Miembros Newsletter: November 2021

From the Director

Mexic-Arte Museum’s 38th Annual Viva la Vida 2021- Goes Virtual! Celebrated In-Person and Online

Sergio Lejarazu, Artist stands by his newest large sculpture, “El Azteca”. Photo by Sylvia Orozco
Photo by Chris Caselli

Mexic-Arte Museum and community partners celebrated Día de los Muertos with the 38th annual Viva la Vida Fest 2021 presented by the Austin Convention Center on October 30, 2021 both virtually and in person. 

Mexic-Arte Museum’s Viva La Vida Festival and Parade is Austin’s largest and longest-running Día de los Muertos event in Texas.  In the Museum, visitors enjoyed the current exhibitions:  MX 21-Resistance, Reaffirmation & Resilience; Los Pueblos Originarios – Honoring the Dead – Continuing Traditions, Photos by Mary J. Andrade and Nuestra Comunidad/Our Community – Memory and Remembrance. Complimentary Pan de Muerto (Day of the Dead Bread) was given to the first three hundred visitors.  

Inside the Museum,  Mariana Nuño Ruiz and Ian McEnroe presented and signed their new book,  Dining with the Dead: A Feast for the Souls on Day of the Dead. Throughout the day musicians performed in the galleries.   Musicians included Eduardo Cassapia, “El Qolla”, Justice Philips, Angel Ibanez, Mi Trova, Cuitlahuac Ortiz, Lucia & Francisco Chavez “La Catrina & José Guadalupe Posada”.

Outside the Museum, a display of large parade props called mojigangas lined Congress Avenue, including La Catrina by artist Patricia Greene and El Aztec and Alebrjies by Sergio and Monica Lejarazu.  The Bike Zoo Butterflies, Snake, Bat and Owl fascinated crowds throughout the day.  This year The Ofrenda Mural created by Alonso Estrada, Gus Estrada and Jenn Contreras with animated imagery by Augment El Paso was featured on the MeroMuro Wall on 5th St. At Frost Bank Plaza there was a pop-up Día de los Muertos Store with papel picado and skulls. Next to the Store was the table that featured art activity demos by Education Staff with free papel picado and marigold flower art kits for children.

Viva la Vida 2021 continues virtually. The Mexic-Arte Museum shares the virtual festival with viewers from all over Austin, to people across the world, expanding the popular festival. Virtual programs can be found at www.mexic-artemuseum.org. The site includes parade/procession videos, music, performances, and storytelling, Virtual Exhibition Tour – Los Pueblos Originarios – Honoring the Dead – Continuing Traditions, Photos by Mary J. Andrade Exhibition, The Ofrenda Mural, Día de los Muertos Art Activities and Education Guide, recipes and Online Store. 

The Museum thanks all the artists, community members and visitors that participated in this year’s event. A special thanks goes to the City of Austin and the Austin Convention Center for their support in the creation of Viva la Vida 2021 – Goes Virtual! continuing the tradition of Austin’s longest-running and largest Day of the Dead festival.  We hope to  see everyone at the Viva la Vida Fest 2022 in person!

Executive Director

Sylvia Orozco

Special Events

Viva la Vida Fest 2021 – Goes Virtual! Celebrating Day of the Dead, Presented by Austin Convention Center

Photos by Chris Caselli
Photos by Chris Caselli
Screenshot from Viva la Vida 2021 Website

Mexic-Arte Museum’s Viva la Vida Fest 2021 – Goes Virtual! Celebrating Day of the Dead, Presented by Austin Convention Center is Austin’s largest and longest-running Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival and parade in Texas. As part of the Mexic-Arte Museum’s continued initiative to bring Museum events right to your screen, Viva la Vida was presented in two parts: in-person on Saturday, October 30th and virtually throughout the last week of October! Utilizing a festival-landing page, the Museum’s virtual and in-person programming made Viva la Vida such a special, vibrant celebration! Thank you to all who participated and experienced what the Museum had to offer this year!

