Art Outside 2014: One for the Books

The Dome Stage and Art Installations
The Dome Stage and Art Installations
Art Outside Main Stage
Art Outside Main Stage

At its 10-year anniversary, Art Outside gathered artists of every medium at the Apache Pass Event Center in Rockdale, Texas to prance, dance, and discover this magical playground. With ticket sales that more than doubled from last year, this festival continues to draw the attention of more and more art lovers every year. Visual artists captivated festivalgoers with their paintings and sculptures, which ranged from as small as 2 feet to 35-foot tall creations. Paintings at the festival beautifully depicted the abstract and psychedelic, as well as realism so intricate that you would think it was a photograph. Performance artists’ awe-inspiring acts defied what many would believe exceed the capabilities of the human body. The musical lineup was certainly the most notable yet, with the soundscapes from artists such as Emancipator, Conspirator, Papadosio, The Motet, The Polish Ambassador, Quixotic, Thirftworks and many more. Moreover, the community that was experienced (whether it was in the campgrounds or within the boundaries of the festival) still lingers in our souls as we reminisce and recover from the weekend.

As cars filed into the campgrounds and our temporary homes popped up, the anticipation grew for Friday night’s headlining performers: WildLight, The Polish Ambassador, Quixotic, and The Motet. Wildlight’s bubbly energy radiates from her tiny body like a thousand suns. She never stops moving and brings so many words of encouragement and positive vibes to her audience; there wasn’t a single face lacking a smile in the crowd. The Polish Ambassador soon followed in his iconic sparkling yellow jumpsuit that was actually made by one of his most loyal fans (this fan was also in attendance at Art Outside). He kept the crowd moving and set the stage for an amazing festival. Throwing down samples of hip-hop classics like Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” showed how playful and talented he is. Polish’s own very tribal creation “Let Your Monkey Out” had the crowd digging deep down to get in touch with its primal tendencies that just needed to be let out!

Anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of witnessing the athleticism involved in a Quixotic performance is really missing out. Not only is the combination of dance, classical, and folk music that Quixotic creates truly one of a kind, but they also have the most talented troupe of aerialists, contemporary and belly dancers accompanying its performance. The Motet closed out the main stage with a high-energy performance that sent a lot of the crowd right back to the campgrounds to recuperate and try to regain feeling in their legs.

Those who held out until the early morning hours got the opportunity to dance the night away and watch the sun rise with Somatoast, Plantrae, and The Human Experience. The Dome stage at sunrise is really a special, intimate experience where fans get to see some amazingly talented electronic acts play alongside beautifully adorned dancers, all while climbing, dancing, and watching the sun come up. Needless to say, everyone needed a good rest after that and the festival was dormant for a few precious hours.

The Dome Stage and Art Installations
The Dome Stage and Art Installations

Saturday at Art Outside was jam packed with workshops and innovative musical performers. If you made it to any of the workshops on Saturday, you know that they were well thought out and informative. An acro-yoga workshop taught participants how to balance and perform yoga-like poses with the help of a partner. This mix of acrobatics and yoga tones your muscles as well as improves your balance. Another amazing workshop was the Primal Voice: Balinese Monkey Chant workshop. Here participants built community through primal chanting and exchanging of energy. Earlier in the afternoon, festivalgoers who were not attending workshops were invited to listen to some of the eclectic awesomeness featured at the folk stage. Minor Mishap Marching Band, an entire marching band complete with stilt walkers and drums, blew fans away with their act! As the day went on, the music began to intensify, with the Dome stage hosting a number of electronic acts such as Pumpkin and Random Rab to warm up the night. One highly anticipated show that took place on the main stage was Nahko and Medicine for the People. He doesn’t tour very often, so Nahko’s die-hard fans were beyond excited for his set. Laying down smooth vocals with a laid back, island feel, Nahko had the crowd bumping. Conspirator also rocked the house to close out the main stage on Saturday. The Golden Dawn Arkestra put us into a cosmic trance on the midway stage with their alien costumes, out of this world hula hooping, and tribal sound. They made it a point to constantly jump into the crowd and get everyone involved in the madness. Late night at the Dome got pretty crazy with Thriftworks playing a well-received set around 3:30 am, and the Desert Dwellers closing out the night. One of the coolest things about Art Outside is that it’s basically a 24-hour festival. If you don’t make a point to sleep, you probably won’t. There is marvelous music, art, workshops, and activities at virtually all hours… and it rocks.

