Tag Archives: dia de los muertos

Dia de Los Muertos Altar for Lencho and Ester Flores

9 Nov

I had the opportunity to participate in the Dia de Los Muertos exhibit at Palm Springs Art museum again. This year, it was at their beautiful new satellite location in Palm Desert.

The altar was in honor of my grandparents. It was a family effort, con mucho amor!

Florencio “Lencho” Moreno Flores (1924-2004)

Maria Ester Ochoa Flores (1928-1998)

They were both born and raised in La Sara, Texas. They were married on August 6, 1947. They enjoyed over 50 years together.

Long-time residents of Indio,CA, they settled in the Coachella Valley in the early 50’s.

Rancho Las Flores, Thermal, CA 1980. That’s me as a baby.

Lencho was employed in farm labor and agriculture from an early age. He was known for his friendly warm smile, generous hospitality, compassionate heart and optimistic outlook. He was a supporter of the labor union movement in the 1960’s and of Cesar Chavez. He was very patriotic and extremely proud of his sons and daughter who served in the military. Above all, he was a spiritual man and a devout Catholic; serving his church and all the community through prayers and songs.

Making buñelos, early 1990’s

Ester was a farm laborer as well. Later, she became a full-time homemaker and mother. She only had a third-grade education and knew very little English, but she was blessed with a sharp mind and an uncanny ability to stretch a dollar a long way. She managed the household expenses and the family savings with an iron fist; yet she generously always had a place in their home for extended family and traveling friends to stay.

She was a devout Catholic and very spiritual as well. Privately, she practiced traditional healings of the indigenous people of north Mexico & Texas, and was respected for her teas and powerful prayers. It’s no accident that two of their daughters are nurses and another daughter and son are mental health professionals.

Lencho and Ester had 6 children, 15 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. We love and miss them!

My dad and his dad. Thermal, CA. 1979

Making the Altar…

Me and my Mom, installation day.

Fully assembled & lit for the evening’s festivities.

About the altar:

  • Photos of their farming days create a path to the steps, representing the transition from their earthly life of hard work and toil in the sun to a celebration of their transcendence to Heaven, where they are happy souls reunited and free.
  • Ester loved roses and the color pink. After their passing, the family remodeled their home. Twice the house was painted beige and twice the paint mysteriously dried pink.

Their wedding picture in the background…

  • The lovingly created central figures (above) were made by their son, my tio, Florencio ‘Jayar’ Flores.

  • The molcajete and comal, (cooking instruments), were Ester’s. Her fantastic Tex-Mex cooking is dearly missed. The plastic fruit bowl and doilies were hers as well.

  • I designed and cut the papel picado with lyrics from one of Lencho’s favorite songs, De Colores.

  • The paper flowers were made by their great-granddaughter, my daughter, Bella, age 13.
  • The wooden plaque, “La Familia Flores”, hung over their front door. It now hangs at my parents’ home.

Final daytime view.

The saddest part is always taking the altar down. All the physical pieces are put away and we are again left with the memory of our loved ones. I cheered myself up with the knowledge that my daughter now knows her abuela’s face and got to hear many stories of her life over the course of working on this project. Her memory lives on!

Artist Profile: Florencio ‘Jayar’ Flores

2 Nov

My tio, Jayar, created this retablo barber shop scene in memory of Dave Hernandez and his son, Greg.

Jayar grew up here in Indio, CA. The youngest in a family of 6 children, he has been an artist since he picked up his first pencil. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, his art is the love child of 80’s MAD magazine illustration and Chicano Lowrider art.

A self-taught artist, he is skilled in drawing, painting, airbrushing, hand lettering, screen printing, printmaking, sculpting and graphic design. He has worked in the sign industry for the last 20 years. He can take a project from concept through fabrication which is impressive, but he makes it fun. Which is amazing. He’s one of those artists that enjoys making things so finely detailed that most people won’t take in half of what he puts into a project… and they’ll still walk away impressed.

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Papel Picado Tutorial with a free template

26 Oct

Etsy published a tutorial I wrote in their blog’s ‘How-Tuesday’ column! It is meant to be an introduction to making papel picado using the most-widely available modern tools as we don’t all have access to a blacksmith to make us custom chisels. It coincides with the Dia de los Muertos holiday.

I also included a free [for personal and educational use] template to start you off!

Teachers and grown-ups who like to play (with or without) kids: The template also makes a fun coloring sheet for children. Cut out the colored-in flags and glue them together on a string or yarn to make a printed papel picado style banner. Enjoy!

Altar for Dave Hernandez at the Palm Springs Art Museum

23 Oct

My grandfather, David Hernandez passed away this year in March. So, when I had an opportunity to make an altar for the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Dia de Los Muertos exhibition, I knew it would be for him.

Grandpa making the (back then) World's Longest Tamale in his custom-built steamer.

 

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Pink Ribbon for the National Museum of Mexican Art

3 Oct

Every day is an adventure. And when you love what you do, your work becomes part of the adventure.

Back in August, I was contacted by a programmer from the National Museum of Mexican Art.  She asked if I’d be interested in making some HOPE banners for an ofrenda they were working on for their Dia de Los Muertos exhibition. She was working with a community group of women in Mexico that wanted to make an altar for Breast Cancer victims, specifically the mother of one of their members.

Originally, I made these little HOPE banners for my Grandma Bessie. She is a breast cancer survivor of 5+ years. She is one tough cookie!

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