Coco Movie Night

Since Mexic-Arte could not host our annual Day of the Dead Parade this year, one of our alternative events was a lovely Coco movie night for friends and family to enjoy! We are thankful to our friends at Blue Starlite Mini-Drive In for making this possible. 

Coco depicts accurate ceremonies and practices surrounding the Dia de los Muertos holiday. By sharing these customs through stories like Coco, these rituals rooted in ancient culture are perpetuated to new audiences all over the world.


Mix ‘n’ Mash Las Flores – La Vida Exhibition

December 10, 2021 – February 6, 2022

  • Friday, December 10, 2021
  • 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Tamales, Churros, and Ice Cream by La Costeñita
  • Complimentary wine and drinks sponsored by Milestone Brands LLC
  • DJ set by p1inkstar
  • Art Activity: Embossed Foil Art
  • Tax Free Day on all purchases 12/10 only!

Mexic-Arte Museum is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition on Friday, December 10, 2021: Mix ‘n’ Mash Las Flores – La Vida. Mix ‘n’ Mash Exhibition and Art Sale, Las Flores – La Vida will be on view from Friday, December 10, 2021 – February 6, 2022. This group exhibition will display artworks from over 200 local and regional artists created on quality panels donated by Ampersand Art Supply. The art sale not only increases awareness about the visual arts and art collecting in the community, but also provides funding for the Museum’s exhibitions, supports educational programming for children and adults, and sustains upkeep and care of the permanent collection, this year’s theme is flowers and life.

The Opening Reception will take place on Friday, December 10th from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm along with an art sale throughout the evening. Guests will be able to enjoy music by p1nkstar, wine, drinks provided by Milestone Brands LLC, tamales, churros, and ice cream. The public is encouraged to purchase one or more panels. Artworks will be available for purchase until February 6, 2022; afterwards, artworks may be purchased through the Museum Store. Information on artwork subsmission listed below. Please make sure you review the Museum’s Health Protocols before planning your visit. Thank you!

2021 Theme: Las Flores – La Vida

Flowers have had a significant role in the myths of Mexican people since pre-Hispanic times to the present. The symbolic meaning of flowers is prominent throughout ancient Mesoamerican thought and practice. Flowers could represent anything from beauty and creation to death and destruction. Offerings of flowers were placed on the statues of deities. Flowers were an important feature in many ceremonies. Much of the ancient symbolism and some of the actual practices of arranging and using flowers have continued to the present day in Mexico.

“In ancient Mexico, flora represented life, death, gods, creation, man, language, song and art, friendship, lordship, the captive in war, the war itself, the heaven, Earth, and a calendrical sign. It accompanied one from conception and birth until burial. Obviously, the flower was one of the basic elements in pre-Hispanic symbolic communication. Like the quetzal feather and jade bead, it was synonymous with “precious.” Doris Heyden,  Mythology and Symbolism of Flora in pre-Hispanic Mexico (1983).

Education Activity During Event

The Mexic-Arte Museum Education team will lead a hands-on activity during the opening reception. Participants will be encouraged to create foil embossings using printed designs as patterns or create original designs to take home. 

MX 21-Resistance, Reaffirmation & Resilience Exhibition

Angel Cabrales
Itlachiyaliz tlen Aztecnonauta Cuauhtemoc, Figura del Aztecnonauta Cuauhtemoc VIII, 2019
Mixed Media
16 1/2″ x 5 1/4″ x 15 1/2″
Angel Cabrales
Itlachiyaliz tlen Mayatlapohuanih K’abel, Figura de la Mayamatica K’abel, 2019
Mixed Media
16 1/2″ x 5 1/4″ x 15 1/2″

Throughout 2021, Mexico is observing and commemorating major events in history: the falling of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán, the invasion by Spain, and the Independence of Mexico. Mexic-Arte Museum presents an exhibition and programs in conjunction with Mexico’s 2021 events, and reaffirm our common cultural history.

