Monday, November 03, 2003

day of the dead

Spent much of All Soul's Day (November 1) appropriately enough checking out Oakland Museum's exhibit "Global Elegies:Art and Ofrendas for the Day of the Dead" on now til December 7.

The Oakland Museum is a little known museum that focuses on the history and art of California. Their collection of art is focused on artists either based in or from California.

The ofrendas, or altar displays commemorating the dead, are actually found throughout the museum, not just in the third floor art floor. To get to John Ricker's metal coffin made out of guns, we had to follow the signs through the history section, with displays of the First Peoples and California's subsequent settlers.

Another coffin shaped like a giant green lobster lay upstairs from a Ghana tradition where the coffin represents an aspect of the dead. For example a taxi driver might be buried in a taxi shaped and decorated coffin. Next to the coffin lay some of the remains of Jerome Caja, who posthumously gave his own ashes away cast to various friends in plastic crosses.

While looking at the metal sculptures in the courtyard, we stared past the images of Stephanie Syuco's grandmother and greatgrandmother stretched into shadowy images on the glass like apparitions of Jesus or the Madonna.

On the same floor, but not part of the Ofrendas exhibit, was a piece by Reanne Estrada, part of her human hair on soap series, such artistry in the delicate placement of the fine strands on the white soap. Across from the soap was Manuel Ocampo's "Untitled (map of Los Angeles)."

The art exhibit floor includes a collection of photographs by Dorothea Lange and a retrospective exhibit of abstract artist Fred Martin 1948-2003.

Entering the Oakland Museum costs $8 (for adults) but walking through it's maze garden is free. It's like walking into a secret garden in downtown Oakland.

No comments: