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What You Wish You Hadn’t Missed this Weekend: Art, Community, Masks, and Ancestors in Leimert Park

3:06 PM PDT on June 25, 2012

Mask festival procession in honor of the ancestors in Leimert Park. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words. So, I'll keep it short.

In case you missed it this weekend, the Leimert Park Art Walk celebrated its second anniversary in style. Members of the community donned masks and traditional (or African-inspired) dress to commemorate the occasion and honor their ancestors. They were joined by members of the Korean community and their mesmerizing papier-mâché figures.

What I really love about the Leimert Park Art Walk is how public space is utilized to help put the focus on unity and community. You can perhaps feel that best in the drum circle, where the young, the old, the homeless, and the well-heeled celebrate music and dance together. Or in the warm and hearty handshakes with which community members greet each other in the streets. It is also evident in the art, which collectively often depicts a celebration of community, heritage, and empowerment. Ben Caldwell, director of the KAOS Network (the hub of the event), works to make art more participatory by offering free hands-on workshops and providing space for music and spoken word performances for all to enjoy and learn from. In short, the art is intended to be lived, not just observed.

Leimert Park is always welcoming and the art walk is always a great experience. You may have to wait until next year to see the next processional of the masks, but you can always catch the art walk on the last Sunday of the month.

All photos are by Sahra.

"I brake for tree people."
"It wasn't me."
"We come in peace. Bearing birds."
Taking a stilt break.
Leading the procession.
Everyone participates.
Crocodiles on the brain.
Tree person needs more space.
Regrouping after the procession.
Remembering the ancestors.
Dancers and drummers at the Festival of Ancestors in Leimert Park. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Drumming is serious business.
Nap time.
Shrine building.
Outdoor puppet show.
Charles Williams performing spoken word at the Kaos Network.

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