PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Latin American artists collective IDEAL PDX, in collaboration with local businesses and organizations, is exhibiting more than a dozen Dia de los Muertos alters created by local artists. The showcase, which lasts through Nov. 6, is part of Portland’s second annual Central Eastside Muertos celebration.

Dia de los Muertos is a traditional Mexican holiday, which dates back thousands of years. The event is a celebration for friends, family members and other loved ones who have died, and takes place Nov. 1-2.

To honor the dead, altars bearing their pictures are built and festooned with colorful tissue paper, candles, marigolds and worldly offerings.

The local event was first organized as an outdoor celebration in 2021 by Teatro Milagro Artistic Director Dañel Malan, who used the event to promote social activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the event’s second year, IDEAL PDX Creative Director Jessica Lagunas told KOIN 6 that Portland-based artists have built 15 Dia de los Muertos altars at various businesses throughout the neighborhood, which are currently up for people to enjoy.

“Altars typically have representations of earth, water, wind and fire incorporated into the display,” Lagunas said. “Earth commonly is displayed in the form of food. Water is left in pitchers for spirits to drink. Wind is represented with traditional papel picado. Candles adorn altars for the fire element, and the strong scent of the marigold flower helps attract the dead.”

Local artists have built 15 Dia de los Muertos altars around the city. | Jessica Lagunas

While most of the Central Eastside Muertos altars are artistic works that aren’t open to public additions, Lagunas said that Cargo, located at 81 Yamhill St., is accepting photographs of passed loved ones for display. A map of the alter locations can be found here.

Central Eastside Muertos events:

Nov. 2: ¡Viva Milagro! fundraiser

Milagro, a regional Latino arts and culture center, will be hosting an annual dinner fundraiser at El Zócalo, located at 537 Stark Street on Nov. 2 from 6-9 p.m. 

Nov. 4: Nighttime bike tour

Friends of Green Loop is hosting a nighttime tour of the various altars starting at East Creative at 211 Madison St. The event is scheduled for 6-9 p.m.

Nov. 5: Dia de Muertos Celebration

Living Room Realty is hosting an Aztec dance celebration performed by Huehca Omeyocan at 421 SE 10th Ave. There will also be sugar skull painting and live music by Geraldo Calderon.