“From the trackless ways in the invisible desert, the solitary wanderers are slowly emerging. Their many paths crossing and combining. And, with childlike wonderment, they find themselves sharing the same horizon. The landscape, though invisible, is seen by all – for it is the ancient image -language that allows them, together, to speak – to communicate, and comprehend. Even song is added to their speech, as their artworks become the ancient image-poems offering visions of the beginning, middle, and end of all things. This ancient image-language, otherwise forgotten, is now being spoken once more.”
~Laurence Caruana “The First Manifesto of Visionary Art”
Nestled into the gentle, appalachian woodlands of Ohio, RootWire Music and Arts Festival is an oasis of inspiration focused on the enrichment of community and consciousness. At the heArt of this momentous event are the clear, guiding intentions of its creators ‘Papadosio’- the electronic/jam ensemble who created the festival over three years ago: “There is a purpose behind this gathering and it is to prove that truly anyone and everyone is an artist. And, through artistic expression, we will transform ourselves and ultimately, our world.”
Embracing the power of art as a catalyst for personal and planetary awakening, RootWire brought together a legendary team of visionary artists to co-create and share their evolutionary expressions. Honored to be one of the featured artists in this year’s gathering, I was blessed with an intimate opportunity to fully immerse in the collaborative magic woven throughout the weekend. Even before I attended RootWire I felt that there was something very significant about it. I knew this was a festival dedicated to the uplifting of humanity and for cultivating something more lasting and authentic than most traditional events held throughout the country.
My first inkling of the magic sparked when I noticed that all of the visual artists and speakers were listed amongst the musicians on the flyer. I must admit that I was genuinely surprised. Emerging out of the past few decades of concert culture, it has taken a long time for visual artists to be regarded as equal contributors as those gracing the stage. From a professional standpoint, the respect, recognition and support given to the artists from the Rootwire production was deeply felt. From meals, to gallery space, to tiered rafters by every stage – RootWire is breaking new ground by supporting artists as core contributors to transformational culture, paving the way to developing an energetically-balanced model which I hope will be embraced by the festival community as a whole.
I believe that artists are the mapmakers of the collective mythos, illuminating the expansive pathways back to our shared Source through visions that nourish and inspire. The role of the “visionary artist” is to reveal the hidden, inner and outer universes of Creation…to make visible both multidimensional and archetypal realms of our waking/dream realities through an emotional language of color, form, pattern and symbolism. Hermann Hesse once said, “All images are open gates through which the soul may enter when it is ready. Here you and me and everything is all one.”
The art galleries at Rootwire this year radiated this transcendental essence of unity. The main gallery was laid out in three interconnected octagons and each artist was provided space in the gallery to display a cohesive collection of work. From one galactic, energetic expression to the next, a journey through the gallery was an opportunity to enter into the limitless realms of our collective imagination. Some artwork emanated calm, meditative qualities of peace, stillness and contemplation while others evoked fiery, explosive feelings of freedom and a passionate exploration of the soul. Illuminated with the spectral glow of universal downloads, the entire gallery served as a powerful vessel for healing, expansion and inspiration.
A diverse lineup of workshops filled the gallery throughout the day- opening the space into a portal of higher dimensional education. From sacred geometry to crystal alchemy, painting techniques and tribal councils- the workshops, surrounded by wondrous expressions of sacred art, set the stage for powerful experiences of personal and community transformation.
Attached to the main gallery was the VisionLab domes which offered an intimate visionary experience. Like the main gallery, the VisionLab gallery was a testament to our unified Vision. Although it was filled with an array of artists with distinctly unique styles, people frequently walked into the gallery and inquired to the person who was working, “Did you paint ALL of these paintings?!” While a trained artistic eye might be able to distinguish the differences, there was such an undeniable feeling of resonance to all of the artwork in the gallery that many people thought it was all created through the same hands and heart. Though, I suppose in a grander sense, it was!
Essentially, we all speak similar visual languages. Through the focused refinement of our individual styles within a constant stream of inspiration that flows between us, an epic conversation is occurring in an evolutionary movement of art for all to observe. It is the primatic song of liberation, truth, passion and awakening of our divine human potential. This “ancient image language” as L. Carauna termed it, spoke in the clear resounding voice of the art at RootWire, especially in the form of live collaborative performance painting.
Live painting was the focal point of the main stages. It stood as the nexus of energy and intention surrounded by dancers, performers, musicians, and festival revelers alike. Over 25!!! painters set up on platforms in front of the stages. It was amazing to soak in the epic amount of raw creation happening simultaneously in that space. A huge collaborative piece featuring Michael Divine, Amanda Sage, Chris Dyer, Roman Villagrana, Andy Reed, Andrew Wagner, and numerous other visionaries was placed at the heart of two adjacent stages.
