altar. … Instead they absorb the aroma and energy of the food, which nourishes their spirits. After the holiday is over, the foods and drinks on the altars are distributed among family and friends, but the foods and drinks are now tasteless and devoid of nutritional value, because their essence is gone.” —Thaneeya McArdle
We paint our faces with ornate skulls that have flowers and filigree. Most Americans would call this “sugar skull makeup,” however it’s not. It’s called Calavera or Catrina makeup. Catrina is a reference to a zinc etching from 1910 to 1913. As Latin Times writes: “She is offered as a satirical portrait of those Mexican natives who, [the artist] felt, were aspiring to adopt European aristocratic traditions in the pre-revolutionary era.”
Some folks also wear masks of calaveras or calacas (skulls). These were traditionally carved from wood. Both of these practices are done as a means of mocking death. In this way, we’re telling death that we aren’t afraid of it.
The actual sugar skulls are small calaveras made of candy, piped with icing for decoration. During celebrations, these are eaten as a symbol of consuming death and the negative emotions that come with it — and not letting death or those emotions consume us. While this holiday may include beautiful colors and sights, it’s quite sacred and holds a great deal of meaning. It’s not something to exotify or tokeniz. –Nik Moreno October 2, 2016, Wear Your Voice
Dr. Uzziel H. Pecina, Professor UMKC, musician/singer with Trio Atzlan, KC based band joins us in the studio. Following the death of his beloved son, Uzzielito, Dr. Pecina became an advocate for suicide awareness and prevention.
Suicide Preventon 1.800.273.TALK or text “HOME” to 741-741
Trio Aztlan has been involved in the Kansas City Mexican/Latino music scene since 1992. The group was originally created out of the absence of a traditional Latin trio group in the Kansas City area. Trio Aztlan was created to showcase traditional trio performances live for all to hear. The group performs all styles of Latin folkloric music, but has focused on the traditional “bolero” style of Latin romantic music. Trio Aztlan has been known to “rock out” acoustically, performing some mean rumbas and cumbias to get the fans dancing. Trio Azltan performs with traditional acoustic guitars, an upright bass and percussion, and all members sing in harmony, typical of the trio music of Latin America.
Trio Aztlan is: Dr. Uzziel H. Pecina, vocals/guitar, is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Education Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC); Jose Sustaita, vocals/bass is a professional electrician; Andres Ramirez, percussion/vocals, is a professional percussionist from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico; Kevin Sweet, guitar/vocals, is a professional classical guitarist and a graduate of the UMKC Conservatory of Music: and Luis A. Portillo is a music/band teacher at Alta Vista Middle School and also a UMKC Conservatory graduate. The members are dedicated to promoting Latin music in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. Trio Aztlan was the house band at Manny’s Mexican Restaurant on the Boulevard for eighteen years and now can be found performing all over the city and region. Trio Aztlan is on Facebook and can be found at Trioaztlan.com for performance information.
Trio Aztlan has two recorded efforts to date:
“Trio Aztlan,” 2001 and “Peor es Nada,” 2005
Jenny Mendez Director Mattie Rhodes Art Center-Friday November 3, Dia de los Muertos Closing Reception & Calaca Parade-Join us to celebrate the colorful and loving, traditional Mexican Day of the Dead holiday. The exhibit features traditional, contemporary and personal altars created by local artists, families, school groups and community members, as well as Day of the Dead inspired art work.
Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery is located at 919 W. 17th St. KCMO 64108
Enjoy one last night with the exhibit and celebrate the Dia de los Muertos holiday with our Calaca Night Parade at 7pm! Giant light up puppets lead the parade through the Westside and end at the Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery!
The night features live salsa music by Calle Vida & DJ Astro, food trucks, great art and a great time!
Contact [email protected] for more information.
Sarah Hyde Schmeideler Francis Family Foundation Educator, Family Programs & Events- Día De Los Muertos Annual Day of the Dead Festival, Sunday November 5
Join us in celebrating Mexican culture at our “Día de los Muertos” festival with live music, art activities, food, and an innovative altar display featuring a 3-D Tree of Life with projected images of artwork by local artists.
Additional parking and FREE shuttle to the museum available at Kauffman Foundation & Kauffman Gardens, 4800-01 Rockhill Road, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
FREE parking in garage for museum members. $10 parking for nonmembers
.Performances and Activities
Kirkwood Hall, Plaza Level
10 a.m.–5 p.m. | Altar Installation
This year’s display offers an innovative presentation of the Tree of Life, a well-known Day of the Dead tradition. A 3-D tree sculpture is the focal point, with projected images of artwork created by local artists from Mattie Rhodes Center and children from area schools. You are invited to add your own special remembrance.
11:30 a.m.–Noon & 2–2:30 p.m. | Readings
Artist, writer, and radio host Maria Vasquez Boyd, local writers Miguel Morales and Whitney Boyd, and Angelica Silva of the Migrant Farm Workers Project read selected poetry.
