All Photos (C) 2020 / Ave Bonar
Every year around the first of November Mexicans and people of Mexican heritage celebrate All Souls’ Day, more commonly known in Texas as Day of the Dead. In 2012, following an Austin Sun reunion the previous year, Dave Moriaty (former managing editor of the Austin Sun) and Carlene Brady (a former art director for the paper) hosted what came to be the first annual NOT DEAD YET PARTY for the dozens of old Austinites who were in Austin back when the Austin Sun thrived and Austin was Austin. Since that first celebration, many who have moved away return for the traditional reunion, and many who weren’t even born then show up, too.
In 2018 the party was postponed until November 10 because a few civic-minded invitees had been involved with the mid-term election held earlier that week. There must have been a lot of pent-up desire to party because the house on Red Bluff Road was packed. At about eleven o’clock that night, party in full swing, I looked at the throng of people around me and thought, “Oh my god, these people need to be photographed!” I don’t know what took me so long to figure that out.
Dave and Carlene also host a smaller Orphans’ New Year’s party every year, so I decided to make that night an opportunity to see whether my idea for making portraits of NDY partiers would work. I set up a photo studio in a spare bedroom and made a couple dozen portraits. The idea worked!
The next year, 2019, I set up my makeshift studio for the NOT DEAD YET PARTY and made another batch of portraits. I also made portraits at Dave’s New Year’s party later that year. The portrait sessions went so well that I decided I would do photos at both parties every year so I could catch some strays, either people I didn’t know or friends I would usually see leaving about the time I was arriving. But alas, because of the Coronavirus Pandemic there will be no parties in 2020, hence this gallery from parties past.
Thanks to everyone who posed for my pics and to Dale Chenoweth for making the photo of me with my brother Tom. I’m especially grateful to Dale, who would not have been able to join us this year because he departed the world of the Not Dead Yet on October 19, 2020. He is now among those we will remember on All Souls’ Day.
~ Click on any photo to enlarge it and scroll through the images individually ~
Ave Bonar is a photographer and sometime editor/writer who has lived in Austin for 50 years. Her photographic book With Ann: A Journey Across Texas with a Candidate for Governor, about Ann Richards' race to win the governorship of Texas, was published in 1991. Her work is included in two current exhibits ~ Suffrage Now, an online show organized by the Elizabet Ney Museum, and Through Her Lens: Women Photographers of the Wittliff, organized by the Witliff Collections at Texas State University. To see more of Ave’s work go to avebonar.com.