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At the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, their annual celebration has turned into one of the organization’s signature events.
There is an exhibition of ofrendas, or offerings to the deceased on altars, as well as music, storytelling and a procession.
But now that his daughter, Frida, is 6 years old, he and his wife, Briseida Silva, have decided she can be introduced to the meaning behind the art that he does."I've been waiting for this moment so we can teach her about Dia de los Muertos," he says.
When Wardell began collecting street art in the mid-1990s, he admits, "it quickly became an obsession." When he began dating Sagan several years ago, "we got serious about buying big." Starting with local graffiti artist Barry Mc Gee, they bought ever-more ambitious installations by stars like Shepard Fairey, JR, and Os Gemeos—until they needed a bigger home to accommodate their approximately 120-piece collection.
In February of 2007 they purchased a 3,200-square- foot former Chinese laundry and tooth-powder factory with column-free interiors and a zigzagging sawtooth roof in lower Pacific Heights.
The whole thing — it’s a whole different way to look at what it means to be alive. I think that’s one of the beautiful things about living in a multicultural society: You have the privilege of seeing and sharing perspectives with other cultures.”Oliverio Balcells, who originally is from Guadalajara, Jalisco, is very familiar with the tradition.
As a child, he grew up in a “very Christian-Catholic” home, he says, and Day of the Dead was a regular part. In school, children would create skeleton-themed crafts to prepare for the holiday.
When the San Francisco couple says they love to travel, they don’t mean trips to Napa.
Over the past three summers Wardell put 15,500 miles on a motorcycle he and Sagan keep in Milan on rides from the Arctic Circle to southwestern Portugal.When he came to the United States, annual visits to cemeteries stopped. He might go with friends, but it wasn't the same thing.Art pieces are pictured at the Ofrenda Exhibition at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix on Friday, Oct. Ofrendas are offerings to the dead, as part of the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos. 2, displays original ofrenda pieces by local artists.It's hard to connect with family the way we did when we were young, because everybody's doing different things.If it wasn't for Facebook, I don't know what we'd do."Garcia knows that feeling.Ken Schutz, executive director at the garden, said their event — now in its 13th year — has grown annually, something he sees as a natural progression.“Nationally, you hear more and more about Day of the Dead,” he says. But for the indigenous communities, it’s a very important holiday, and we try to stay true to that spirit."Schutz has experienced the power of Day of the Dead first-hand.