Des Moines Art Center hosts 19th annual Day of the Dead celebration

Posted on Tuesday, October 22, 2019

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Briggie-Smith or Jordan Powers
Tel: 515.271.0343 or 515.271.0344
Email: or

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DES MOINES, IOWA (OCTOBER 2019) – On Sunday, November 3, noon – 4 pm, the Des Moines Art Center will host the 19th annual Day of the Dead / Día de los Muertos celebration. The event will take place at 4700 Grand Avenue and is free and open to the public. Parking at the Art Center is free, and a complimentary free shuttle and parking will be available at Merrill Middle School, 5301 Grand Avenue, Des Moines.

Day of the Dead is a Latinx celebration that honors the lives of deceased members of the community with a festive day of music, dancing, food and drink, art activities, and remembrances for the entire family. This year’s celebration will honor Richard “Chico” Perez, community leader, United Mexican American Community Center co-founder, and restaurant owner; and Connie Quijano, translator and advocate of the Latinx immigrant community. According to Ila Plasencia, longtime volunteer for the event, “Día de los Muertos has been a great way to remember those who made a contribution to our Latino Community and that their work has not been forgotten. After 19 years, our community still looks forward to this wonderful celebration that the Des Moines Art Center sponsors.”

The festival will feature all of the beloved Day of the Dead traditions – mariachi music, art activities, traditional refreshments, Day of the Dead merchandise, and a film chronicling the lives of the honorees. This year a poetry reading of original works will be performed by student members of Movement 515, an entity of RunDSM in Des Moines Public Schools.

Celebration Activities
Noon – 3:30 pm Art activities in the studios
Noon – 4 pm Mariachi music by Mariachi Los Aguilares | traditional Day of the Dead bread | Mexican hot chocolate by Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure | food available for purchase by Tamale’s Industry in Art Center café | cash bar | Day of the Dead merchandise available for purchase in the Shop at the Art Center
12:30 and 2:30 pm Museum tours (Spanish and English)
12:45 pm Mariachi procession from lobby to Levitt Auditorium
1 pm Poetry reading by Movement 515 Des Moines Public School students, Levitt Auditorium
1:15 pm Honoree film by Vince Valdez in Levitt Auditorium
3 pm Rescreening of honoree film by Vince Valdez in Levitt Auditorium
On Exhibit
Day of the Dead Altar November 3 - 10, 2019, lobby
Monument Valley Through January 12, 2020, Anna K. Meredith Gallery and Pamela Bass-Bookey and Harry Bookey Gallery
Of Our Time: Contemporary Art by Indigenous Artists from the Permanent Collections Through January 5, 2020, Blank One Gallery

About the Des Moines Art Center
Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center, an AAM-accredited institution, has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1, Francis Bacon’s Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.

The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect—Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park and features artwork by many of the world’s most celebrated artists. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn provided funding for and donated 31 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Ai Weiwei, Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Mark di Suvero, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Yayoi Kusama, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, and Joel Shapiro is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The 4.4 acre park, located within a major crossroads of the urban grid, creates a pedestrian friendly entranceway to downtown Des Moines. This accessible setting, coupled with the skilled landscape design and caliber of the art, makes it unlike any other sculpture park in the United States. The park is a collaborative effort of the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines and Parks and Recreation, the Des Moines Art Center, and numerous corporate and private funders.

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