All You Need is BASS

The Emergence of Live Art at Festivals

The year was 2008 and the place was Shambhala Music Festival. I had found myself venturing into ‘spirit country’ – a term I have affectionately given to the Labyrinth stage. Neither logic nor common sense was abundant, though if it had been I am sure I would have managed avoid my run-in with the undergrowth and nearly stepping on the very carefully and consciously placed crystal and stone displays of devotion while looking like I was dancing on hot coals.


When I emerged from the cloud of incense and managed to pick the burs and sticks off my tutu, I came face to face with my first experience with live painting at an event. Four feet above me among the deafening music and pulsing lights was a silohette of a man creating a light painting. Working in time with the music he furiously worked back and forth over a backlit transparent canvas with mud as his medium fingers as brushes.  As quickly as shapes evolved, they disappeared even faster with one sweep of his arm. It wasn’t until just recently that I found out it was Nelson’s own Mitchell Chatham, aka Soulfeather.

Live painting and performance art is emerging as a prime staple at music and art festivals and has been popping up in shows throughout the EDM community. It’s not a new concept but has been developing and growing with huge creative intensity. There are a plethora of festivals out there that have incorporated visual art not just as a bonus, but as one of the features and main experiences, Shambhala, Symbiosis, Sonic Bloom, Fractalize Festival, and most notably Lightning in a Bottle .

To watch a painting created infront of my eyes only enhance the work. The ability to see a painting move from inception to full manifestation is just incredible.


Lightning in a Bottle has taken this idea one step farther with Lightning in a Paintcan.  This particular event happens at the festival, and this years event hosted over 38 artists. The finished pieces were auctioned off in the end, with part of the proceeds going to the non-profit charitable organization The Do Art Foundation.  The Do Art Foundation mission statement is the following:

The Do ArT Foundation’s mission is to engage the public to DO ART through interaction and education. We facilitate programs and projects that are focused on the promotion of creative expression in and for under-served sectors of society. Passionate about promoting all contemporary art-forms, Do ArT recognizes the need for exemplary artistic productions to create important humanitarian cultural happenings.”

So don’t forget to support your local artists wherever you may live and check out artists work during the festival season. Great things are happening. I think we should all count ourselves lucky to be able to witness and be part of it

About author


She is one of the four key AYNiB officials.

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