Unlike Halloween, which takes a tone of darkness and fear, Día de Muertos is a joyous holiday when families and friends come together to celebrate the lives, legacies, and souls of those who have passed. This celebration is rooted in the indigenous tradition of commemorating the gods and goddesses of the underworld. On November 1st and 2nd of each year, it is believed that the dead roam the earth to visit their families. Altars or ofrendas are made to guide the souls to their homes, and they are decorated with candles and strong scents– such as cempasúchil – to call the souls to their altar. The spirits are weary after their long trip, so pan de muerto (their favorite food), and even some tequila is offered to make the souls happy upon their return.

Today, as Día de Muertos celebrations conclude, we tapped five artists to create virtual altars in honor of Juan Gabriel, the Mexican music icon who passed just two months ago.

Claudia G Aparicio Gamundi aka Bodega Visual

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“I was first introduced to JuanGa by my grandmother, she would dance to his tunes while cleaning. She would also sing “Amor Eterno” constantly and tears would never fail to start dripping down her face. To me, Juan Gabriel means resilience, he is a constant inspiration to just be and do you, regardless of people’s opinions and judgement. He was unapologetic, undoubtedly proud of who he was and would even get any super macho sing to his songs with their heart in their hands.”

Juan Carlos Rodriguez Rivera

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“To me, Juan Gabriel represents timeless memories. Memories of resistance, acceptance, trying to fall in love, breakups, drunk karaokes with friends, my mom cleaning the house Saturday morning, and all those intros of “telenovelas” I don’t want to accept I watched. ¡Gracias por todo JuanGa!”

Alan Lopez aka Boncker

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“Juan Gabriel is very important and groundbreaking, because his work was and still is accessible to all social classes. He defied Mexican clichés, a valuable and admirable feat, especially in a country where bigotry runs rampant.”

Itzel Alejandra Martinez

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“Juan Gabriel was the soundtrack of my childhood, I remember crossing the border from Juarez to El Paso as a little 6 year-old and singing “Buenos dias señor sol” at the top of my lungs with my mom in the front seat. He gave us a sense of pride and inspiration and did it so effortlessly, by just being himself. JuanGa felt and performed in a way that made even machos with the thickest chente mustache cry. He was extra, spilled wine on himself, and showed the world that having all the feels was something to celebrate and grow from. JuanGa, siempre en mi mente y corazón!”  

Roxy aka Taquito Jocoque

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Artist Taquito Jocoque chose to let her work speak for itself. Learn more about her here.