Lawndale Art Center executive director Christine West was actually hoping for a smaller turnout at the annual Dia de Los Muertos gala than that of previous years. But Thursday night, the enthusiastic crowd bidding on contemporary retablos created by local artists was as strong as ever,nudging the 500 mark.
So many joined the Day of the Dead celebration that at the party's height, the quick and the dead were packed elbow to elbow.
The bustling scene was a colorful cornucopia with papel picados hanging from the ceiling, marigolds everywhere and retablos lining the walls.
They poured in to bid on 245 retablos, to sup on Tex-Mex fare from Tacos a Go-Go and to revel in the playful skeleton decor. Remembrances of deceased loved-ones lives filled the community ofrenda or altar where skeletons, sugar skulls and marigolds, the traditional flower of the dead, captured the spirit of the colorful celebration most associated with Mexican folk traditions.
The bustling scene was a colorful cornucopia with papel picados hanging from the ceiling, marigolds everywhere and retablos lining the walls. Even a fair share of guests got into the spirit painting their faces to resemble skulls. Contributing artists Cynthia Hoyt and Helena Gijsbers van Wijk wore skull necklaces as they perused the retablos.
"This is more fun than any other fundraiser, more fun than any other one that I do," Hoyt said. "It's so fun to see what other artists come up with."
Matt Adams, president of the Visual Arts Alliance, and spouse Dominick D'Aunno were among the first to start bidding on the works while gala chairs Lane and Bob Schultz were planning on taking a few home on this night.
Perusing the artwork were Lee Ellis, Ernie Manouse, Denise Furlough, Paula Murphy, John Dascoulias, Trudi Smith and Patrick Mahoney, Barbara and Marks Hinton, Sara Neel, Steve Neel, Minnette and Peter Boesel and Rosalva Reyes-Hada.