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Weisman Art Museum hosts Chicano Family Day

The event let children make arts and crafts projects for “Dias de los Muertos.”

Art enthusiasts, families and students made brightly colored arts and crafts and eyed various Chicano art exhibits Sunday at the Weisman Art Museum at Viva la Vida: Family Day.

The event allowed children to participate in “Dias de los Muertos” by making oil pastel murals, “papel picados” (paper banners) and “ofrendas” (offerings for dead loved ones, such as paper flowers).

Dias de Los Muertos is traditionally celebrated in some parts of Mexico to honor deceased family members and friends.

“We think it’s important to expose our children to different cultures and art because the world is so small now,” said Aleli Balagtas, a mother of three from Falcon Heights, Minn.

“You can see this from all the different types of people here,” Balagtas said.

The event also included live music from Kiko Rangel and his band, and arts and crafts activities led by artists such as Armando Gutierrez, Katie Tuma and University students.

Judi Petkau, youth programs coordinator for the Weisman Art Museum said Sunday’s event was a part of its “Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge” exhibition, and part of a national tour of Chicano art.

Chicanos are people of Mexican-American ancestry.

The exhibition at the Weisman features a variety of paintings by Chicano artists from Texas and California communities, Petkau said. The paintings for the tour are loaned from celebrities, she said. These celebrities include Cheech Marin, Nicolas Cage and Dennis Hopper, she said.

Louis McCoy, a fourth-year College of Liberal Arts student, said he enjoyed the exhibit.

“I think the exhibit is really cool,” McCoy said.

“I haven’t been to the Weisman in a while, but there are a lot of really powerful paintings here,” he said.

The tour is also at the Minnesota Museum of American Art, Petkau said.

The exhibition at the Minnesota Museum of American Art, “Chicano Now: American Expressions,” is interactive and covers 5,000 square feet, according to the official tour Web site.

“It’s nice that the exhibition can be spread out over the Twin Cities, because both have lively and growing Latino populations, as does the entire state of Minnesota,” Petkau said.

The response to guided tours has been excellent, attracting Minnesota-area elementary, middle and high schools, as well as several colleges, including many Spanish-language and art classes from the University, Petkau said. The exhibition has also attracted visitors from as far away as Iowa, Wisconsin and North Dakota, she said.

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