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Live painters, music and more: Gem & Jam Festival 2024

Kelsey+Botello+of+White+Rabbit+Mediums+works+on+a+live+painting+at+the+Gem+%26+Jam+Festival+on+Feb.+3.+Botello+is+among+many+artists+who+create+works+of+art+in+front+of+live+festival+crowds.%0A
Caroline Bailey
Kelsey Botello of White Rabbit Mediums works on a live painting at the Gem & Jam Festival on Feb. 3. Botello is among many artists who create works of art in front of live festival crowds.

The Gem & Jam festival ran all day from Feb. 2-4. Various vendors, artists and musicians had tents all across the Pima County Fairgrounds for the weekend where people of all backgrounds could come together to enjoy a variety of food, jewelry, gems, clothing and music.

One of the tents that seemed to stand out amongst others was the art tent. The tent displayed smaller artists’ work and even had painters showing off their skills painting works of art during the festival.

One of the artists at the festival was Kelsey Bottling or “White Rabbit Mediums.” Painting at the festival didn’t cause her any stress or worry, as it might have caused for some. 

“I think if I were to make a mistake while painting [here], I wouldn’t worry too much because the mistake could potentially make a whole different painting I had in mind and then, boom, something better was created,” Bottling said. 

Bottling also mentioned how she didn’t have a set painting in mind, she just let the paintbrush do its thing, hoping it turns out the best it could.

Another painter at the festival, Lance Paullin, said something similar in the sense of having a rough draft and continuing on from there. 

“I have a starting point on what I want to accomplish and I start to sketch that out [the] best I can. But if I am in the middle of my painting and have another idea on how it could look, I’ll do a little side quest and just add that onto my original painting that I had in mind,” Paullin said. 

During Gem & Jam, there were some workshops that took place. Some of these included yoga that was happening throughout the day, a drum circle for all skill levels and some chiropractors for all the people who were camping for the duration of the festival. There were also tarot card readings and a circus family that would give free lessons on certain circus tricks.

To be able to connect to the music and really feel the bass, festival-goers would dance barefoot while also swinging around some poi balls and colorful pashminas to enhance their rhythmic style.

Josh Pollack, one of the festival organizers, explained the atmosphere that surrounds Gem & Jam and why it attracts so many people. 

“To provide overall enjoyment, […] a place to connect with like-minded individuals while experiencing top-notch musical performances, live art, performance and community. It can be best summed up by quoting Bob Marley, ‘Forget your troubles and dance,’” Pollack said.

While dancing to some of the smaller performers such as Arkansauce and Amess, people would be right up front dancing and singing with fellow fans.

The carefree attitude doesn’t just happen with the smaller performers, it carries on to some of the headliners such as Boogie T, The Disco Biscuits and Gone Gone Beyond. 

In Gone Gone Beyond’s set, they also had some painters on stage painting and would pause occasionally to interact with the crowd. 

Gone Gone Beyond mentioned that they would be going on tour soon where they will perform a new album, however, Gem & Jam-goers got a sneak peak of the album. Another band who is on tour right now is The Disco Biscuits.

Marc Brownstein, The Disco Biscuits’ bassist, mentioned how their music is unique to their fans.

We set out to make the wildest and weirdest music of all time. ‘Music for aliens’ is how we like to describe it,” Brownstein said. 

Brownstein also mentioned how their type of music has changed to more of a story-telling style. He also mentioned their new album is coming out in March and they played a single from it on Saturday, Feb. 3

Experiencing the awesome energy from all of the people that gather for the festival, as it’s turned into an annual reunion, and bringing people together is really the reason why I am so passionate about Gem and Jam Festival and the community that supports it,” Pollack said.


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