Bay Shore’s historic Second Avenue Firehouse will be aglow with life on Friday, Nov. 4, for a Dia de Los Muertos-inspired night of art and music.
This is the second annual Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) event, which serves as the opening reception for an altar box exhibit that will run for two weeks in the firehouse gallery, just north of Main Street.
The 7-9 p.m. reception will borrow from the traditions of honoring the dead through the Dia de los Muertos holiday, which is celebrated in Mexico and other Latin American countries each year on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.
“There will be tons of Mexican decorations. Papers that hang. It’s all original Day of the Dead stuff from Mexico that I bring down in boxes,” said Vicki Ragan, the exhibit’s curator.
Ragan’s massive personal collection of Mexican folk art will also be on displaying upstairs.
A trio called The Skeleton Band will be performing, with Ragan’s son, Eddie Barbash, on saxophone, Sam Reider on accordion and Roy Williams on guitar.
Barbash, also a member of Jon Batiste & Stay Human and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, described the music as “virtuosic, often improvised, instrumental inspired by gypsy, jazz, American folk music, and Eastern European Folk music.”
“What we do is kind of a high-wire act because there is no bass or drums,” he said.
But the visual artistic focus is the altar boxes.
Earlier this year, the Second Avenue Firehouse Gallery issued a Call for Artists to create altar displays in a wooden boxes that are uniform in size so that they can be stacked in a grid.
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The event is being sponsored by the South Shore Restoration Group, with additional funding coming from a state grant program administered by the Huntington Arts Council.
Ragan created an altar box in 2015 that was dedicated to the memory of her parents. This year, she is working on one for her grandfather, Arthur Edwin Ragan, a wheat farmer from Colorado.
“This is a festive holiday,” said Ragan, who, along with her husband, had lived in Mexico City and then a smaller town in southern Mexico for five years. “It’s not a sad holiday.”
The night will also feature Latin food and is free to the public.
“We’ll have the front doors open and line the area with candles,” Ragan said.
The exhibit will be open for viewing at the firehouse, located at 17 Second Avenue in Bay Shore, on Nov. 5, 6, 12 and 13, from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
Top: A popular piece from Vicki Ragan’s collection of Mexican folk art. (Credit: Michael White)