Dia De Los Muertos — Face Painting Gallery

The Day of the Dead — Faces by Christopher Agostino  10/30/2014 – updated 2015  #transformationsny

DiaDeLosMuertos_Mex_SkullFlowers_agostinoartsMy introduction to this Mexican fusion of death and beauty came via the mummies of Guanajuato when I was there as a student in the 80s. In 2001 I had the opportunity to return to Guanajuato as part of the Festival International Cervantino, painting faces in the street as one of a number of international performance artists. A few days after the festival ended, just before I had to leave, the center of the town was filled with stalls of the artisans creating items for the coming Dia De los Muertos. I bought this mask, and felt really great when the woman who sold it recognized me as a fellow artist for the facepainting I’d done in those plazas the week before.

Posada_LaCatrinaI approach the Day of the Dead as a celebration of the presence of death within life, and the continuation of life within death through the love we retain for those who have passed.  I want to retain stark images of death in the faces I paint, and for inspiration I look less to the current sugar skull style and more to traditional imagery such as Posada’s La Catrina and Mexican skeleton figurines.

Most of these photographs are from Dia De Los Metros events at the Hudson River Museum in 2014 and 2015.  Learn about all we do at: agostinoarts.com

learn about all we do at: agostinoarts.com

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The Eye of the Demon — a StoryFaces Performance


a story cycle of Japanese adventure tales

for adults and brave family audiences

samurai vs. demons, ’nuff said

Medieval Japanese legends mixed up with Kabuki theatre and Kuniyoshi prints, Emaki scrolls and Onmiyoji, on top of a childhood of Kurasawa films and Marvel comics.

 ——————  The Stories  ————–

It begins with The Legend of the Haunted Bridge… A soldier brags how he’s never seen anything that frightened him, so the Governor orders him to cross the bridge and find out what the demon that haunts it looks like, “because a man must live up to his words, no matter how foolish they are.” It was the perfect ghost story for a face painting storyteller — perfect because it described the face I’d need to paint to tell it, the face of the demon. It’s a tale I’ve told for many years, and it’s led me on into the thrilling world of samurai.

Raiko vs. the Goblin Earth Spider is a Samurai-Superhero Adventure™, featuring a young Watanabe No Tsuna, the samurai that took care of that demon at the bridge, fighting armies of demons, an evil Spider Woman and a giant spider named Tsuchi-gumo, all at the side of Minamoto no Yorimitsu (aka “Raiko”), the first of the legendary samurai.

Part 3: The Princess Ibaraki and the Tale of the Drunken Demon — The Drunken Demon is a classic tale I saw on an emaki storytelling scroll. It includes the same Raiko and Tsuna defeating the demon, and one of the Drunken Demon’s henchmen escapes to to haunt a bridge. To bring the tales back around together I borrowed a character from the movie Onmyoji, a princess who turns into a demon.

           The Eye of the Demon is a full length StoryFaces performance for adults, with a family friendly version as well. It features retellings of tales from a thousand years ago about Japanese demons (which are more like monsters or ghosts than like devils) and the samurai who fight them, along with personal stories of my discovery of these tales and the art they’ve inspired, and the way this connects to the superhero comics I grew up on.


By Kuniyoshi. My favorite Japanese printmaker depicted Raiko vs. the Spider several times

——————  The Sources  —————-

My original source for the haunted bridge tale was a story called “The Bridge” in the book Japanese Tales (Royal L. Tyler; Pantheon; 1987), and have since found related and extended versions of this type of tale online. I first came across Raiko vs. the Spider in Short and Shivery: 30 Chilling Tales (Rober San Souci, Doubleday, 1987). When I saw this tale show up again in a print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) in an exhibit at the Japan Society I began to understand the role medieval samurai legends have had in Japanese art and entertainment. For me, these tales are to be enjoyed as much through the illustrations, prints and other visual art they engender as through any text. The images drive the stories.

From a scroll by Kaiho Yuchiku (1654-1728) – The Drunken Demon surrounded by a bevy of ladies

onmyoji_jpgI first met  The Drunken Demon on an emaki at the exhibit Storytelling In Japanese Art at the Met, and again it was visual art driving me deeper into a story to tell. In addition to Raiko and Tsuna, the tale also included a wizard, Abe no Seimei, who I knew from a favorite movie of mine, Onmiyoji. In that movie, he has to solve the mysterious appearance of a namanari,  a living woman who turns into a demon — and I made a place for her in my tale as well.

Ibaraki Demon fleeing with her arm

Ibaraki Demon fleeing with her arm


The Arm of the Demon

Another illustration in the exhibit was of the Ibaraki Demon stealing her arm back, and finding out just what that was all about led me into the classic tale of Watanabe no Tsuna and his battle with a demon on a bridge — adding a potential new piece to the puzzle. The iconic image of Tsuna cutting the demon’s arm off  has been frequently illustrated by Japanese artists, and led me to another face for my tale.

