The Mexic-Arte Museum hosts Taste of Mexico 2016 in honor of Cinco de Mayo

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Taste of Mexico 2016: A Culinary Arts Festival celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Photography by The Mexic-Arte Museum.

The Mexic-Arte Museum celebrated Cinco de Mayo early this year by hosting a decadent and heartfelt party, Taste of Mexico 2016, at Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas. Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration on May 5th and Taste of Mexico 2016 was a culinary arts festival in honor of this holiday. Brazos Hall was decorated top to bottom, upstairs and downstairs, filled with brightly colored red and violet spotlights. Dozens  of food and beverage vendors were carefully placed about the space. Tacos & tequila, a mariachi band, a DJ, a photo booth and artwork also adorned the venue. Piñatas in the form of painted dolls, calaveras (skulls) and flowers dangled from the ceiling, too. The party was so full that at one point guests had to wait outside in line to get in as to not overfill maximum occupancy. Brazos Hall is a fairly large turn-of-the-century warehouse venue. Therefore the fact Taste of Mexico 2016 reached maximum occupancy not even one hour into the party on a Wednesday night is a testament that The Mexic-Arte Museum knows how to throw a fun-filled celebration for the community.

Taste of Mexico is a festival of Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisine and beverages from over 30 of Austin’s most eclectic restaurants, food trucks, and flavorful purveyors featuring fine tequilas, mezcals, wines, beers, and other refreshing beverages. Taste of Mexico also featured the Bazaar del Arte, including Mexican folk arts and crafts, unique gifts, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, selections from the Museum Store, and the Pop-up Print Shop hosted by our very own Screen It! students and the Education Department. In collaboration with the Consulate General of Mexico, Mexic-Arte Museum was pleased to present Chef Ángel Vázquez as their Chef of Honor for Taste of Mexico 2016. Vázquez is known for his international palette and sophisticated dishes that represent a Poblana-Mexican kitchen. His critically acclaimed restaurant Intro (Cholula, Puebla) boasts cuisine that takes inspiration from countries such as Morocco, Thailand, Greece, Spain, France, and more. His latest projects include Salome Antojeria Del Mar y Mezcal, Carbon Central de Hamburguesas, and Augurio Comedor Poblano. All ticket sales supported the Mexic-Arte Museum in its mission to offer enriching educational programs and provide the community with outstanding exhibitions.”

Writer and Austin Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, attended Taste of Mexico 2016. Mallow has previously covered celebrations hosted by The Mexic-Arte Museum such as Viva la Vida, a Día de los Muertos event. A local A&E writer and Latina from Tejas, Mallow has experienced many of the museum’s sponsored events. The time and thoughtfulness put into each party is so evident just by regarding the immaculate detail and intricate decorations. The Mexic-Arte Museum always hosts events that flow smoothly for guests. Even the pamphlet for Taste of Mexico 2016 included a guided map to all 30 vendors and their menu. Most of all, the staff and vendors are friendly and hospitable, making the party all the more delightful. Whether you’re a member of the Latino/Hispanic/Mexican community or not—everyone is welcomed with open arms and there is a sense of family, continuity and love at every celebration the museum hosts. Mexico and Texas are known for their hospitality and fiery personalities, so this infusion of a Mexican holiday celebrated in downtown ATX is a strong and vibrant combination. Anyone that attends a celebration hosted by The Mexic-Arte Museum is guaranteed to have a good time. Simply put, The Mexic-Arte Museum organizes genuine and unforgettable parties with memories that last a lifetime. Once you enter the doors, attendees feel a vivacious, playful and radiant energy that is bound to put a smile on anyone’s face. And you will want the party to last throughout the night.

To view photographs from Taste of Mexico 2016 and to view a list of the sponsors that helped facilitate the event, please visit their website at www.mexic-artemuseum.org.

 Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in May 2016.  

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Viva la Vida: Mexic-Arte Museum honors Día de los Muertos festival for 32 years in Tejas

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La Catrina drawn by unknown artist at The Mexic-Arte Museum. Photography by Nicolette Mallow.

