Women celebrating Day of the Dead at Olvera Street

The Olvera Street Merchants were the first group to launch Dia de los Muertos celebrations this year on October 6th. And the women of Los Angeles definitely got into the spirit of this ancient and now very popular holiday.

It is almost a month until Dia de los Muertos or All Saints Day, as it is also known, on November 1st, the day after Halloween. These two holidays have run together here in Los Angeles into one huge party.

So here is what I saw:

Painted ladies Day of Dead LA City Pix
Women of all ages were caught up in the festivities.  These two painted designs on their faces without the usual white mask, seen below.
ArtGirlCathy Day of Dead LA City Pix
Cathy Mejia, AKA ArtGirlCathy, told me that there were 20 other Dia de los Muertos events in October.  She and her friend are going to be very busy. 
 women red and purple hair Day of Dead LA City Pix
Flowers in their hair.  I like the color co-ordination of the woman on the left with a skirt that matches the touch of yellow in the floral headband and the shirt that matches her hair.
Butterflies Olvera St. LA City Pix
I really love the headbands with flowers. I knew one woman in Pasadena who wore hers regularly year ’round and she was not a Latina. She just liked wearing it.  
Day of Dead face painting LA City Pix
Two face-painters were busy at their booth. Half-faces seemed to be the rule of the day this year.  Perhaps because of the price?
Folklorico dancer Day of Dead LA City Pix
This woman seemed to be the leader of the young Folklorico dancers but she also danced on the bandstand by herself.  She posed for me and other photographers while the young father watched it all.
Red hair Day of Dead LA City Pix
As usual, there were young Folklorico dancers and Mexican music DJs on the bandstand entertaining the crowd, including this woman with red flowers in her red hair.
Lady in White Day of Dead LA City Pix
This woman in white and gold was clearly celebrating Day of the Dead.
Woman in spider dress Olvera St. LA City Pix
Seeing her spider webs dress I was not sure if it was Halloween or Dia de los Muertos she was honoring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to one vendor there are 20 other Day of the Dead events in Los Angeles this year. The two big ones I intend to go to are at Grand Park in downtown L.A. where the large colorful altars will be unveiled on October 27th and 28th. Then on November 2nd – 4th, there will be altars in stores and Halloween events in Old Town Pasadena.

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The historic La Placita church has fresh paint on its 204th birthday

The cornerstone for the church commonly called “La Placita” church in the historic district of the Pueblo of Los Angeles was laid by Franciscan Luis Gil y Taboada in 1814 on the ruins of an older church founded in 1784.  It is the oldest church in Los Angeles.

Our Lady Queen of the Angels church Los Angeles LA City Pix

Our Lady Queen of the Angels Olvera Street
This photo of the  La Placita church was taken about 10 years ago.

And, much to my surprise, La Placita has recently been painted all white…well, except for one wall on the side by the cemetery so perhaps the painting is not complete. Quite frankly, I preferred the beige and red colors of the previous exterior paint.  Because it is a parish church and Sunday services were being held I did not see if the interior has been repainted too.

This church faces onto the historic plaza at the end of Olvera Street near downtown Los Angeles.

 

The Annunciation on La Placita church LA City Pix
A closer view of the painting above the front entry. In fact, parishioners enter the church from a doorway inside the courtyard at the side of the church. While this artwork remains, the name of the church over the archway entrance to the side patio has been painted over.  I assume the name will be restored,

 

 

Cemetery by La Placita church LA City Pix
The dark green fence surrounds the old cemetery. The remains of more than 680 people are in this graveyard where native plants have been allowed to grow. The beige wall on the left side seems to be the only one that has not been repainted white..

 

 

 

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A Bride and Groom in Union Station while the world walks by

Bride and groom Union
Light from a skylight flooded the area where the bride and groom were being photographed. I hope they live happily ever after.

On my way to an art/music festival at Grand Park I came across this couple having their wedding photos taken in Union Station.  A few of us watched, but many other people simply walked by, each involved with his/her own life.

I love the fact that the bride is wearing an elegant beige gown. Before Queen Victoria got married in a white gown brides did not wear white. I wish more brides would give up that 200 hundred year old custom and start wearing colors again. Another argument against white bridal gowns: in some parts of the world white is the color of mourning.

Women’s March in Los Angeles, January 2018

 

womens March L A Cheeto bandido
I think there were more anti-Trump posters this year. And quite a few signs about #MeToo and #TimesUp.  There is an auction of celebrity black dresses  from the Golden Globe Awards on ebay for Time’s Up.  

City officials and Metro were expecting a larger crowd at the Women’s March this year and it may have been true. Unlike New York, Boston or Chicago, the weather was beautiful in Los Angeles: temperature in the low 60sF and clear skies and no circling helicopters which there had been last year.

Here are some photos.

Womens March Power to the Polls
Already 390 women are running for seats in Congress in the election this year.  And thousands more are running for state and local offices.  
Womens March 2018 ReSister Pershing Sq
I like the play on words of “ReSister”  on this sign I saw as the Women’s March Los Angeles was getting  started in Pershing Square.
Womens March Native American
Dressed as a Native American, the sign reads “Women’s Justice Juarez.” There were many men at this year’s march.
Womens March Handmaid in Metro
A Handmaid in the Metro station. Things could be far far worse for women in the U.S. as the Handmaid’s Tale reminds us.
3 friends at Womens March l.a.
3 friends. 2 pussy hats. Big smiles.
Womens March 2018 City Hall (
The crowd turned this corner and began to mass in front of the Los Angeles City Hall.  I noticed a sign for Kamala Harris in 2020.  Almost everyone was more concerned with voting in 2018.
womens march 2018 New Day (
I loved the spirit of a “New Day” coming for this group. I sure hope it is!
Womens March street vendor
As always there were a few street vendors selling hot dogs wrapped in bacon. This woman seemed to have a lot of vegetables on her grill.  The sign attached to the fence behind her is apt.

