This weekend alone kicks off the annual Open Studio Tour, as well as a swirl of activities related to Día de los Muertos, the Mexican—and southwestern—holiday honoring the dead. Here's a quick list.
Raices Taller opens its annual Día de los Muertos show this Saturday, Nov. 2. Gallerist Ceci Garcia is organizing an evening celebration that will recreate the Day of the Dead traditions that her extended family practiced in the mining towns along the San Pedro River.
"We're celebrating the way our grandparents did at home," Garcia says. "We do a blessing, light candles and eat the favorite food of our (late) loved ones."
Up to a dozen ofrendas—altars—memorializing the dead will be lined up against the gallery walls, each one handmade by local families and filled with flowers, photos and possessions of the departed loved ones. Every year, Garcia makes an ofrenda honoring her own family. Her father was part Mexican, part Hopi and part Irish, so she includes the Mexican marigolds that invite the spirits home and Irish shamrocks that bring luck.
She also adds "herbas that my grandmothers would enjoy."
Local artists will also exhibit Day of the Dead works in a variety of media, from paintings to drawings and photos works.
The Saturday night celebration, from 6 to 9 p.m., will feature live music by Mariachi Milagro. Gallery goers are invited to share in the potluck by contributing favorite family dishes. The exhibition continues through Nov. 16, when a closing celebration will feature readings by Las Mujeres que Escriben (The Women who Write.) 218 E. Sixth St. facebook.com/RaicesTaller
Downtown's Presidio Museum also displays Día de los Muertos ofrendas. A replica of the fort built by the Spanish in the 18th century, the presidio marks the holiday with altars honoring ancestors of local families and veterans. Through Nov. 9. tucsonpresidio.com.
Tohono Chul Park's Día de los Muertos group exhibition got an early start, back in August, and ends on Wednesday, Nov. 6. Invited contemporary artists, Latinx and not, adapted traditional iconography and turn it to their own uses.
Manuel Fontes leans on Mexican folk art in his lively drawing of a topsy-turvy church and village. But James Burton uses the occasion to memorialize a death in the Sonoran Desert. Among the prickly plants in his somber black-and-white photo, a cross marks the remote spot where a migrant died. 7736 Paseo del Norte. Tohonochul.org.
The 30th Annual All Souls Procession unfurls on Sunday, Nov. 3, from 4 to 10 p.m. All are invited to walk in the giant homegrown festival that memorializes our beloved dead. Participants may write messages to their departed loved ones; the notes are placed in an urn and ultimately set afire, with the smoke rising toward the heavens. Many of the walkers in the procession make giant puppets in the image of their loved ones, or wear photographs of the departed. The festival takes its name from a Catholic holy day, but many don skeleton costumes reminiscent of Día de los Muertos.
This year, the procession takes place west of the Santa Cruz River, a long depleted waterway now brought back to life with flowing water. The route starts on Grande south of Speedway, heads right on St. Mary's Road, south on Bonita Avenue. The grand finale, featuring Flam Chen, Tucson Circus Arts performers and musician Steve Roach, takes place south of Congress Street, between the river and Mercado San Agustín. Donations requested.