WATSONVILLE—In late September, Pajaro Valley Arts (PVA) was finally able to open its gallery’s doors after a six-month closure due to Covid-19. For the first two weeks, the organization displayed “Campesinos: Workers of the Land,” a show that had been installed the week shelter-in-place went into effect, and eventually offered virtually.
After taking down “Campesinos,” PVA immediately looked to its next project, which is usually its biggest and most popular exhibit of the year.
“Mi Casa es Tu Casa” is a show inspired by Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a traditional holiday in Mexico that celebrates family members and friends who have died. Usually, the exhibit will include a multitude of “ofrendas,” altars to honor the dead, created by local artists and the community.
This year’s exhibit, “Nuestras Familias” (“Our Families”) will be smaller, but organizers still hope it will inspire visitors.
“Things are very different this year, more complicated,” said Gallery Committee member and co-curator of the exhibit Tracy LeCroy. “It’s definitely slim pickings comparatively… but what we do have is lovely.”
LeCroy curated the front room of the gallery, where a large painted canvas by local artist Pricilla Martinez is the centerpiece. “Siempre Con Nosotros” (“Always with Us”) depicts a family, living and dead, joining together in their home for a meal.
In addition, the room features the papel picado collection of Cheryl Marquez and Paul Brennan. Papel Picado is considered Mexican folk art in which elaborate designs are cut into sheets of tissue paper. The collection is of work created by acclaimed artist Catalina Delgado-Trunk, whose pieces have been featured in a number of galleries, including the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco.
“[Delgado-Trunk] is a major figure… we’re thrilled to have her work here,” LeCroy said.
The remaining rooms of the gallery, curated by PVA’s Judy Stabile and others, feature 2D pieces by artists including Kathleen Crocetti, David Flemming and more. Towards the back of the building are life-sized black-and-white coloring pages, enlarged from the recently released “Fiesta de Día de Muertos” coloring book PVA collaborated on with Watsonville Film Festival (WFF).
Recently, PVA hosted WFF to film for the other organization’s virtual Day of the Dead celebration, which also kicked off Wednesday. LeCroy said it felt “amazing” to finally be back in the gallery, surrounded by so much creativity.
“Just being there, with all of that art and music, with these backdrops of butterflies, flowers, candles… it was beautiful,” she said.
“Mi Casa es Tu Casa” is now open to the public through Dec. 13, though only by appointment. Visit pvarts.org/appointment to pick a day and time. The gallery is open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm.