Photo by Yujie Zhou.

As the city slowly recovers from the pandemic, the annual Día de los Muertos celebration at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) has taken on a new meaning this year – “Ni Tanto Ni Tan Muertos (neither so many, nor so dead)” – to honor the memory of those who recently departed.

“Not too many, because there are many more of us still alive. Not so dead, because they are in our memories,” said Jennie Rodriquez, executive director of MCCLA. “The fact that we’re going to meet those we love once a year means a lot of hope.”

After going virtual in 2020, this year’s event was kicked off at 5:30 p.m with the Dead procession of around 20 people along Mission Street. From 6 p.m., guests entered the Mission Cultural Center and visited altars dedicated to the iconic cultural figures San Francisco lost this year:  Hung Liu, a visual artist known for her stunning paintings that combine portraits with historical documents.  Golden Gate now hangs in the atrium at the de Young Museum of Art. 

Also lost were Anna Halprin, a dancer and choreographer, Yolanda Lopez, a visual artist known for her innovations in considering the Virgin de Guadalupe and now having her first museum show in San Diego; and Jack Hirschman, a well-known beat poet and former poet laureate of San Francisco.  

The altars were organized by Adrian Arias, a visual poet and artist. 

To celebrate the dead and the living, visitors enjoyed Danza Azteca,  Jack Hirschman’s poetry, and the Anna Halprin Dancers dancers. 

“I’d like the kids to feel the culture and the love,” said Alex Bargas, who brought his two children, ages five and seven, to the celebration. “They don’t get to get out as much as they used to. So I wanted to show them what it used to be like. Because they’re young, two years of their life is almost a quarter of their life.”

Please scroll down for photos from this year’s fete. 

Altar for Yolanda Lopez (1942-2021) By Adrian Arias (www.AdrianArias.com) Thanks to the help of Rio Yañez, Sarah Guerra and Stella Adelman.
Photo by Yujie Zhou.
Detail of altar for Yolanda Lopez. Photo by Yujie Zhou.

Read more about Yolanda Lopez here

Ofrendas. Detail of altar for Yolanda Lopez. Photo by Yujie Zhou.
An altar for Jack Hirschman (1933-2021). Created by Adrian Arias Photo by Yujie Zhou.

Read more about Jack Hirschman here.

A note on an altar dedicated to poet Jack Hirschman. Photo by Yujie Zhou.
A visitor adding rows to the scarf honouring poet Jack Hirschman. Photo by Yujie Zhou.
The main altar at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Photo by Yujie Zhou.
Danza Azteca. Photo by Yujie Zhou.
Anna Halprin Dancers. Photo by Yujie Zhou.
An altar. Photo by Yujie Zhou.
Parade on Mission Street. Photo by Yujie Zhou.
People on 24th and Mission Street. Photo by Yujie Zhou.
24th Street BART Plaza prepares for Día de los Muertos. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Inez takes a break from teaching first graders at Buena Vista Horace Mann to paint faces in front of Luz de Luna. Día de los Muertos. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Dolores Street Community Services, Día de los Muertos. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
24th Street. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Día de los Muertos, 24th Street. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
An ofrenda from Alley Cat Bookstore and Gallery. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
A show of pride on 24th Street. Día de los Muertos. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Día de los Muertos, in front of Luz de Luna. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Día de los Muertos ofrenda in front of Luz de Luna. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
A message of love from Luz de Luna. Día de los Muertos, 24th Street. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Día de los Muertos, in front of Mixocoatl. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
An ofrenda at Asociacion Mayab on 16th and South Van Ness Avenue. Día de los Muertos. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Día de los Muertos, 24th Street. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Día de los Muertos celebration at Calle 24 Latino Cultural District. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
An ofrenda for Yolanda López, Chicana artist who passed away earlier this year. Seen at Accion Latina. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
An ofrenda for Yolanda López, Chicana artist who passed away earlier this year. Seen at Accion Latina. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Día de los Muertos celebration at Calle 24 Latino Cultural District. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Robert and Dulcinea Salazar sell homemade flower headbands on 24th Street for Día de los Muertos. The couple had been there since 2 p.m. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Asociacion Mayab celebrates Día de los Muertos. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
Día de los Muertos. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Nov. 2, 2021.
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Yujie Zhou is our newest intern. Before falling in love with the Mission, she covered New York City, studied politics through the “street clashes” in Hong Kong, and earned a wine-tasting certificate in two days. She’s proud to be a bilingual journalist.

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3 Comments

  1. I’d like to leave a comment here for our city administrators. We live right off of 24th Street for over 20 years now. Never once have we seen the city clean the streets after these events. This morning our block was entirely trashed with garbage which WE had to clean up. There are precious few trash cans along 24th st and people simply drop their garbage onto the street or into the tree wells. London Breed – what is the deal here, get the city to do it’s duty and clean the streets, especially after these parade events! They are really deeply disgusting.

  2. Thank you for lovely pictures, they make me feel a lot less left out,I ‘m not ready to be in any large public events yet. But with that said I look forward to possibly participating in next years event, including entering a submission for an alter at the cultural center.

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