Back to Skulls

Halloween’s more elegant primo, El Día de los Muertos, is often misunderstood by those who don’t actually celebrate it: As local muertos artist Jerry Vigil notes, the true meaning of the annual and traditional tribute to the departed in Mexico is perceived by outsiders as the simple sum of its most visible symbols, as a transfixing celebration of dancing skeletons and sugar skulls. That’s okay, he notes, because the tradition and its symbols are culturally intertwined, and the emblematic Day of the Dead images are also colorful, fun and beautiful to look at. All the same, he’d like to help spread the tools of discernment.

A new book, Day of the Dead Crafts: More Than 24 Projects That Celebrate Día de los Muertos (Wiley, $19.99), made with Vigil’s help, does just that by offering historical background and a sophisticated array of adult-oriented DIY projects that range from customary altars and clay calaveras (skeleton figures) to whimsical jewelry and masks.

“I hope it helps bridge the gap between what people view as traditional Day of the Dead and the contemporary artwork that’s practiced multiculturally,” Vigil says of his participation in the project, which includes several images of his fantastic, personality drenched, signature muertolitos (go to for a view of one of Westword’s favorites).

Vigil and co-authors Kerry Arquette and Andrea Zocchi will be on hand to show examples of their works and sign copies of the book tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street. Call 303-436-1070 or visit
Tue., Oct. 14, 2008

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd