El Paso artists inspired by Aztec culture, Dia de los Muertos

KTSM
Friday, November 1, 2013 - 10:21am

Once Halloween is over, many El Pasoans begin to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. It is actually celebrated over two days. November 1st is devoted to remembering the spirits of deceased children, while November 2nd is about honoring adults that have passed away.

It is customary for family members to visit cemeteries to decorate the gravesites of the loved ones with altars that include some of their favorite things when they were alive. The altars often also include sugar skulls.

Francella Salgado, the owner of La Adelita Gift Shop in Central El Paso, specializes in sugar and ceramic skulls, as well as other traditional dia de los muertos items.

"They're 'ofrendas,' which are the offerings. These are an important part of day of the dead altars," said Salgado of the skulls, "I really do like the idea of honoring someone that has passed before you."

The shop has been open for about a year. In addition to the traditional day of the dead items, the shop also offers an array of preserved specimen including preserved sheep eyes, a baby chick and a fetal pig. Salgado also mounts different insects, including beetles, butterflies and event tarantulas.

"I learned years ago how to mount insects. I really love them, I think they're beautiful," she said.

Salgado also devotes a large portion of the store to local artists, including artwork of her own, which she describes as inspired by skeletons and the day of the dead.

"I really like the idea of honoring someone that has passed before you, and not necessarily mourning a death. I find a beauty in death. I don't look at it as something scary or dark," she said.

She also prefers to depict women in her art.

"There's something about a woman that is beautiful and soft, but strong," Salgado said.

Luis House is one of the artists featured in the store. He was born and raised in El Paso and like Salgado, said he is also inspired by beautiful women, as well as his cultural background.

"Me being a Mexican-American, Aztec culture really interests me," said House as he described a piece titled "Harmony," which includes two "calaveras," or skulls, with the El Paso nightline in the background, as well as the star on the mountain.

Salgado and House said they are inspired by many of the same things, including a passion to keep their culture alive.

La Adelita is located at 6216 Gateway Blvd East Suite B.

To view a slideshow of the items in the store, go to http://www.ktsm.com/la-adelita-gift-shop

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