Early last year the good people behind the Akumal Arts Festival reached out to me to apply for their festival (shoutout to Rena!!) and holy ceviche am I glad they did! Everything about this festival was absolutely beautiful! From the staff, to the locals, the artists, the food, and the accommodations! The photo above was the view from the room that my lovely painter-in-crime (in photo) and I were put up in with our new roommate-friend coming in from Toronto Canada, artist Anya Mielniczek
Upon early-evening arrival we took some time to make rounds, meet the staff & artists, and get a lay of the land. Akumal is a stunningly beautiful town! After meeting many of the transplants turned locals I can see why they never left after arriving decades ago.
Our main objective, the reason for being here, is to bring as much color and joy to Akumal as we could possibly cram into a 6 day adventure. Our first canvas was a home located in the pueblo that belongs to a women named Margarita. Coincidentally I consumed multiple drinks sharing the same name. Her home was already painted a brilliant red and I was unable to meet her at the time so through the power of WhatsApp we communicated (in my broken Spanish) and I told her of our idea for her house
The concept was simple and minimal. The general idea was to paint the house to pay homage of local flavor and flair, to not look as if an artist came into town and put some stamp on a wall that makes no sense to anyone but, the (out of town) artist. We did this by drawing inspiration from sculptures you'll find all over Mexico, the alebrije. These are miniature hand carved sculpture (usually) of a spirit animal painted in fantastical detailed colors. There is one alebrije I am always on the lookout for but, can never seen to find and that is a sculpture of the Praying Mantis. Being a friend of the Mantis (check out my instagram to see what Im talking about) I took this opportunity to make our own except this wont be any miniature. The final Mantis will stand about 10-11 foot tall
Step 1: Sketch
Step 2: Add base color with spray and then get in there with brush to add all the tiny details
Step 3: Play with some of the local children and stray animals
One of the nice things about the walls location is that it is mostly tucked back in a corner of the pueblo. If you dont live on this street there is not much chance you will venture down this road but, when you do there will be a big bright red house and giant mantis there to greet you :) a pleasant surprise
Step 4: Watch the beautifully talented miss Sasha give new color and life to the painting with .35 cent brushes :D
Step 5: The initial concept I presented to the home owner was to paint a mantis and an owl. Margarita asked that if instead of an owl I paint some white doves flying around the house. I happily obliged
Step 6: Add some final details, a little tiny signature, and WE ARE DONE!
We extend a giant thank you to Jake, Jen, the whole Akumal Arts staff, Margarita, the neighbors who brought us food & drinks (and a ladder!), and everyone else who stopped by during the short 5-6 hours we spent painting this house :)
Stay tuned to the next blog as we get ready to paint a massive 20-22 foot tall mural along the Akumal bridge alongside some of the most skilled mural artists in the world!