Sunday had a decidedly calmer vibe with most people opting to lounge under the shades of many pecan trees on the property. One of our favorite workshops that day was the essential oils workshop. The workshop leader explained the health benefits of several essential oils, how to apply them, and where to get them. Sunday was also host to some amazing day-shows. At around 1pm, FunkoTron started the day off right with an energetic, funky set that got the crowd pumped and out of their sleep deprived festival fog. Grace Park and the Deer enchanted the crowd at the folk stage with their amazing vocals and poetic lyrics. It’s rare to attend a show at a fest where the entire crowd collectively decides to remain silent… to just listen, be, and soak it in. The Deer’s set was one of these. Other favorites of the day included gypsy beats from Atash and later the Flying Balalaika Brothers, whom both sound decidedly Baltic and amazingly danceable. Closing out the night was Emancipator and Papadosio, different sounds but both extremely appropriate for their Sunday time slots. Emancipator mesmerized the crowd with their captivating beats and sick violin player. The crowd experienced a collective out of body experience swaying and moving to this incredibly talented duo. Papadosio closed out the festival with a high-energy, jamtastic show. The music ended at about midnight on Sunday, but we think the festival felt collectively satisfied and thoroughly exhausted afterwards.

Live Painting at Art Outside
Live Painting at Art Outside

 

Art Installations, Visual Art, Performance Art:

An Art Outside review would not be complete without mentioning some of our favorite visual, performance, and sculpture art. The amount of visual stimulation at this festival was incredible. Everywhere you turned there was another art installation, pop-up art gallery, or ongoing project. Each stage had live painters at almost every show, creating intensely beautiful visionary art. One of my favorites was the large painting of two wolves that lived behind main stage for a time.

Inside the art galleries were paintings and works from the likes of Andy Reed and Psybernetik. It’s almost overwhelming to try to take in the complexity of these paintings. Each brushstroke meticulously placed to form a bigger, often spiritual image. All of Adam Psybe’s pieces were mind-blowing as well.

We really enjoyed the art installations by Christian Ristow. At Face Forward, participants could control the movements of this giant face, and what resulted was a life-like sculpture with a personality all its own. Another favorite was his “The Fledgling”. People could climb up inside and view the festival from inside the metal crow’s chest. There were bike pedals attached which controlled its wings. Arc Attack, a traveling, gigantic tesla coil is always a festival favorite. Huge purple electronic lighning bolts crash into each other as appropriate techno music plays. It’s pretty exciting and always draws a crowd.

"The Fledgeling" at Art Outside
“The Fledgeling” at Art Outside

Performance artist ArTheism is the live “dance-imation” performance art of Topher Sipes and Sam Beasley. This combination of visual, performance, and musical art embodies the feeling of Art Outside. On other stages, hula hoopers, contortionists, aerial artists, and all sorts of performance art accompanied most musical acts. There was definitely no short of visually stimulating performance art at this festival.

Art Outside was decidedly one of central Texas’ best festivals, if not the best this year. During this beautiful weekend, people were allowed a safe space where they could enjoy art, each other, and express themselves freely. Walking through the festival, there was not one frown to be seen and no negativity in the air. It seemed the attendees were there to truly participate rather than observe. Each person contributed to the atmosphere of the event by creating art, adorning his or her bodies with stunning and intricate costumes, or dancing wildly and beautifully. There were no shortage of smiles, laughs, hugs, or kisses at any point during the festival and everyone could feel the positive energy. It’s difficult to describe the overflow of positivity and enlightenment present at Art Outside unless you were there. It’s something you have to experience for yourself!

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Written by FestPop Staff Writers
Karli Jaenike and Lindsay Shearon
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