I had a memorable opportunity to work on another collaborative painting, organized with loving dedication by Andy Reed, with many of the Rootwire artists including digital masters Justin Ascensional and GeoGlyphics. Justin’s computer crashed during the first day of Rootwire, but he continued to tirelessly work on sketches and collaborative paintings throughout the weekend. Geo also decided to exchange his tablet for a paintbrush on many occasions joining into collective alchemy. Painting together in such a celebrated setting was a truly bonding experience for us all.
(*One a side note: Justin’s computer wasn’t the only technological glitch to occur over the weekend…beyond it being mercury retrograde, againnnn ;\ (just kidding…kind of….) it seemed that RootWire had a spirit of its own, compelling us to all to return momentarily to a world prior to technology…to our ancient ways of sharing and expressing ourselves. There were several speakers who had trouble with their slideshows, including myself. My entire presentation was somehow deleted immediately prior to my lecture on sacred geometry. On another occasion during a late night improvised jam session with electronic alchemists Kyrstyn Pixton, David Block (The Human Experience), Joshua Penman from Akara, and Sam Brouse of Papadosio, the sound and lights went out momentarily. All of these classically trained musicians continued to play utilizing any acoustic instruments available. Suddenly, it seemed that we were all transported back as an ancient tribe singing heartsongs around a sacred fire.
As each sequential computer, presentation, sound-system, car, etc. challenged us along the way, our roots unraveled further beneath our feet as our heArts continued to pour out. Then, just as quickly, all was re-wired back into mycelium networks of electronic vibrations with a rejuvenated sense of our ability to transcend them. Don’t get me wrong, I believe technology IS part of our transcendental evolutionary process, but I also believe that WE are the ultimate form of technology. The greater meaning of the name, RootWire, revealed itself through these experiences.
One of the most striking experiences over the weekend for me was when I discovered that there was a nine year old girl named Mary Jane live painting. Watching this young girl paint deeply moved me. First of all, seeing and chatting with her instantly brought me back to being a child with the confident certainty of my path as an artist. It is our most innate and playful nature to create! Though I must admit that in my wildest imagination as a child, and even just years ago, I could have never imagined the rapid evolution of art, culture and consciousness that I would witness in such a brief time. Observing this young child immersed in a world of creatively fueled love reaffirmed for me that art truly stands at the heART of transformational culture…and that Rootwire is embracing this truth not only in philosophy, but on the ground level through conscious action.
I began live painting at small music venues in 2005, never having seen or heard of such a thing as “live painting” before. Painting while being enraptured by beautiful music and community felt like a natural evolution for the realms of art and performance. Additionally, the notion of calling on immense focus and skill to complete a painting over the course of a few hours, or a weekend, both eluded and intrigued me. While people watching me as I created initially (and to this day) exposes a very vulnerable part of myself, I deeply recognized how improvisational live painting opened up critical doorways of creativity and consciousness for both myself and those around me.
In 2007, I started to paint at festivals. I’d usually be “invited” to paint, but once I arrived at the festival site (unless I was painting onstage), I would often find myself wandering around aimlessly in search of where to set up, access electricity, etc. and in the end, I would frequently end up on the side of the stage in the crowd trying my very best not to get trampled. I quickly met many other live painters from around the country and within moments of these divine encounters, we immediately forged deep lasting bonds. A mutual understanding of our path, built upon a shared purpose to spread light and higher consciousness through art was born between us. Yet at the core of our relationships, we also recognized we’d each been facing similar obstacles in sustaining ourselves while generously sharing our visions with the world. Our mission was a challenging one and required us to discover ways to embody our life’s highest purpose while still ensuring we are cared for and supported in the process.
Since my early experiences live painting, I’ve observed the evolution from primarily musically oriented events to conscious, co*creative celebrations; art serving as an integral part of a multifaceted, immersive experience. Rootwire festival’s intention to awaken the inner artist was powerfully accomplished by cultivating a foundation upon which art many thrive in all of its unique forms.
Live painting serves a bridge for the awakening of the creator that resides within us all. It is an invitation to understand art as a process, rather than a product, of self-expression and active dreaming. Ultimately, I foresee a future where there is no longer a need for defining terms such as “live-painter” because the entire manner upon which we gather together will have evolved to support all creative offerings through a true sense of commUnion. Liberated from ego, fear, doubt, and greed…. we have the opportunity to co*create a global renaissance of peace built upon a genuine, loving, cooperative, philanthropic approach to life. By fostering the growth of cultural offerings such as art, workshops, collaborations, installations, ceremonies, conscious celebrations and sacred spaces in which we can gather… together, we can carry the spirit of global tribal community onward – strengthening the foundation of our lives through a harmonious exchange of inspiration, knowledge, skills, resources and energy.
