2017 Thought Provoking Altars

2017 Day of the Dead Exhibit at Sun Gallery, Hayward, CA
Maureen Langenbach Altar to her mother

I had the extreme good fortune of finding the Sun Gallery in Hayward.  It was one of those love at first encounter affairs.  A friend had me join her as she had an artist quilt maker friend taking part in a wonderful exhibit in 2016.  I loved the work, loved Niambi’s quilts and enjoyed the warm atmosphere of the entire staff, artists and event goers.  So in 2017 I was inspired to enter the Blue Planet, Stand up for Science exhibit scheduled for April 2017. It inspired me to create a series called “Ice Thins”.  I loved the whole experience.

When I learned of the “Dia de Los Muertos” or Day of the Dead  Exhibit I noted it on my calendar to attend the Reception on November 4.  The exhibit featured several artists who created thought provoking altars that were unexpected.  Those altars touched on raw nerves in current day United States life.  A reverence for both the living and deceased was expressed.

Maureen  Langenbach  had a sincere, many layered altar to her mother, Connie Dillon who had passed away this year.  We came to know her mother, as an artist, collector of blue and white china, someone who was an essential element in the Napa Community.  It was done with love and enhanced with colorful paper flowers that were about 3 feet in diameter.

2017 Sun Gallery, Hayward CA
Peter Langenbach & Sun Gallery staff  Altar to Dreamers


The Altar to the Dreamers was done by Peter Langenbach in collaboration with the Sun Gallery.  It was quite poignant.  We as artists and as sensitive beings feel for these people who came to dwell in the United States as children.  They had no knowledge that they were illegal aliens.  Under President Obama, they were given special status to be on their way to citizenship.  Many lives were changed starting January 21, 2017 when our new President was sworn in.

I do know something about being an immigrant as I lived in France for a number of years.  I had the “carte de residence” which was equivalent of a green card in the US.  Even though I was there legally, I had some degree of difficulty in working thru the complex system.  But one of many differences was I came as an adult.  I had the necessary documentation. I also had the assistance of my husband who was a natural-born citizen of France. 

Dreamers came as children.  They may have felt at the time that it was a great adventure.  Then under President Obama’s administration, they began to relax and feel they did really belong here.  They believed that they were on their way to becoming US citizens.

The altar to dreamers was simple in execution with the letters spelled out using red, white and green letters with the paper flowers and skulls of a Day of the Dead altar. It was as though their status was partly deceased and partly alive but definitely vibrant.  Exhibit viewers could write messages to the Dreamers.  I was moved as were others who studied the messages, wrote their own message and thought about what a huge potential these dreamers had if . . . . . .they were allowed to stay.

Other relevant altars included an altar to the hurricane Maria’s victims in Puerto Rico done by Peter Langenbach.  The implied message was these inhabitants are also Americans.  It is our country’s responsibility to care for them in their hour of need.

Andrew Kong Knight Altar to Victims of Las Vegas Attack

The fourth altar that came to my attention was the altar in tribute to those slain in Las Vegas in October of this year done by Andrew Kong Knight. Attention to detail had photo images of the 51 people who were slain as well as 51 bullet holes in the flag and 51 candles lit to warm our memories of them.

I highly recommend visiting the Sun Gallery.  It has its finger on the pulse of our nation.  The artists in this exhibit did not blare the obvious, did not overstate the problem.  They did with great acuity, point out what these problems are.

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