The July Leimert Park Art Walk featured the 7th Annual Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks. The annual festival is organized by LA Commons with support from Art Walk founder and GLPVCC BID Advisory Board member Ben Caldwell of Kaos Network.

“Restoring Balance” was the theme of this year’s Festival of Masks which leveraged the power of the arts to invoke compassion and inspire connection regardless of perceived differences among people of different backgrounds. LA Common’s Community Arts Program Director Beth Peterson worked with over 100 community members and youth for two months to develop the oversized masks. The Day of the Ancestors is based on the tradition of remembering and honoring the dead.

The day began with ceremonial blessings in English, Spanish and Yoruba followed by a lively dance and drum procession with community participants marching inside the handmade masks. After the procession, dancers, drummers, youth groups and community members engaged in a celebration of the global African village on a stage in front of the Vision Theatre.
Artist performances include Kehinde, S.H.I.N.E. Muwasi, Kouman Kele West African Dance & Drum Troup, the Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Dembrehrah West African Drum Dance Ensemble, Anahuacalmecac Danza Azteca, Le Bellet Dembaya, and Torre Bannon-Reese & Everything with Soul.

“The festival provided the community with a great opportunity to come together to make a beautiful and impactful statement,” said LA Commons Executive Director Karen Mack. “This year’s theme, ‘Restoring Balance’ recognizes the importance of compassion and solidarity in a time of unprecedented divisiveness.”

The festival partnership between LA Commons and the Leimert Park Art Walk was an effort to promote the vibrancy, culture, legacy and economy of Leimert Park Village.
LA Commons is a project of Community Partners. The nonprofit organization works in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles, facilitating artistic projects that result in highly visible public art projects that tell dynamic neighborhood stories. LA Commons builds community by validating the importance of local narratives, enhancing the sense of belonging felt by a broad range of stakeholders and encouraging stronger times between people and places in Los Angeles.

Photo credit: Sahra Sulaiman