By Pamela Cody
Special to the Parade
For the 4th consecutive year, the Laguna Madre Art Gallery in Port Isabel is featuring a Day of the Dead art exhibit.
For those unfamiliar with Day of the Dead, or as it’s known in the country of its origin (Mexico), Dios de Los Muertos, gallery owner Laurel Alvarez described what is involved with the Mexican holiday.
“It’s November 1 and 2. It’s a time to reflect on our ancestors, friends, pets and loved ones who’ve passed away,” said Alvarez. She went into further detail saying, “Traditionally, it’s a time for going to the graveyard, cleaning up the graves, talking and sharing stories. It’s carried to different lengths in different places—bringing food, reminiscing, and building altars. In a nutshell, that’s what it’s about: honoring those who’ve passed. It’s not a scary thing or a demon thing,” Alvarez said with a smile.
Alvarez noted that over the years, Day of the Dead has spread into all strata of our cultures and communities in the United States.
“I’m Anglo, my husband is Hispanic, and our kids celebrate Day of the Dead out in Oregon. I think it’s a time of reflection, a holiday we can all celebrate and look at fondly,” remarked Alvarez.
The Laguna Madre Art Gallery is coming up on its 8th year in February, according to Alvarez. They’re the only nonprofit co-op art gallery in the area. The gallery was started by a group of artists that had been in the Laguna Madre Art League for years, and they finally decided to open this gallery.
“This used to be called The Purple Parrot,” Alvarez reminisced. “One of the owners apparently taught art here, but they decided to retire. The artists hoped maybe they could get this space. Long story short, they called the owners of the building, who said they’d love to have a gallery in here, and we’ve been here ever since,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez noted that the gallery and the Art League are different entities, but they do work together. “We partner with the Art League, we have a lot of common artists. They have their meetings here and a lot of our artists belong to both.”
Alvarez says that the Art League does a lot of outreach to artists all over the area, giving them opportunities to be in shows on South Padre Island. As far as the gallery is concerned, Alvarez says “Our mission statement is to not only bring art to our community but also to give our artists an opportunity to show and sell their artwork.”
Alvarez says because they all work, they’re able to offer the space very inexpensively for artists. Each artist has their own space, and they control that space.
“They decide what they get to hang and what to put in their space, and there’s all kinds of different art. We work hard to have a variety of art in here,” said Alvarez.
The Day of the Dead exhibit features both original and reproductions of art for sale. They’re also selling festively decorated Day of the Dead pumpkins, each one an original work of art, with proceeds of the sales benefiting the Laguna Madre Art Gallery’s community outreach programs.
As a special feature on Saturday, November 2, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., the gallery will offer Day of the Dead face painting for a $5 dollar donation per person.
The Laguna Madre Art Gallery is located on the Port Isabel Lighthouse Square at 405 Maxan Street. They are open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 4: 00 p.m.