Past Museum Exhibitions: 2013: Colores de la Muerte

A Day of the Dead Festival

November 1, 2013 – November 24, 2013

A painting of colorful Catrinas - costumed skeleton figures - that was exhibited at the 2013 Los Colores de la Muerte exhibitionWith a Spanish title that means “The Colors of Death,” this exhibition was, in fact, a very colorful feast for the eyes. Vibrant paintings and photographs as well as ornate, white clay sculptures of Catrinas — costumed skeleton figures that have become a prominent part of modern Day of the Dead observances — were featured against the dark purple and burnt-orange walls of the galleries.

Mario Castillo — Polvo Eres

Gallery 1 will feature the work of Mario Castillo, whose photographs were previously on display at the Center Museum last fall in the show “Heart & Soul of Mexico.” Castillo’s Day of the Dead exhibit, titled “Polvo Eres,” will include 35 of his photographs, depicting different tombs from cemeteries in Mexico.

Castillo was born in Ocotlán, Jalisco, Mexico in 1953. A self-taught photographer, his work has focused on the ethnic groups of Mexico. Castillo was awarded a scholarship from the State Fund for Arts and Culture in 2000 and is a recipient of multiple prizes and acknowledgements across Mexico and the United States. He has exhibited in the Italo-Latinamerican Institute in Rome, Italy; in Beijing, China; at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego; at the Cultural Center El Agora in Mexico City; and at the Tijuana Cultural Center.

Las Catrinas de Cristina Rubalcava

Gallery 2, the largest of the museum’s spaces at 3,600 square feet, will feature 15 paintings on canvas of Catrinas, all created by Paris-based artist Cristina Rubalcava, who was introduced to the Center by the Mexican Consulate in San Diego. The consulate is helping the Center bring Rubalcava’s works from the Mexican Embassy in Paris to Escondido.

Born in Mexico City in December 1943, Rubalcava showed a great interest for drawing and painting from an early age. In 1970, the San Ángel native moved to Paris where she set up her studio. Her work has been exhibited numerous times in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the U.S. and is part of important permanent collections in institutions such as the Paris Modern Art Museum, Tamayo Museum (Mexico City), MARCO (Monterrey Mexico), the Basilica de Guadalupe Art Collection (Mexico City) and Fundacion Ralli (Punta del Este). In 2005, Rubalcava finished an important mural, “Virgen de Guadalupe,” at the Museo de la Basilica de Guadalupe to add to the series of public works she has made throughout Mexico City and Paris.

Catrinas del Siglo XXI

To complement Rubalcava’s paintings, the Center is partnering with Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura (IMAC), the City of Tijuana’s arts and culture department, to display 10 white clay sculptures of Catrinas.

Altar a José Guadalupe Posada

In addition, the Center is partnering with Universidad de Tijuana CUT to display an altar in Gallery 2. Two architects, Rodolfo Ortiz Guerrero and Gloria A. Morales Mendívil, from the university’s Department of Architecture agreed to install an altar that will have as its main theme the anniversary of the artist José Guadalupe Posada, the Mexican printmaker, cartoon illustrator and political satirist whose work left an indelible mark on Mexican pop culture and folk art. His prints of skulls and skeletons have strongly influenced Day of the Dead imagery, even inspiring the Catrinas that are now icons of the holiday.


“Los Colores de la Muerte: Day of the Dead Festival” is curated by Lisette Atala-Doocy, whose passion for the arts goes back to her childhood and adolescence in Mexico and Europe. A Mexico City native, Atala-Doocy has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Mexico City Conservatory of Music and studied music theory at the London Academy of Music.

Thanks to Tijuana’s cultural center, CECUT (Centro Cultural Tijuana), which is generously taking care of all the printing needs for the exhibit.

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