Dara Katrina Del Rosario
Communications & Partnerships Manager
415-863-1414 x103, [email protected]

SOMArts Cultural Center presents

Día de Los Muertos 2019: City of Souls
Opening reception, Friday, October 11, 6–9pm
Exhibition run, Saturday, October 12–Friday, November 8, 2019

September 12, 2019, San Francisco, CA–Now in its 20th year, SOMArts’ Día de Los Muertos exhibition is one of the most internationally diverse Day of the Dead celebrations in the United States. Día de Los Muertos at SOMArts merges traditional altars with contemporary installations, continuing to be a multigenerational gathering of remembrance while asserting the role of art as a platform for collective action. 

Curated by Rio Yañez and Carolina Quintanilla, this year’s exhibition features special altar structures to honor and manifest founding curator Rene Yañez’s vision for his final Día de Los Muertos exhibition, titled City of Souls, a reference to his 2001 exhibition City of Miracles. City of Souls invites artists who are most directly impacted by gentrification and displacement to engage audience members in dialogue on the future of San Francisco’s cultural identity. 

Housed in a translucent, labyrinthine city, this exhibition meditates on San Francisco’s rapidly changing landscape, asking artists and visitors: Who are the ancestors we need to call in to help fight for the soul of the City? What are the people, places, and institutions lost to time that have shaped us? What kind of future can we collectively envision for San Francisco?

Every Día de Los Muertos exhibition is dedicated to a community member whose work has inspired generations, as well as social issues that have galvanized movements. City of Souls is dedicated to the work of historian Dr. Dawn Mabalon, whose love and commitment to the Filipino/a American community was present in her writings, creative projects, and teaching. She was a tireless advocate for Stockton’s Little Manila, having co-founded the Little Manila Foundation alongside Dillon Delvo, and in 2013, published Little Manila is in the Heart: The Making of the Filipina/o American Community in Stockton, California. Through the help of Darleen Mabalon, Jesse Gonzales, Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, family members, friends, and community, exhibiting artists Kimberely Arteche, Terry Bautista, and Dara Katrina Del Rosario have created an altar celebrating Dr. Dawn Mabalon’s legacy. 

City of Souls is also dedicated to the children who have passed away in ICE custody. The human rights violations connected to ICE and the concentration camps have sparked global outrage, mobilizing individuals and organizations to provide any assistance possible. Exhibiting artist and therapist Alicia Cruz made her way to Texas, offering mental health support to migrant families. Her altar, La Causa, brings awareness to the horrors and injustice endured by families seeking asylum. 

Anaís Azul and Petting Kazoo performing at the exhibition unveiling

The exhibition unveiling on Friday, October 11, 6–9pm, $12–$20 sliding scale admission includes curatorial remarks and musical performances by Anaís Azul and Petting Kazoo. The Día de Los Muertos artist market highlighting local Bay Area vendors rounds out the community-oriented celebration and evening of remembrance. 

Additional City of Souls programs includes a Día de Los Muertos drag show on Thursday, October 24, 6–9pm, and a ticketed closing party with an artist market and performances on Friday, November 8,6–9pm.


Adriana Garcia
Aambr Newsome (2am)
Ajuan Mance
Alicia Cruz
Beth Benson
Cece Carpio, Bernardo Josue, Claire Warren, Juana Tello, Kerri Ann Borja, Mel Reyes, Robin Castel, Shariff Zacout, Terycka Garcia
El Chicano
Choppy Oshiro
Elizabeth Addison
Fabiola Gamino (415 Eyes)
Gustavo Vasquez
John Mayne
Johnny Nguyen & Giang Trinh
Josue Rojas
Juliet Flower & Dean MacCannell
Katynka Martinez & Mia Gonzalez
Keiko Kubo, Jun Hamamoto, Leslie Lambre, & Elizabeth Summers
Keith Secola
Kimberley Arteche, Terry Bautista, & Dara Katrina Del Rosario
Kristian Kabuay
Kristiana Li-Yen Chan
Lauren Andrei Garcia & Rizal Andanza
Lia Teoldi, John Latham, & Alice Latham
Lilli Lanier, Rachel-Anne Palacios, & Emily Winslow-Cabrera
Mara Hernandez, Adrian Arias & Anais Azul Arias–Aragon
Mara Lea Brown
Mague Calanche
Megan Leppla
Monique Lopez
Nicole Schach
Paola de la Calle
Patricia Montgomery
Sandy Lee & Steve Dellicarpini
Sami See & Romi Lynn Acosta-Noa
Susan Mathews
Susana Aragon & Anais Azul Arias–Aragon
Tricia Rainwater-Tutwiler
Victor Mario Zaballa & The Enablers Calacas Atomícas
Virdell Hickman
Xiaojie Zheng
Ximena Soza
Ytaelena Lopez & Andreina Davila

Dia de Los Muertos: City of Souls

Exhibition run: Saturday, October 12–Friday, November 8, 2019

Dia de Los Muertos: City of Souls
Exhibition Unveiling

Friday, October 11, 6–9pm | $12–$20 sliding scale
Exhibition unveiling features special performance and speakers program, interactive installations, and artist market

For more information visit:

Día de Los Muertos Drag Show
Thursday, October 24, 6–9pm | $12–$15 sliding scale
Evening of Día de Los Muertos inspired drag performance curated by iconic queen Persia

For more information visit:

Dia de Los Muertos: City of Souls
Closing Reception
Friday, November 8, 6–9pm | $7–$10
The final opportunity to view and interact with the altars features live music, artist market,  and installations.

For more information visit:

From the moment he was conceived in an artist’s studio, Rio Yañez’ fate as an artist and curator was sealed. Born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District, Yañez is a curator, photographer, and graphic artist. As an artist he has exhibited his work from San Francisco to Tokyo and created artwork installations for Jean Paul Gaultier’s touring exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. As a curator of over 20 exhibits he was a frequent collaborator with his late father, Rene Yañez, and the pair developed exhibits and programming together for 13 years. Yañez’ carries on his father’s tradition of curating the annual Dia de los Muertos exhibit at SOMArts alongside his collaborator Carolina Quintanilla. Yañez is also a founding member of The Great Tortilla Conspiracy, the world’s first and most dangerous tortilla art collective.

Born and raised in Southern California, Carolina Quintanilla is an artist, curator and arts administrator based in San Francisco, CA. She is a graduate of San Francisco State University where she received her MA in Ethnic Studies. As SOMArts’ Curatorial Partnerships and Residency Director, Carolina has honed a critical curatorial practice that empowers artists to position themselves as the authors of their own stories. A believer in the power of the arts for collective liberation, Carolina’s curatorial practice weaves together personal narrative with social commentary. 


SOMArts Cultural Center, founded in 1979, cultivates access to the arts within the Bay Area by collaborating with community-focused artists and organizations. Together, we engage the power of the arts to provoke just and fair inclusion, cultural respect and civic participation.

SOMArts plays a vital role in the arts ecosystem by helping activate the arts citywide. We do this by providing space and production support for non-profit events, as well as fairs and festivals throughout the Bay Area, and offering a robust program of art exhibitions, classes, events and performances that are affordable and accessible to all. SOMArts’ exhibition programs receive critical support from the San Francisco Arts Commission and The San Francisco Foundation, and are sponsored in part by a grant from Grants for the Arts.

SOMArts is located at 934 Brannan Street—between 8th and 9th—within 2 blocks of 101, I-80, Muni lines and bike paths. For public information call 415-863-1414 or visit Stay connected by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.