“Our original plan with this whole thing was that we would just throw a party where we would play on stage and there would be people out in the field painting, so we could all create together,” Anthony Thogmartin said during one of Papadosio’s sets this year at Rootwire Festival. In the four years since Rootwire’s inception, that plan has evolved into a potent reality far beyond their original dream.
Each year Rootwire has seen an influx of co-creators, performers, and artists who continue to expand on Papadosio’s original dream. However, the original intentention of the festival remains the same – providing a space for synergy and collaboration, with an emphasis on visionary creative expression.
Although the tides seem to be shifting, few festivals support the arts on an equal footing with the music. Many of us have attended innumerable “Music and Arts Festivals” which are essentially just Music Festivals. However, Rootwire certainly breaks out of that old paradigm, providing equal support to their three pillars: music, art, and cultural education. While most festivals focus their energy towards providing a musical lineup that will attract attendees, Rootwire pays equal attention to featuring visionary artists, workshop facilitators, and presenters.
This year, the top of the art lineup included one of the first transformative artists out of the 1960’s, Mark Henson. His highly conceptual paintings portray a combination of political, psychedelic, and transcultural themes. Many of his (frequently erotic) pieces tell deep stories about these topics and never fail to resonate with those interested in visionary culture.
Acclaimed master of the Mischtechnik technique, Amanda Sage laid the groundwork for a new piece over the weekend. Amanda’s piece was unique to this Rootwire as it was created expressly for a couple who got married at the festival (in keeping with the “live art” theme, Amanda worked on it during the ceremony). Amanda has apprenticed under visionary art guru Ernst Fuchs and her work has been featured in galleries worldwide. Amanda now teaches the old-world layering technique of Mischtechnik annually at the Vienna Academy of Visionary Art.
Chris Dyer was also featured for his second year at the festival, throwing up a 12’ x 8’ mural that became a visual focal point between the two main stages. Chris has lived a globe-trotting life on the back of his fantastic cartoon-inspired psychedelic art, which he has dubbed “Positive Creations.” This year’s mural will surely stay on the Rootwire grounds, along with his “Inspiration” piece from 2012.
The lineup also included 30 visionary all-stars such as Michael & Violet Divine, Randal Roberts, Michael Garfield, Krystleyez, Andrew Wagner, Josh Audiss and many more. While most of these artists have always been accustomed to analog paint and brush, those at the forefront of digital art were also in the mix. Digital wizards such as Fabian Jimenez, Simon Haiduk and Olivia Curry all showed the depth of their artistic ability as they picked up the brush and transitioned from computer screen to canvas for the weekend. Many of the featured artists also gave presentations on their work, championing fellowship in their interactions and activating crowds with workshops, talks, and demonstrations.
With the help of festival art director Andrew Wagner, Athens-based arthouse Vision Lab built the extensive gallery that Rootwire features as their central landmark every year. Located at the middle of the grounds, it provides a wonderful space for people to meet, hang out, and (most importantly) take in and talk about art. Vision Lab also hosted VJ Dustin Klein in their chilled inflatable dome. Dustin displayed beautiful panoramic projection art, which surely melted many brains as participants lounged in the bean bag filled dome.
Outside of the thirty-three featured artists, over twenty other artists brought out their canvases to throw down in what may be the largest live art gathering to date. One of the beautiful things about Rootwire and festivals like it is that they really encourage the growing visionary art community, at all levels of experience, to come out, create and learn from one another. Possibly one of the more inspiring elements of the weekend was seven-year-old visionary-in-training, Mary Jane, live painting next to her father for her second Rootwire.
In addition to Chris Dyer’s mural, Mark Henson also drew up an 8’ x 4’ mural which hosted collaboration from Amanda Sage, Michael & Violet Divine, Chris Dyer, Simon Haiduk, Joness Jones, and Michael Garfield. (Check out the first-person mural footage below.)
On the other side of the stage, Christopher Morphis and Justin Roberts rocked out another 8’ x 4’ mural, completing the astounding piece in a single night. After Andrew Wagner saw how fast both of these artists were able to construct beautiful pieces of art, he encouraged this mural – which two clicked right into place and threw down an amazing piece in a matter of hours.
For those who have never experienced it firsthand, know this: it is awe-inspiring to watch such esteemed artists put their separate and unique touch on a single painting in the spirit of collaboration. That spirit is ever-present at Rootwire, and seems to grow with each passing year. Artistic collaboration is truly an extension of what we’re all doing here in this ineffable world – putting our unique stamp on the collective whole. Rootwire brings an inexplicable synergy that is activated throughout the music, art, performance and production.
The grounds were also filled with art installations and temples which served to provide diverse and immersive environments for participants to sink into. Solawakening debuted their Creatrix Temple, a physical manifestation of the Solawakening platform. Directed by Solawakening founder Renee Cruz, Creatrix served as a space for sonic healing and integration throughout the weekend. The temple was blessed with Randal Roberts, Krystleyez and Morgan Mandala beginning to beautify a portion of the wooden temple which was built by master architect Joel Whittaker.
Across from the Creatrix Temple, the Solpurpose Sanctuary Nest – co-created by Josh Davis, Jeroch Sunbear, Chris Valle, Pete Silva, and the entire Earthworks crew – provided an analog space to our digital portal by offering the best in what transformational culture has to offer. Ehren Cruz directed the nest with a weekend full of conscious music, organic intentional art, workshops, yoga, lectures, digital visionary art, and intense collaborative design.
They weren’t alone. Tribal Council also set up their domes which served as a potent sacred space for workshops, talks, ceremonies, and yoga. Tribal Council always bring an amazing collective of individuals to the table – people making big moves in bringing transformational culture to the Southeast.
These were just a few of the elements that came together to create the beautiful amalgamation of co-creation that was Rootwire 2013. In a time when our mainstream society has been so disconnected from heart-inspired creativity, Rootwire continues to offer a space that can heal the ailments of the mainstream.
With a depth of integrity unmatched in much of the festival world, it is a blessing to have such a potent environment from which we can derive inspiration – and, in turn, feed that inspiration back into a larger culture that needs its nourishment. As the transformational festival movement makes its way to the East Coast, Rootwire truly is a blueprint for what the world could look like if it was filled with art, co-creation, and inspiration.