Check out Austin's top cultural events throughout October 2018.
From whimsical papier-mâché skeletons to poignant community altars, Mexic-Arte Museum’s Day of the Dead festivities have captured more than just colorful expressions of Mexican and Mexican-American culture throughout the decades.
For 35 years, the museum has helped the rich tradition grow throughout the city by educating Austinites about the holiday in unique ways. Día de los Muertos, which combines pre-Columbian and Catholic customs, honors the cycle of life and death.
The museum’s popular annual parade, thoughtful exhibits and workshops have helped redefine what the holiday means for Central Texans and set the tone for other Día de los Muertos events in the area.
From now through Nov. 25, visit the exhibit “Viva la Vida: Celebrating 35 Years of Mexic-Arte Museum’s Día de los Muertos” featuring pieces from its permanent collection, altars and archival materials. It showcases the rich history of the museum’s contributions to elevating the holiday in Austin.
Artwork includes vintage prints by Jose Guadalupe Posada, who created some of today’s iconic Day of the Dead imagery including the elegantly-dressed female skeleton “La Catrina.” Over the years, the elaborate altars by artists, residents and museum staffers have been a highlight of Mexic-Arte’s celebration. Visitors will get to see images of past altars projected in the exhibit as well as new altars honoring people who touched many lives, such as Mexican composer and performer of children’s songs Francisco Gabilondo Soler, better known as Cri Cri: El Grillito Cantor.
While at the museum, visitors can also check out a concurrent exhibit on matachine dance traditions from Mexico’s northern state of Coahuila. Several matachine dance groups in Austin help keep the indigenous tradition alive by participating in religious and cultural events throughout the city.
Leading up to the museum’s Viva la Vida Festival, the city’s largest Day of the Dead fest, visitors of all ages can learn how to make alebrijes —fantastical creatures of Mexican folklore — from noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 21 during Mexic-Arte’s museum day. Alebrijes are the theme of this year’s festival, and Puerto Rican-based artist collective Kuniklo will bring the creatures to life with an alebrije-inspired kinetic sculpture for the parade. Kuniklo members will lead the free museum day workshop.
Viva la Vida Festival, which starts with a grand procession at noon on Oct. 27 on East Fourth Street in downtown Austin, celebrates the holiday with live music, food and retail vendors, hands-on art activities and artist demonstrations. Visit mexic-artemuseum.org for more Day of the Dead details.
'Confessions of a Mexpatriate'
After touring the U.S. and Mexico a few years ago, the delightfully thought-provoking one-man show “Confessions of a Mexpatriate” returns to Austin at Hyde Park Theatre.
The show, performed at 8 p.m Thursday-Saturday through Oct. 20, follows one man’s journey across Mexico in search of answers about his Mexican-American identity, life’s meaning and his place in it.
“Confessions of a Mexpatriate,” written by award-winning playwright Raul Garza, stars Mical Trejo. He plays the character of Samuel, a sometimes self-absorbed Austinite who’s a little neurotic and cynical while also dealing with a troubled love life.
Trejo has described the play, directed by Ken Webster, as reading someone’s journal, which makes it more powerful to deliver as a one-man show. As Samuel tries to reconnect with his roots, he learns life lessons on his trip, which helps make the play a universal story.
Tickets range from $21-23 and can be purchased online at hydeparktheatre.org.
Where to see Mexican films in Austin
Just 10 days before Mexico’s 1968 Olympic Games, a student demonstration turned deadly in Mexico City. The extent of the violence shocked the nation and the world. Final death tolls remain a mystery.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre, the 1989 film “Rojo Amanecer” ("Red Dawn") will screen at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Mexican consulate in Austin (5202 E. Ben White Blvd., Suite 150). Filmmaker Jorge Fons recently revealed at a Mexico screening of the film that due to government censorship at the time, he and everyone involved in the film had to keep the project a secret. Special guest Samuel Schmidt, a political scientist and writer, will be in attendance for a discussion after the film.
The free movie screening is part of a new cultural initiative to promote Mexican films called CineClub Mexico. For cinephiles, it’s a true treat to have more options in Austin to watch Latin American films on the big screen, especially after so many countries in the region have been experiencing a film resurgence in recent years.
CineClub Mexico, a parntership between the Mexican consulate, Cine Las Americas, the National Cineteca of Mexico, Chacmool and Common Culture, will screen films every third Thursday of the month featuring special guests. Check upcoming screenings online at facebook.com/CineClubMexicoATX.