The exhibition MX 21-Resistance, Reaffirmation & Resilience is divided into three sections: Resistance, Reaffirmation, and ResilienceResistance refers to the Original Peoples resisting the Spanish invasion and occupation of Mexico, which was really not “conquered.” Reaffirmation speaks to affirming the unique history and cultural diversity of our shared heritage. Resilience represents the on-going evolution of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and other Latinx peoples, despite and because of struggles to achieve liberty, social justice, and plurality. Invited artists respond to these themes to help the public better understand and appreciate how Mexico’s history has impacted and inspired our shared U.S.- Mexico cultural history in the Americas, as Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and Latinx peoples.

Participating artists include Luis Abreux, Santa Barraza, Cande Aguilar, Angel Cabrales, Tomas Filsinger, Eduardo Garcia, Tita Griesbach, Mari Hernandez, Michael Menchaca, Delilah Montoya, Juan Navarrete, Yelaine Rodriguez, Sergio Sanchez Santamaria, Andy Villarreal, “Kill Joy”, and artwork from the Mexic-Arte Museum Permanent Collection.

The goal is to participate in Mexico’s remembrance, and at the same time, reflect on history and current reality here in the U.S., reclaiming and reaffirming shared heritage and experiences through the work of contemporary artists. Public programming includes lectures sponsored by Humanities Tx.  

Spiritual and Cultural Significance of Indigenous Plantings at Cementerio San José I

The Mexic-Arte Museum presented Marika Alvarado, a Lipan Mescalero Apache medicine woman, who gave a presentation on the Indigenous significance of plantings found in San Jose Cemetery 1 on November 21st. The field work was documented and organized for the presentation by Marika, Margaret Gallagher, and Diana Hernández with an emphasis on plant properties and medicinal uses. The presentation makes use of botanical illustrations and photographs provided by Margaret Gallagher. 


Marika Alvarado 

Maestra Marika is a Lipan Mescalero Apache. She is a direct descendant of generations of Medicine Women: traditional native healers of spirit and body, midwives, and plant medicine practitioners.  Her mother, grandmother, and aunt handed the medicine down to her.  

Margaret Gallagher

Margaret Gallagher is pursuing her Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. Her passion for the arts, science, community engagement, and early childhood education inspires her to create interactive work that draws attention to subtle evolutions present in the world around us and facilitate lasting connections between people and places.

Diana M. Hernández

Diana Hernandez has taught in Texas for 10 years and has been an independent researcher on issues of language, diversity and preservation since 2014. Her work, locally and abroad, highlights the preservation of cultural landscapes related to the history of racial violence. She is currently completing an MS in Historic Preservation at the University of Texas at Austin.

Moderator: Evie Carr

Evie Carr is a traditional healer with Apache, Alabama Coushatta and hispanic roots. She has been studying traditional medicine with Maestra Marika Alvarado since 2017 with a focus on native plant medicine.

This presentation in in conjunction with the exhibition Nuestra Comunidad/Our Community – Memory and Remembrance

Sept. 17, 2021- Nov. 21, 2021

This exhibition marks the 38th Annual Dia de los Muertos exhibition and celebration at the Mexic-Arte Museum, since 1984.  The exhibition, as always, pays tribute to the tradition that celebrates the return of the dead to their families and friends on November 1st and November 2nd. Ofrendas, recuerdos, memorias, photos and offerings are assembled and shared in a room by community members to remember loved ones who passed away.  

Mexic-Arte Museum invited the public to contribute a photo of a loved one or someone you admire who has passed away. The gathering of recuerdos includes an installation by (Re)claiming Memories organization focusing on Indigenous community and significance of plantings the San Jose Cemetery  by Marika Alvarado, a Lipan Mescalero Apache medicine woman and photographer Margaret Gallagher.

