Día de los Muertos Altar-installations

Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead 2022

At Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, San Francisco, Dedicated to the 19 children in Uvalde, Texas

When I heard the news on May 24th that 19 children had been murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas
  • I wanted to die.
  • Life taken by a gun,
  • the life of little innocents taken by a gun.
  • How is this possible in the so-called most developed country on the planet?
  • There is no explanation
  • there is no reasoning
  • and the suffering is so immense that it immobilizes you.
  • But we can do something, we can fight to ban the indiscriminate sale of weapons.
  • At that time I was a school teacher. I taught children who were the same age of those who were murdered. They were also so sad.  We didn’t know what to do, but we made art.
  • I remember that one of my students told me
  • “Adrián, remember that you taught us to make Papel Picado for the Day of the Dead?. How about we do some Papel Picado to honor what has happened?”
  • And They were right, and that’s what we did because the symbolism of Papel Picado is to help on the journey, it is to connect with the other side.  Wind goes through the small holes of the paper, connecting us with those who are no longer with us.
  • And now, when I draw the faces of these 19 human beings, I cut out the paper as if I had the hand of those children, their touch, their essence.
  • And the yellow color is the color of our ancestors:  Those children are in yellow entering the world where they will live with our ancestors and  teach us new paths.
  • And here we are, in a world where there are still millions of weapons
  • that many people use in an indiscriminate and violent way.
  • The weapon used in this massacre was the AR-15, a rifle that has been sold 8 million times in this country and is still in circulation.
  • Please Stand against weapons.
  • Do not play games with weapons.
  • Please ask for tougher gun laws and mental health reform.
  • Please do not feel identified with guns, the only thing that produces is pain and death.

At SOMARTS: “You don’t kill the truth by killing journalists” 
Dedicated to the memory of journalists Francisca Sandoval and Shireen Abu Akleh

At the San Francisco Symphony: El venado azul / The Blue Deer / Kauyumari

In this pyramid we see three sides that explain part of the Huichol symbology. The Blue Deer is the most important being in Huichol mythology, because it is considered the creator of the world, assistant to the fire grandfather (Tatewari) and later creator of peyote and corn. In addition, the Blue Deer gives us access to the world of the invisible, from where the wounds of the soul are healed.

At Potrero del Sol, Marigold Project Day of the Dead, curated by Rosa de Anda

  • Is the fire Young or Old? Is it ephemeral or is it eternal?
  • Fire dances, heats, burns, destroys, rebuilds, feeds, inspires.
  • This fire hummingbird is dedicated to the lives of our young people who left, sometimes because of a weapon, an accident, mistreatment, or a pandemic. And the hummingbird is the connection with the world of our ancestors.
  • The music for this sculpture has been specially composed by Anais Azul. This piece will be on display at the San Francisco Exploratorium Museum, from November 10 to December 4, 2022

Water Altar dedicated to the 19 children of Uvalde, Texas

At the FLACC festival: Sii Agua SI, Dolores Park, San Francisco

Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead 2003-2021

2021 MCCLA Gallery: Dedicated to my dear friends and mentors: Yolanda Lopez, Anna Halprin and Jack Hirschman.

2021 MCCLA Lobby: Dedicated to Hung Liu in collaboration with Cece Carpio

2021 SOMARTS: Dedicated to 5 Latinx killed by police in the US and Mexico

– Mario González, 26 years old, killed by suffocation, Alameda, April 19, 2021.
– Victoria Salazar, 26, killed by suffocation, Tulum, Mexico, March 27, 2021.
– Sean Monterrosa, 22 years old, killed by 5 shots, Vallejo, June 4, 2020.
– Angel Zapata Hernández, 24 years old, killed by suffocation, San Diego, October 15, 2019.
– Claudia Patricia Gómez González, 20, killed by a shot in the head, Rio Bravo, Texas, May 23, 2018.

2020 SOMARTS: Dedicated to George Floyd

2019 San Francisco Symphony: Dedicated to Joao Gilberto

2018 MCCLA: Dedicated to Mariee, the 18-month-old girl who died after leaving the ICE facility where she was detained and was not medically treated. In collaboration with Mara Hernandez

2018 SOMARTS: Dedicated to Rene Yañez, teacher, mentor and friend. He was the Chicano artist who brought Dia de los Muertos to San Francisco more than 40 years ago, and who was always willing to help emerging artists, creating opportunities in the Arts. Altar in collaboration with Mara Hernandez

2017 MCCLA: My heroes of the Mission district in San Francisco. Commissioned and exhibited at SF Cultural Mission Center

Here a link to see the video created by the Multimedia dpt. MCCLA


2016 SOMARTS: Altar for my father (1932-2016). Commissioned and exhibited at SOMARTS, San Francisco


Adrian inside the room-altar-installation for his father, the visual artist Luis Arias Vera 

2015 San Francisco Symphony: Commissioned and exhibited at the San Francisco Symphony, dedicated to writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez

2012 OMCA: Commissioned and exhibited at the Oakland Museum of California OMCA, dedicated to the conscientious objector and actor Lew Ayres

2012 San Francisco Symphony: Commissioned and exhibited at the San Francisco Symphony, dedicated to musician Aaron Copland. Piece in collaboration with Anais Azul

2003 and 2004 @ SOMARTS:

Border at SOMARTS was an altar in collaboration with Begoña Caparrós