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The Experience of Being Human – Art Outside 2013 [Festival Review]

Apache Pass has played venue host to a few select festivals in the past, providing a memorable and beautiful setting that is simply unrivaled. The goosebumps that crept along my spine upon arrival brought me to a conclusion right away – that this land is absolutely sacred. Throughout the weekend, more attendees than I can count were overheard talking about this same point; that the land here at Apache Pass is indeed blessed and held in the highest regards. The property has remained in the same family since the 1800s and is still as beautiful as ever. Being able to call this land my home for the next 4 days was almost as exciting as watching the headliners I had traveled to see! So began my beautiful experience of Art Outside. A festival based on the simplest of ideas; to enjoy art, in all of its forms, within a natural environment.

Art Outside exceeded my expectations before I had the chance to set up camp.

The site itself was a wonder to explore. Used as a main trail for Native American Indians for centuries, you can almost feel the history beneath your feet. Scattered with trees galore, there were countless shady spots for hammock setups and blanket dwellers. Intricately crafted art installations were in abundance, catching the eyes of every passersby.

The vendor selection was absolutely top notch as well, and extremely well priced considering that most products were made by hand. Most vendors travel the festival circuit regularly and become recognized by their brand, yet at Art Outside, every vendor I spoke with had chosen to display their crafts here specifically. They didn’t seem interested in selling out; they were simply there to spread their art to those in need of it.


To understand the magnitude of what was achieved at Art Outside, you must know the difference between burns and festivals. A burn is not your typical music festival. There aren’t huge names playing on elaborate stages, with a big black hole for you to throw all of your money into. This is definitely apparent by the non selling of alcohol at these types of events. The purpose of a burn is to create an environment in which all attendees are more than that – they are participants in the event itself. Founded on principles of radical self-expression, self-reliance and leaving no trace behind, I would describe Art Outside to sit lightly in between a burn and a festival. You are encouraged to exemplify your personality, to be inquisitive of your neighbors, and ultimately, to leave with renewed connections between yourself and the world around you. The AO crew successfully pulled off a creatively engaging and captivating weekend sporting zero sponsors…which most festival organizers would call a nightmare. And it went off without a hitch.

On Friday night, I had been advised to be at the main stage at 7:30 sharp for a performance ‘not to be missed’. It was an all original stage show called Crash Alchemy. Directed by Agent Red, the performance curator for Art Outside, the group combines several mediums to provide a set like you’ve never seen. Using fine art, dance, aerial, and interactive technologies, there are 25 collaborators on the project. The stage presence of these talents is absolutely impressive – which was evident from the crowd itself. Eyes wide open, mouths agape; all focus was on Crash Alchemy from start to finish. Between watching the aerial silks to the right of the stage, and the unbelievable 3D projection mapping that provided a digital landscape for the entire show, it was a simply outstanding production. The importance of bringing fresh perspectives to live performance cannot be stressed enough in my opinion and these artists prove that to no end. You can feel the energy brought forth from this group the moment they hit the stage. Crash Alchemy created a beautiful, interesting and hypnotic performance that will be with me for many years to come.
 Jake Atlas, known as Thriftworks, was one of the main artists I was looking forward to at Art Outside. Slapping multiple genres in the face, Thriftworks has a signature sound that transcends any major category. Combining downtempo hip hop with fat, glitchy beats, he creates a fully immersive atmosphere, letting your imagination run wild until you have no choice but to give yourself over to the world this mastermind conjures through Thriftworks. Playing inside of a Geometrical Dome, the sound was mind-blowingly perfect. Inside of that dome, nothing else existed. I watched the crowd around me, usually consisting of bobbing heads and eyes glued to the performer. But this crowd was different. Wild. There was no uniformed unit. Everyone was moving to the same beat in a rhythm all their own. The divine unity felt in that crowd was unreal.

Contrasting greatly from the sun’s beautiful warming rays during the day, the cold was unbearable at night. Fortunately, there were a couple of bonfires to bundle around, which were ideal for conversing with weekend neighbors about sets we’d seen, why we were here, where we were from, etc. One conversation in particular, I was literally pulled into.

I was following the rest of my camp to another side of the fire, when I felt an arm reach out and pull me into a group of about 9 or 10 people, who had already been standing tightly together. Laughing warmly, the woman who had pulled me in told me I was now inside of a Manifestation Circle. I would listen to each person take turns introducing themselves and saying what they wanted to manifest during the weekend. Then, it would be my turn. The feeling that captured my heart whilst I was apart of that circle is indescribable. Baring my soul to complete strangers opened a part of me that had been yearning for freedom all along. I can’t wait to see what my own Manifestation Circle at upcoming gatherings this year will bring, and I encourage anyone and everyone to pass it on (:

My final highlight of this glorious weekend came on the last day, when, after staying up all night to catch Thriftworks’ sunrise set, I awoke from my hibernation.

I groggily headed in the direction of the closest thing I was camped to, the Open Bar, and was pleasantly surprised to see my guest bartender was none other than Jake Atlas. He casually asked what I needed to drink, and proceeded to hand me a RedBull and a bag of cookies. My laughter could not be contained. The idea that one of my favorite producers had just ended an amazing set only the night before, and was now playing bartender was too perfect. Which describes the entire weekend, honestly.

The events that took place during Art Outside happened exactly as they were meant to play out. This brings me to the land, again, which I choose to believe was the ultimate manifestation tool. The atmosphere was abuzz with vibrational energy, almost like electricity. Something else beautiful? The weekend of October 18 to the 21st was the peak of migration for Monarch butterflies to Mexico. Waking up every morning with my camp found us being surrounded by them. They’re actually said to be spirits of those who have passed, and are returning to this side in the form of Monarchs.


See the rest of CYM’s coverage of Art Outside on our FaceBook page here. Our video footage will be up this week, featuring performances by The Polish Ambassador, Thriftworks, Bluetech and Crash Alchemy.

I’ll leave you all with these beautiful words a good friend of mine, Kacie Kim, had to say about Art Outside, along with an actual picture she shot during the weekend –

I cannot thoroughly describe the profound soul searching I’ve experienced this weekend. Art Outside helped me accentuate the solar presence of every entity graced into this world that we sometimes overlook. Everyone is divine; everything is perfect as is. There is only evolution within us from here on.”




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