Atkins Auditorium, Lobby Level
10:45–11:30 a.m. | El Grupo Atotonilco
12:30–1:20 p.m. & 2:30–3:15 p.m. | M5 Mexican Brass
*Special welcome at 12:30 p.m.
Since its founding in 2005, M5 Mexican Brass have established themselves as Latin America’s most successful Brass Quintet with wide international recognition.
Performance supported by the Consulate of Mexico in Kansas City and the Mexican Agency of International Cooperation for Development.
Ford Learning Center Room 6, Lobby Level
10 a.m.–4 p.m.| Temporary Tattoos
Apply a custom temporary tattoo.
Rockhill Room, Level 2
10 a.m.–1 p.m. | Live Printing
Pick up a print by local artists Erick Felix and Nic Ortega fresh off their mobile printing press. While supplies last.
1–4 p.m. | Artists Demonstrations
Demonstrations by local artists from Mattie Rhodes Center.
Spencer Art Reference Library, Level 2
1–4 p.m. | Book Display & Bookmark Decorating
Enjoy a special book display and color a Day of the Dead themed bookmark.
Noon–1 p.m. | Aztlan
Experience the vocal harmonies of the “bolero” style of Latin romantic music and dance the rumba and cumbia.
3–4 p.m. | Maria the Mexican
Maria the Mexican is an American Soul/Mexicana Groove band of four multitalented musicians.
10 a.m.–4 p.m. | Tree of Life Art Activity
Decorate a paper Tree of Life with traditional motifs.
10:30-10:50 a.m. | Medio Pollito, The Little Half Chicken by Mesner Puppet Theater
Repeats 11:30-11:50 a.m. & 1:30-1:50 p.m.
Gather around the Tree of Life to hear a Mexican folk tale about Medio Pollito, a little chicken born with just one leg, one wing, one eye, and half a beak!
2-2:30 p.m. | The Dancing Calacas
The Dancing Calacas wear elaborately designed dresses and perform dances choreographed to illustrate life cycles of plants, animals, and people. Pose for pictures with the Dancing Calacas throughout the day.
Dine in Rozzelle Court Restaurant
11 a.m.–3 p.m. Lunch | Desserts and beverages until 4 p.m.
Plaza Level, Bloch Lobby
11 a.m.-4 p.m. | Try Mexican-inspired fare in Bloch Lobby. Prices vary.
Ford Learning Center Rooms 4 & 5
11 a.m.–4 p.m. | The Tamale Kitchen. Purchase handmade tamales and support opportunities for the Hispanic community in the Northeast Kansas City area.
Support for the day’s activities is provided by W.K. Kellogg Foundation Trustee Donor Advised Fund.
Jon Brick and CinemaKC-‘UNCOMMON ALLIES’ DOCUMENTARY TO SCREEN AT FUNDRAISER
Kansas City based film director, Jon Brick and CinemaKC will host a screening event for Mr. Brick’s feature documentary film, Uncommon Allies on Saturday, November 11, 2017 beginning at 7:30 PM. (VIP admission begins at 6:30PM). The screening and party will be held at The Medallion Theater, Westport Plexpod, 300 E 39th St. Kansas City, MO 64111. (https://www.plexpod.com/locations/westport).
Uncommon Allies portrays how Rosilyn Temple, in the wake and devastation of her son’s murder, turned a personal search for justice into a life changing community call to action. At a time when widespread distrust of law enforcement is at a heightened level, Uncommon Allies explores Rosilyn’s role in effectively bridging the gap between grieving communities and the police department at every homicide scene in the Kansas City, MO area. Rosilyn’s passion, leadership, and dedication are helping to improve police-community relations, and she has become a local hero and beacon of strength for her community.
“Uncommon Allies is a heart wrenching and inspirational story that needs to be heard,” says Brick. “The film’s goal is to create awareness of what’s happening in ALL of our communities, and inspire people to take a stand against gun violence and homicide. The film also presents ideas on how to improve police-community relations.”
The film will be followed by a panel discussion with Temple, Jon Brick and members of the Kansas City, MO Police Department.
“This screening and this opportunity with Jon Brick is what CinemaKC is all about,” says CinemaKC president Rick Brook. “Premiering Uncommon Allies is the first of many unique screenings that CinemaKC will be doing over the ensuing months.”
$15 General Admission Ticket – Screening and panel discussion from 7:30pm to 9:15pm
$40 Gold Ticket -Pre-Party food and drinks 6:30pm to 7:30pm – Screening and panel discussion from 7:30pm to 9:15pm
$100 VIP Ticket -Pre-Party food and drinks 6:30pm to 7:30pm – Screening and panel discussion from 7:30pm to 9:15pm – VIP party from 9:30pm to 10:30pm
Parking is available in the lot off of the Warwick entrance.
Food and drinks for Gold and VIP tickets will be provided from Port Fonda, Crows Coffee and other local vendors.
For more information about Uncommon Allies, please the links below:
Pitch Magazine article about Uncommon Allies
Uncommon Allies Fiscal Sponsor- International Documentary Association
Uncommon Allies Facebook