Lightning in a Bottle: Shrine On Creates Reclaimed Artisan Village, Festival Creators Talk Sustainability

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Over July 11-15th, Lightning in a Bottle Music and Art Festival was held in Temecula, CA. And on the festival’s Saturday morning, right in the middle of the perfectly controlled chaos that is LIB, staffers held a really cool intimate meet and greet brunch that honestly rocked it.

The Herbert Bail Orchestra, who played the main Lightning Stage on Sunday afternoon, entertained us with their contemporary Americana tunes–they are the real-deal-people, and we were lucky enough to be camped right next to them at the Lumi Artist Camp! Mimosas were served and we got some face time with artist Shrine On and LIB creators, brothers Jesse and Dede Flemming (must be, like, the coolest family on the planet, right?) of The DoLab.  

We also learned about the true backbone of the festival: Sustainability.

The Flemming Brothers, Sustainability and Keeping Connected to LIB’s Big Heart

The Flemmings challenge themselves to making this festival just a little more greener each year, and it is happening. From the available water pumps located around the festival that discourage the use of plastic water bottles; to divided disposable containers for easy separation of recyclable, compost and landfill materials; to volunteers scouring the grounds throughout the weekend picking up lot trash; to the signs posted everywhere encouraging us to “Pack out what you pack in,” The DoLab and their people remind us the whole weekend long that sustainability is everybody’s business.

The LIB worker bees consider LIB and other festivals like it to be  Utopian explorations of balanced community living:

[This kind of festival experience] is a dry run of a new model of being, where we are all living in balance and harmony.

Artists and performers all seem to take this philosophy to heart, and the attitude that we are each responsible for the art we create, as well as for the health of our shared planet, is everywhere.

Though this festival began eight years ago as a birthday bash for the brothers, at this point, the Flemmings believe they are just

helping [The Festival] along.

They repeat this sentiment often. They say that, yeah, they got the ball rolling, and yes, they put tons of work into LIB every year, but ultimately this festival is directed by everyone who attends, and that number is increasing yearly.

The brothers say that while growing in sheer numbers has never been their goal, their attitude is that more people equals more energy and new ideas brought to the table. I personally always hear stories from nostalgic friends about that amazingly quaint spot they had in Santa Barbara once upon a time in the beginning: The trees, the small amount of people, the secret fun it seemed like. But hey, though nostalgia is great, it’s not always based in reality (I mean, people even reminisce about the mud and the rain that was part of LIBs gone by, for Pete’s sake!)

At any rate, the brothers think they’ll be at this new Temecula spot for about three years, because that seems to be the pattern. They were in Santa Barbara for three years, then Irvine for three years, and now here.  They say they have “the energy of hundreds of people behind” them, and that as LIB grows and grows and grows, they work hard to make sure it doesn’t loose its heart and soul. Sustainability is one way they are doing that.

Shrine On’s Reused/Recycled Artisans’ Village

This crossroads of sustainability, art and the spirit of community, is the perfect stomping ground for artists like Shrine On. You may remember CARTWHEEL previewed his LIB work recently and covered his Coachella installations, and I can tell you that the results at the live festival were nothing short of astonishing: A village of recycled trash, pieced together to create mini-world of religious splendor and happy celebration.

I spent an evening wondering through these Shacks as Shrine calls them, watching artisans bring to life the spirit of creativity and community. A tent of bells and gongs was available for people to lie under and play meditative and haunting sounds; the writing nest offered the coziest spot to snuggle in while drawing and writing with quills and ink on vintage stationary. A gorgeous message board was created throughout the weekend as letters and notes and drawings were pinned up and left behind as poignant, silly and outrageous messages for anyone willing to stop and take it all in.  There was a ”fish bowl” made out of bubble wrap that spiraled inward, allowing us to take a meditative labyrinth walk. At the center was a pillow and an altar.I never knew what a wonder the material bubble wrap could be!

The whole village was like someone took items from a recycling bin and sprinkled fairy dust on top. Total magic!

Artist Moons  used her handmade loom that she designed herself to spin plastic bags into yarn (yes, you read that correctly.) From these bags she created a sturdy swing that hung from a tree, waiting for passersby to sit and “hang” for  awhile. At night the Glassblower’s kiln glowed beautifully, offering a quiet excitement and sense that something real was happening here. One evening I was there, a huge beetle–and I mean huge and alive–was hanging out, attracted to the oven’s flame. It was saved from getting stepped on by an adorable festival girl in feathers, who picked him up and deposited him into a tree.

The pinnacle of this Temple of Consciousness area, however, was the Temple Stage, a re-imagined piece from an installation Shrine did for Coachella, which was truly breathtaking. Pyramid-like figures with beautiful feathered designs swooped over the audience’s heads, while breezy material hung effortlessly above. I was able to enjoy this spot throughout the weekend, the first time just one hour after arriving to LIB on Friday night. I whisked myself over there to watch music artist Shawni create ethereal songs grounded in the many traditions of the past and rooted in the joy of the present. Lovely songs for a lovely spot! The architecture of the stage, together with the relaxed and enlivened joy of the participants both on and off stage, worked together all weekend long to create something just divine.

Shrine On successfully created a true place of wonder, modern spirituality and ease at Lightening in a Bottle’s Temple of Consciousness this year; as always, we look forward to so much more to come!

What sustainable art projects have  you seen or participated in?

Photos: Tarah Arnold, except where indicated.

18 Love Shack

Love Shack

14 Shrine Gongs


7 Writing Nest

Writing Nest


Entrance to the Temple of Consciousness. Photo courtesy Shrine On.

temple up close

Temple of Consciousness, detail. Photo courtesy Julio Moreno.


Temple of Consciousness. Photo courtesy Julio Moreno.

waterstation at the temple

Water station at the temple. Photo courtesy Julio Moreno..

16 Artist Moons

Artist Moons weaves plastic bags into hammocks.

4 Herbert Bail

The Herbert Bail Orchestra

3 Herbert Bail Orchestra

The Herbert Bail Orchestra performed at the press meet and greet. Photo courtesy Julio Moreno.

6 Shrine

Shrine On discussed sustainability and his art.Photo courtesty Julio Moreno.

5 Flemmings

The Flemming brothers, creators of Lightning in the Bottle. Photo courtesy Julio Moreno.

10 Message Board

The message board.

11 Messages

Message of hope, joy, silliness, and love.

15 Artist Luis Sanchez

Artist Luis Sanchez.

17 Paint Can Garland

Paint can garland, one of Shrine’s signature touches.


Screen shot 2013-07-24 at 10.10.32 PM

Nighttime at the Temple Stage with Music Artist Shawni. Photo Courtesy of Christopher Soltis.


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