Posts Tagged ‘Linda Garcia’

Los Dias de Los Muertos festival offers three weeks of exhibits and events

October 16, 2015 2 comments

Omaha has some well known arts couples: Ree and Jun Kaneko, Janet Farber and Michael Krainak, Mary and Gary Day. Then there’s Linda and Jose Garcia. Linda’s the artist and Jose’s the adminstrator. She’s also a curator and storyteller. He’s also a historian and photographer. Together, they pour considerable passion and expertise into an annual Los Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) exhibition and celebration that features a little of everything – art, music, dance, theater, storytelling, workshops. It’s all reflective of their multidisciplinary approach to art and culture. They organize and present it through their Mexican American Historical Society of the Midlands. This is my El Perico story about their fifth annual Day of the Dead festival, which for the first time is at the Spanish Renaissance-inspired St. Cecilia Cathedral and adjacent Cultural Center and hosted by Cathedral Arts Project. It’s a great marriage of place, theme, art and architecture. And a great couple with a deep love for community deserves your support.

The free fest runs Oct 17 through Nov. 7.

Los Dias de Los Muertos festival offers three weeks of exhibits and events

©by Leo Adam Biga

A version of this story appeared in El Perico

The Mexican American Historical Society of the Midlands will present a free October 17 through November 7 Day of the Dead festival curated by Omaha artist Linda Garcia and her history-buff husband Jose Garcia.

The fifth annual Los Dias de Los Muertos exhibition and celebration is being held for the first time at St. Cecilia Cathedral and its adjacent Cultural Center. The Cathedral Arts Project is hosting the festival.

The Garcias have asked dozens of artists to variously employ visual and performing mediums to express sentiments and symbols associated with this traditional Mexican remembrance of the departed.

Ofrenda installations, artworks, lectures, workshops, storytelling, poetry readings, live theater monologues, music and dance performances will all lend their Day of the Dead interpretations.

The exhibition, featuring works by dozens of area artists, will be on display in the Center’s Sunderland Gallery throughout the duration of the festival.

For the 6 to 9 p.m. opening reception on Saturday, Oct. 17 patrons may follow a luminaria path between the Cathedral, where the ofrendas are installed, to the Cultural Center, where the exhibit stands.

The theme for this year’s festival is the marigold – the traditional flower utilized in Day of the Dead observances. The marigold is called Cempoalxóchitl in the indigenous Uto-Aztecan dialect and it is often incorporated into the ofrendas or stages that people create. Thus, this year’s festival is titled “El Teatro Cempoalxóchitl – the Marigold Theater” as a homage to its historic place and dramatic use.

“The focus is concentrated on the use of the marigold as setting the stage to remember and honor departed loved ones – family, friends, acquaintances, ancestors,” Linda Garcia says.

Thus, ofrenda installations at the Cathedral will incorporate the marigold, which Jose Garcia says “is a symbol of man’s brief period on Earth.” He adds, “For thousands of years it’s been used to represent the essence of memories critical in sustaining a path of remembrance between the soul and the living.”

He says inside the Cathedral, at its Nash Chapel. a community ofrenda-altar will “present an opportunity for parishioners of St. Cecilia’s to place copies of photographs in memory of the departed. These private tributes and offerings represent both the ancient traditions and modern customs that chronicle the perpetual relationship between faith, family and history.”

“Los Dias de Los Muertos traditions serve as a meaningful reminder of the connections between the living and the departed,” he says. “It is this relationship that represents a transcultural fusion of indigenous customs and the Catholic faith. Each, an expression of belief in the immortal nature of the soul.”

A pair of lectures beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18 at the Cultural Center will discuss the origins and meanings of flowers and other objects in Meso-American art and the parallels between how Egyptians and Mexicans raise remembrance after death to high art.

In keeping with the theatrical trappings of ofrendas, a program of Verbal Ofrendas: Theater Monologues directed by Scott Working will present original works by playwrights read by actors. The monologues, accompanied by musician Michael Murphy, will take place at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 and at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1 in the Cathedral’s Our Lady of Nebraska Chapel.

Internationally renowned storyteller and mime Antonio Rocha will perform at 7 p.m. on Saturday , Oct. 24 in the chapel. A 10 a.m. sugar skull workshop will be held at the Center that same Saturday.

Poets will take center stage at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Center.

The Saturday, Nov. 7 finale and closing reception from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Cathedral will be highlighted by a performance from the Mexican Dance Academy of Nebraska

Linda Garcia says the complexities of how different peoples have dealt with death across eras and cultures has led her to design a festival that is both multicultural and multimedia in nature.

“Each year we add new artists,” she says. “Jose and I have seen the transformation of the artists and the public in dealing with a very difficult subject – death. The event has created a safe place to speak about our departed. It introduces and perpetuates family histories, traditions, memories and stories.”

“As part of its commitment to multicultural arts events, Cathedral Arts Project is pleased to welcome this celebration of Dia de Los Muertes to St. Cecilia Cathedral,” founder and executive director Brother William Woeger says.

According to Jose Garcia, “I believe Los Dias de los Muertos as practiced in the United States is becoming a cultural standard because of grassroots efforts such as ours.” He says having the festival at the Cathedral campus is only natural given its central location, prominence in the community, arts heritage and Spanish influences.

