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The Electric Universe: Art Retrospective, pt. 1

Updated: Mar 14

Hi, I’m Terri and I’m the director of Parks and Rec for the Everywhen Project. Our first event in the Mojave Desert was amazing and wonderful in ways expected and also in ways delightfully unanticipated.


Now that the sand has settled, it’s the perfect time to look back at the art, artists and experiences that made our first event so special.


We had so much art at the Electric Universe - installations, art cars, walk on art, homesteads, DJs and soundstages. So pull up a seat, and your favorite beverage and let’s remember the magic (or if you weren’t able to attend, experience the magic) of part one: art installations!





Paraluna is an iconic piece of art. Its creator, Christopher Schardt, describes Paraluna this way: “Paraluna creates a community of wonder, a pile of humanity, snuggled together against the cold, enjoying the spectacle above and music below. Each musical piece and its chosen visuals has a different theme. Often it is the beauty of nature and outer space. Sometimes it's fire and conflict. Sometimes it's jollity and fun.”


Says the artist, “When I decided to bring Paraluna to Everywhen 2021, I didn’t know what to expect. First of all the event was in a place I’d never been to. I knew it was a “desert” but no more than that. Second, I didn’t know what the “scene” where would be.


Well it turned out to be lovely! The scene was small but sweet. At first me, and many others thought it was TOO small. There were about 600 people in attendance until the final weekend. I and others through, “Oh, too bad, when is everyone else arriving?” Then we all seemed to realize at once that small was nice! It ended up being a giant family, which was just wonderful.


Paraluna at Everywhen was wonderful too. First there was the luxury of being able to set up right next to where we were camped. And it was also nice to have small, intimate audiences for most of the week.


For the final night, a neighbor named Butch who owns Ohm Car (a beautiful art car with the sweetest vibe), came to me with a proposal.


Butch suggested that we connect Paraluna’s sound system to Ohm Car, and then do a performance of Dark Side of the Moon, followed by a dance party with the Ohm Car’s resident DJ - Pato. And that’s exactly what we did!


In a real first for me, I chose visuals on the spot for each track on Dark Side of the Moon, and since I hadn’t listened to this album for at least 3 decades, it was an interesting feat of audio memory for me. It was as one of the most powerful, beautiful things I’ve ever created.


The DJ dance party came next: Pato and DJ Jerzey Del Mar traded 30 minute sets. It seemed that the entire population of Everywhen was there. It was sweet and joyful - one last group gathering before all the kin wandered back home. It was truly one of the highlights of my life to have been part of making this.”


If you’ve never experienced the magic of Paraluna, this might sound unbelievable. But it’s true! Paraluna is an extravaganza of light, color, sound and community. I very literally cried the first night it was active - that Paraluna was one of our inaugural installations, that I’d facilitated its journey to the Mojave, that it survived the sandstorm from hell and that attendees were able to experience the magic on such an intimate level. And I definitely cried listening to Pink Floyd under a canopy of such beautiful lights and patterns.


 

Since we are on the subject of light as art, let’s talk about Project Flashlight by Neal Strickberger. Neal describes this piece so beautifully. “The joy of light at grand scale. Pure, incredibly bright white beams like fingers of god in the dust, contrasts with the night sky, scale across the open playa, interplay of beams, light in motion.”


Project Flashlight is reanimated USAF/NASA searchlights, originally used for Apollo and Space Shuttle program night launches and landings. In a strange twist, some of the equipment had been in use at Edwards Air Force Base, just a few miles from the Everywhen site, and I had been out there in 2014 to purchase some surplus lamps. How awesome is this? Neal’s genius has transformed Space Shuttle beams into art beautiful art!



When asked to tell about his experience at the Everywhen event, Neal responded, “I almost didn't make it. The night I was leaving, one of the leveling valves on my RV failed, resulting a very lopsided vehicle that would definitely not enjoy towing a 9000 lb trailer. After tours of Oakland by Uber to find parts (and being a reluctant mechanic) I got on the road to an actually uneventful drive to Mojave, topped off with a bit of excitement driving Rosewood Blvd dirt in the dark.


What I wasn't expecting was the warmth of the welcome, from Terri Harris, the Everywhen crew and the participants - it felt like I dropped into a village of friends. We fired up 2 lights, lit up the mountain which was pretty spectacular, then the moon and brought out a few howls.”


