• Words and Photos by John Domine

Return to Akumal

Last November, about 100 artists from around the world descended upon a small village in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Together with the local community of Akumal, they enhanced the existing beauty of the pueblo, sharing their creativity through paintings, dance and unbridled celebration. It was there, in the 'land of the turtles', that cultures were shared and friendships were made. It was there that a family was created.

And next week, we will be having a celebratory reunion, to create more beauty...and to share more smiles among friends.

When people ask me about the inaugural Akumal Arts Festival, I immediately light up, because it was such an outpouring of love from everyone involved. We were all there for one purpose, to honor one another through a shared focus of unity and respect, appreciating each other's talents and worth as humans. There were no language barriers, no walls put up. After all, love is a language all on its own, and it was communicated through pure hearts.

Everyone contributed in their own way. From the shaman, who led us over the bridge with a blessing, to the children who helped paint the bleachers in the stadium and decorate the main thoroughfare with flags, to the local businesses and individuals who provided food and housing for the artists; each of us played our part to elevate the experience for the whole.

I've never witnessed, much less been a part of, such an extraordinary sense of purpose, and an unwavering sense of love. In the end, such simple gestures proved to have a profound impact on everyone involved.

Through the various workshops which were held over the weekend, Akumal's youth had the opportunity to participate in various forms of creativity, from mask making, to spray painting, to collaborating on a mural, and they came away from the experience with a bit more knowledge and definitely a smile.

Beyond the feeling of community which was created and shared over the short time we were there, the beautiful work that was left behind for the locals to enjoy was extraordinary and appreciated.

Here are some of the works from last year's festival which can be found in Akumal:

Nicole Salgar & Chuck Berrett

Ivan Roque

Ms. Yellow

Jim Vision and Qubek

Damien Mitchell

Top: Annatomix, Sinned & Ria Burns-Wilder; Bottom: Daniel Moreno , Kid Crayon & Luis Valle

Abracadabra

Skela

Davel and Ivan Roque

Toofly

Nubian, Arkane & Primal Graphic

Top: Ramiro Davaro-Comas, Funqest; Bottom: Nate Dee, Rif Raf Giraffe

Ruben Cheatem

Delilah Benitez

Alejandra Barradas

Top: Hello Chingu, Chelsea Rose; Bottom: Art of Safety First, Cecilia Paints

Kiptoe

Julia Rose Morgan

Alex Yopra

Top: Charly Gil, Cosmo; Bottom: Cova, Claudio Picasso

Danielle Mastrion

Daniel Moreno

Davel

Top: Deity, Jonathan Villoch; Bottom: Erin Ko, Dino Perez

Dirk Art

Funqest

Grace Lang

Iena Cruz

Jake Klone

Top: Rory Eade & Jackie Neon, Jana Liptak; Bottom: Kelly Heaton, Jane Mutiny

Kid Crayon & Peachzz

Marianela La Wife

Melhor Cryz

Mr. Prvrt

Top: Nadya Voynovskaya, Natasha May Platt; Bottom: Nate Dee, Nubian

Nomad Clan

Olas

Patricia Fornos

Pawski and Seca One

Top: Pluzbrut, Ramiro Davaro-Comas; 45rpm and Voyder, Winnie May

Zenor

Raul Sheick

Ricky Hernandez

Rigo Leon

Suzanne Gray and Jonathan Villoch

Tarbox

When the festival ended last year, we were fortunate to witness even more beauty from Akumal, as we watched nearly 100 baby turtles hatch and head for the ocean. I'd like to think that each of those turtles represents one of the artists who gave of his/her time and talent to share with the Mexican people. And like those turtles who will eventually return to that same beach, the artists are returning once again to create more magic in the Land of the Turtles. And I for one can't wait to see what they create!

So, if you are in Mexico (or plan to be) the weekend of November 8-10, consider passing through Akumal to see the beauty for yourself! With over 130 artists joining the festival this year, it is sure to be a monumental event!

Check back with us at SOLD for progress updates leading up to the event and live coverage throughout.

To see the full list of participating artists or to donate to the cause, check out the Akumal Arts Festival website.

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