mi casa es tu casa pajaro valley arts
The Title Wall of this year's “Mi Casa es Tu Casa: Honoring Our Ancestors” exhibit welcomes visitors to the Pajaro Valley Gallery. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

The annual “Mi Casa es Tu Casa” exhibit, centered around Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a traditional holiday in Mexico, has opened at Pajaro Valley Arts in Watsonville.

“Mi Casa es Tu Casa: Honoring Our Ancestors” features a range of participants, including nonprofit organizations, public institutions, schools and local artists whose work will exhibit through Dec. 3.

The show largely features altars comprised of photos, memorabilia, artifacts, ceramics, flowers, musical instruments and needlework to commemorate and honor family and community members who have died.

“This cherished tradition brings together families, communities and friends as they prepare to welcome the spirits back each year,” PVA said. “PVA has invited artists, community groups and local residents ‘into our home’ to construct altars, installations and more to celebrate and pay homage to our ancestors.”

Typically, altars (ofrendas) are built in homes and public spaces, the PV Gallery, 37 Sudden St., and its sister location, the Porter Building, 280 Main St., are sharing their space for altars as well. 

“This show has reconnected me with the love within my family,” said Carol Walberg, who curated the show alongside Jane Gregorius and Norma Villaron. “The artwork can show us how the memory and the love carries on. Family is a really interesting concept; we often don’t appreciate the strength and the love. It’s mainly because we’re living it and we can lose perspective. Instead of the sadness I feel the love.”

The Title Wall, the central altar that greets visitors at the entrance of the Sudden Street location, is based on a black-and-white photo of a woman standing in her home in Oaxaca, Mexico. Altars around the gallery include those created by a Filipino family (Bersamin), an Asian American Pacific Island group, gallery committee, students from E.A. Hall Middle and Notre Dame schools and others. 

Walberg pointed to one altar that was made by a local family for a young man who died in his early 20s named Tyler.

“The family quietly came in and built their altar and talked about Tyler as they were doing it; it was very moving,” Walberg said. “Another altar features a dazzling dress that was created by a fashion designer in Hollywood.”

The show runs through Dec. 3, with Family Day taking place Nov. 11 from 1:30-3:30pm. A community panel will take place Nov. 18 from 1:30-3pm at 37 Sudden St. An opening reception is set for Oct. 29 from 1-3pm.

For information, call 722.3062.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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