The ARTS at Marks wants you to decorate its windows

Rich Richardson with the blank canvas for 'Shrines'

Rich Richardson with the blank canvas for ‘Shrines’

During Christmas time, it is common for stores and businesses to decorate windows with holiday displays.

But at nonprofit community arts center The ARTS at Marks Garage, they’re taking that concept and applying it to one of their favorite holidays: Halloween.

“Our staff gets excited about Halloween,” says The ARTS at Marks executive director Rich Richardson. “We all enjoy the season for its playfulness and its rather melancholy tone.

“There is a lot of creative work that comes from window decorating, including Andy Warhol in New York City,” he adds.

With that in mind, The ARTS at Marks Garage is transforming its windows — which extend the length of the center that runs along Nuuanu Avenue and Pauahi Street in Chinatown — to create an exhibit called Shrines, an ode to Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday that honors and celebrates loved ones who have passed away.

And they’re calling for help from local artists to create it. They’re giving away a total of about 100 boxes to anyone who wants to decorate one — but hurry, they’ve already been passing them out for a couple of weeks. Pick up one at the gallery, decorate it, return it to the gallery and it will be put on display.

The boxes are about the size of a shoebox and have slats on three sides. As Richardson sees it, the Dia de los Muertos theme is a springboard for artists to jump off. It’s open to all interpretations.

“It could be a shrine to someone close who is no longer with us, but I am open and expecting for people to take their own liberties with the concept — so it could be all tongue-in-cheek, it could be from a different cultural context,” he explains. “I am, as usual, open to all different media and all different points of view.

(After all, The ARTS at Marks has been known to be, as Richardson phrases it, “recklessly inclusive.”)

“I do imagine that there will be some farcical and Halloween-looking pieces and also perhaps some somber, elegant shrines,” he adds. “I hope it’s a nice mixture.”

To create artwork for Shrines, the entry fee is $15 per piece. Boxes are available now and can be picked up during gallery hours (noon 5 p.m. Tuesday Saturday). Completed boxes can be returned Oct. 14-19 and will be on display until Nov. 1. Artwork also has the option of being sold to benefit renovations for Marks (more on the renovations in an upcoming issue of Metro).

With Shrines hanging in the windows at Marks, it’ll have a lot of visibility.

“People can come walk by as they’re going to do other things — they don’t necessarily have to come into the gallery,” Richardson says.

But if you do choose to go into the gallery during the next month, it’s an exciting time. The four-day fundraiser Haunted Garage runs Oct. 29 Nov. 1, featuring interactive screenings of cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show 8 p.m. Oct. 29 31 and 11 p.m. Nov. 1. Dress up and prepare to dance along to the Time Warp. Halloween night, there’s also a dance party following the show, with a DJ set by Metro columnist Anton Glamb, among others.

Come back at 8 p.m. Nov. 1 for the Day of The Dead Cocktail Party, with performances by Monkey Waterfall and DJ Storm Trooper.

For Shrines entry forms, and more information on Haunted Garage, visit