The early snowfall has brought an early kickoff to the Day of the Dead preparations for Longmont’s upcoming virtual programs and events. Wednesday marked the first of a series of Catrina painting days, during which the Firehouse Art Center will welcome artists of all ages and stages to share their talents and paint a Catrina.
Since 2013, the art center has hosted community members to come together and paint Catrinas, icons of the Mexican Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, according to Elaine Waterman, executive director for the Firehouse Art Center.
“This is the whole community coming together and painting together. It's crowdsourcing creativity. It's a fun event and they turn out so beautiful. I love them. They are so vibrant and so unique and I love how everyone just puts their personality into it,” she said.
This year much of the Day of the Dead celebration will be moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic and the whole month of October will see the steady release of varied virtual content, according to Waterman, .
“The second Friday of October we are unveiling the Dia de Los Muertos exhibit and we have three Latino artists that are creating altars inspired by specific historical events in Latino history in Longmont. Because that is the second Friday opening and really it's our chance to have an in person event, we wanted to have the catrinas available for that,” she said, adding social distancing guidelines will be followed to keep the community safe.
“We really wanted to hold on to something that we could do for the community that was in person. We took what we usually did and just made it a little bit smaller so that it would fall within the recommendations,” she said.
Patty Fabian, a local artist who joining in the painting days for a second year in a row, is cognizant that things are different this year. With her Catrina, she said she hopes to convey a whole new meaning for the Day of the Dead amidst the challenging times of COVID.
“There’s been a lot of deathout here, in the country, and I wanted to portray the idea of this soulfulmother but yet she is looking upward at the sky … just somehow to express a hopeful idea of death and rebirth, and why don’t we enjoy life, enjoy what we do have,” she said.
Like her, other participants said they find the event to be an opportunity to imprint their interpretations of the Catrina, as well as an avenue to support local arts.
“I’m glad to see Longmont certainly supports the arts and (I) try to donate things to any fundraisers that support that effort and would encourage others to do so, (I) encourage everyone who says ‘well I’m not an artist.’ I disagree, everyone is an artist of some sort, of some talent,” said Boulder County mosaic artist Laurie Algar, adding it is important to step up to the plate during these troubling times.
The significance of the Catrinas extend well beyond the painting days. They will be auctioned off at the art center’s exhibit opening on Oct. 9 — a fundraiser that will support programs, exhibitions and events, according to Waterman.
“We are the only art organization in Longmont that is committed to the exhibition of contemporary art, artists living in this time, as well as art education, for kids and adults, and we even have outreach classes,” she said.
Community members are invited to join a painting another painting day today and the Sept. 19, or paint at home and bring a Catrina to Firehouse through the end of the month.
“Come be a part of the largest Dia de los Muertos celebration in Colorado. Paint your Catrina and help keep arts culture, arts exhibition and creativity alive in Longmont,” Waterman said.To register to participate in the Catrina painting days, click here. For more information on Day of the Dead program and events, click here.