It has already been a week since the 2nd Annual Akumal Arts Festival came to an end, drawing over 100 artists who painted nearly 150 murals in a small village in Mexico's Riviera Maya. But for me, the magic that was created there by beautiful people from around the world, sharing love with the local community, will remain in my heart for some time to come.
I don't think I can fully articulate what a special place Akumal is or what an incredibly awesome event the festival has become in its short life. Nor can I describe the wonderful artists who chose to participate and give of themselves so openly over the course of an activity-filled week in this small village in the land of turtles.
But hopefully, through some images captured during my time there, you might just gain a glimpse of what it is all about. If you are an artist, perhaps you will consider applying next year. And if you are a fan of art, or beauty, or unadulterated love transformed by magic into the smiles of a community, you just might fancy taking a trip to this little slice of heaven on your next holiday. Either way, you are in for a real treat!
The work of @dgaleart painted at the community center in the pueblo
THE OPENING CEREMONIES
On the heels of a successful inaugural event in 2018, this year's festival kicked off with a barrage of color-infused smoke, stilt-walkers and drummers, together with a snaking parade of dancers, artists and revelers, all making their way from the center of the bridge into the Akumal pueblo, ultimately ending up at the heart of the town's social center, La Cancha, where the nightly festivities would take place, bringing fire dancers, puppeteers and even Mayan spiritual leaders together to share a bit of culture and maybe even a smile or two.
The celebration begins as the crowd traverses the bridge into the pueblo
The highlight of the festival for me and the primary focus over the course of the week, beyond the pure expression of love by all involved, was definitely the beauty of the walls created on the bridge and throughout the pueblo. From massive pieces requiring lifts and cherry pickers to more modest artworks painted on the sides of houses at the owners' request, each work of art is a gift of love to be appreciated long after the artists have returned to their own homes.
The Akumal water tower adorned by French artist @arkane.art is a centerpiece of the pueblo
THE BRIDGE WALLS
I've decided to showcase the walls by their placement around Akumal, grouping them together by those adorning the bridge followed by those scattered throughout the pueblo itself. If you find yourself in Akumal in search of art, you will be amazed by beauty at every turn, but the first ones you will see are those on the bridge. Here are the additions made this year (click on each for a larger view).
The work of Captain Kris on the south side of the bridge in the pueblo
The bridge, although stunningly beautiful with the new paint, is only a small piece of all of the art that was created for Akumal. A large portion of the walls are to be found in the pueblo itself, painted on walls of the primary and secondary schools, the community center, local businesses, and even on the homes of the residents, giving a sense of community pride which couldn't be clearer, as witnessed by their smiles from ear to ear.
Although the work has continued since I left this magical place, as artists remained to create beauty in the pueblo, here is a sampling of the walls which were painted during this year's festival. It really is a marvelous gift, one given out of respect to a place and a people that have given so much in return.