This year, the Loss and Sorrow is Collective for Angelenos
For the eighth year in a row, Grand Park is honoring the cultural tradition of Día de los Muertos—Day of the Dead—with a series of free, family friendly programs curated for the COVID era with a focus on personal well-being and collective healing through November 4, 2020.
Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos, a presentation by TMC Arts, The Music Center’s programming engine, takes place from October 24, 2020–November 4, 2020 with a mix of digital programs, including an online arts-based workshop, digital ofrendas (altars) and audio storytelling, along with socially distant public art installations in Grand Park and on The Music Center Plaza.
“Those who have passed always have special meaning in our hearts, but, this year, the loss and sorrow is collective for Angelenos and for our nation. Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos not only preserves the cultural traditions for those who observe it, but also offers ways for all to learn from and share in its ethos,” said Josephine Ramirez, executive vice president, TMC Arts. “While current public health actions such as social distancing can make people feel isolated, Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos reminds us we are not alone. We find solace and connection in the arts through ways that can bring us together with a shared mission to understand and appreciate each other.”
Grand Park has continued its long-standing artistic partnership with Self Help Graphics (SHG), which is curating 11 large-scale altar installations by artists and community partner organizations, including the annual Community Altar created by Maestra Ofelia Esparza; a 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellow, Esparza, and her family, are instrumental in preserving and conserving Día de los Muertos in Los Angeles. Understanding the toll the pandemic has taken on individuals and communities throughout Los Angeles, Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos also helps raise the importance of coping skills and mental health awareness: Healing Sanctuaries and Soul Survivors are two photo exhibits located on The Music Center Plaza containing messaging and suggested public resources, from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and WHY WE RISE.
While Grand Park and The Music Center Plaza are open to the public, all park-and plaza-goers who experience the art installations are strictly required to maintain social distancing, including not clustering in groups and wearing masks. Signage and markers throughout both locations assist with reinforcing the critical need for park-and plaza-goers to comply with all prevailing Los Angeles County Department of Public Health requirements.
In order to maintain minimal crowds and to help those who wish to engage with this vital ritual and tradition, ample images and video of the installations are available on Grand Park, The Music Center and Self Help Graphics social media channels.
“Grand Park’s Día de los Muertos accentuates and honors life by reuniting the living and the dead through remembrance. This year, Grand Park’s combination of digital and public art programming takes on special meaning in addressing the stress, fear and anxiety many in our community are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 and the many inequities and injustices in our society, especially against communities of color, that the pandemic has laid bare this year,” offered Julia Diamond, director, Grand Park. “We are very proud to partner with the Department of Mental Health to raise awareness for personal well-being, and with Self Help Graphics and numerous local artists who bring the beautiful altars to life, using art as a source of collective healing.”
Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos Program:
Grand Park’s Día de los Muertos Community Altars and Audio Tours
October 24, 2020–November 4, 2020 5:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
Locations: Grand Park (Grand Avenue to North Broadway) Guests can experience, hear and learn about the traditions of Día de los Muertos and stroll through 11 altars located throughout Grand Park, curated by Self Help Graphics in collaboration with their Noche de Ofrenda series of programs, including the annual Community Altar created by Maestra Ofelia Esparza and her family.
All personally and culturally relevant to Los Angeles, the 10 main large-scale altar installations represent the losses and causes of this past year. The altars are created by artists and community partners and focus on the youth from the East Los Angeles Women’s Center; workers and tenants from Community Power Collective; the rise in hate crimes against LGBTQ+ from Mi Estori: Artist Collective; and food justice from South Central Farm, among others. There will also be six kites “flying” in Grand Park’s Splash Pad representing migrant children who have died in ICE custody. Given COVID-19 public safety requirements, the public is asked not to gather or linger in large groups or leave their own ofrendas on or touch the Community Altar this year. The altars will feature a 360-degree viewing opportunity to maximize social distancing among guests. To deepen appreciation and provide context of the public art installations, Grand Park will offer attendees to the option of listening to five-minute pre-recorded audio guides with insights by the artists to complement altar viewing.Park-goers can access the storytelling through Grand Park’s Mixcloud and YouTube channels.