“Colorful tributes to a Mexican holiday will rise from East Valley streets this weekend.

Ten public art pieces made by seven local artists dedicated to Dia de los Muertos will go up starting this weekend in five locations in Indio and five locations in Coachella. The public art pieces featuring colorful skeletons are a preview of the RAICES Cultura art festival, to be held Nov. 7 in Coachella to celebrate the Day of the Dead, a holiday for people to remember their loved ones who have died. “This is a part of our heritage, and that is why I really wanted to be a part of it,” participant and Indio artist Gonzalo Pinedo said last week. The art pieces will remain up in the two cities until the day of the festival, which starts with a Dia de los Muertos-themed procession in Coachella’s Bagdouma Park. The public pieces are wood paintings that are 4 feet wide by 8 feet long and will be mounted on wooden blocks, RAICES artist organizer Tone Rubio said. The artists, including Rubio and Pinedo, worked on the public art pieces in early September during workshops in Coachella, Rubio said. The paintings are all in the styles of Dia de los Muertos with colorful skeletons and skulls. Pinedo said his public art piece features the skeleton of a coyote to symbolize the coyotes, people who bring others across the border. Pinedo said he hopes the public art will bring people to the festival in November where more of his work will be on display. For the festival, he made a series of pit bull faces dedicated to the victims of dog fighting.

Materials to make the public art cost $1,000, and RAICES Cultura is paying for that through profits from previous art show fundraisers, Rubio said. The artists were volunteers RAICES Cultura, an East Valley-based community group that develops cultural programming, has held the festival for five years in Coachella, said RAICES chairman Gabriel Perez. Last year, the organization displayed public art pieces in Coachella. The art coming to Indio is part of RAICES’ long-term plans to have public art pieces all across the valley, Perez said. “As the festival grew, we wanted to find different ways to bring the culture out to the public, and doing it through public art was one way to do that,” he said. RAICES Cultura has been working with Coachella and Indio city officials to coordinate the project. RAICES Cultura went to the Indio Public Arts and Historic Preservation Commission in August to get approval of the public art displays in the city, Perez said. The organization also had to get permission from the owners of the private property where the art will be displayed. Arts commissioner John Wiedenhamer said he supported the RAICES Cultura project because it would help bring more public art to the city. “There is always going to be art available to see, and we want to see more art in our city all the time,” he said.” – Aldrich M. Tan, aldrich.tan@indiosun.com

See you there!