Friday, September 16, 2016

Day of the Dead - Colorado Springs Finally Gets It Right

Jerry Vigil is an exceptional artist.  Visit his website for photos of his work.  Flo and I are proud to own a few of his pieces, especially El Pachuco, pictured to the right.  Jerry lives in Colorado Springs and for years he has struggled against the commercial marketing and vulgarization of the celebration of El Dia de los Muertos. Every October and November Jerry would point out the mistakes and gross stereotypes in various Day of the Dead events in the Colorado Springs area. The lack of respect for cultural traditions especially frustrated and upset him.  Finally, it appears that at least one Colorado Springs event this year will portray the proper cultural perspective.  Jerry is the curator of a special celebration and exhibition at the Fine Arts Center, and he has included several of Colorado's best and well-known artists to help him share his vision. Congratulations to Jerry on a hard-fought and successful struggle.  Here's the press release:

FAC First Friday Art Parties Celebrate Day of the Dead

COLORADO SPRINGS (Sept 13, 2016) — The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s First Friday Art Parties on Oct 7 and Nov 4 present an exciting show for the time‐honored Day of the Dead celebration with works on view and on sale Oct 7‐Nov 27, 2016. The opening reception event on Oct 7 also includes a traditional invocation dance by Grupo Folklorico Sabor Latino at 5:30p.

Also known in Spanish as El Dia de los Muertos, this celebration honors those who have passed on to the next world with ceremonial elements rooted in Aztec culture. The FAC’s version of this celebration includes an invitational selection of Colorado artists whose work exemplifies traditional Day of the Dead artwork.

Participating artists include: Carlos Fresquez, Quintin Gonzalez, George Rivera, Tony Ortega, Azul DelGrasso, Josiah Lee Lopez, David Ocelotl Garcia, Judy Miranda, Terry Sanchez, Roberto Rodriguez, Jerry Vigil.

About Jerry Vigil, Artist and  Co‐Curator

Known as “Denver’s Dean of the Dead,” now residing in Colorado Springs, internationally‐exhibited artist Jerry Vigil is a self‐taught Chicano artist who creates Santos art (Saint making) and Muertos art (Day of the Dead/El Dia de los Muertos) as a statement of culture. The two styles, both set within a known and sometimes rigid formula, are at opposite ends of a cultural spectrum. Jerry’s creative process contemporizes the styles by incorporating modern materials and design. Jerry’s artwork has appeared on the cover of Marketing Review and Denver’s Westword, at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago, inside Lowrider Arte, Denver, and 5280 magazines. Jerry is a profiled artist in the 2005 ASU/Bilingual Press Publication Triumph of our Communities: Three Decades of Mexican American Art.

Jerry is also a co‐author of a book on El Dia de los Muertos Crafts. Jerry has also received Westword’s Best of Denver and Best of Santa Fe Drive awards for multiple years. Jerry has lectured on his art and art topics at all the major Front Range colleges, has artwork in the Regis Santos teaching collection and artwork in Museums along the Front Range, including the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

About David Ocelotl Garcia

David Ocelotl Garcia’s work ranges from large‐scale interior and exterior murals, painted directly on existing surfaces, panels, cloth and canvas, to mosaic and sculpture. His sculpture is ever expanding and ranges from bronze to mixed media. His art is culturally diverse, inspired by tradition, history, nature, science and everyday life. He creates art using a technique called Abstract Imaginism, a style of art he developed that combines the spontaneity and unpredictability of abstraction with the creativity and perception of his imagination.

About Tony Ortega

Tony Ortega holds a Masters in Fine Arts in drawing and painting from the University of Colorado and is currently an associate professor for Regis University. He is the recipient of the coveted Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts (1999) and the Mayor's Award for Excellence in the Arts (1998). He has been a working artist and teacher for the past 33 years and is known for his vibrant, colorful artwork.

Tony Ortega’s lifelong goal is to contribute to a better understanding of cultural diversity by addressing the culture, history and experiences of Chicanos/Latinos through his art. His work can be found in the Denver Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum and the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center. He has exhibited extensively in the United States, Latin America and other parts of the world.

First Friday Art Parties

When: Oct 7 and Nov 4, 5‐7:30p
Where: Deco Lounge at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.
Admission: FREE and open to the public

Something else: Meet the artist(s), enjoy live music, giveaways, artist demos, and a cash bar
Even more: The opening reception event on Oct 7 includes a traditional invocation dance by Grupo Folklorico Sabor Latino. The performance is scheduled for 5:30p and is sponsored by El Cinco de Mayo, Inc. and the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR).

But wait, there’s more: October is Arts Month! Each October, Colorado’s Pikes Peak region celebrates Arts Month to elevate the visibility and value of arts and culture in our community. The goal is to engage the community and encourage every individual to have at least one new cultural experience with friends and family this October. Check‐out a full listing of FAC Arts Month events at

Fine Arts Center

In 1919 the Broadmoor Art Academy (BAA) was established in the former home of philanthropists Julie and Spencer Penrose. After the Great Depression hit in 1929, the BAA looked at diversifying further, expanding into an entire arts district under one roof, thus leading to what is now known as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (FAC). The FAC, built in 1936, is a privately‐funded, non‐profit art museum, professional theater company and arts education center. Built on the foundation of the prestigious BAA, the FAC carries the legacy of Colorado’s arts and cultural heritage. One of 16 charter members of the American Alliance of Museums, the FAC offers the best in visual arts via its permanent collection and travelling exhibitions, in performing arts as a TCG and Actor’s Equity member theater company, and in arts education through the FAC’s Bemis School of Art. The FAC building is considered an architectural treasure in the Rocky Mountain region, designed by John Gaw Meem, and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. For more information, visit

Jerry Vigil
Jerry Vigil Studio



Manuel Ramos is the author of several novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction books and articles. His collection of short stories, The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories, was a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Book Award. My Bad: A Mile High Noir is scheduled for publication by Arte Público Press in October, 2016.

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