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Circles of Life . . . Circles of Death
by Peter Perez
Just as the sun circles the globe each day, and the moon circles the globe each month, so do we follow the paths and orbits of our lives, crossing and intersecting the family, friends and events that crossroad our voyage.
It is the choices that we make at those crossroads that put us on our journey and lead us to the next adventure. To be willing to accept your instincts is what keeps life fresh and exciting. And as one explores life, so must we be prepared for the next adventure . . . death. Our ancestors believed that death was the purpose of life and the beginning of the next evolution of spirit . . . in another dimension.
Embracing Death gives more meaning to Life . . . and embracing Life gives more meaning to Death. It is what we do while we are here that makes the difference.
Whether you are living to die . . . or dying to live will describe your journey.
Peter Perez has taken on new lives and lifestyles throughout his existence. His first life was that of an immigrant’s son who used his artistic talents to buy a one-way ticket to New York after graduating from one of the country’s best art schools.
From fledgling artist growing up in an Anaheim, California barrio, to Madison Avenue superstar, Perez has now metamorphosed back to his cultural heritage to become a renown Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) creator and curator.
“The Day of the Dead celebration awakened deep personal roots that had been lost and forgotten,” said Perez. “Spanish, my first language, and a connection to my native culture, had been erased at an early age.”
During a reunion visit to his Anaheim, California high school in 2016, Perez told students about being renamed Peter from Pedro and being forbidden to speak Spanish. His story was especially relevant to the arts students who see Perez as someone from their own background who became a successful artist despite the odds.
“Be the best at what you do and success will come naturally,” he told the students.
Perez is responsible for sparking the City of Anaheim’s Day of the Dead celebration. It was, in fact, sparked by the death of his nephew, an Anaheim resident who died in a motorcycle accident in 2009. Initially not embraced by city officials, Perez persisted and, with the help of the Anaheim Heritage Council, Arts Council, Downtown Association and several volunteers, a new tradition was started that has evolved into celebrations being staged throughout Orange County.
For Perez, the opportunity to paint and explore the life of the dead has resulted in solo shows, group exhibits, and serving as a curator for fiestas, art and altar exhibitions for the largest Dia de los Muertos celebrations in the nation. He has also introduced the celebration to areas in India and Australia. His Dia de los Muertos installations draw rave reviews.