Dia de los Muertos celebrated at gallery

DOWNEY - It was an evening filled with painted faces, cultural dancing, colorful decor and festive skulls at Stay Gallery in Downey. The gallery, which recently opened its doors in October, hosted a Dia de los Muertos event on Nov. 2 that featured a number of activities including traditional Day of the Dead face paintings, live music, food, and overall, a cultural experience that many local residents will never forget.

"The overall vibe was amazing, and it was definitely my favorite Halloween celebration that I took part in this year," Downey resident Joseph Sandoval said. "It was a small venue, so it was a really intimate and fun environment for me and my friends to be in together. I loved all of the activities and how different it was than just a traditional Halloween party."

The event, which dominated the newly constructed gallery's premises, was attended by local residents of all ages who took part in cultural dancing, eating, drinking and just overall mingling. The gallery, which offers a modern vibe, boasted colorful paper cutouts draped from the ceilings as well as artwork by local artists affixed to the walls. The music echoed throughout the small space, and offered an intimate environment that had an overwhelmingly comfortable feeling.

The gallery's creative director, Gabriel Enamorado, attended the event and took part in the night's many festivities. He explained why it was so important to him and his partners for the gallery to host such an event.

"Dia de los Muertos dates back hundreds of years, and has been a Mexican (and now world-wide) tradition to pay tribute to the dead," said Enamorado. "I believe people enjoy these types of celebrations because it's a positive way to commemorate their loved ones - by bringing them gifts, and remembering the good times before they departed from earth."

While some Halloween celebrations focus solely on costumes and make-up, the Day of the Dead party boasted a number of entertainments, allowing people from all walks of life to have a fun and enjoyable night out. While the event had a little something for every taste, Enamorado went on to describe why he felt it so important to host this specific gathering at the gallery.

"We chose to celebrate this event at the gallery because we are aware of the deep traditions it carries, and we wanted to provide an outlet for those who celebrate it to enjoy it locally," said Enamorado. "At the same time, providing a fun and exciting way to teach those who don't know about the tradition is important."

The gallery hosts events for a number of occasions, including "Stay: Bavarian" in late October which paid homage to Oktoberfest, as well as "Stay: Acting" which is set to feature an acting class and performance from Downey Adult School's students on Nov. 14.

Stay Gallery is constantly planning its next big event, and all of the details can be found on their Facebook page, Facebook.com/staygallery. "This, and many more cultural events will be held on a yearly basis at the gallery, we can't wait!" said Enamorado.

The venue presents itself with the tagline "here to stay," and with the direction it's headed, it looks like it's going to be staying for a long time.

Stay Gallery will be hosting a toy drive Dec. 14 to benefit local charities. More details will be posted online at stay-gallery.com and on the gallery's Facebook page.

********** Published: November 15, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 31