"According to legend ... when the best benefit party of the year collides with
November 1, Day of the Dead, El Dia de los Muertos, the undying spirit of art
will rise to join the fun, and a spicy Latino celebration of the soul will ensue
... it's ¡Mambo Muerto! Shake the skeletons out of your closet and join us for SPACES' Annual Benefit & Silent Auction!"
SPACES gallery has been a supportive partner of the visual arts program at Max Hayes High School for several years, inviting our students to special viewings of gallery exhibitions and providing opportunities for the kids to meet and occasionally work with resident artists.
When I received an e-mail request for volunteers to help create decorations for their annual benefit, I immediately extended the invitation to the Art Club.
I have never had such an enthusiastic group of artists in all of my years of teaching in the Cleveland schools. For many of these kids, late afternoons at home can be very boring, and so they relish the chance to socialize with their friends just as much as they enjoy the opportunity to create. The adventure of visiting a new place, combined with the promise of earning community service hours, provided plenty of incentive for six of the members to brave the rain, and walk the twenty blocks that separate the gallery from the school.
Danny and Jeff were the first to arrive, much to the delight of the SPACES staff. They were quickly put to work tracing a giant skeleton onto foam core board, and carefully cutting out the bones with Exacto knives.
Danny, a native of Mexico, entertained the group with stories of his own family's traditions as they celebrate the Day of the Dead. Later on he confided how cool it was that everyone seemed so interested in his ancestral customs. Usually he gets teased about his Mexican heritage.
Sarah, Cora, Deseraee, and Gabriel sloshed into the gallery about ten minutes after the first two boys. They were given several choices of tasks from "glitterizing" cardboard skulls, painting borders on table cloths, or hollowing out sugar skulls, to creating tissue paper carnations. They began with the flowers, then moved on to the glitter and paint. Before we knew it, the time had come to hurry back out to the bus stop. They were all invited to come back Wednesday and help build the traditional Dias del Muerto Fiesta altar.
"Can we?" Eager faces looked at me hopefully.
"Of course" I'd never dream of spoiling this kind of fun.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature is not such a good sport as I am. When we walked out the door the rain had turned to sleet.