DOWNEY – The fourth annual Downey Dia de Los Muertos Art Festival is expanding their “Urban Art Alley” to include new works by Southern California artist Martin Sanchez, well known for his oversized, whimsical sculptures made of found, used and repurposed materials, and an exhibit of five catrinas, the familiar icons of the Mexican Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead skeletons — usually women — dressed in finery, and always wearing a fancy hat.
The Festival is scheduled for Sunday, Oct 30, in and around the Downey Theatre.
Designed by Ricardo Soltero, the five larger than life sized catrinas are brightly colored, with whimsical patterns and outlandish facial expressions.
Soltero, a native of Nayarit, Mexico, began his artistic life at 5 years old, helping his grandmother make paper flower wreaths to sell and decorate for their local Day of the Dead celebration.
While still in his teens, Soltero’s family relocated to Baja Mexico where Ricardo enrolled at the Casa de la Cultura, broadening his studies to include, dance, singing, painting, and theater, where he acted, and created sets and scenery.
Using paper mache, recyclable material, wood and styrofoam, Soltero’s works have been displayed at Hollywood Forever Day of the Dead, the Autry Museum, Denver Botanical Gardens and more. His work has also been shown in New York, Chicago and Mexico City.
Also new this year will be two new works by Martin Sanchez, who has exhibited at the festival for the past two years; his whimsical 22’ tall sculptures have been event highlights. On display this year will be “Wings,” one of Sanchez’s most sophisticated works, which has been exhibited at the Riverside Art Museum and the Pomona Art Museum, and a new work he’s crafting just for the Downey event.
Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, Sanchez has been a professional artist for 20 years, creating art out of the castaways of urban life.
“Urban Art Alley” includes an exhibit of 8-10 “trunk altars,” which are traditional altars displayed in the trunk of a car.
Other festival attractions include continuous performances in the 738 seat theatre: six of the region’s top ballet folklorico troupes, two films, a traditional art exhibit of paintings and collage in the balcony level gallery, and traditional altar displays in the main lobby.
Outside, the zocalo offers live romantica and bolero music, and in the courtyard, hands on arts and crafts with master artisan demonstrations and guidance.
The Theatre Civic Center area offers food trucks with a variety of cuisines and up to 50 vendors sell quality Day of the Dead-related art and merchandise.
The expansion of the “Urban Art Alley” is a continuation of the City of Downey and the Downey Theatre’s commitment to local art that is relevant to Day of the Dead traditions, and that also reflects the Southland’s Mexican/Latin roots and its global environment.