Ricardo Soltero Brings Day of the Dead to Life in Naples

Man standing in front of waterfall and building with thatched roof

Mexican-born Ricardo Soltero draws the inspiration for his breathtaking creations from the diverse cultures of his native country.

“Since I was young, I was interested in the color of our culture,” Soltero says.

Soltero was born in Nayarit, on Mexico’s west coast, but grew up farther north in Baja, California.

Man painting a bust

Soltero is a multimedia artist but considers himself first and foremost a costume and theatrical set designer — a passion he discovered when he was a teenager working on a play at his performing arts high school.

Today, Soltero is famous for his elaborate masterpieces that are part of Los Angeles’ annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Those works include different renditions of La Catrina, the skeletal female figure that has long been associated with the Day of the Dead.

Skeleton sculpture

Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life, dedicated to the loved ones who are no longer with us,” Soltero says. “We use a lot of skulls and skeletons, but we do it in a colorful way. We bring it to life again.”

Most of Soltero’s work is done in papier-mâché, a traditional format for Día de los Muertos creations. He also works with recycled materials, wood, fabric and fiberglass.

Skeleton sculpture

Soltero says his works are a way to represent all of Mexico.

“Mexico is a mix of different people, but united in art and color,” he says.

Soltero also worked as an artist in residence to Naples Art District as part of ¡ARTE VIVA!  This enclave of 100 artists’ studios served as his host and they worked together on two sculptures and large murals to celebrate legendary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo as part of the Naples Art District’s Frida Fest in January of 2023.