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2023 Festival of Masks Program Seeds of the Village

13th Annual

Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks

at the Leimert Park Art Walk


Sunday, June 25, 2023




Leimert Park's Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks is an annual celebration of our ancestors and an invocation for the South Central LA community. Founded in 2010 by artists Najite Agindotan and Ben Caldwell in collaboration with LA Commons, the Festival of Masks is a multicultural, multigenerational, and multimedia arts event that champions the vast identities of the African diaspora.


“Seeds of the Village” is the theme of the 13th Annual Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks. This year we are honoring 5 Leimert Park Ancestors who directly influenced the communal energy that draws us to Leimert Park and fostered the continued African presence in Los Angeles against all odds. They were quite literally the “sowers” who planted us, the “seeds.” With this theme in mind, each ancestor represents an element related to the growing cycle: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Dark Star.


Earth, fertile soil; Water, nourishment; Fire, warmth as the sun and light; Air, the byproduct released as oxygen supporting all life forces; and Dark Star, popularized by the Dogon Tribe in sub Saharan Africa, a shining light in a sea of darkness that acts as a prism bringing sight where none exists.



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LA COMMONS

Headquartered in Leimert Park, LA Commons, a project of Community Partners, works in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles facilitating issue-driven public art projects that inspire creativity in everyone. We engage communities in artistic and cultural expression that tells their unique stories and serve as a basis for dialogue, interaction, understanding and organizing for a more just and equitable Los Angeles.



LEIMERT PARK ARTWALK

Leimert Park Village has a long history of being the center of African American arts and culture. Held on the last Sunday of each month, Leimert Park Artwalk invites the public to share a day of art exhibitions, music, fashion, food, drumming, spoken word, and local shopping. Throughout the day, cultural spaces, artist studios, and storefronts in the village also have offerings ranging from free computer seminars and specialty vendors to film screenings, youth theater performances, and live bands.




ANCESTORS

Leimert Park Village uplifted five ancestors to honor at

the 2023 Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks



AMBER TELL



Portrait by Carlos Spivey


A vibrant dancer and drummer in the Leimert Park community.

“When I dance I make my Ancestors and Elders smile because through me, this ancient tradition will continue to build the present and shape the future.” - Amber Tell



BILLY HIGGINS


Portrait by Ramsess


Billy Higgins was internationally renowned and loved as the most recorded jazz drummer in history and a founder of The World Stage. He had a special kind of light and continues to be a role model for young musicians in jazz.



LAURA MAE GROSS


Portrait by Wendell Wiggins


Laura Mae Gross, aka “Mama Laura,” was the founder of Babe’s and Rickey’s Inn, a blues club located in Leimert Park. She brought the community together through music, food, and her love for her customers and musicians.


RICHARD FULTON


Portrait by Noni Olabisi


Richard Fulton ran Fifth Street Dick’s Coffee Company where he served coffee and jazz. Houseless for four and a half years, he lived on the streets of downtown LA before founding Fifth Street Dick’s, a chess players’ hub and vibrant community gathering space.



RAS G


Portrait by Enkone

Ras G was a music producer, DJ, and gentle soul. His innovative music touched many. Although he toured the world, he always returned home to Leimert Park.




Seeds of the Village

2023 Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks

at the Leimert Park Art Walk


Sunday, June 25, 2023


Noon


BLESSING


Land Acknowledgement: Tamica Washington-Miller


Blessing and Libations: Imodoye Shabazz


Call to Engage with Purpose: Rene Fisher-Mims



1:00 PM



PROCESSION

We continue in the tradition of stopping four times to give offering of acknowledgment and celebration, a call to action, and a prayer for the future of our community.


SECTION ONE

Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks

Seeds of the Village


Master Drummers

Malik Sow, Pops, Jai Jae Kabasa, Aboubacar Kouyate, Kwesi Williams, Saliou Bara Sun


Egun Mask


SECTION TWO: EARTH

S.H.I.N.E. MUWASI honoring Amber Tell

S.H.I.N.E. Muwasi

Daansekou

Portrait by Carlos Spivey



SECTION THREE: WATER

Ray Bailey and Mama Laura’s Mighty Balls of Fire

honoring Laura Mae Gross

Mama Laura’s Great Balls of Fire

Houston Mello Blue

Portrait by Wendell Wiggins



SECTION FOUR: FIRE

Dwight Trible and Lula Washington Dance Theatre

honoring Billy Higgins


Lula Washington Dance Theatre Childrens’ Group

Portrait by Ramses


SECTION FIVE: DARK STAR

Jimetta Rose and Voices of Creation

honoring Ras G.


Jimetta Rose and Voices of Creation and V. Kali

Portrait by Enkone



SECTION SIX: AIR

Torrence Brannon Reese & His Everything with Soul Band

honoring Richard Fulton


Torrence Brannon and Everything with Soul

Portrait: Noni Olabisi


SECTION SEVEN: THE VILLAGE BLOOMS


Viviam Caroline and Viver Brasil




2:00 - 4:00PM



PERFORMANCE

Welcome

Host: Bruce Lemon

Karen Mack, LA Commons


DARK STAR SECTION

ANCESTOR: Ras G.


