Carved Into Culture

For its fourth year, carver and show organizer Rob Yancey decided to move the annual Muertos in May art exhibit to the heart of his Westwood/Morrison Road neighborhood to raise awareness of positive changes, from new murals to new development, taking place in the depressed area. “It’s the most overlooked neighborhood in Denver,” Yancey says. And why throw a Dia de los Muertos show, typically seen in late October and early November, in May, when Cinco de Mayo is celebrated? “We wanted to take Cinco away from the beer companies,” he says. To that end, Yancey pulled together some of the region’s best Muertos artists for a show of solidarity, with a goal of drawing outsiders into the neighborhood for a family-friendly celebration of culture today and tomorrow at Black Vulture Tattoo and Art Gallery.

As an Anglo artist working in a Mexican and Chicano genre, Yancey, who’s grateful for the acceptance and mentorship of the Muertos artist community, sees it as a chance to pay it forward: “I don’t think it’s my place to educate brown people about their culture after being assimilated into the Chicano community for over 25 years,” he explains. “It’s more important to educate the Anglo community, where I come from — people who make no differentiation between El Día and Halloween.”

Muertos in May kicks off tonight with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. geared toward adults and continues tomorrow from noon to 9 p.m. with family activities hosted by the BuCu neighborhood organization, including face painting, Mexican dancers and storytelling, at Black Vulture, 3602 Morrison Road. Admission is free; visit the event’s Facebook page for information.
May 2-3, 6-9 p.m., 2014

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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