Honoring the Dead at Noche De Altares

homage / Higgy Vasquez, the son of legendary Santa Ana muralist Emigdio Vasquez, honors the memory of Antonio Ramos, who was shot to death in Oakland. / Jose Servin / el Don

Higgy Vasquez, the son of legendary Santa Ana muralist Emigdio Vasquez, honors the memory of Antonio Ramos, who was shot to death in Oakland. / Jose Servin / el Don

By Jose Servin, Laura Garcia, and Diana Viera

Inside an alley in Downtown Santa Ana, Higgy Vasquez, son of famous muralist Emigdio Vasquez, works on a mural alongside other artists honoring Antonio Ramos, the 27-year-old artist who was shot while working on a mural in Oakland.

“Today is about Antonio. He had a dream to reach the community through art,” said Alicia Rojas,director of the Santa Ana Community Artist(a) Coalition.

This was one of the scenes at the 13th annual Noche de Altares, Santa Ana’s version of Dia de los Muertos, that flooded the west side of Fourth Street with marigolds made of paper and the burning scent of incense.

Altars honoring family members, veterans, Mexican-American singer Selena and victims of bicycle accidents surrounded visitors with painted faces.

Dancers wearing traditional Aztec headdresses covered in feathers weaved through crowds of people eating churros and elote. On the sidewalks, children had their faces painted.

“We celebrate death but not in a morbid way. It’s more of a celebration of life,” Carlos Jimenez, a migrant from Oaxaca selling handmade jewelry and purses, said.

On the other side of Fourth Street, the scene was much different.

Walking from one end of the street to the other meant listening to the booming bass from Konsept’s DJs, the hiss of skates hitting metal on rails for the East End Blading Cup, and the edgy guitar licks of Top Acid’s eclectic indie artists.

“There wasn’t really a crowd when we started and by the time the show progressed people started accumulating. That’s how you know you’re doing your job,” said Konsept artist Ethen Jimenez, who goes by the stage name Sage One the Wise.

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