Quintero Center’s Día de los Muertos celebration expands to new venue
By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa
The Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center (SQACC) will honor the first Latino families to settle in the Toledo area as the theme of its annual Día de los Muertos celebration and fundraiser on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011. But the dinner and dance celebration is expanding to a new venue this year: the Erie Street Market’s Fountain Room, Toledo.
“This is our 15th year and we’re the only organization that does it on this big of a scale in one location,” said Joe Balderas, long-time SQACC executive director. “It started out very small with just board members doing it on their own. We would invite some friends to look at it and they would ask to make an altar the next year. It spread through word of mouth and has become our major fundraiser. We’ve run out of space in this building.”
Día de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Mexico and Latino communities in honor of loved ones who have passed away. Family members build colorful, artistic altars in their memory, which usually contain mementos that belonged to the deceased, including photos and heirlooms.
The tradition’s origin dates back 3,000 years when Aztecs and indigenous people of Mexico believed that death was another journey in life, not to be feared.
“It looks really awesome when you have the altars spread throughout here,” said Balderas. “Everyone has their own take, their own colors, their own artwork. So it looks very, very nice.”
“We are celebrating the lives of those who have passed, so it is a happy occasion,” added Milva Wagner, SQACC board member. “The “Day of the Dead” carries the belief that for one day, the deceased come back and visit us and spend some fun time with us.”
More than a dozen altars constructed by community members, organizations, and artists will be on display at the Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center, 1225 Broadway. An altar will also be on display honoring Toledo’s first Latino families who came to town in the early 1900s. “We are going to have the descendants of those first Latino immigrants bring an item for the altar,” said Ms. Wagner. “So it’s going to be very meaningful and that altar will be brought back (to the Center) the next day and will be on exhibit with the rest of the altars.”
One of the altars includes one created by the Mexican Consulate in Detroit, which shipped authentic pieces of art from Mexico. It is the first time the consulate has participated in the celebration.
The traditional Día de los Muertos celebration will begin Sat. morning with a blessing of the altars ceremony at the center at 9 a.m., followed by a procession to SS Peter and Paul Parish, 728 S. St. Clair St, for a special memorial mass and a pan dulce y chocolate (sweet bread and chocolate) reception.
The public can view the Center’s altar exhibit on Sunday, Nov. 6, and the weekend of Nov. 12/13 from 2–5 p.m. at the Quintero Center. Admission is $1 per person. Appointments also can be made by calling the Center at 419.241.1655. Spanish classes from Genoa, Waite, and Airport (Michigan) high schools already are scheduled to view the altars, along with the Bluffton College Spanish Club. Other groups also are encouraged to set up times in advance.
“People may have seen a picture, but it’s a different experience to come here and see it 3-D,” said Balderas. “It’s a whole different experience. They can see it, breathe it, and almost taste it from the incense being burned. It does tell a story.”
Fundraising baile at the Erie Street Market
The evening dinner/dance fundraiser runs 6-11 p.m. at the Erie St. Market, 237 S. Erie St. A traditional Mexican dinner will be served featuring foods brought by the first Latino immigrants. Guests will be entertained by Salvador Torres and El Mariachi 2000, El Corazón de México folkloric dance group, and the Baile Rico Dancers. A dance with DJ Tony Ríos will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets can be reserved in advance for $35 by calling the Quintero Center at 419.241.1655. Tickets are $40 at the door. Past events have drawn about 200 people, but organizers are hoping for more than 300 people to attend this year.
The evening program also will feature exhibitions and art for sale by local Latino artists, including: Belen Antola, Veronica Englert, Bob García, Alberto Marin, Joe Martínez, Jennifer Moorman, José Treviño, Emmanuel Enriquez, and Delfina Zapata.