Dia De los Muertos Photo Exhibition Celebrates Historic Characters

October 18, 2018

By Mario A. Cortez

Courtesy of J.R. Valdez

Studio portraits of spirits, adelita soldiers, pachuco cruisers, Aztec warriors, and many more characters from Mexico’s rich lore will be on display at one of Barrio Logan’s more intimate art venues starting this weekend.

El Arte de Día de los Muertos: A Face and Body Photographic Art Exhibition by local photographer J.R. Valdez opens this Friday, Oct. 19 with a weekend-long opening celebration which will give viewers a full dive into the stories of some of Mexico’s most famous characters and legends.

“It is important for people to know the colorful history coming from Mexico because it is not just Mexican history anymore, but is also part of the history of the American Southwest and of the border region,” Valdez said.

The exhibit features a total of 65 of portraits featuring live models in full Dia de los Muertos face and body paint selected from a body of work nearly 500 pictures in size executed over the past two years. Without revealing too much, Valdez said that many of the works on display will be a direct reference to an iconic Mexican art staple.
“When you see it you’ll know,” he teased.

Photographed subjects include models as well as many residents of Barrio Logan and friends of the photographer. Paint and makeup for each model were also done by a couple of professional artists and neighborhood acquaintances of Valdez.

The neighborhood connection is important to Valdez, who was born and raised in Logan Heights. He believes that vestiges of the many epochs of Mexico’s history are still alive and well in the neighborhood, and connecting past and present to the exhibit celebrates the many subcultures which have shaped the lives of folks of mexican descent.

“Everyone in Logan represents their bit of culture that they have inside, you have Aztec dancers at Chicano Park, muralists, laborers, low riders and bombers, and I have been trying to represent all types of things from modern Mexicans to the revolucionarios to the pre-hispanic peoples in the gallery,” Valdez explained.

With the show being put on at one of Logan Avenue’s smaller, cozier venues, Valdez shared that he planned out the exhibit space for “sensory overload.”

“It is a blast of color coming from all the images I have produced,” he said. “It is not going to be your typical gallery experience, it is gonna be a boom!”

El Arte de Día de los Muertos: A Face and Body Photographic Art Exhibition will be on view through Nov. 2 at Barrio Art Gallery (2195 Logan Avenue).

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