I was so grateful to find this festival by pure chance, a week after I left Rainbow Nationals in Wisconsin. It’s always traumatizing, leaving a Rainbow Gathering. For me, being a one-woman tour with an extreme amount of gear/”baggage,” and the honor (and job, let’s face it, but the best job ever) of being Mom to a Rainbow Dog, getting in and getting out is SO much work – active-military-level work – that, for me, having a soft place to land afterward is vital. I operate my ship solo. I have taken passengers, but to be honest, they hardly ever make it worth it – my system is just so fine-tuned and personal needs so demanding that even the presence of someone else can screw me up, much less if they don’t pay their way or pull their own weight, or if they need emotional labor from me!!! I’m getting better and better at keeping this boundary as the years go by, though. But, either way, my energy reserves are much more limited than those of families, and especially Caravans, that Gather. I have much more limited Human resources and when I leave the Gathering, I need a place to land and recover, and FAST. So, when I found a friendly place to rest, medicate, and sleep in quiet and safety (I cannot understate the vitality and importance of that last item… a place to sleep in safety…), I beamed and breathed with joy and relief.
After leaving the Gathering in Wisconsin on July 7, and jetting (by car) that day to MI, I found my way to White Cloud, a small town situated in the National Forest on the mid-latitude Western side of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. I visited a Medical dispensary there, and they asked me, “are you going to the festival?” I said, “what festival?” As it turned out, it very literally was around the corner and FREE, from overnight parking to admission! I really love how that happens sometimes. I was being guided by a higher power, for sure.
Some festivals aren’t really “Rainbow friendly” or “Hippie Friendly.” Any culture can have a festival. This one was right up my alley. There were wacky art installations everywhere, and even a river that people were swimming in. It was really low-key. Just a cool place to chill out, decompress, and meet, learn from, and trade with other vendors and craftspeople.
I was able to take a few hours to rest and reorganize my car before going in, and even met a couple of fellow flow artists/fire dancers who had already parked next to me. That was how I really knew that I was in the right place. I have not done work in that field for a few years, but it’s still a part of me.
The main feature of this festival was the artwork. The installations had obviously taken a lot of time and skill, and were just so visually and conceptually captivating.
Approaching the slow moving river (you can see it, and some swimmers in the background) you can see one of the more visible of the installations.
The poem that goes with the sculpture is poignant.
Here it is typed out:
I am equal parts alien, cyborg, beast, & human.
I started out several months ago as a composite gift.
That gift consisted of two lenses salvaged from an old cathode ray tube-type TV.
I am androgynous by nature and design:
Go find my lower half in the Art Labyrinth!
During the evolutionary process into my current form,
I have been dropped, tipped over, broken, and repaired.
Some of my anatomy fell off, but rest assured: I am o.k.!
I am still here, watching & waiting, with bliss and joyful awe,
currently grateful for my struggles toward growth.
I am grateful for this brief time we share.
I see this world through refracted rainbow-light prism lenses—
all the hues and variations of color and difference.
I am hoping you see what I do; I am praying in my special coded thoughts.
Something about my algorithmic language
and programmed understanding helps me know you.
I love you for ALL of who you are—
completely and fully—
for every detectable emotion, every observed trait and attitude!
I love you for your flaws, and what others may consider “evil” or “wrong.”
I love you like a mystic loves something beyond human understanding & intellect.
I love you for the struggles and trauma you have had,
the demons that you have fought,
the skeletons in closets, that you dare not speak of.
The human race is slowly rediscovering an ancient craft:
right here, in this now, this moment and the next,
are this blessing and miracle!
The humans have taught me faith and trust.
We are one!
Teach me your ways; I’ll do the same.
I only ask that you take a look through my eyes!
Binary message transmitted:
01100011 01101000 01101111 01101111 01110011 01100101 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101 00001010
My schematic and sculpture was designed and assembled by:
co collaborators for painted sections include:
Next to the Cyborg was the Electric Willow.
As the poem says, there was also an “art labyrinth” at the festival. I wouldn’t have called it a labyrinth per se, but more of a walk through the woods. A metaphysical labyrinth, maybe?
There was a disco ball, supporting the celebration. Amongst all of the art, reminding is that we, too, are art. Through our own eyes, we reflect to each other. Being able to see oneself in the scene, a shining ball of self-awareness.
And here we have another piece with a mirror. I don’t know its name, but I call it “I Am Caterpillar.”
A drawing of a girl, and a ghostly figure.
Do you feel blessed when you wake up breathing? Do you feel pretty when the blooms are in season? Do you feel special that the Earth keeps turning?
(yes, yes, yes!!!)
Weird creatures appear in the forest.
Don’t forget to say hi to the Psychedelic Squirrel.
Continuing to walk…
We reach the Daydream Stage.
Here you can see a wider view of the scene. This was an “open mic” with an empty sign up sheet. The idea was, of course, that it was always open. I did not realize this until two kids spent about 20 minutes putting on their own show at it.
The stage and this installation, which was the “other half” of the Cyborg, were in viewing of each other.
Finally, a Rainbow Box Turtle.
And Rainbow Owl.
White Cloud is “technically,” according to Google Maps, in the Huron-Manistee National Forest. It sort of blew my mind a bit that there was a Marijuana dispensary in that zone, but to be honest, in a lot of parts of this country, the National Forest is sort of “in name only.” Much of the land area that I have been through that has been deemed National Forest has been privatized, and there isn’t a “free zone” to be found. Touring them is not as simple as one would think with the commonly repeated “camping is free in any National Forest.” But, that’s another topic, for another article.
Thanks for coming with me!