Apache Pass, a historic riverside property nestled along the San Gabriel River northwest of Rockdale, will transform into a mecca for artistic celebration and collaboration during the three October days of Art Outside Festival.
The ninth annual family-friendly event, produced by Art Seen Alliance, builds community through its interactive hands-on approach to culture, art, education, and sustainable practices. Pecan trees and art installations set the stage for performers and speakers, stand-up comedy, yoga, DIY workshops and, of course, the beloved camping music festival scene.
Art Outside originated at Enchanted Forest during SXSW, according to Festival Director Warren McKinney, but challenging circumstances forced relocation, resulting in wonderful new opportunities for expansion. “We try to hold true to the original concept of providing a platform for all art forms to be experienced in a way that is intimate and engaging. When Art Outside was held at the Enchanted Forest, it was like an adventure in the woods with all sorts of unexpected discoveries throughout the property. At Apache Pass, the lay of the land is more open, and we have created several areas where you can choose your own adventure,” he says.
An open call for visual artists resulted in more than 150 participants, many from Texas, and each night of the fest includes a block of stand-up comedians, coordinated by the New Movement Theater. Austin’s own Crash Alchemy joins a party of performance artists. Definitely not restricted to jam bands, the 65-plus musical acts cover a range of genres including jazz, electronic, gypsy, pop folk, teen rock, and funk, with the bill including several Austin acts, such as the Flying Balalaika Brothers and Dead Music Capital Band. Fueling up for festival fun is essential, and food vendors will be stationed throughout the fest offering dishes for purchase to suit a variety of preferences – meat, vegan, organic, and raw for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - including Austin natives ChocoSutra, Ararat, and Elixer Coffee. Nonalcoholic drinks will also be available, but the fest is B.Y.O.Booze.
"People have powerful experiences while attending workshops, exchanging ideas with other artists, or just opening their eyes to a new art form. After each event, I love hearing people’s stories. I have heard that Art Outside has been life-changing: Many relationships have been forged over the weekend, people have been inspired to follow their dreams, and some have even been empowered to lead a different lifestyle,” says McKinney.
In addition, integral to Art Outside’s profile is also its Green Mission. Embracing the natural venue and encouraging and educating attendees about sustainable practices is as important as the dancing and painting. Camping is encouraged, though day visitors are welcome, and ride-share groups have already begun organizing. Art Outside promotes offset programs such as recycling and composting, but carries the belief in positive change a step farther. Bio-diesel generators from local restaurants’ cooking oil waste and solar panels help power the festival. A donation drive will collect funds for fruit and nut trees to be planted and enjoyed in future festival years.
McKinney says of the full-sensory experience, “We plan so many aspects of the event throughout the year, but it is the interaction and engagement of the participants that really creates the experience. I’m excited to see what new adventure unfolds this year, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Art Outside will be held Oct. 18-21, Friday-Monday, at Apache Pass, 9112 N. FM908, Downtown, TX (Rockdale, Texas). Full weekend pass: $110 in advance; $130 at the gate. Kids under 12 free. For more information, visit www.artoutside.org.