For the local art cognoscenti, the Spanish word retablo suggests something more than small devotional folk art with iconography that stems from Latin American Catholic lore. Retablos in Houston speak to one of the liveliest festivals that paint the town with the spirit of the dead.
No introduction is needed for Lawndale Art Center's 26th Annual Día de los Muertos celebration, which awakened the party mood of more than 450 for the fiesta and retablo silent auction Friday.
The walls, shrouded in more than 260 colorful art pieces created on, or affixed to, 8-by-10-inch tins, were mobbed by collectors on a mission to claim their favorite. Good thing that a militia of auction enforcement volunteers was close by to monitor the proceedings and keep the peace.
Sarah Gish's retablo memorialized her vehicle that caught fire in August.
What renders the festive opening so popular is that anyone from master artists to crafty amateurs can participate in the exhibition — as long as they're lucky enough to score one of the coveted metal plaques. The skill of such notables as Elaine Bradford, The Art Guys, Aaron Parazette, Randy Twaddle and Lizbeth Ortiz mingled with the creativity of impromptu artists, among them Nicole Laurent Romano and Michael Remson.
Not only people were remembered in the varied collection of donated art. Sarah Gish's retablo, titled Transformation: An Homage to Hubba Hubba Art Car, memorialized her vehicle that caught fire in August, a replica of which also paid respects to the late whimsical junker.
For the clubby tunes by DJ Night Drive, a spread of Mexican bites from Tacos A Go-Go and adult bevs courtesy of Tanteo Tequila and Saint Arnold Brewing Co., party chairs Denise Furlough, John Andell and David Thomas deserve their own tribute — for the living, of course.
In the company of executive director Christine West and program director Dennis Nance were Barbara and Marks Hinton, Lane and Bob Schultz, Luke and Nikki Blount, Dexter Evans, Dexter W. Johnson, Andrea Condara, Meghan Miller, James Glassman, Carey Kirkpatrick, Jennifer Gaines Dolman and Steve Dolman, Kelly Kindred, Brad Barber, and Sarah Atwood and Brian Neal Sensabaugh,