Celebrate Día de los Muertos with the Fort Wayne Museum of Art
Oct23

Celebrate Día de los Muertos with the Fort Wayne Museum of Art

This is not a Halloween event – it’s a celebration of life that is important to many people in Mexico, other areas of Latin America and the United States. Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is being celebrated in many places, including right here in northeast Indiana at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. “Día de los Muertos is the biggest festival we have in Mexico,” said Fernando Zapari, editor and publisher of Fort Wayne’s locally-owned El Mexicano Newspaper. During Día de los Muertos celebrations in Mexico, the lives of loved ones are celebrated by families and friends who decorate their grave sites with cempasúchil (marigold-like flowers), food, mementos and other favorite things from their lives. “I love celebrating Día de los Muertos and remembering my loved ones,” said Zapari, who is remembering his own brother this year at this year’s celebration. “It’s important to keep the tradition alive in our own community.” The festival is a national holiday in Mexico and traces its roots to the pre-Colombian era before Spanish colonization. It has been misunderstood at times outside of Mexican culture and is not Mexico’s version of Halloween but a day a remembrance of loved ones. “When I grew up in Mexico, I used to go to the cemetery, clean the graves and just have a day there,” said Palermo Galindo, community liaison for the mayor’s office of the City of Fort Wayne. “There were so many colors of flowers and smells of incense.” Here in Fort Wayne the gallery of the art museum is filled with alter displays remembering deceased loved ones or groups of people who have died for a cause or due to persecution or injustice. Many of these displays feature traditional symbols like sugar skulls, dancing skeletons and other remembrances created by artists, families and community groups in northeast Indiana. “I’m really happy that the Fort Wayne Museum of Art has provided this opportunity to celebrate this important holiday,” Galindo said. Not only does the celebration provide learning opportunities for people unfamiliar with Mexican culture, it also provides a chance for younger Mexican-Americans to reconnect with the culture of their ancestors. “What I’ve personally seen are grandparents or parents bring the young generations and really explain, ‘oh, we used to do this back home,'” Galindo said. “It’s a connection that maybe was missing.” The Fort Wayne celebration is getting bigger and better every year according to Zapari. This year’s family celebration features traditional music, dancing, costumed characters, food and children’s activities. The celebration is from 2:00 to 6:00 pm on Sunday, October 29, 2017. In addition to the one-day celebration, “The Days of the...

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Fort Wayne Artist Shines Bright: Thomas Leffers
Jul11

Fort Wayne Artist Shines Bright: Thomas Leffers

I first met Tom a few months ago in Downtown Fort Wayne. It wasn’t long before I was made aware of his talents on the canvas. His name started popping up in conversations, in my newsfeed online, and at local social gatherings. I attended his recent art gallery that Terry Ratliff held for him in June, and the event was packed. His talents are noticeable right away. With a focus on abstract art, his subject matter stirs emotion with how color is moved brilliantly across a large canvas. Everyone sees something different in his work, but there is no denying that it sparks emotion. Tom was born in 1991 and grew up in a Catholic family in the 46805 neighborhood of State Street. He opened up to me about his struggles with depression and anxiety when he was younger. He realized that the only way he got through the day was by drawing and creating art. Instead of stress, it gave him peace of mind. Tom said, “With the help of teachers, especially Marcy Adams from Bishop Dwenger, I learned how to oil paint.” After high school, Tom enrolled at the University of Saint Francis because of the art program that was offered. “While at Saint Francis, they focused a lot on realism and drawing and painting from life. It wasn’t until my senior year that I got into abstract art. I had an outside influence from a teacher not from Fort Wayne that impacted the direction I took with my art. I would call that a focus in color, texture, and how people respond to the nature of art with an overload of color and shape. It’s the opposite of realism. I’m trying to overload all your senses with the color and direction that the paint is moving.” When I asked Tom why he has stayed in Fort Wayne, he was quick to answer. “I stayed in Fort Wayne because most of the kids I went to high school with left town as soon as they could. Everyone told me I had to leave Fort Wayne to be a successful artist because the main avenues for art are elsewhere. I want to change that process by getting my art out across the country and bring the focus back to the Midwest where I feel the representation isn’t very strong. I want to be successful in Fort Wayne because everyone that buys art in Fort Wayne buys it outside of the city. I want to change that so that people in Fort Wayne and outsiders will buy art here.” As a Millennial, Tom has quickly realized that he has to be a part of the change that he wants to see....

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