Learn how to Curl, go ice skating, take an “angel” photo at Pershing Square in #DTLA

Angel Wings Pershing Square
Backdrops painted with “Angel Wings” are showing up everywhere. This is at Pershing Square next to the ice rink. There is also a set of “Angel Wings” for photographs a few blocks away in the Central Library downtown.

Perhaps it is too early in December, but there were almost no Christmas decorations, no jolly Santa Claus, and no carolers in Pershing Square — unlike other years.  There weren’t even a lot of children skating on the ice rink.  It really did not feel very festive.

Learn to Curl Pershing Square
The Winter Olympics are in February and, no doubt, the interest in the sport of Curling is rising. Curling classes will be held December 17 and January 14 at the Pershing Square ice rink..

There was an “angel wings” backdrop for people to use for photos, however.  And interesting signs announcing that Ice Curling lessons are coming soon and so is Broom Hockey.  To learn more about this, go here.

Now for some musical trivia.  Singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell once wrote a song about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot.  Well, that parking lot, formerly the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic until the building was demolished decades ago, is now becoming a high rise tower across from Pershing Square.

Okay. Here is what I saw:

Ice skaters with penguins
Children learn to skate using “penguins” to keep their balance. There were few skaters on this Saturday morning, but perhaps it was too early in the holiday season.

 

Joni Mitchell's paved parking lot
Formerly the home of the L.A. Philharmonic, then for decades a parking lot, now  this space is becoming a high rise. I wonder what Joni Mitchell thinks of this.

Beautiful Day of the Dead altars in Grand Park, Los Angeles

Day of Dead 2017 Grand Park skulls
This massive altar was created by Lore Productions. On each level of the altar were hundreds of note written to deceased family and friends.

This year a group called Lore Productions “curated” some of the large altars for Grand Park.  Their altars were large and professional in appearance, like the one at the top of this post.

skull curated by Lore Productions
A close-up of one of the skulls in the altar at the top of this post.

This year I didn’t see an altar by artist Ofelia Esperanza, the most famous altar creator in L.A. but the community altar this year  was built by Self-Help Graphics, one of the old art studios for Chicano artists.

There was also something entirely new: the floating altars with La Calavera Catrina, the Queen on the Dead.  With a little research I discovered that La Calavera Catrina was a figure developed in the early 20th Century that has become very popular for Day of the Dead during the last century.

Today was the last day for the altars in Grand Park.  Here are some photos.

Notes to the dead
Hundreds of notes were left on the altar.
Community Altar by Self-Help Graphics
Self-Help Graphics created this community altar. Many Chicano artists got their start through Self-Help.
Commuity Altar gifts
The bottles of beer and tequila are not unusual on the altars.  On family altars favorite foods of the dead being honored are often placed on the altar. This is a detail from the Community Altar created by Self-Help Graphics.
Altar of Oaxaca Grand Park
Across the street from City Hall was the Altar of Oaxaca by Lore Productions and a group of people on a tour of the altars.
Family altar 2017
A family altar — much more modest in size and personal than the massive ones lower down in the park.
Altar honoring women
A detail of another one of the smaller altars. This one honored Mexican-American women with significant achievements in politics and entertainment.

 

 

La Calavera Catrina Queen of the Dead
Part of the children’s wading pool was closed off to make room for La Calavera Catrina on her boat with blue waves. At the edge of the pool were smaller floating altars, some commemorating well-known people who had died in L.A. in recent years.  This sophisticated display was also produced by Lore Productions.  
Gifts for the dead bananas
An offering of food complete with a sugar skull on one altar. The small bananas are so much sweeter than the ones you can buy in the supermarket.  I know–I used to have banana trees in my back yard. The dead will appreciate them.
Masked mother and son 2017 (
These paper masks were given away as part of the Grand Avenue free entry day which was also happening on Saturday. This mother and son slipped them on for just a minute.

Five Lego men on benches in downtown Los Angeles

Lego brick Park People
These Lego figures are a kind of “selfie”. The artist Nathan Sawaya based the sculptures on his own body.

 

Brookfield Properties sponsors art installations around their investment properties across the U.S.  Nice of them!  And, in this case, fun, too!  They’ve sponsored Nathan Sawaya’s ‘Park People’–figurative sculptures made from Lego® blocks–in the courtyard outside of the Wells Fargo building on Grand near 4th.

Blue Lego Man Park People Los Angeles
Around the corner from Nevelson”s “Night Sails” sculpture was this Blue man made of Lego.

On my way to the Central Library to see the new murals I found five figures: four in the main Wells Fargo courtyard and another, the blue man, tucked away behind Nevelson’s black ‘Night Sails” sculpture.

Meditating lego man Los Angeles
Golden Yellow meditating figure in the ‘Park People’ installation.  Behind him, a green man  faces a family taking pictures. The Red man seemed to be drawing the most attention. 
Yellow lego
Yup! It really is the same Lego you played with as a child!