I visited Mexico Lindo for the candlelight celebration of the Days of the Dead. Lisa’s displays are authentic and intensely detailed, featuring individuals who died during the year from her own family members to those known worldwide. While browsing, we listened to a mix of music she had made including the works of the musicians who were included in her ofrenda; I distinctly heard Amy Winehouse, John Barry, Billy Taylor and Captain Beefheart.
It took me several times around the store to feel I had my footing but began photographing as soon as I walked in; my natural reaction to something so overwhelmingly detailed and visual. Lisa tells me it takes her an average of three weeks to put this together, and it could honestly take that long for me to capture all the details. I was so busy I didn’t manage to write a message on the ofrenda to my mother, who passed in January, so I set up a little ofrenda for her when I came home. Scroll down to see more photos and a slideshow.
On these days, November 1 and 2, many cultures celebrate the lives of those who’ve left this mortal existence for, well, whatever you believe comes next. The Mexican celebration has elements which date back to pre-Columbian cultures, and skulls and skeletons the main symbols are made in sugar and chocolate and given as gifts to the living and dead alike as well as appearing on many items, while vases and garlands of the orange Mexican marigold, thought to attract the souls of the dead swath altars and ofrendas.
Lisa has always included monarch butterflies in her displays, and this year she has named this event “Muertos y Monarcas”. The following text is from her blog:
The Monarch butterflies return to Michoacan each year on the Days of the Dead, and many believe they are the souls of the dead returning for a brief visit…and so here at the store we build two large ofrendas, or offerings, to help light their way home, featuring the monarchs as well our astounding selection of artesanias dedicated to this holiday, from the silly to the sublime.
Available for viewing from October 28 ~ November 19, with a candlelight Open House on the Days of the Dead: November 1 and 2, from 6:00 ~ 9:00 pm. We’ll be serving Chocolate Oaxaqueño and refreshments, and participants can add notes to their loved ones on the ofrendas. This year there will QR codes accompanying many of the photographs so that participants who bring smart phones or tablets can access additional media resources with url links and video clips pertinent to those that we are honoring. They can join our wifi network if needed, and should make sure that they have downloaded the appropriate QR code reading app for either Apple, Android or Windows devices.
ome of the dead who will be remembered this year include: Casualties of the wars in Iran and Afghanistan and Mexico’s “War on Drugs”, Steve Jobs, John Barry, Jose Arguelles, Susana Chavez, Bishop Samuel Ruiz, Facundo Cabral, Leonora Carrington, Lucian Freud, Geraldine Ferrarro, Elizabeth Taylor, Sargent Shriver, Billy Taylor, Betty Ford, Wangari Maathai, Peter Falk, Amy Winehouse, Jack Kevorkian, Chuck Tanner, John Cigna, Daniel DiGioia, Leo Walsh, Alberto DiClemente and many more.
Mexico Lindo is in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. This is a brief explanation of their mission from their website:
Mexico Lindo imports fine folk Mexican arts and crafts, and is destined to become well-known for their exceptional selection of carved + intricately painted wooden Alebrijes (vividly portrayed animals, both mythical and actual) from Oaxaca, as well as the brilliantly colorful beaded masks, jewelry and yarn paintings of the Huichol Indians. Co-owner Jean-Pierre Nutini has a wealth of intimate knowledge of the mercados of Mexico; having spent much of his youth there with his family. He has a keen ability for finding the best bargains! As a result, we are able to offer you some of the choicest selections and the fairest prices for Huichol Art and Oaxacan Alebrijes.
The figure of a dog hand carved and painted by a master of alebrije.
I visited a shop called Mexico Lindo yesterday, owned by a friend of mine. The owner and her husband travel to Mexico and personally choose and fairly purchase all the merchandise in the shop directly from the makers and there is so much to look at.
These fanciful animals are Alebrijes, hand-carved and hand-painted animals in styles unique to each artist. Patterns vary from whimsical to geometric to highly detailed and stylized, colors from natural to bold primary or tropical combinations, and shapes from representational to mythical.
In this particular figure, as in many others, the posture is often exaggerated or unusual. This dog reminds me of one I saw in an illustration from a fairy tale many years ago.
While carving and painting are traditional to Mexican culture as they are to most cultures, the genesis of the alebrijes in particular was around the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, developing over the past 20 years or so. You can read more about them on the Mexico Lindo website. In fact, please do visit to see some of Lisa’s exceptional photography of the alebrijes in her collection.