Changarreando Instagram Live + Q&A with Artist Robby Riojas

Robby Riojas, Rite of Passage, Sculpture, 24″ x 24″, 2019

Mexic-Arte Museum hosted Changarreando Instagram Live with Artist Robby Riojas on Tuesday, November 23rd from 5:00 pm – 5:45 pm ct via the Museum’s Instagram account @mexic_arte! Mario Villanueva, Mexic-Arte Museum’s Marketing and Events Associate, facilitated the live interview with a series of questions directed at the artist including a Q&A which took place during the last 20 minutes of the event. 

About the Artist

Robert Riojas III is a painter and sculptor based in Houston, Texas. His entire body of work consists of many reusable materials. The one unifying process amongst all of his pieces is the connection of fire. By burning, all is reborn or refined. Throughout the ashes, his designs evolve out of this sequence.

Artist Statement 

“My art is a vision of restoration and regeneration of the weathered human condition. Through the deforestation connecting to emotions, light still shines in a dystopian world. I focus on capturing the journey of an individual who experiences subconscious turning points in their life. By incorporating stories and sharing past occurrences in my paintings, even though each piece is conceptual, I distort forms for an expressive effect. Vivid colors, symbolic images, geometry and real life subject matter give the meaning behind an emotional process behind each creation. As a contemporary romanticism artist, I believe so much is discarded in this world that is genuine and virtuous. As I reclaim materials, it is immediately reevaluated.”


Sergio Sanchez Santamaria, The Eight Omens of Moctezuma

Sergio Sanchez Santamaria, The Omens of Moctezuma. 2020, Scratchboard, 8 1/2″ x 11 (each), 2021.20.1.1

Mexic-Arte is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of Sergio Sánchez Santamaría’s scratchboard series of the eight omens of Moctezuma. Sergio honors the omens through carefully articulated line work and creativity. You can see the full series on display in the MX 21-Resistance, Reaffirmation & Resilience exhibition or on our online exhibit through CultureConnect

Sergio Sánchez Santamaría was born in Tlayacapan, Morelos, Mexico in 1976. He is a print maker, muralist, and illustrator. Santamaría studied at the great “La Esmeralda”, Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura, y Grabado in Mexico City, counting among his teachers, Alberto Beltrán, Francisco Moreno Capdevila and Adolfo Mexiac. A master of wood and linocuts, mezzotint and lithography, he works in the tradition of Posada and Mendez but with a modern sensibility and contemporary take on the customs, politics, and people of Mexico.


The Spanish encountered the Aztec Empire not as a bunch of lost cities in the jungle, but as a living, breathing civilization. When the conquistadors were welcomed into the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan by the Emperor Montezuma in 1519, the Aztecs had controlled most of central Mexico by outright subjugation and through various systems of tribute. The Aztec Empire’s influence was felt as far away as Central America and the American Southwest. Many living under Aztec control wanted the empire out of their lives, and when the Spanish arrived they welcomed the Europeans who would help them overthrow the empire.

Before the arrival of the Spanish, the Aztecs knew their control over central Mexico was somewhat tenuous, and were always aware of the possibility of internal strife causing a political and social collapse. In the days of Montezuma’s reign, at the beginning of the 16th Century and starting some ten years before the arrival of Cortés and his men, Emperor Montezuma was witness to 8 omens which supposedly foretold the end of the empire and his own death. Because of these omens there was an underlying feeling that the Aztecs were doomed, and when the Spanish arrived those who remembered the omens saw their fates as sealed. Whether or not these omens actually occurred is a question for historians and folklorists alike. They are mentioned in The Florentine Codex, a massive 3-volume illustrated ethnographic compilation put together by the Spanish Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún. The codex has over 2,000 illustrations in its 2,400 pages, and in Book 12 of the Codex we find the 8 signs that supposedly predicted the doom to befall the Aztecs. Scholars are divided as to whether or not these omens were made up after the fact to justify the Spanish Conquest in the eyes of the conquered natives and to the rest of the world, or if they really happened.

