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Mexican American Historical Society has several Day of the Dead activities

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Omaha Performing Arts’ 2022-2023 Broadway season will feature seven hit musical shows.

Events are starting early for the Mexican American Historical Society’s observance of Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

The traditional celebration takes place on Nov. 1, which is All Saints’ Day, and Nov. 2, All Souls’ Day, but the society has planned several activities that are already happening.

“It’s very important to remember our loved ones,” said Linda Garcia, the society’s artistic director. “There’s a Mexican proverb that states there are three deaths: when a person dies, when their body is no longer seen (as in buried or cremated) and the worst — when a person’s name is no longer said and they’re no longer remembered.”

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Society executive director Jose Garcia said remembering the dead used to last for 20 days, but after the Spaniards came to Mexico, it became Nov. 1 and 2.

The theme of this year’s observance is Ofrendas de Corazon, or Memories of the Heart. Mexican people often build memories into an ofrenda (altar) that is dedicated to loved ones who have passed. The altars have photos, banners, candles, food, drink and a special bread, all items that comfort loved ones when they visit. If you visit an ofrenda, you can be part of it by bringing a photo of a deceased person or pet who was dear to you.

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There will be two community ofrenda installations in Omaha:

  • One is at St. Cecelia Cathedral’s Nash Chapel, 701 N. 40th St., where it will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekends Friday through Nov. 6.
  • The other is at Boys Town Hall of History, 14057 Flanagan Blvd. It’s open now through Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. An opening festival will be from 4 p.m. to 5:40 p.m. Oct. 26.

Ofrendas also will be at each event listed below:

  • An art exhibit at Elva’s Gallery, 1714 Vinton St. It opens with a reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, then is open Thursday through Sunday through Oct. 30.
  • A performance at Metropolitan Community College’s South Omaha Campus CAM Building, Room 120, 2909 Edward Babe Gomez Ave., at 7 p.m. Nov. 1. Admission is free. Actors, playwrights, poets, musicians and the Hispanic Art Center Omaha Dance Company performing verbal ofrendas.
  • A repeat performance of the South Omaha show at the Benson Theatre, 6054 Maple St., at 7 p.m. Nov. 2. Tickets, $10 for general admission and $5 for students and people age 65 and older, are available at

Program tells ‘American Gothic’ artist’s story

A history re-enactor will give a dramatic presentation on the life of Iowa artist Grant Wood at the Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center on Friday night.

In his 45-minute program, “Celebrating 80 Years of Impact of Grant Wood,” Richard “Dick” Miller and guests will present a side of the painter that many people have never seen, even though Iowans have learned about his work in school and elsewhere. Wood was an Iowa native and spent most of his life living and working in the state.


Council Bluffs philanthropist Richard “Dick” Miller will talk about Iowa artist Grant Wood at the Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center on Friday.

Miller will teach the audience about Wood’s life and legacy, including the story of his most famous painting, “American Gothic.”

“Grant Wood was an Iowa treasure,” Miller said, “but most people don’t know about his dramatic childhood. His father abused him for painting, but his mother secretly supported his dreams. It’s the challenges that set Wood on the road to greatness, and a coming-of-age story that every age can learn from.”

Miller is a longtime backer of the Council Bluffs arts community. He supported the preservation of Wood’s Corn Murals, which were restored and are now in the Hoff Center’s Richard and DeAnna Miller Grant Wood Gallery.

His program promises to be fascinating, said Danna Kehm, CEO of Pottawattamie Arts Culture Entertainment, the organization that operates the Hoff Center.

“He’s got a hundred surprising stories to tell,” she said. “He’s researched and read all the books. He genuinely loves the artist and knows small details that bring Grant Wood’s story to life.”

The free event runs from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. The Hoff Center is at 1001 S. Sixth St. in Council Bluffs.

Omaha Symphony hosts ‘Spooktacular’

It’s Halloween season, so the Omaha Symphony is offering its annual “Spooktacular” concert for families this weekend.

This year, the featured piece is “Sleepover at the Museum” by Karen LeFrak, who wrote a children’s book about a young boy, his friends and their adventures at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. LeFrak then set it to music for an interactive performance that was orchestrated by Bill Ross.

After its world premiere with the Miami Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony Music Director Ankush Kumar Bahl conducted the New York Philharmonic in the piece’s New York premiere.

“I had such a blast unveiling this work to a New York audience with Karen LeFrak in attendance back in 2020, and I’m thrilled to share it with Omaha families just two years later,” Bahl said. “It really is a joyous experience for the entire family.”

Other works on the program for the concert, at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Holland Center’s Kiewit Concert Hall, are Adam Glaser’s “March of the Little Goblins” and “Harry’s Wondrous World” by John Williams.

There also will be pre-concert activities beginning at 1:15 p.m. in the lobby of the Holland, 1200 Douglas St., including an instrument petting zoo, an Omaha Public Library information table, costumes and crafts.

General admission tickets are $15 and are available at

Author Soto to present workshop

An author, poet and essayist who was a finalist for the National Book Award will facilitate a writing workshop on Saturday in Omaha.

The Nebraska Writers Collective is hosting Gary Soto, a Mexican American writer, as part of its Visiting Writers Series. The workshop will take place from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Milo Bail Student Center, Rooms 228 and 226. Humanities Nebraska and the UNO Thompson Learning Community are sponsoring the event.

Soto will also give a reading and participate in a moderated question-and-answer session from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the student center’s Nebraska Room.

The author has received the Andrew Carnegie Medal and fellowships from the California Arts Council, the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. His books have sold more than 5 million copies.

About his work, Soto says that “as a writer, my duty is not to make people perfect, particularly Mexican Americans. I’m not a cheerleader. I’m one who provides portraits of people in the rush of life.”

You can register for the workshop and learn more about the event at, 402-444-1267