By Kathy Chouteau
One might not expect a day celebrating the dead to be so lively, but that’s exactly what occurred on Saturday when the Point Richmond Social Club hosted its “Dia De Los Muertos” art exhibit and reception.
The event, which honored the Mexican holiday that celebrates the lives of loved ones who have passed, featured culturally relevant works by artist C.J. Grossman of the Richmond Annex, as well as coloring projects for kids, Mexican pastries, pan de muerto (“bread of the dead”) and Latin music.
“C.J. Grossman, the artist who did the paper cuttings, approached us about displaying her art and celebrating Day of the Dead; it’s a day that’s about celebrating people’s lives and not mourning their deaths,” said Point Richmond Social Club Manager Sofi Hecht about the event.
“We’re called the social club, and while it’s not an actual social club—there’s no membership or anything—we’re all about the community and getting people to come in and hang out,” Hecht added.
Grossman’s works, vibrantly colored, intricate, hand-cut, paper skulls, were displayed on the walls throughout the club, adding a special ambience to the room.
“I’ve been celebrating Day of the Dead for over 30 years,” explained Grossman in regards to the inspiration behind her works. “It’s a Mexican holiday and they believe that the souls of the dead come back for one night, so they decorate the graves with the favorite flowers and foods of the departed. They believe that they can celebrate with their loved ones for one night of the year.”
Grossman also said she often feels inspired by nature and by life when it comes to her art. “Anything can happen and it touches me and then I have to do something about it,” she said.
The artist, who says she frequently incorporates her activism into her art, revealed that she used an exacto knife to create her detailed works that were on display Saturday, a process which took up to a couple of days to complete (per paper skull). During the event, Grossman gave out Day of the Dead-themed booklets describing the meaning behind the Mexican holiday, some of its local history and also its related ofrendas or altars honoring the dead.
At Saturday’s event, Grossman created and displayed an altar honoring Rene Yanez, who was instrumental in bringing Mexican traditions to San Francisco’s Mission District in the 1960s.
The Point Richmond Social Club is located at 401 S. Garrard Blvd. in Point Richmond and features indoor space with coffee, beer, good eats and ample seating, as well as an outdoor patio with tables and a nice view of the surrounding neighborhood. Click here for more info about the club and call 415-640-4724 to contact artist C.J. Grossman.