To be honest, I was going to edit my name out of this. I didn’t because I think it highlights a goal of the Everywhen: to create relationships with and between the artists, the Everywhen and the community.


 

Kevin Byall, the artist behind Neural Anemone, describes this installation as a cross between a neuron and a sea anemone. A big cross - it’s 15’ in diameter!



This beautiful installation is intricate in a way that looks almost delicate - seemingly fragile tendrils lit by pulsing lights that give the illusion of movement. But touch a tendril and you’ll see just how resilient it is - in fact, this installation is a monument to solidity. It withstood 60 mph winds that lasted most of a day, with gusts up to 85 mph without a scratch!



I asked Kevin to tell me about a favorite experience at the event and he described a time he was at Neural Anemone when a stranger drove up, towing a time machine. It turned out that the fellow, Billy Hackett, was at the EWP to camp with Chris Callor of G-String fame. Exactly where Kevin was camping.


Talk about kindred spirits - these artists spent the remainder of the event collaborating in art and crazy adventures. And believe me, it was fun for all of us to observe, participate in and enjoy!


 

BYTE is an adorable, furry installation which consists of two furry and lovable robots named "Chip" and "Terra,” created by the equally furry and lovable artist Jay Blanda. I think maybe Terra was in a time out, because he didn’t get to come and play with us. But Chip was in the Mojave with brand new and very pretty pink fur.


The robot, or BYTE, is a sentient being, newly released from servitude, growing and learning how to play and interact. During the day participants climbed onto Chip’s back and crawled under her belly (a great place to escape the heat of the day) - a perfect place for the Everywhen youth to play and explore.


And at night, in a most unexpected transformation, Chip became another creature completely - a dance party destination spot!


As recounted by artist Jay: “It’s incredibly difficult to highlight just one of the wonderful experiences we had at Everywhen but, feet to fire, the most impactful would have to be either one of the two magical sunrise sets with Xuza and all of our extraordinary new friends.



Having that tie up between art car and install in the sun’s golden morning glow, dancing to the vibey beats of Pato and Tropo, was definitely the final puzzle piece in our total vision for BYTE that we’d been trying to complete for years. And, after meeting in the belly of the pink fur, it was obvious that Mike Cee clearly understood and fully vibed with that vision and was as happy as we were to have it finally fulfilled. And it all happened at Everywhen!”


Heck yeah, it was extraordinary and totally unforgettable!


 

Artist Amy Wicks wrote “The Dragonfly is a symbol of change, transformation and self-realization, a particularly resonant concept to our present day.” That’s so true, and artist Amy Wicks brought the dragonfly magic to the Everywhen Project with her installation, Throne of the Dragonfly.


Says Amy, “Incorporating this insect into rope art, has been a fun and explorative experience. Being surrounded by hearts, the symbol of love, is an important element of the art piece, as I believe that love is the answer and will help to bring people together.”


Amy told me that it “was great to be able to walk around and experience the whole event. I enjoyed meeting the other artists and learning about their projects.”


True - the intimacy and collaboration between artists was clearly one of the most amazing things about the Everywhen Project and Amy definitely accomplished her goal of bringing people together. I passed by this installation constantly and never once saw it empty. It served the community as a meeting place, a rest stop and a place to observe the goings on.


 

The Inverted Disco Ball was an awesome installation at the event. Says artist Alex Tsatkin, “Disco balls are shiny objects made to grab your attention. We wanted to do the opposite and create something that entices you to climb inside and have an experience solo or with some friends. Once inside the mirrors create an infinity room powered by addressable LEDs.


My favorite experience at Everywhen was connecting with so many artists and creators. Best part was never knowing who you were talking to and what they either brought to the event or worked on in the past.”


True! And also, the ratio of to art/artists to attendees meant that attendees had an opportunity to interact with artists on a deep and personal level unrivaled at any festival that I’ve ever heard of!


 

The Pendulum, by Valerie Mallory, was a beautiful piece of art consisting of a red tree/artery with a woman swinging from it. Says Valerie, “The red tree will be poetical metaphor for large veins, or the circulatory system. The piece make that which is private and visceral as the internal workings of the body, a public experience.”