Jimetta Rose and Voices of Creation

Poet: V. Kali


FIRE SECTION

ANCESTOR: Billy Higgins


Billy Higgins Tribute Ensemble, Dwight Trible

Poet: Pam Ward


WATER SECTION

ANCESTOR: Mama Laura Mae Gross (Babe and Rickies)


Mama Laura’s Mighty Balls of Fire, Ray Bailey

Poet: Mello Bluez


EARTH SECTION

ANCESTOR: Amber Tell


S.H.I.N.E Muwasi

Poet: Ka’lynn Youngblood

AIR SECTION

ANCESTOR: Richard Fulton (5th Street Dicks)


Torrence Brannon & Everything with Soul Band

Poet: S. Pearl Sharp


UTOPIA

DJ Adé



__________________________________________________


SEEDS OF THE VILLAGE SATURDAYS

FACILITATORS AND PARTNERS


West African Dance

Daunté "KINGTAE" Fyall and DAANSEKOU


Ancestor Mask Making

Ronieka Pinkney

Maria Elena Cruz


African Drumming with Mama Nene

Rene Fisher-Mims, Founder of S.H.I.N.E. Muwasi

Special guests: Viviam Caroline and Viver Brasil




FESTIVAL OF MASKS YOUTH WORKSHOPS


Youth Mentor

Moreau Halliburton


Sankofa Youth Leaders

Pierre Ciofassa

Jasmine Liu

Safiyah Dawuni

Anna Siegel

Zara Zaman

Tessora Gould

Yicmakyahuw Allen

Sunna Jones

Kamalika De

Roxanna Cazares

Krishna Pagan

Emaan Sheik

Devon Halliburton

Lewa Pinkney

Rickia Latchman

Rocco Latchman

Ricardo Latchman

Naomi Rush

Noah Rush

Daniel Rush

Ava Jones

Hassani Muhammad

Ka’lynn Youngblood



2023 MASK FESTIVAL LEADERSHIP CIRCLE

Ronieka Pinkney

Ben Caldwell

Rene Fisher-Mims

Adé Neff

Randal Henry

Karen Mack


2023 MASK FESTIVAL PROJECT TEAM

Tamica Washington-Miller, Artistic Director

Rene Fisher Mimms, Artistic Engagement Lead

Joyce Maddox, Mask Festival Event/Production Manager

David Jackson, Instrument Audio Services LLC, Sound and Audio

Aletris Palm, Leimert Park Cultural Organizer

Moreau Halliburton, Leimert Park Cultural Organizer and Sankofa Youth Mentor

Wendell Wiggins, Multimedia Designer

The Whitely Company, Multimedia Designer


LA COMMONS STAFF

Karen Mack, Executive Director

Beth Peterson, Community Arts Program Director

Leslie Tamaribuchi, Operations and Strategy Director

Elizabeth Cho, Program Manager - Partnerships

Susie Garcia, Operations Manager

Valery Mendoza-Martinez, Community Arts Program Manager

Kaitwan Jackson, Program Manager - Cultural Treasures of South LA

Indeya Eubank, Program Coordinator - Cultural Treasures of South LA

Dena Cheng, Development and Communications Manager

Anahit Poturyan, Development Coordinator

Briana Rivera, Communications Coordinator

James Keum, Operations Coordinator

Hannah Chua, Systems and Research Coordinator

Alejandra Martinez, Cultural Organizer

Guillermo Alvarez, Cultural Organizer

Joré Aaron, Executive Assistant


SPECIAL THANKS

Special Thanks to all those who have contributed to this festival over the years including Najite Agindotan, Nzingha Camara, Peter and Roxann Obilago, Ben Caldwell, Dennis and Damaris Smith, Barron Lightner, Tasha Hunter, Toran Moore, Pastor Sauls, Marie Kellier, Ben Caldwell, Aziz, and many more who set the pathway and continue to contribute to vital cultural pathways. Cornerstone Theater Company for support of host Bruce Lemon, Jr. Thanks to Queen Aminah, Harun, Hot and Cool, Sika, Nappily Naturals, Solefolks, Timothy Morganfield, and the fellow Leimert Park Festivals for mutual collaboration and support.


Our Beloved Community Allies

Queen Aminah

Leimert Park Vendors

Harun Coffee

Sole Folks

Ride On Bike Shop

Community Build

Lion Arts and Entertainment

S. Pearl Sharp



PARTNERS

Leimert Park Artwalk

KAOS Network

The World Stage

Lula Washington Dance Theater

Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center

Viver Brasil

Cornerstone Theater Company

Leimert Park Jazz Festival

Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center

Urban Soul Farmer


FUNDERS

California Arts Council

Heather Hutt, Council District 10, City of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs

ECWA Empowerment Congress West Area

Holly J. Mitchell, Supervisorial District 2, County of Los Angeles

Public Allies Los Angeles

Take Action LA














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