ortheast Los Angeles is home to one of the most vibrant and diverse arts scenes in the city, with a stunningly eclectic array of music, dance, poetry, film, theatre, art and puppeteers honing their crafts all year round. For the past 14 years, the three-day Lummis Days Festival has brought them all together for a free, fun-filled family-friendly celebration of artistic expression, with this year’s edition taking place Friday through Sunday at numerous locations.
“We’re really pleased to have some genre-busting artists performing with psychedelic folk music, cumbia-billy and African-jazz fusion,” says Eliot Sekuler, the founder of the festival. “It helps mix things up and redefines the boundaries. It’s a great weekend of community-centered art and entertainment.”
Lummis Day takes its name from Charles Fletcher Lummis, who joined the LA Times as the newspaper’s first city editor in 1884. A prolific writer and photographer, Lummis was also one of the city’s first librarians, founded the Southwest Museum — the first museum in Los Angeles — and helped introduce the concept of multiculturalism to Southern California.
To that end, he preserved the old Spanish missions of Southern California, published a literary magazine called Land Of Sunshine/Out West, and was an adviser to President Theodore Roosevelt. He hand-built El Alisal, aka Lummis Home, one of Northeast LA’s most cherished cultural monuments, where he hosted a seminal art salon. Lummis was an ardent advocate for the rights of Native Americans, and was knighted by the King of Spain for his efforts to promote Spanish speaking peoples and cultures.
The community-organized event will build on the festival’s multicultural tradition with a pointedly eclectic mix of musical performances. In addition to crowd-pleasing Afro-Cuban (Ricardo Lemvo) and women’s mariachi (Mariachi Lindas Mexicanas), the festival will present some interesting hybrids: cumbia-billy (Moonlight Trio), folk-a-delic (The Evangenitals), Mexican-South American-African-Jazz fusion (El Haru Kuroi) and cowboy-pop (Anderson Town). Over 20 musical acts will perform on Lummis Days’ stages at Sycamore Grove Park (Sunday) and Avenue 50 at York Boulevard (Saturday).
The 2019 festival will also feature an array of diverse dance performances, puppet shows, activities for kids, the Arroyo Arts Collective’s “Butterflies and Bees: Beyond Borders” puppet parade and, at Occidental College, a world festival premiere of the film “Con Safos: Reflections of Life in the Barrio.” The documentary chronicles the turbulent period from 1968 to 1972, in which the Lincoln Heights-based, eponymous literary magazine provided a platform for writers, poets, artists, cartoonists and photographers who captured the experiences of the barrio and the rumblings of the nascent Chicano movement. The magazine resurfaced for four more issues in the 1990s before an FBI raid shut them down for good.
At Sycamore Grove Park, actors from the Independent Shakespeare Co. will perform scenes from best-loved plays in their signature audience-engaging style. The annual poetry reading at Lummis Home will feature acclaimed poet Sesshu Foster and will be followed by a free poetry workshop.
The following are the Festival’s locations, dates and activities:
From 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at Thorne Hall, Occidental College (1600 Campus Road): The world festival premiere screening of “Con Safos: Reflections of Life in the Barrio,” will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and founders of the groundbreaking Chicano magazine referenced in the film’s title.
From 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday on Avenue 50 at York Boulevard, Highland Park: Music on “The Boulevard Stage,” featuring four top Northeast LA indie bands and entertainment by cirque-style performers.
From 10:30 a.m. to noon Sunday at the Lummis Home in Montecito Heights: Poetry curated by Suzanne Lummis and featuring poets Sesshu Foster and Judith Terzi. From 12:30 to 2 p.m. a poetry workshop led by William Archila will follow the reading.
From noon to 7 p.m. Sunday at Sycamore Grove Park, 4702 N. Figueroa St.: Music, dance, theater, puppets, many family activities, community tables and food trucks.
In addition to the events organized by Lummis Days, the Autry Museum of the American West is presenting the California Art Club Paint/Sculpt-Out at the nearby Southwest Museum. California Art Club artists carry on the Arroyo Seco’s Plein Air tradition with an outdoor paint/sculpt-out to create works inspired by the Southwest Museum site’s views, history, and architecture. The event takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Two other exhibits — “Four Centuries of Pueblo Pottery” and “Making a Big Noise: The Explorations of Charles Lummis” – will also be on view. Admission is free. The Southwest Museum is open both days until 4 p.m. A shuttle bus provided by the office Los Angeles City Councilman Gill Cedillo will ferry guests between festival locations and parking sites on Sunday, June 2.
A complete schedule of events for all sites, parking information, and the location of shuttle bus stops will be found at lummisday.org.