Dia de los Muertos at Victorian Rat

“Santa Muerte” by David Seiler

Tomorrow night begins Dia de los Muertos at Victorian Rat. I talked to gallery owners David Seiler and Brianna Brandow Seiler as they were hanging the group show this afternoon. David and Brianna are neighbors of ours’ and have been crafting lovely little art shows out of their garage-turned-gallery for a couple of years.

Obi: So tell me who about the show – who you got in here?

Brianna: We have David, you, Matt Decker, Alex Rosmarin, Alison OK Frost, Anthony Chase and me.

David: It is all Oakland this time. We went all Oakland this year because some of my all time favorites, who were in last year’s show (including Randy Naborikawa, who is in Tokyo right now, and Deja Garcia) were unavailable.

Brianna: When I was picking the artists this year, the Live Art Wednesday project really inspired me. I got to know all these artists really well. Even Matt Decker, who lives and works right down the street, I only ever knew as a tattoo artist. Because of that event, I now know him as a visual artist.

Obi: This is the second Dia de los Muertos show?

Brianna: Correct, the second annual.

David: We both experienced significant family deaths this year, so we were more inspired than ever to make it happen again. My grandfather and Brianna’s cousin both died this year. Antonio Pedro Barragan and Ian Brandow both passed and this show, a celebration of Dia de los Muertos, is a celebration of their lives. It is not a sad thing at all.

Brianna: Like a much cooler version of Memorial Day.

David: I like the Indian history of it too. How the religious traditon came from Spain and then Mexico and how the indiginous culture mixed with the colonizing power and formed Santa Muerte.

David: Everyone really rose to the occasion for this show. Alex Rosmarin (above) gives us a traditional look at some of the motifs of Dia de los Muertos. Matt Decker does his thing with this memorial piece. Anthony mixes geometrical shapes with these night images to a great effect. Alison made a collage, something totally different for her.

Brianna: I made calaveras out of a couple of my female idols, Amy Winehouse and Gia – one of the first supermodels.

Obi: Now that Dia de los Muertos is kind of your signature event, let’s talk about why you started this gallery…

Brianna: We were thinking originally, that if anything, the gallery is a great reason to party. David and I are celebrators. We celebrate everything. When we first got together we celebrated that. Every month.

David: We are a pop-up gallery – a garage gallery. It is liberating when the gallery owner is not scrambling every month for rent…less pressure. Buy or not, it is not about making rent. It frees you up to find treasures. I want to see more of it.

We also wanted a dog, but we decided that if we opened a gallery and it died, it would be less sad than a dog.

Brianna: It was our step before marriage, to open a business together.

David: Right! I am so excited about this show. It is going to be a great party tomorrow night. I love fall…it’s my favorite time of the year. I love everything that has to do with death and birth.

Dia de los Muertos, Victorian Rat Gallery, 3758 Manila Ave, Oakland
Opening Party, Saturday 10/15 : 7-10pm, Gallery Hours; Sundays 10/16, 10/23 & 10/30 : 2-4pm

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  • Moises Aragon

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