According to the legends, Montezuma did not dismiss the omens but meditated on them and took them very seriously. In spite of having the best astrological and priestly counsel in the Aztec Empire, the emperor had no idea of what the omens meant or what fate would befall him or his realm. As news of the omens spread throughout the empire, perhaps some people were psychologically prepared for what was to come. Given the brutality experienced by some of the peoples subjugated by the Aztecs, perhaps each omen represented hope instead of doom. Whether good or bad, all who had heard of these omens had a feeling that big changes were on the horizon, and they were right.


The Mexic-Arte Museum & Proyecto Teatro Austin Present: Flor + Mezcal

Photos by Sylvia Orozco

October and November have been busy months for the Education department at the Mexic-Arte. We had several tours, events, and more! On Thursday October 28th, the Proyecto Teatro Austin & Mexic-Arte held a night of Mezcal & Cempasúchil, where attendees learned how to make floral decorations for the Day of the Dead at the Mexic-Arte Museum, led by Proyecto Teatro staff. These pieces were transported to the San Jose Pantheon in East Austin to adorn the cemetery during the 5th celebration of Fandango de los Muertos 2021! 

Dia de los Muertos at the MACC

Monday, November 2nd, Mexic-Arte participated in the Dia de los Muertos festival at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Culture Center. Mexic-Arte Museum Staff handed out DIY Paper Marigold kits to all the ESBMAAC event visitors. The kits included the materials required along with a QR code to an original how to video from the Mexic-Arte Museum education team. Approximately 300 kits were handed out during the events! 

MX21 Exhibition Scavenger Hunt

Challenge your seek and find skills when viewing MX 21-Resistance, Reaffirmation & Resilience exhibition with our new scavenger hunt and find each subject in various artworks throughout the exhibit.

Museum Tours

The month of October leading to November is the busiest time for tours at the Mexic-Arte Museum. Amongst the many tour goers were The Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs, Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), and Patricia Lerdo De Tejada and the Arte y Cultura group, GoValle Elementary’s 4th grade art students with their Art Teacher Ms. Kay, the Austin Newcomers Club, and the International Student and Scholars Services from the University of Texas. To schedule a group tour visit Mexic-Arte Museum’s website.


New in the Mexic-Arte Store

Get ready for the holidays with hand-made Christmas ornaments, and greetings cards! Shop our holiday collection in-store and online!

Farewell Store and Visitor Services Associate Nicole Pollentier

“Mexic-Arte staff, members, friends, I want to warmly and sincerely thank you for a wonderful six years. Working in the museum store, I have been able to talk to you about gifts to celebrate family and friends, things that affect our culture, delicious foods, and most of all, share responses to the amazing art that we have all enjoyed in the Mexic-Arte galleries. I cherish the time we have spent together, and I look forward to visiting often!”

Thank you to Our Sponsors

Learn more about the Mexic-Arte Museum

Exhibition and Art Education Programs Support: 3M, AeroMexico, Ampersand Art Supply, Applied Materials, Austin Convention Center, Austin Independent School District Creative Classrooms, Charles Beckman, Michael Best, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Brown Foundation, Brown Distributing Company, Dr. Frank Cardenas, City of Austin Community Youth Development Program, Clay Imports, Endeavor Real Estate Group, Fonda San Miguel, Tom Gilliland, Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, Juan J Gutierrez and Rosa K Gutierrez, H-E-B, H-E-B Tournament of Champions, GTOPS, Hendler Flores Law, Humanities Texas, Junior League of Austin, JP Peace Love & Happiness Foundation, Ann McEldowney, Mindpop, National Endowment for the Arts, Ingrid and James Taylor, Mike Taylor, Michael Torres, Serie Print Project,  Morgan Stanley, Efficient Steel, Bettina & Travis Mathis,  Elizabeth Rogers, Juan Antonio Sandoval Jr., Rosa Santis & Pedro SS Services, Marina Sifuentes,  Susto Mezcal, Texas Mutual, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Delia Sifuentes, Texas Gas Service, Texas Commission on the Arts, Tribeza, Univision 62, Univision Radio, Lola Wright Foundation, and Jane & Manuel Zuniga.