For any successful collaboration, the sharing must be built upon an honoring of each participant’s ability and value even if the technique, style, and skill set employed varies dramatically from our own. Trusting in the unique beauty and integrity of the offering creates a well balanced integration of energies. This is especially important in collaborative painting. The humble acceptance of one another’s flow allows for the manifestation of a space where everyone’s style melds and emerges together in a harmonious dance, winding around and through each other like the strands of DNA. Expanding, refining, evolving our unified Vision through our creativity. This was clearly exemplified throughout the collaborations at RootWire Festival in the magnificent paintings that emerged on canvas, art installations, sacred spaces such as the SolPurpose/Yes Tribe nest, and all-star audio fusions born upon the stage.
When we collaborate effectively, the deeper we allow ourselves to enter into the expanse of potential, without our egos guiding the way, the greater the feeling of resolution and clarity of the work accomplished. When we surrender to the divine flow, we become open channels for universal, creative life-force to emerge through us. The power of collaboration, when harnessed by a group of loving, conscious individuals is absolutely endless. Our capacity for healing, both on a personal and global scale, can only be measured by our ability and willingness to co*create harmoniously. Rootwire festival successfully demonstrated how these beliefs work in actuality, as dreams were transformed into manifested experiences based upon our shared sense of purpose.
By working together with enlightened intentions of sharing of love, wisdom, creative expressions, healing and resources, we have a unique capacity to develop a culture that can thrive in any environment. Cooperation and collaboration are fundamental to our very existence. This is the most important lesson that was reinforced from my journey at Rootwire. It is truly beautiful to witness what we are capable of creating when our hearts are in the same space. As a dear brother of mine, Jason Burruss, recently said, “Together we bind society into a community. Together we can create the mass art project of our dreams. The vision of beauty we have all admired from afar is possible through trust. This is a simple view of Unconditional Love…shown to be casually natural.”
The collaborations at Rootwire went beyond the physical artwork. It was expressed as an undeniable sense of kinship between everyone there. Rootwire was a convergence of brilliant hearts who have passionately devoted their paths to the liberation and healing of the human experience. It felt like both a family reunion and a galactic council to illuminate, clarify and evolve our collective purpose. It is clear that despite our individual point of views, we truly ARE gazing upon the horizon of a golden dawn in which we recognize we are ONE. (Cosmic Fist Pumps!)
I’d like to especially commend each of the artists represented at Rootwire for the incredible space that they hold, expand and inspire into being through their presence. Each artist was carefully chosen for the level of integrity, talent and dedication that they embody. I’m infinitely inspired by these most genuine, colorful, silly, deep and brilliant beings. It is a great and sacred honor to call them family and friends.
Speaking on behalf of the artists that I had the opportunity to connect with, Rootwire set a powerful example of how to integrate and honor the place of visionary art in the festival experience. There was a refreshing sense of support from the production and each other. From the very moment the festival production began, helping hands emerged from all corners offering their time, vision, and energy to the manifestation of the Rootwire realm.
Reflecting upon our experiences, Keegan Keel of the VisionLab gallery shared with me that on Monday night after the festival while a crew of people were still tirelessly breaking down the art galleries, one of the main producers of the festival and member of Papadosio, Anthony Thogmartin, was still present offering his assistance. After organizing the event, working all weekend to accommodate the needs of everyone there and playing 6 sets of music, he was still generously giving his all in support of the art. This story was expressed to me by a man whom I feel, in his own way, embodies this same dedication to supporting the arts and creating sacred containers in which illuminated expressions can be shared with the world.
It is the generous devotion to the awakening of consciousness through divine inspiration that sits at the heart of each artist who attended RootWire this year. Perhaps this is why the overall experience was so ridiculously sweet and real. It was a profound opportunity to connect with other authentic beings who not only use their power to dream wisely, but who also take the initiative to actualize these dreams on both vast public scales and in the simple, moment by moment, hidden contributions to the greater good of humanity…the beautiful offerings that take place while no ones watching that make all the difference.
In the words of Terence McKenna, “When we free ourselves, we are not freed into the Void. When we free ourselves, we are freed into the dimension in which art is a responsibility. This is the great turning point.”
And so it is. The tides are turning and our heartsongs are resounding with increasing clarity, healing, and celebration as we remember to honor this co*creative essence within us and around us, to embrace our role as responsible creators and explore new ways that we can support each other, our commUnities and our beloved Gaia. I extend my deepest gratitude and love to RootWire Music & Arts Festival, and all the kindred spirits who make the pilgrimage to that sacred forest in the heartlands each year, for their sincere dedication to illuminating the world through art. Through leading by example and evolving the platform upon which art is integrated in the heart of transformational festivals, RootWire stands at the epicenter of an emergent world culture. One that is rekindling the spark within us all to live, love, laugh, and create as one people!
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