Emaki are handscrolls that tell such tales through illustration and text, kind of like comic books, and you unroll them as you read them so the images go across your vision as the story progresses, kind of like movies. Finding a way to understand these stories as comic books and superhero movies gives me my own way in. The word “samurai”, to me, means Toshiro Mifune in the Kurasawa films I first saw as a kid. Seeing Kwaidan (1964) really chilled me, and seeing how Ping Chong recreated such a visually complex movie as a live performance with puppets (at the New Victory Theatre) was a major influence on my developing StoryFaces technique.


Angry Ocean, Waterfall Tears ©2011 Christopher Agostino

To get a feel for this imagery and work out how I can get these images onto a face in a story, my exploration of these tales also included bodypaintings using imagery from Kuniyoshi and other printmakers, one of which was a full re-working of the  Ibaraki Demon tale, but I changed the name to “Irabaki” to indicate it wasn’t the traditional tale I’d found — though now that I’ve seen how many strange and wonderful versions there are for these legends I’m more comfortable taking my own path through to telling them while keeping their names intact.

Painted for Kryolan Professional Makeup at IMATS New York

The Irabaki Demon — a BodyStory — Painted for Kryolan Professional Makeup at IMATS New York

learn about all we do at:  agostinoarts.com  See the video: What Is A StoryFace?

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Winter Olympics 2014 — Face Painting Gallery


Photos from a couple of Winter Olympic’s sponsor events in New York, February 22 and 23. Some very fun, and different, sports to explore through images.#transformationsny

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The Amazing Face Show



A one-of-a-kind entertainment for festivals and events.

The Amazing Face Show features a special selection of fun and surprising StoryFaces for general audiences in all sorts of venues, including parties and special events, open air and public settings, and site specific performances.  Entertaining presentations to delight any age audience, large or small, including adventure tales from around the world, comic fables and folktales, explorations of mask art traditions and Christopher’s uniquely animated original stories.

The Amazing Face Show can be full length performances, sets of mini-performances or a continuous stage presentation — also available as a complete spectacular entertainment for events and festivals, with Christopher’s stage performance to entertain the crowd, in combination with a coordinated team of our face painters to transform them and fill the event with painted faces.

Christopher Agostino’s StoryFaces performances are an innovative fusion of theatrical storytelling and his remarkable painted faces. With an ever growing repertoire of tales and years of telling them, Christopher can craft a show to suit any audience — children, teens, adults or families.

Christopher Agostino has appeared on the NBC Today Show and the CBS Early Show and performed for thousands of schools, libraries, events and festivals over a 30 year career.


 See the video — The Amazing Face Video 

You will be amazed! 

To schedule a show CONTACT US: info@agostinoarts.com    or  call 516-771-8086

Printable pdf flyer for The Amazing Face Show:  StoryFaces_AmazingFaceShow_agostinoarts


At a Transformations event every face is a creative work of art, as exciting to watch as to be painted.

Transformations Facepainting is the ultimate in participatory performance art in which each person we paint becomes the show. Children, teens and adults are transformed into animals, fantastic creatures and mask designs inspired by cultures from around the world. Each person we paint becomes a living work of art.  Our company of professional artists paints thousands of people annually at the Bronx Zoo and events all around New York, setting a standard within the entertainment industry and transforming the idea of what a painted face can be. You will be amazed.
see fotos of our recent faces for the  Knicks,   Citibank’s Winter Olympics event  The World Science Festival  and our new  Art On Your Face — Gallery  (for museums and art events)

Learn about all of our programs at: agostinoarts.com

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StoryFaces and Body Painting at NYSATA 2013

At this year’s New York State Art Teacher’s Association Conference (NYSATA) I had the opportunity to do a presentation on my StoryFaces Mask Arts programs, which included performing a few stories from the assembly programs I do in schools, and we went through “Designing Tribal Masks Project”, an example of one of my classroom workshop programs, along with this sample handout: .StoryFaces_MaskArts_TribalMaskProject_agostinoarts

As the tiger leapt through the walls of fire, he began to burn with a flame of his own...

As the tiger leapt through the walls of fire, he began to burn with a flame of his own…

For one of their Friday After Dark workshops I offered “Face and Body Painting 101”, so during the day I also painted a model in the exhibit area as an example. It’s a design of familiar elements, from my story “The Tiger That Went to the House of the Sun”, which I would be telling that afternoon in the StoryFaces session. TigerBody_iPad_1_131122_agostinoartsThe open lobby area we were in was  too chilly for my volunteer model, so I limited the painting to from 10:00 am to 12:30.








Face and Body Painting 101 at NYSATA

Face and Body Painting 101 at NYSATA

We also had a couple of volunteer models along with 14 participants for the Face and Body painting workshop that night, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.




Learn more about my school programs at:

Christopher Agostino’s StoryFaces

StoryFaces — Mask Art Workshops

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