Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chocolatada: Day of the Dead Chocolate Party

I threw a chocolate party last Friday to commemorate the Day of the Dead holiday. Why chocolate? Well, everyone loves chocolate! Chocolate was also a sacred food to ancient Mexicans so I found it very appropriate to celebrate this ancient holiday using a chocolate theme. Here's some tips if you want to organize a Day of the Dead chocolatada (chocolate feast) of your own:

Start your party late in the evening so your guests get a chance to eat dinner on their own, if they choose to. Any time after 7:00 or 8:00 pm should give your guests plenty of time to eat a light meal.

I set up two food tables: one with dark chocolate and vegan alternatives, and a more festive "ofrenda" (offering) with more traditional Mexican elements and milk chocolate. My ofrenda had the customary pan de muerto (pictured above), fruit, paper cutouts and traditional marigolds that have been used to honor the dead in Mexico for centuries. I baked two batches of chocolate cutout cookies the night before for both tables. They are relatively easy, and a lot of fun to decorate.

I served two kinds of chocolate fondue with fruit skewers for dipping. Chocolate melts better if you apply even heat slowly. Start melting your chocolate at least an hour before the party starts on a double broiler. Make sure all your utensils are dry and no moisture gets in the chocolate or it will clump. In order for your guest not to get overwhelmed with too much sweetness its a good idea to serve some savories. I made some black bean guacamole and mango salsa and served them with blue corn chips and beet chips. I also had mini pastry shells with mole sauce and roasted veggies. To complete the dark chocolate table I added cascades of black lace, dry pasilla and negro chiles, figs, black grapes and plums. A chocolate cake and brownies completed the table.

No chocolatada can be complete without some hot chocolate. I used tablets of Chocolate Ibarra and Chocolate Abuelita and mixed them with hot low fat milk and soy milk. A little bit of the pasilla and negro chiles was added to the blender in order to make a delicious spicy and sweet drink. A little bit of Mexican vanilla also gives the chocolate a wonderful scent. Please make sure you get authentic Mexican vanilla, it really makes a big difference. One of my guests said it was the best hot chocolate she had ever tasted! You can get Ibarra and Abuelita hot chocolate tablets at MexGrocer, I get my vanilla from Xanath in San Francisco.

The black clay skull and candle holder come from Oaxaca, but any dark hued pottery or tarnished silver will do if you want to create a dark table. The man shaped candle comes from a botanica on the Mission district. I also found several goodies and decorations in my neighborhood and on-line. The chocolate cosmos and dark dahlias are from Birch. The chocolate skulls and licorice/chocolate lentils are from Miette. The plastic plates and cups are reusable. I got them from Smarty Had A Party. Have a safe and fun holiday. And remember to brush your teeth!

(:= X

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vivo: Day of the Dead Community Celebration!

Thanks everyone for attending the community celebration for VIVO, the Day of the Dead exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California. last weekend. Despite the bad weather many visitors enjoyed the show, as well as music, food and community altars. A community group created the beautiful fresh flower ofrenda in front of the mural I painted. It was dedicated to amaranth, the wonder food I blogged about recently.

I dedicated the mural to Aurora Reyes. She was a renowned Mexican muralist (and a childhood friend of Frida Kahlo) that I got to meet when I was young. Ms. Reyes was very talented, but seldom heard of outside of Mexico. She inspired me to be an artist. I also dedicated the mural to Dolores Olmedo (a Mexican philantropist and art collector) and to Oscar Grant, the unarmed civilian killed on BART.

This year's exhibit make reference to Prehispanic traditions that are the origins of the Day of the Dead holiday. This wonderful pyramid (El Templo Teotl) represents the four cardinal points, as well as the four elements and ancestral forces. It was created by Jesse Hernandez.

These are some photos of a tortilla making demonstration, ofrendas created by community groups and live music.

The show and mural will be on view until December 5, 2010. To learn more about the show visit OMCA's website. To view more photos of the celebration and to read a brief article about the show visit In Oakland blog. By the way, you can take BART to the Oakland Museum, but watch out...You'll never know what dangers lurk near by.

That is actually my wonderfully free spirited friend Fennel. She is harmless. I wish you a happy and safe Halloween and a thoughtful Day of the Dead.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Galeria de la Raza turns 40!

Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco was one of the first galleries to ever show my work. This year, Galeria turns 40! So far, the celebrations and programming have been exceptional. 40 years of archives, activisim and history can be seen at the Galeria Retrospective, on view until January 29th, 2011.

Without Galeria, the city of San Francisco would loose one of its more important outlets that showcases the richness of Chicano/Latino art and culture. You can support Galeria by attending the Gala Celebration on November 21st at The Brava Theater. Tickets in advance are only $40! You can buy tickets on-line

Galeria also holds many youth arts and education activities open to everyone in the neighborhood. Recently I helped out with Galeria's family day. Thanks to the wonderful families that came down to learn how to make this awesome dog piñata!

I hope to post instructions on how to make your own dog piñata in the future.

In the mean time, please continue to support Galeria's mission by donating to the cause on-line.

My dog Mysti approves!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mano, Mundo, Corazon Opens!

Artwork by Don Colley

Installation by Maximo Gonzalez and Eduardo J. Villanueva

La Araña by Mario Castillo

La Corona, by Michael Velliquette

I am part of a group show in Chicago: Mano/Mundo/Corazon. See my previous post. I am proud to be featured among such talented artists. A review of the show is available in Spanish from La Raza. The show was also mentioned in the Chicago Tribune's Fall Exhibition's Preview. For more photos, visit CBPA's Flickr page