“We are bringing into play a highly organized arts project that is home grown. We are freely able to interpret traditional and popular art and culture in a venue of veneration – a sacred place.” It’s a good fit, too, he says, given that the Cathedral is replete with Spanish colonial icons “created during the time when Spain and the Church ruled Mexico.”

Brother Woeger adds, “Given the Cathedral’s Spanish Renaissance architecture, this venue should provide a beautiful compliment to this celebration.”

Woeger says the Cathedral has Hispanic membership but more importantly it is “the mother church for the Archdiocese, which has a very significant Hispanic population.”

Guided tours are available throughout the festival.

St. Cecilia Cathedral is located at 701 North 40th Street, between Burt and Webster, The Cultural Center is at 3900 Webster Street.

For exhibition days and hours and other festival details, visit or call 402-651-9918.

Jose and Linda Garcia find new outlet for their magnificent obsession in the Mexican American Historical Society of the Midlands

March 25, 2012 2 comments

Jose Francisco Garcia and his wife Linda Garcia are two of the most intellectually curious people I know.  They are quintessential searchers always open to discovery and they love nothing more than sharing what they learn with others.  Their great passion is preserving and presenting Mexican history and culture and they do this in a variety of ways, including their work through the Mexican American Historical Society of the Midlands, which replaced their Las Artes Cutlural Center. Linda is a librarian, storyteller, and artist.   Jose is a photographer.  Both are amateur historians.  This story appeared on the eve of  the organization’s opening a couple years ago and gives a glimpse of the couple’s far ranging interests and of their historical society’s diverse programming.

Jose and Linda Garcia find new outlet for their magnificent obsession in the Mexican American Historical Society of the Midlands

©by Leo Adam Biga

Published in El Perico


Jose and Linda Garcia spend every day immersed in Mexican-American heritage. After devoting years to their Las Artes Cultural Center, the couple recently closed it. Their magnificent obsession with Latino art and history is now expressed through the Mexican American Historical Society of the Midlands.

He’s executive director and she’s secretary of the new nonprofit in the Mercado building, 4913 South 25th Street. The Garcias bring passion and expertise, along with a collection of photographs, art objects and books, to carry-out the mission of building awareness of Mexican American achievement. Behind-the-scenes, preservation will be a major focus. Publicly, the community will be invited to exhibitions, lectures, art classes, film screenings and other cultural events.

Unlike Las Artes, which the Garcias ran alone as a labor of love, the society has a formal board, its operations and programs funded by grants and donations. A $10,000 Futuro Latino Fund grant and a $5,000 South Omaha turnback tax grant have helped get the new organization up and running.

Why start over again with a new institution?

She said it’s an opportunity to employ their collection as a teaching tool on a new level, reaching more folks. Besides, she said, “somebody’s gotta do it.”

Linda, a storyteller and artist, is a retired children’s librarian. Jose is a Union Pacific retiree.

Linda Garcia, ©photo by Jose Garcia
Jose Francisco Garcia



“The reason we have a collection is we use it,” she said. “Anything we do, whether design an exhibit or give a talk, we do a lot of research. We go out there and dig.”

Her hunger to learn more about her cultural heritage and to disseminate it was inspired by her first visit to Mexico. The then-College of St. Mary senior was exposed to many facets of her people’s art and history not taught in school. This identity discovery was part of her immersion in the Chicano movement.

“What was awakened was the art, the literature, the becoming who you are as a Chicano,” she said. “I’m not really Mexican, I’m an American, but the combination made me a Chicano, which means I seek knowledge. But it’s not enough to stop there, you must transmit it to other people and share it. It’s not enough to collect and learn and keep it all to ourselves. That’s the reason for this place.”

Jose, originally from Kansas City, Mo., served three years in the U.S. Army, including one long year spent near Saigon during the height of the Vietnam War. Back home, he went from job to job, always snapping pictures on the side.

He moved to Omaha in the 1970s. It was some time before he and Linda got together, each drawn to the other’s curiosity and drive.

“Aesthetic quality is what she’s taught me,” Jose said of Linda. His digital pics documenting South Omaha are posted on

“One thing I really learned from Jose,” said Linda, “is to speak out and not be this timid girl. I saw the respect people would give him because he would ask for what he wanted, and now I’ve learned to ask for what I want. We really blend. I’m the artist, he’s more the corporate type. We like to spend time together.”

“We’ve learned to become old souls together,” said Jose.

“We want to leave a legacy,” she said, “but it’s more than that, it’s trying to teach the community they also have a legacy and they also have a responsibility to carry their family traditions and to know how to take care of photographs and keepsakes. We want them to know what they have is really valuable, even if only to family or forbearers.”

It’s all about self-determination, said Jose.

The historical society goes public with these upcoming events

September 15, Mexican Independence Day, 10 p.m. greeting, 11 p.m. El Grito de Dolores

September 16-19, Bicentennial of Mexican Independence, exhibit/lecture, 6 p.m.

October 1, Grand opening, Las Americas South O City Center, 6 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. program

A website will soon launch.

After October 1, the facility will be open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday. Admission is free. Donations accepted. Memberships available.

The historical society number is 884-1910.

UPDATE:  The organization does have a website,

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