For nearly 20 years, El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera has celebrated the Day of the Dead with the group exhibition "Altars." For the show, which opened Oct. 26 and runs through Nov. 30 in the small storefront gallery at 91 Allen St., some 20 local artists have contributed works inspired by or related to the popular Mexican holiday meant to celebrate and honor departed loved ones.

But this year, the Dia de los Muertos is asserting a greater hold than usual on the city. The Allentown gallery Casa de Arte (141 Elmwood Ave.), established last year with the mission of uniting the cultures of Buffalo and Cuernavaca, Mexico, is co-sponsoring a Day of the Dead event with Canisius College at 6:30 tonight in the Montante Cultural Center (2001 Main St.). And Casa de Arte will also open its own Day of the Dead exhibition with an opening reception at 6 p.m. Saturday

The Canisius event will feature an installation by Jacinto Cruz, an artist based in Oaxaca, Mexico. Cruz has worked with Canisius students to fashion an altar and installations to honor the recently deceased, including Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes. Casa de Arte's installation includes a range of Day of the Dead-related work by Mexican artists along with gallery co-owner Mara Odette Guerrero's striking, 9-foot-tall skeletal figure known as "Catrina."

For more information on the free events, call 240-9248 or visit

–Colin Dabkowski