Day of the Dead takes on a new meaning this year for the community of East Los Angeles as its residents prepare to celebrate not just the commemoration of their dearly departed but probably the last weekend-long festival at Self Help Graphics’ current location.

SELF-HELP GRAPHICS GETS READY FOR DAY OF THE DAY, by Agustin Gurza. LA Times, October 25, 2008.

“When last we left our embattled arts activists at Self Help Graphics, they were on the verge of eviction from their longtime headquarters in East L.A. Even some true believers were ready to count out the struggling community-based institution that has been a beacon for Chicano art for almost four decades.

But the group is still alive and kicking as it prepares for its biggest event of the year, the Day of the Dead on Nov. 2, with a display of colorful altars, a procession and a concert. The group’s legendary print shop remains active too, with an exhibition of political posters that opened Friday in collaboration with Farmlab, the experimental arts complex that is hosting the show at its gallery north of downtown, and La Casa del Túnel, a new Tijuana gallery located in a house once used by drug dealers to cover a border tunnel for smuggling.

Self Help’s barrio spirit of perseverance is what earned it a reputation for nurturing great art on a shoestring. Showing it can survive despite adversity serves its cause much better than complaining about the nuns who sold the building the nonprofit had occupied rent-free for decades.” Click here for the full LA Times article and here for the full schedule of events.

The downtown crowd can hit the 7th Festival de la Gente, a community festival and fine arts exhibit followed by a Masquerade Ball for those lucky enough to have hit number 21. Go to www.festivaldelagente.org for more info.

Also worthy of mention is Plaza de la Raza’s Saturday event where you can catch altar-maker Ofelia Esparza’s first solo exhibit at the Plaza’s Boathouse Gallery. Click here for more info.

With the Holidays right around the corner, the Day of the Dead celebrations are also a great place to find unique gifts by our talented local musicians, writers and artists.