I make my art because I love expression and I love the nuances of communication. I work very hard to convey as much expressive feeling in a way that is uncluttered and pure. I am inspired by people in my own life, and patients I have worked with in hospital settings. The art signifies the elemental way that people integrate with the world.”


As most know, there was an intense windstorm during the Everywhen event - sustained winds of 65 mph for hours on end, with gusts up to 85 mph. The beautiful woman in this installation sustained damage. What did Valerie do? She calmly repaired her art right there, in the middle of the Mojave Desert. I never saw Valerie without a smile on her face and a group of artists or attendees chatting with her.


I asked Valerie what her takeaway of the event was and she responded, “Everywhen was a beautiful event that was all about pure art, and pure community. It was a raw, deep experience that was solely about art in a remote and outlandish place. The Everywhen festival was magical!”


Those words are so moving! Thank you!


 

Emergence is a beautiful installation, large on two ends and narrow in the center. Set against the background of the hills at the Mojave location, this installation was beautiful to behold! In the evenings it cast amazing shadows on the desert floor. At night, glowing with LED lights, it demanded exploration.


Says artist Gordon (who came to the Everywhen with an amazing team of artists - teachers and students at USD). “As humans, we fear uncertainty: we crave consistency, we crave comfort, we crave control. Yet, all we experience is inescapable change. It can strengthen you as easily as it can destroy you. After enduring moments of intense restriction and liberation within our lives, who are we now?


It was truly amazing to see our art come to life after dreaming of bringing our team back together after nearly two years of lock down. Watching as people interacted with our art reminded me just how much I had missed creating and sharing our art. The small feel of the event was also awesome - nearly everyone we met had seen the piece and the positive feedback was inspiring.”


I agree! It was excruciating for artists, the folks of the EWP and attendees to go so long without the joy of witnessing art come to life!!


 

Sugar Plum and Magic Man brought New Beginnings to the Mojave Desert as an exploration of life and relationship. Attendees were encouraged to meditate on a change they wanted in their lives and then walk through the door to embrace that change.


Says Sugar Plum, “Being artists at Everywhen and part of the inaugural event was an incredible experience! It filled us with so much joy to contribute and share our art, supported by an amazing and super helpful art support team. One of our favorite parts of Everywhen was how so many people contributed and brought their art, art cars, music and other gifts, plus getting to meet and connect with all the many artists. We have been telling everyone we know about how special Everywhen is and we can’t wait to go and contribute again and again and again!!!”


The entire crew of the Everywhen thanks you for those kind words! We can’t wait for you to bring your next project to our 2022 event!


 

Rebekah Waites brought two installations to the Mojave Desert, a new installation called Ripple Effect and Singularity.


Made from layers of translucent fiberglass skins, Ripple Effect glows from within, revealing layers of geometric colors. Ripple Effect is a large-water crown splash created by a giant stone being skipped across the surface of the ground. Ripple Effect is playful and inviting and reminiscent of childhood skipping rocks across a pond.


Ripple Effect was in its birthing phase at the Everywhen and we were so proud and honored to be the host of the very first ideation of this new installation!


Singularity is made up of multiple birdcages and houses which pull spectators inside a shrinking world until they reach the point of singularity.


Artist Rebekah came to the realization that depression essentially creates a "black hole" in our mind. Repetitious compulsive thought patterns can feel like they go on for an infinity. After having the realization, she was inspired to create Singularity as a way to physically illustrate how childhood trauma creates mental ripple effects.


I asked Rebekah to share a special memory of the Everywhen and she responded that, “So many impactful moments were had during Everywhen. Not sure which to share! The biggest impact Everywhen had on me was not only providing the opportunity to make and bring art, but the connections made with folks during the event. The intimacy the event provided made it so comfortable to connect with strangers. My crew and I met so many wonderful people and hope to return this year. What a special 10 days! So grateful.”


Thank you, Rebekah! We hope to see you this summer in the desert. Your Art is inspirational!


And so ends part one of my art retrospective. There is so much more to come! More installations to talk about, art cars, performance art and sound. I’m excited to share with you soon.

PS: Tickets to our events in both the Black Rock Desert and Mojave Desert are on sale now!


Terri Harris


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