Since the doors first opened in 1984, the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin has celebrated thirty-two years of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities. This October the museum presents two seasonal exhibitions alongside its annual Viva la Vida festival featuring a grand procession, artist vendors, live music, and a grand sugar skull piñata float by local piñata artisans Monica and Sergio Lejarazu. The museum will also host a black-tie masquerade event known as the Catrina Ball that will debut at The Four Seasons Hotel.

The highlighted Día de los Muertos exhibition at the Mexic-Arte Museum, Community Altars: Ofrendas Inspired from the States of Mexico, is located within the main gallery and contains nearly a dozen altars to honor the lives of loved ones who are deceased. Adorning the altars are flowers, crosses, candles, angels, framed photographs, flags, hand-cut paper, skulls and catrinas. Echoes of a film directed by Jim Hill, Llamar a los Muertos a Casa (Calling Home The Dead), are heard as guests walk about the rooms. In the very back of the exhibition there is a bench to sit and watch the movie about the villagers of Lake Pátzcuaro. And viewers can learn why it’s believed this land is a doorway to heaven.

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Nicolette Mallow in La Catrina face paint at the Viva la Vida festival in October 2015.

Each altar represents the regional and cultural differences within diverse areas of Mexico, including the following states: Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, Mexico D.F. and Coahuila. Admiring the similarities and dissimilarities between the altars is part of the appeal. Not a single altar is identical to another, and yet the holiday spirit Día de los Muertos is strong within every altar, unifying the exhibition at the Mexic-Arte museum.

In 2003, the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas awarded the Mexic-Arte Museum as the Official Mexican and Mexican American Art Museum of Texas. Also according to their website, “Día de los Muertos is an ancient, Mexican and Mexican American religious holiday with a historically rich tradition that integrates both pre-Columbian and Catholic customs. It is often celebrated in connection with the Catholic Holy Days of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (dates and length of the celebration vary by state or region). In the celebrants’ minds, the holiday is a time to honor and greet their deceased relatives and friends, who make the journey back from Mictlan (the underworld in Aztec culture) to be with the living each year. These days are a time for families and friends to gather in celebration of life and death, embracing the circle of life rather than loss and sorrow.

Standing in a room of altars that pay homage and respect to the dead, it might not seem like a place of love and light to those unfamiliar with Día de los Muertos. However, there is an undeniable force of love and life flowing throughout the rooms. An intense and evocative kind of love that can be seen and felt like standing next to a bonfire on a frigid moonless night. Looking at the altars one-by-one, imagining the time it took to make it all by hand. Thinking about the fact that massive quantities of people from all over the country designate the time and energy each year to create memorials. Memorials that signify and represent their memories towards family members or loved ones no longer living is indicative of their selflessness, loyalty and respect. It’s indicative of their devout love. It’s very moving to the heart and mind as guests walk from altar-to-altar; absorbing a sense of each person, or persons, revered at every altar by those still living. Unlike a tombstone that only states a name and dates of life, these large altars are unique to each family member and give viewers are stronger sense of personality. Books, jewelry, baskets of black beans, blankets, pottery, Marlboro cigarettes, bottles of tequila, and guitars; various items are placed throughout the altars, humanizing and personalizing the interests and pleasures of each person’s life.

Additionally, bright lights and vivacious colors illuminate the altars. Color and light are key elements in this exhibition at the Mexic-Arte Museum. Blue, red, pink, yellow, green and violet are prominent colors seen throughout the altars in the main gallery. Marigold flowers are one particular item of deeper significance seen at every altar. “Marigolds guide the spirits to their altars using their vibrant colors and scent. It is believed that the spirits of the dead visit the living during the celebration. Marigolds, or flowers in general, also represent the fragility of life. The marigold most commonly used in Día de los Muertos celebrations is the Targetes erecta or African Marigold, otherwise known as cempasúchil or flower of the dead.”

To view the history of thirty-one prior Día de los Muertos celebrations at the Mexic-Arte Museum, please venture to the annex gallery. Exhibitions will be on display through most of the autumnal season until mid-November. Please note the Viva la Vida festival is a daylong, eight-hour event open to the public on October 31, 2015. Tickets to the Catrina Ball on October 17, 2015 can be purchased online. For more information regarding upcoming events, exhibitions, admission, memberships and hours of operation, please visit www.mexic-artemuseum.org or call 512-480-9373.

¡Viva Mexico & Tejas!

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in October 2015. 

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