Día de los Muertos is coming to the H Street corridor early this year as bicycling skeletons start to take shape on the walls of a neighborhood taqueria.
The skeletons are part of a mural going up in in the patio dining area of the Chupacabra Latin Kitchen and Taqueria at 822 H St. NE
The mural, which is set to be finished early next week, was inspired by Mexican illustrator and political cartoonist José Posada, whose black-and-white illustrations and prints of skeletons have become some of the most recognizable art from Mexico.
While Posada was known for his political satire, the artists at Chupacabra hope to strike a more lighthearted tone.
“We’re sticking to the Día de los Muertos feel but with a sense of playfulness,” painter John Sigmund said, using the Spanish name for Day of the Dead, which Mexico celebrates in the fall. “We didn’t want to make it too grim, we wanted whimsical, happy skeletons.”
Sigmund is working on the mural along with Katie Quattrone, whose husband is one of the owners of Chupacabra. Quattrone said she and her husband saw some Posada prints and thought the style would go well with their restaurant.
They then enlisted Sigmund, an art student from Philadelphia and a friend of Katie’s, to help. Halsey Berryman, a local freelance sign painter and muralist, also is working on the mural.
Sigmund said they chose to paint with brushes instead of spray paint to better emulate Posada’s newspaper-cartoon style. Although the mural is based off of Posada prints, the trio is incorporating tacos, arepas and other Chupacabra menu items into the scenes.
But Quattrone and Sigmund said they’ve been been taking some suggestions from diners and adjusting their designs on the spot.
“People have to be careful with input though,” Sigmund said. “I just might put a paint brush in their hand.”